History of the Ukulele

History of the Ukulele

To talk about 'ukulele is to talk about the Hawai'i Islands, of beautiful wahines dancing the hula with plumerias leis and endless white-sand beaches. However, unlike what it may seem at first, technically the 'ukulele is not originally from Hawai'i nor is it part of traditional Hawaiian music, which is based solely on rudimentary songs and percussions ( na mele oli ) that They are used to accompany the dances ( hula ). In fact, the origin of the instrument is much closer than the paradise islands of the Pacific.

The 'ukulele (also accepted ukulele, or simply uke) is a pulsed string instrument, usually with 4 strings, which can be double (hence the ' ukuleles with six and eight strings). To discover its birth, we must go back to the end of the 19th century, specifically to the Portuguese island of Madeira, from where the British ship SS Ravenscrag sailed with Hawai'i destination, loaded with 423 crew members, most of them destined to work in cane plantations of sugar. The Ravenscrag, after a four-month trip, arrived at the port of Honolulu on the island of O'ahu on August 23, 1879. Among its crew, we highlight the name of four of them: João Fernandes, Augusto Dias, Manuel Nunes and José do Espirito Santo.

It tells the story that when he arrived in Honolulu, João Fernandes took his cavaquinho , a four-string instrument very popular in Portugal and Madeira (also known as machete, braguinha, machete do Braga ...) and played a song with him, captivating the locals With its sound It is said that the natives called it 'ukulele which literally means “jumping flea” ( ' uku is a flea in Hawaiian, and lele means jumping, hence the web logo), although there are other possible etymologies of the word that do not include to these annoying insects, like the one attributed to Queen Lili'uokalani, according to which 'ukulele means “the gift that came to us” (referring to its overseas origin). Whatever the origin of the name, we can say that the story of the 'ukulele begins at that moment. 

Our other three Ravenscrag crew members, after finishing their three-year contract in sugarcane plantations, settled in Honolulu as carpenters. They manufactured furniture and different type of musical instruments. At one point they created a hybrid, in the shape of the cavaquinho and its four strings, but with a reentrant tuning similar to the 5-string rajão. Thus was born the 'ukulele'. 

The exact date of manufacture is unknown, although it is believed to have been around 1886. It is also unknown who was the first of three to conceive the first 'ukulele as we know it, although Manuel Nunes awards it to himself, or so the label of his ' ukuleles said.

The official presentation date of the 'ukulele is in 1889, at a party held in the British yacht Nyanza in the port of Honolulu. A trio of women, among which was Princess Victoria Kaiulani, niece of King David Kalākaua (who in turn played the 'ukulele ) did the honors. Perhaps the fact that the instrument was linked to royalty (both King Kalākaua and his successor and last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani author of the well-known Aloha 'oe ), which was built with native Hawai'iy Koa wood Symbol of respect for the earth and nature ( aloha ' Aina ), made the instrument an undisputed symbol of Hawai'i, very popular among natives (kanaka 'oiwi ) and the fight for their cultural identity. It is also worth mentioning the fervent passion of King Kalākaua for the instrument, as the main promoter of the instrument in its origins and the subsequent association of 'ukulele with Hawaiian culture.

Throughout the twentieth century, the instrument evolved. The different sizes such as the concert, tenor, soprano, and baritone that we know today appeared, creating banjoleles and ukuleles with the resonator. 

The 'ukulele had its moments of great popularity during the twentieth century. From the enormous popularity in the USA during the 1920s and 1930s headed by Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards and Roy Smeck to the great George Formby in the United Kingdom, until reaching the jazz of Lyle Ritz in the fifties. 

From the sixties and seventies, and always linked to a strong claim of Hawaiian cultural identity, rights, and independence, there is a revival of 'ukulele as a symbol of Hawaiian tradition. Artists such as Eddie Kamae (of the Sons of Hawai'i group), Peter Moon and Herb Ohta were promoters of this movement, whose relief was subsequently taken by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo'ole (with the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau and later solo) and groups like Ka'au Crater Boys (with Troy Fernandez al 'ukulele ) triumphing off the islands. The “IZ” phenomenon continues strongly outside of Hawai'i, being recently number one on the German charts.

Recently we found Hawaiian artists such as Jake Shimabukuro (formerly in the Pure Heart group) or Troy Fernandez, and artists from outside the islands such as Canadian James Hill or singer Eddie Vedder, who continue to promote and promote the instrument.

