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JJ1726
03-02-2010, 01:22 PM
Hey everybody, I am being forced to write a thesis for the next 2 years of my life and i wanted to do it on something i wouldn't get bored with, so naturally i picked ukulele(actually it was drums, but i realized there are no good topics on that). So, if anybody has a good topic directly relating to ukulele, i would love to hear it. Any realm of the ukulele world is fine, like building or teaching, i dont know, just tell me your ideas.Thanks everyone.


-JJ

SweetWaterBlue
03-02-2010, 01:32 PM
It might help to know what you are majoring in, if that is what it is for. Its no good writing, "Innovative Plates and Shell Theory Used to Predict the Performance Characteristics of Ukuleles," if you are majoring in Political Science.

Harold O.
03-02-2010, 01:35 PM
Is this a Masters thesis project? First thing you'll need is a user-friendly professor.

My graduate thesis was about the old race tracks in southern California. A where they were vs what's there now look at land use effects. Turns out that more auto racing (in terms of venue numbers) has taken place in SoCal than any other place in the world. Check my HOPublishing link to see more. I published mine and have sold several thousand copies. But I digress.

If this is meant to be a history thesis, there is a lot of information available. The key will be to focus on as specific an aspect as you can. In my case, I was limited to race venue sites. No talk of drivers, cars, or technology that did not directly relate to why a given track opened where it did. But this is a good thing. It will cause you to focus and thus get done. I soon discovered a passion for the history of Los Angeles and was done inside of one year, before my coursework was complete. If you can hit on a similar passion for the ukulele, the work will go fast. Every time you learn something new, you will want to know something more. It's a great feeling. I wish you well.

JJ1726
03-02-2010, 01:43 PM
Well, you guys will be suprised to know that i am still in high school, but it is a very legit thesis. We can assume that it'll be based off a music major, because thats what i plan on doing. By the way, if anyones interested, i go to academic magnet high school, a little fun fact.

JJ1726
03-02-2010, 01:45 PM
By the way, thank you for the quick response, you guy are a big help.

Harold O.
03-02-2010, 01:50 PM
By the way, thank you for the quick response, you guy are a big help.

For a high school thesis, you'll be limited to about 10 pages. Get to the point early. Then point to your point from a variety of angles. Keep your sentences short and declaritive.

JJ1726
03-02-2010, 01:58 PM
No, we are required to range to about 50 pages or so in our thesis. Thats why i was saying its fairly legit. Sorry if that sounded a little blunt, couldnt think of another way to put it.

SweetWaterBlue
03-02-2010, 02:20 PM
How about, "The Second Golden Age of the Ukulele." The first was in the 1920s-1940s. Why is it happening again, and what effect is it having on contemporary music, if any? Something like that would be interesting.

JJ1726
03-02-2010, 02:34 PM
Thats a good idea, but i had something more in mind of actually playing it. I could explore the history of the ukulele and then from that make a song that explains the evolution. My friend is using a uke to show its use in all realms of music, so he s making like classical songs, so i kinda wanted to do something like that, but i definitely like your idea.

Ukulele JJ
03-02-2010, 03:30 PM
You could probably do 50 pages on how to pronounce the word. Get into etymology, the descriptive vs. prescriptive debate, the cultural effects of imperialism, etc.

JJ

austin1
03-02-2010, 03:53 PM
online discourse about the ukulele! and you'd have thousands upon thousands of UU pages for your research

JJ1726
03-02-2010, 03:59 PM
You could probably do 50 pages on how to pronounce the word. Get into etymology, the descriptive vs. prescriptive debate, the cultural effects of imperialism, etc.

JJ

We have the same name :D

I was thinkin about maybe doing a history of the ukulele, just in general and going through the 2 golden ages of it and maybe throwing together a song. i really want to relate it with something where i can play it a lot though. maybe its just wishful thinking...

dkcrown
03-02-2010, 05:05 PM
How about the incredible brotherhood of the ukulele community? BTW, my economics senior thesis was on Lech Walessa and the rise of the labor unions in Poland. Ugh! A thesis on the ukulele sounds much more interesting.

sukie
03-02-2010, 05:10 PM
I'm guessing that if you spend enough time around here you will figure out a unique-to-you thesis. Read the threads and see what's talked about. Check out some other sites (Ukulele Cosmos, UkeHunt -- there are tons) and you'll get a taste of this community. It's an incredible thing really. I have friends around the world because of the obsesion I have with this instrument. I'm not alone.

6stringconvert
03-03-2010, 01:17 AM
JJ,


I'm sure you know this but a thesis is a position or argument. The documented work will explain this position, your reasons for it (gaps in knowledge, literature, our understanding), and then work is done to explain or justify this position. In the sciences this work would be experiments and data analysis, in history it would be searching first sources of info, old books etc.

