Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Growing Appeal of the Mighty Ukulele

Q.  What’s the definition of ‘perfect pitch’?

A.  Throwing a banjo into a tip without hitting the sides! lol!

To the uninitiated, this may well apply to the mighty ukulele but there’s so much more to it than you’d imagine.  Over the years a whole range of musicians and entertainers have been caught indulging.  Consider the number of people who have taken the time to learn to play the instrument:  George Harrison, Van Morrison, Frank Skinner, Richard Durrant, Bruce Forsyth, Tiny Tim and so on.  Perhaps the ‘bonsai guitar’ deserves a second look.

Initially the ukulele has a novelty value.  Like Ronnie Corbett, it’s unusually small but it doesn’t end there.  It may look like a toy but when it’s played properly, most people are pleasantly surprised.  When you really listen to it, you realize it’s a real musical instrument.  You only have to lend an ear to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain to be aware of the instrument’s remarkable range.  From ‘Born to be Wild’ to ‘I Will Survive’ via ‘Tears on my Pillow’, it’s a totally new way of listening.

So, what’s so great about the mighty ukulele?  It’s not a hard instrument to play and so many popular songs can be played using three chords. (The UOOGB say, “Why so many?”)  It doesn’t require a lot of amplification.  The ukulele technique is also straightforward.  It’s easy to carry, it’s inexpensive and you can practice without annoying the neighbours.  If you fancy getting a group together, it won’t cost much to kit yourself out with instruments.

It’s also incredibly versatile.  From popular Music to classical Music by way of soul and reggae, you won’t be short of inspiration.  Also, it’s a rhythm instrument, a melody instrument and even a percussion instrument.  The technique is also transferable.  Most guitar players can play the ukulele to a degree as there are tuning correlations, so even if you don’t take to the instrument in the long run, the effort is never wasted. It’s also a great way to learn to read Music. 

Whatever the appeal, the ‘dancing flea’ is on the up.  Lend an ear the next time you sit through a dozen adverts.  There’s a ukulele in there somewhere. You may not realize it, but there’s a whole gang of pop songs out there being played on the mighty ukulele.  Don’t fight it, embrace it.  It’s the future.

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