A funky little instrument that appears now in popular pop music tracks, the ukulele has been around for years.
Not only that, but it’s already appeared in the charts before. Read on for more facts.
- The ukulele is a small instrument that is incredibly popular with Hawaiian music. In fact, it derived from two Portuguese instruments: the braguinha and the cavaquino.
- Ukulele means ‘jumping flea’ in Hawaiian, but nobody calls it that. People call it by its common nickname: the uke.
- The first ukulele was made in 1879.
- There are four sizes of ukulele, the standard size being the soprano, which is around 60 cm. Other sizes include: concert, tenor, and baritone.
- The ukulele has four strings and are known by the notes: G – C – E and A. Not only are these notes acoustic, but are now electric, and sound is made when the strings are plucked. The instrument is made of mahogany wood, but the cheapest are plastic, which are usually for children.
- Popular comedy entertainer George Formby Jr. (1904-1961) was a popular comedic entertainer. He often sang, accompanied by the ukulele, but was often told his lyrics were too rude. His hits included: “With My Little Ukulele in My Hand” (1933), “The Window Cleaner/When I’mi Cleaning Windows” (1936) and “With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock” (1937).
- Another popular entertainer was Tiny Tim (born Herbert Khaury) (1932-1996). An American musician, he entered the charts with his ukulele hit, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in 1968.
- George Harrison (1943-2001) of The Beatles was also an avid ukulele fan. At the end of “Free as a Bird“, he plays the ukulele in the style of Formby.
- The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain often play Formby classics when performing.
- Avid fans of the instrument and also talented players, have made many television appearances. One of the most memorable is on the fourth season of Skins (2010). In episode six, JJ (played by Ollie Barbieri) serenades the love of his life Lara (played by Georgia Henshaw) with a ukelele version of “True” by Spandau Ballet, accompanied by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.