The History and Legends of Ukulele

Ukulele is small Hawaiian guitar with only 4 stings, invented in Portugal and became popular in Hawaii. Because of its lovely size and tune, it’s suitable for both adults and children. They say it’s an instrument that can activate people’s potential talents of music rhythm! And with a ukulele in hands, you can almost play every song!

History of Ukulele

In 1879, Manuel Nunes, Joao Fernandes and Augustine Dias, the three Portuguese luthiers moved to Hawaii. They liked to play a special instrument from their hometown while working in sugarcane field. The local Hawaiian people were so surprised to find this instrument not only has beautiful tones but also how fast players’ fingers can move on its fretboards. Since then this instrument became popular in Hawaii, and they call it ‘Ukulele’ which means 'the gift that came here' (with 'uku' translating to 'gift or reward' and 'lele' translating to 'to come')

 

Legends of Ukulele

There are at least 3 popular legends about how ‘Ukulele’ got its name.

1,This instrument was originally called ‘ukekelee’ or ‘Dancing ukeke’(ukeke is a kind of Hawaiian instrument with 3 strings). But later in 17th and 18th centuries, with more and more European people moving in, it’s been mistakenly pronounced as ‘Ukulele’ due to different accents.

2, Another legend about how the ukulele got its name is based on the understanding that the Englishman Edward Purvis played the instrument. Edward Purvis acted as an Assistant Chamberlain to King David Kalakaua, the last reigning King of Hawaii, and a man who was very influential in the early life of the ukulele. Purvis was thought to have been nicknamed 'ukulele' due to his small stature and his energetic personality. Eventually, it is thought that the instrument that he played for the King also adopted this name.

3, However, among all those legends the most well-known one of how ukulele got its name is from a story between two famous Hawaiian families called ‘Gabriel Davian’ and judge ‘W.L. Wilcox. One day Gabriel went to Wilcox’s house moving party to Kahili, he brought a gift that made by himself which is a four stings fretted instrument, everyone was very curious about this small and cute instrument and asked for its name, Gabriel said ‘Jumping Flea’ in English, and Wilcox, who knows Hawaiian very well translated it into ‘Ukulele’.

Nowadays, ukulele is once again enjoying a period of popularity with people around the world. Ukulele is also been more widely used as a beginners' instrument for children in recent years. Most music store take ukuleles too, it’s been celebrated again for its versatility, easy-travelling small-size, ease of learning and also perfect idea of gift. Internet trading has also played a significant role in the ukulele boom, with websites and video tutorials being dedicated to providing easy-learning resources for beginners, many of which are frequented by new players. For example, ‘www.gotaukuelele.com’ from UK is one of the most famous or leading ukulele reviews website. At the end of 2017, VTAB was voted 'Brand of the Year' on this website due to our high quality products with very competitive prices and second to none customer service.


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