The Ukulele History
In 1879, a Braguinha arrived in Hawaii on a Portuguese ship loaded with laborers destined for the sugar cane fields with a Portuguese instrument called a Machete . Hawaiians made the instrument their own and calling it "ukulele" which translates to "jumping flea," It's believed to have originated because of the way a performer's fingers jump around on the strings.
Three immigrants in particular, Madeiran cabinet makers Manuel Nunes, José do Espírito Santo, and Augusto Dias, are generally credited as the first ukulele makers
Here is a link to a great article, with a lot more information on the History of the `Ukulele by Dagan B.
( from WikipediA ) - best known of several similarly named ships, the Ravenscrag (spelled without the "i") is a British sailing vessel commanded by Capt. Biggam that on 23 August 1879 brought 419 Portuguese immigrants from the Madeira Islands to the Hawaiian Islands to work as contract laborers in the sugarcane plantations. The ship left the Madeiran port of Funchal on 23 April 1879 and took exactly four months to cross the Atlantic Ocean, round Cape Horn, and then sail across the Pacific to Honolulu, Hawaii. Among the passengers were Manuel Nunes, Augusto Dias, Jose do Espirito Santo, and Joao Fernandes, who are credited with introducing the ukulele to Hawaii. This was the second ship of Portuguese immigrants to reach the Islands, having been preceded on 30 September 1878 by the German bark SS Priscilla.
So we can count our blessings that the Hawai'ian's weren't introducted to the Accordion or Tuba, the traditional, popular German instruments at the time. Or the Bladder Fiddle, Dudelsack, Hackbrett, Nyckelharpa.
The ‘Ukulele: A History
Since its introduction to Hawai‘i in 1879, the ‘ukulele has been many things: a symbol of an island paradise; a tool of political protest; an instrument central to a rich musical culture; a musical joke; a highly sought-after collectible; a cheap airport souvenir; a lucrative industry; and the product of a remarkable synthesis of western and Pacific cultures. The ‘Ukulele: A History explores all of these facets, placing the instrument for the first time in a broad historical, cultural, and musical context.
The Ukulele: A Visual History
From its birthplace in Portugal to its famous Hawaiian home, the “jumping flea” has left its mark on popular music and pop culture worldwide. This book traces the uke's evolution with colorful whimsy. Readers will meet some of the world's greatest ukulele players through profiles, photos, and a list of recordings. Splendid color photos show more than 100 of the finest and most unique ukes and vintage catalog illustrations, fanciful sheet music covers, and witty ads that capture the craze of the 1920s and '30s.
A Stowaway Ukulele Revealed: Richard Konter & The Byrd Polar Expeditions
A Stowaway Ukulele Revealed: Richard Konter & the Byrd Polar Expeditions is the unlikely and compelling story of a globe-trotting, ukulele-strumming Brooklyn sailor named Richard Konter and his famous autographed instrument. At the height of the ukulele craze, Konter was a go-to arranger for Tin Pan Alley composers and publishers.
The Ukulele Timeline
The current Third Wave of the ukulele corresponding the influence of YouTube and the Internet®.
Check out all the famous people and musicians associated with the ukulele on the Ukulele Musicians Page .
Weekly TV host Arthur Godfrey keeps ukuleles in the spotlight.
A shift from the popularity of radio to most households having access to a TV and the second wave of the ukulele craze.
Arthur Godfrey is responsible for selling 9,000,000 Mario Maccaferri plastic ukuleles during the 50s
Ukulele craze revived by the solders and sailor returning home from South Pacific after World War II.
After the Panama Pacific International Exposition Ukuleles all the rage. This corresponds to the popularity and availability of radio in the decade of the 20s to 40s. The First truely fast way of disminating news, entertainment, and information to a mass audience. This was a big shift in the technology for communication around the world.
Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California USA unveils ukulele to the world. The Panama–Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was a world's fair held in San Francisco, in the United States, between February 20 and December 4 in 1915. Its ostensible purpose was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was widely seen in the city as an opportunity to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake.
Portuguese sailors introduce Hawaiians to small four-stringed instrument that gave rise to the ukulele. King David Kalakaua was influential in the initial rise of popularity of the ukulele.
Notable Players and People That Influenced the Popularity of the Ukulele
David Kalakaua (1836 - 1891)
During his reign hula was revived, after having been banned in 1830 by Queen Ka'ahumanu, who had converted to Christianity. He is also known for having revived surfing and the Hawaiian martial art, Kapu Kuialua.
Kalākaua and his brother and sisters were known as the "Royal Fours" for their musical talents. He wrote "Hawai`i Pono`i", which is the state song of Hawaii today. His ardent support of the then newly introduced ukulele as a Hawaiian instrument led to its becoming symbolic of Hawaii and Hawaiian culture. He is honored as "Patron of Hawaiian Music Culture" by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame in 1997.
For more in and other influential people and player that have contributed to the various time the ukulele became popular there is not better place then the Ukulele Hall of Fame and their Ukulele Hall of Fame Inductees .
The Legends and Myths of Hawaii
Political and historical traditions and stories of the pre-Cook period capture the romance of old Polynesia. A rich collection of Hawaiian lore originally presented in 1888 by Hawaii's "Merrie Monarch." Introduction by Glen Grant.
Visit the Famous Ukulele Players page for more notable players.
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