To talk about 'ukulele is to talk about the Hawai'i Islands, of beautiful wahines dancing the hula with plumerias leis and endless white-sand beaches. However, unlike what it may seem at first, technically the 'ukulele is not originally from Hawai'i nor is it part of traditional Hawaiian music, which is based solely on rudimentary songs and percussions ( na mele oli ) that They are used to accompany the dances ( hula ). In fact, the origin of the instrument is much closer than the paradise islands of the Pacific.

The 'ukulele (also accepted ukulele, or simply uke) is a pulsed string instrument, usually with 4 strings, which can be double (hence the ' ukuleles with six and eight strings). To discover its birth, we must go back to the end of the 19th century, specifically to the Portuguese island of Madeira, from where the British ship SS Ravenscrag sailed with Hawai'i destination, loaded with 423 crew members, most of them destined to work in cane plantations of sugar. The Ravenscrag, after a four-month trip, arrived at the port of Honolulu on the island of O'ahu on August 23, 1879. Among its crew, we highlight the name of four of them: João Fernandes, Augusto Dias, Manuel Nunes and José do Espirito Santo.

It tells the story that when he arrived in Honolulu, João Fernandes took his cavaquinho , a four-string instrument very popular in Portugal and Madeira (also known as machete, braguinha, machete do Braga ...) and played a song with him, captivating the locals With its sound It is said that the natives called it 'ukulele which literally means “jumping flea” ( ' uku is a flea in Hawaiian, and lele means jumping, hence the web logo), although there are other possible etymologies of the word that do not include to these annoying insects, like the one attributed to Queen Lili'uokalani, according to which 'ukulele means “the gift that came to us” (referring to its overseas origin). Whatever the origin of the name, we can say that the story of the 'ukulele begins at that moment. 

Our other three Ravenscrag crew members, after finishing their three-year contract in sugarcane plantations, settled in Honolulu as carpenters. They manufactured furniture and different type of musical instruments. At one point they created a hybrid, in the shape of the cavaquinho and its four strings, but with a reentrant tuning similar to the 5-string rajão. Thus was born the 'ukulele'. 

The exact date of manufacture is unknown, although it is believed to have been around 1886. It is also unknown who was the first of three to conceive the first 'ukulele as we know it, although Manuel Nunes awards it to himself, or so the label of his ' ukuleles said.

The official presentation date of the 'ukulele is in 1889, at a party held in the British yacht Nyanza in the port of Honolulu. A trio of women, among which was Princess Victoria Kaiulani, niece of King David Kalākaua (who in turn played the 'ukulele ) did the honors. Perhaps the fact that the instrument was linked to royalty (both King Kalākaua and his successor and last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani author of the well-known Aloha 'oe ), which was built with native Hawai'iy Koa wood Symbol of respect for the earth and nature ( aloha ' Aina ), made the instrument an undisputed symbol of Hawai'i, very popular among natives (kanaka 'oiwi ) and the fight for their cultural identity. It is also worth mentioning the fervent passion of King Kalākaua for the instrument, as the main promoter of the instrument in its origins and the subsequent association of 'ukulele with Hawaiian culture. 

Throughout the twentieth century, the instrument evolved. The different sizes that we know today appeared, creating banjoleles and ukuleles with the resonator. 

The 'ukulele had its moments of great popularity during the twentieth century. From the enormous popularity in the USA during the 1920s and 1930s headed by Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards and Roy Smeck to the great George Formby in the United Kingdom, until reaching the jazz of Lyle Ritz in the fifties. 

From the sixties and seventies, and always linked to a strong claim of Hawaiian cultural identity, rights, and independence, there is a revival of 'ukulele as a symbol of Hawaiian tradition. Artists such as Eddie Kamae (of the Sons of Hawai'i group), Peter Moon and Herb Ohta were promoters of this movement, whose relief was subsequently taken by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo'ole (with the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau and later solo) and groups like Ka'au Crater Boys (with Troy Fernandez al 'ukulele ) triumphing off the islands. The “IZ” phenomenon continues strongly outside of Hawai'i, being recently number one on the German charts.

Recently we found Hawaiian artists such as Jake Shimabukuro (formerly in the Pure Heart group) or Troy Fernandez, and artists from outside the islands such as Canadian James Hill or singer Eddie Vedder, who continue to promote and promote the instrument.

Last updated:9/16/2019 5:15:35 AM
Shimul Kabir

Shimul Kabir

I am a blogger and a freelance writer. I am also a manager of a small bsiness. I like to talk about various things.. I want to establish myself as a blogger in the long run.

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