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 corresponds to 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 truly fast way of disseminating 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.
Site Access Plans for LearningUkulele.com
Forever Access - With Forever Premium Access, you get Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources, related assets, and ALL books by Curt as FREE downloads. Pretty much everything on the site and NEVER worry about a subscription or surprise payment again. And jump the queue for responding to any questions.
If your anything like me (Curt) and getting Subscription overload with everything on-line wanting money from you once a month — I'm with you. For like-minded individuals, this forever plan is a pay once and your done.
The price for Unlimited Forever access is right around the cost of a few months of private lessons. I can guarantee that is more material on-line to keep you busy for a long, long time. And, you get all of my books for FREE. That along is more than the cost of this plan.
Basic Access - A limited selection of basic lessons — ( currently over 140 ) and 100+ songs for ukulele as well as basic general music reference material — Completely FREE — Simply Register/Signup. HOWEVER - I've been doing ukulele and LearningUkulele.com since 2003 and probably have given too much away already - as reflected in my income from the site in relationship to the time spent on the site. So help support this site and its continued development by signing up for one of the below Premium Access Plans or buy a few of my books. - Thanks, Curt
NOTE: Each higher access level includes ALL the benefits of the lower levels. Private Lessons include all the benefits of a Premium Access Plans as long as you remain a student on the schedule.
Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee
Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys
Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg
I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland
Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!
Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II.
34 years ago.
“Built for myself (Curt), and sharing with the `Ukulele community!”
LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!
Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often.