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The Ukulele, Source Of Positive Notes!


The ukulele is a musical instrument with four strings, which can be doubled, hence ukuleles with 6 or 8 strings.

On August 23, 1879, the famous British ship SS Ravenscrag arrived in the port of Honolulu with a crew of about 420 people, destined to work in the sugar cane plantations. Some Portuguese sailors decided to sing a few songs upon disembarking, são João Fernandes took his Portuguese cavaquinho, a four-stringed instrument prevalent in Portugal and Madeira, to liven up the arrival. When he played a song with that artifact, he surprised the locals, who had never heard music like it.

During this colonial period, many Portuguese lived on the island and therefore brought their culture, music, and traditional instruments such as the cavaquinho. Many of them came to work on the sugar plantations, but some stayed after their contracts ended to develop their businesses.

Three crew members of the SS Ravenscrag: Augusto Dias, Manuel Nunes, and José do Espírito Santo, settled in Honolulu and set up their carpentry business, where they made all kinds of things in wood, including some musical instruments. Thanks to their creativity and know-how, they invented the ukulele, a hybrid with the shape of the cavaquinho and its four strings but with a reentrant tuning similar to the 5-string rajão.

The instrument is known as ukelele or uke but was initially called ukulele, which means "jumping flea." Many say it was named after Hawaiian islanders when they heard a Portuguese playing his cavaquinho.

Etymologically there are other possible options. For example, the one attributed to Queen Lili'uokalani, according to which 'ukulele means "the gift that came to us," about its overseas origin.

This plucked string instrument has different country-specific variants in Hawaii, Tahiti, and Easter Island. In addition, there are five standard sizes of ukulele: soprano, concert, tenor, baritone, and sopranino.

The soprano ukulele is the smallest and usually measures around 53cm. In Hawaii, it is called the standard. They are usually the most economical and the most demanded. It is the one with the sharpest timbre. The concert size ukulele is the one that follows the standard, about 58cm. The size of its soundboard gives more volume and depth to the sound. Many prefer it to the soprano because of its larger size, more open frets, and identical tuning, making it much easier to play. 

The Tenor ukulele has an approximate size of 67cm and provides even more comfort when playing, especially in techniques such as strumming or fingerpicking. With this size, we will enjoy even more volume and more bass. But the tension of the strings is higher when using steel strings in addition to nylon strings.

The Baritone ukulele is the most significant and measures about 76cm. It is the one with the most extended scale length. Its tuning is precisely the first four strings of the guitar Re, Sol, Si, Mi. Its sound is somewhat different from the previous ones as it has a lower register. 

In addition to these four, the family is completed with the sopranino (smaller than the soprano), the bass Ukulele (also called U-bass), the six-string guitalele (tuned A D G C E A ), the 4 or 6 double strings ukes, and even the hybrids with resonator as the banjolele. These are less frequently seen but should also be taken into account.

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