“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.” – Johann Sebastian Bach
Ukulele is a globally popular instrument and a great way to enjoy music together anywhere anytime. You may know your chords and strumming patterns, but do you know these fascinating facts about ukulele?
So before I tell you some very interesting facts about Ukulele, let me give you a brief background about ukulele for my friends who are not very familiar with this musical instrument.
Ukulele is a string instrument something similar to a guitar, which originated in Portugal. It has a small guitar-shaped body and is fitted with four strings. Plucking and strumming these four strings produces the sound. The strings in turn vibrate and are amplified by the resonating body. This musical instrument is manufactured in a similar fashion as a full size guitar.
The progress of ukulele has been influenced by instruments from Spain, South America, and Africa. When six string instruments were introduced in the 1700s the popularity of chordophones exploded. Although ukuleles are most commonly associated with Hawaii, it was not until 1879 that the first ukulele was brought over from Portugal. Immigrants from the island of Madeira first brought to Hawaii a pair of Portuguese instruments in the late 1870s from which the ukulele was developed eventually.
Here are some of the interesting facts about ukulele:
- The ukulele was patented in Hawaii in 1917. Although ukuleles are most commonly associated with Hawaii, it was not until 1879 that the first ukulele was brought over from Portugal. One of the Portuguese immigrants on the ship Ravenscrag, Joao Fernandez, started playing his four-string Portuguese instrument known as a braghuina. Local residents were so captivated with the instrument that they adopted it as their own.
- Locals at Hawaii renamed braghuina as ukulele which in Hawaiian means “jumping flea.” This name reflected the way the islanders thought the fingers jumped around the fretboard when it was played. Within 10 years of its introduction, the ukulele became the most popular instrument in Hawaii.
- Developed from a four-string Madeiran instrument and built from Hawaiian koa wood, this musical instrument was popular among the Hawaiian royalty in the late 19th century.
- Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on moon, loved to play the ukulele. In fact, after returning back from moon he spent several weeks in quarantine as others feared he may have picked up strange bacteria while in space but he actually spent much of this time in quarantine strumming his ukulele.
- Jason Mraz’s 2008 single “I’m Yours” is the best-selling ukulele song of all time. After spending 76 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, it broke a record for the number of consecutive weeks spent on the chart. It is also the tenth best-selling digital download of all time in the United States with over six million downloads sold.
There are not many ukulele instructors around East Bay, so if you are looking for ukulele lessons then contact me @ (925) 695-7060. We provide private in-home ukulele lessons throughout the East Bay including: Benicia, Berkeley, Clayton, Concord, Crocket, Danville, Dublin, Fairfield, Hercules, Lafayette, Livermore, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Vallejo, & Walnut Creek, CA. I am Rex Lee Bell and I have over 40 years of experience as a musician, music instructor, arranger and performing artist. I have been a guitar and ukulele player in San Francisco Bay Area and New York City recording and performing with artists such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, Wild Cherry, The Drifters, Tammy Wynette, Jackson Brown, The Pointer Sisters, Tower of Power and many others.