Assignment On History Of The Ukulele

1041 words - 5 pages

The truly remarkable aspect of the ukulele is how much it has grown in the world of music and how many hearts it has touched. It came from humble beginnings but has since made its mark on the world. The ukulele was adapted from the Portuguese machete. In 1879, men from Portugal boarded the Ravenscrag and arrived in Hawaii. They came to work on the sugar cane fields. Manuel Nunez, Joao Fernandes, Augusto Dias, and Jose dos Espirito Santo were a few cabinet makers that came along on the Ravenscrag. For pleasure, they brought along their machetes. They played these instruments in their spare time and began to make instruments for the friends they made on the islands. They are believed to be the first makers of the ukulele.

The Portuguese machete de braga and the machete de rajao has four and five metal strings or gut strings, respectively. It evolved from early plucked instruments like the lute and falls into the guitar family. The typical Portugese tuning was D-A-B-E; though there are many popular variations. The ukulele however, is a four stringed instrument that uses nylon strings. The ukulele has four sizes, the smallest being the soprano, then the concert, tenor, and the largest size is the baritone. The standard tuning for a ukulele is G-C-E-A, but for a baritone uke it is D-G-B-E.

A large part of the ukulele's popularity throughout history and in modern times is its structure. Even its largest size, the baritone, is still a fairly small instrument. Its size alone has made it a much more accessible instrument for people to learn and to travel with. It stands as one of the most portable instruments that a person could have. Another reason it is so easily sought after is the ease in which you can actually play the strings; the fretboard is not wide by any means and the strings are made of nylon. Thus, it is much easy to play chords and even barre chords. In comparison to the guitar, a steel string would be harder to press down on and a classical has a wider neck and is harder to play chords on in general, especially if your hands are on the smaller side. Some guitar chords are fairly easy, but many are very difficult and requiring barring your finger across the fretboard. On a steel string you face the issue of not yet forming calluses and lacking the ability to produce a good quality sound or on a classical nylon stringed guitar there is the issue of reaching your bar well across the entire neck. The ukulele on the other hand is the perfect beginning instrument. Even more difficult chords on the ukulele pale in comparison to those on the guitar. It is a less daunting instrument, at least from the start. Additionally, these easier chords make it a much more appealing instrument to people that would like to accompany themselves singing. Apart from this structural appeal, the ukulele has a very unique sound that can be implemented in a variety of playing styles; whether it is plucked, strummed, played with chords, playing through a melo...

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