You shouldn't have a position straight away - you need to read around first; you'll be doing itterative loops of learning, and evaluation until you focus more and more narrowly on your actual hypo-thesis (your position clearly articulated in a series of statements you can evaluate).

So thesis could be:

The ukulele is the best stringed instrument to begin learing an instrument on.

Hypothesis

across students taking up stringed instuments, ukulele students achive better music test scores compaired to other stringed instruments.


6sc

sebi
03-03-2010, 09:08 AM
How about, "The Second Golden Age of the Ukulele." The first was in the 1920s-1940s. Why is it happening again, and what effect is it having on contemporary music, if any? Something like that would be interesting.

I think that is an AMAZING topic. Maybe I will write about that for fun myself :D

pulelehua
03-03-2010, 09:53 AM
If you don't know this site

http://www.nalu-music.com/

you should. John King, before his death, was one of the most active researchers into the ukulele and its predecessors. He actually found/was sent, a treatise on the playing of the Portuguese predecessor to the ukulele, the machete. If I had my PhD to do all over again, I think it would have to be my choice for topic. His widow, I believe, still has the Estudos, and not being a ukulele researcher, will be unable to do anything with them.

Thesis topics. Wow. The ukulele has a short and extremely murky history. Mike DaSilva, in Berkeley, CA, manufactures ukuleles according to the original model specifications used by the original Pokiki luthiers, Nunes and Dias.

The growth of ukulele as an educational tool, led in Hawaii, then Canada, growing in the UK.

Maybe a look at one of the old greats: I would choose Roy Smeck.

There's zillions. Have fun!

didgeridoo2
03-03-2010, 10:22 AM
Irregardless of what you finally choose your subject to be, I think a trip to Hawaii should be negotiated with your parents. You know, for research...

Thumper
03-03-2010, 10:28 AM
No good topics on drums??? You're not looking hard enough - it's arguably the oldest musical instrument, and drums have played important cultural roles in many societies.

GrumpyCoyote
03-03-2010, 10:46 AM
I would go a little deeper than another history of the uke - for example the apparent "fad" attraction of the uke and the subsequent backlash...

If you look at the two historical and sudden rises in international popularity for the instrument (‘20s and ‘50s), they were both followed by a severe backlash and negative stereotyping of the uke – in both cases lasting decades longer than the fad itself.

You could look at parallel fads (Hula Hoop comes to mind) for comparable patterns, and there is a wealth of easily attainable data on fads in general you could apply to the uke… Is it generational? Does it track to popular music? etc...

If I had to write a thesis, I would explore that fad/backlash cause and effect, and try to see if we can draw parallels to the current rapid rise in popularity of the uke yet again. Are we looking at another dramatic rejection of the uke, just like the last two?

The pattern would suggest yes, and backing that up or debunking it with research and data would make a fascinating dissertation in my opinion.

mds725
03-03-2010, 04:28 PM
Thats a good idea, but i had something more in mind of actually playing it. I could explore the history of the ukulele and then from that make a song that explains the evolution. My friend is using a uke to show its use in all realms of music, so he s making like classical songs, so i kinda wanted to do something like that, but i definitely like your idea.

I've heard rumors that The Beatles (or some of them) learned to play the ukulele before playing guitars and wrote some of their songs on ukuleles. if I were in your position, I'd be curious (i) specifically about whether writing music on a ukulele instead of a guitar influenced the sound of Beatles songs (i.e., chord progressions, changes, etc.) and (ii) whether, in general, differences in tuning between ukuleles (except baritones) and guitars, which results in the same fretting producing different chords on each instrument, might generally influence the sound of a song written on the ukulele and played on the guitar. In other words, do people think differently about putting chords together one after the other on the basis of how a chord is fretted on the instrument on which the song is being written? Sorry, I don't know enough about music theory to explain these thoughts any better than that. Anyway, good luck with your thesis and please be sure to let us know what topic you actually pick.

luvdat
03-04-2010, 12:22 AM
A good question: are the seeds of a backlash already present in the current ukulele wave? Yes...but things could go differently if...

Aside from a thesis, this might make an interesting though maybe doomed to get "closed" thread.

Frankly, I'm more inclined to just seeing the ukulele as a "given" as once stated somewhere by Ahnko Honu. Then whether or not the ukulele is part of a wave, "taken seriously" or not...no worries.

Ukulele JJ
03-04-2010, 03:00 AM
Good points, luvdat. It will be interesting to compare the current "state of the uke" with what it will be when this thesis finally gets turned in two years from now.

JJ

shwee
03-06-2010, 04:31 AM
How about, "The Second Golden Age of the Ukulele." The first was in the 1920s-1940s. Why is it happening again, and what effect is it having on contemporary music, if any? Something like that would be interesting.



