A Rainbow of Hawaiian Ukuleles
Photograph by Flea55
Hawaiian ukuleles have a sound, style, and relaxing quality all their own. This uniqueness extends beyond the class of instrument to each individual ukulele, ranging in size, color, shape, detailing, and base materials. It is hard not to have a little more fun and be a little more relaxed after listening to skilled ukulele players.
Created by Hawaiians in the 1880’s, the ukulele was actually modeled after the Portuguese cavaquinho and the rajao. It was Portuguese immigrants who first demonstrated the smaller instruments and brought them to the attention of King Kalākaua, a strong arts advocate. In turn King Kalākaua added them to Hawaiian performances and gatherings.
Ukulele is actually based on two Hawaiian words, “uku” and “lele.” Literally translated, it means “jumping fleas.” No one is completely sure how that name originated, but it is generally thought that the quick finger work reminds onlookers of fleas jumping from string to string. Another translation is “the gift that came here” from uku meaning “gift” and lele meaning “to come.”
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