You could probably do 50 pages on how to pronounce the word. Get into etymology, the descriptive vs. prescriptive debate, the cultural effects of imperialism, etc.

These are both good topics. You could talk about how the ukulele has made a comeback into the world of pop culture, using examples such as movies it's been in (here's an Amazon.com list (http://www.amazon.com/Flicks-Ukes-Movies-Ukuleles/lm/R1S4U7SWCSWJN6)), the long list of indie bands to use it (as a "'legit" academic source, you might be able to cite the TED talk where Nellie McKay performed with her ukulele (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/nellie_mckay_sings_feminists_and_if_i_had_you.html )) You could also perhaps talk about the effect that these bands are having on the instruments popularity (or the effect that the popularity is having on influencing these bands, whichever way you want to take it). Bands you could expore would be Train (there's a performance on youtube of just the lead singer singing Soul Sister accompanied by a ukulele (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-7XPCNrD5Y)) The Beatles, Beirut, Dent May, Jake Shimabukuro, Julia Nunes, Uni and Her Ukulele, Israel Kamakawi'wole, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Noah and the Whale, etc. There are a ton you could find. Another reason the uke may be becoming more popular is because of the recent economic downturn. If you check Google Trends, you can get a graphical view that shows the rise in ukulele popularity over time. It seems to become more popular as the economy gets worse. You can talk about how that could be attributed to the uke's affordability relative to other musical instruments. Another reason could be that people seem to be in a "DIY revolution" where they want to, well, DIY. Playing ukulele makes sense with this mindset because it's such a simple instrument that people can pick it up, no problem, without really needing professional lessons. Also, because it's so easy, it really goes along with this need for instant gratification that we all seem to have nowadays. The Internet makes finding chords and tabs easy and fast, and the simplicty of the uke makes it (mostly) easy to learn.

The pronunciation suggestion was probably a joke, lol, but you could potentially talk about that too. People get into heated debates about the correct way to pronounce the word, and if you really wanted to talk about that, I'm sure you could find a ton of sources that talk about the Hawaiian language and pronunciation, and perhaps why we "mispronounce" it most of the time. Another thing to look into would be the different meanings people have attributed with the name (such as "jumping flea" or "the gift that came").

Another good "base" topic to get into would be history. You could open your paper with a little history lesson on the uke, and how it came to be here in the mainland.

Also, I know that Wikipedia is by no means a scholarly source, and you probably shouldn't cite it in your paper, but if you search Wikipedia, it DOES cite legitimate sources on the bottoms of the articles, so you can use Wikipedia to look for those articles.

Hoped that helped! Good luck!

ambrose
03-06-2010, 08:08 AM
How about, "The Second Golden Age of the Ukulele." The first was in the 1920s-1940s. Why is it happening again, and what effect is it having on contemporary music, if any? Something like that would be interesting.
Actually this is the third golden age of the ukulele. The second was during the late 50's and incorporated the very popular Arthur Godfrey television show. He popularized the baritone uke. Some say he invented it. Also part of this wave was the folk boom of the late 50s and the surge in ukulele popularity in postwar Japan. Herbert Khaury's 'Tiny Tim' character was conceived at this time as well, although his popularity came in the late 1960s. He was part of the folk boom though, playing Greenwich Village folk clubs with Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk in the early 60s.

All three golden ages have a few things in common. First wave had the introduction of radio, second television and third internet. Three technologies that brought popular entertainment and ideas to the masses in their homes. But at a price. Where once people entertained themselves and their friends by playing music, kitchen parties, local concerts and such, now entertainment became a passive activity. Why sing to your family when you could listen to Caruso, Crosby, Ella or Elvis? The ukulele has addressed that in all three golden ages. I like to think of it as the anti-ipod. Also the three ages coincided with major social and/or economic changes. The 20s and today's situation are obvious, but the mid to late 50s were the seeds of many of the crazy things that happened in the 60s.

GrumpyCoyote
03-06-2010, 08:15 AM
All three golden ages have a few things in common. First wave had the introduction of radio, second television and third internet.

Now that's a thesis... Brilliant idea there. I've been looking at fad dynamic for the cause and effect - but the answer may very well be embedded in the media itself. Most of us just never saw ourselves playing uke until we saw how accessible and approachable it could be through the internet. Interesting...

Lori
03-06-2010, 03:00 PM
Another resource might be Malcolm Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point". It has an interesting view on how things become popular.

Ian Chadwick has scanned a lot of vintage ukulele music on his website http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/musicbooks.htm That could give you some ideas.

Also if you want to perform something, you could play a traditional Hawaiian song, then something from the 1920's-40's, then maybe something from the Arthur Godfrey days, and finally something from today. Ukulele- very versatile instrument survives the test of time.

–Lori