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JJ1726
02-04-2011, 03:09 PM
Hey everybody. I could use some help from the entire ukulele community. Lemme give you some background here first though.

I have to write a 60-70 page masters thesis over the course of the next 10-11 months and as I love music, I figured "Hey, why not show the world the ukulele is a real instrument" and decided to pick a topic involving ukulele. I needed to pick a topic that help show the ukulele as playing music at a level higher than just chords and accompaniment and decided to transcribe cello pieces to ukulele and write about it. I was thinking about doing Bach Cello suites but I don't want to just copy what John King did. My goal here is to help make ukulele more respected so I need to move in a new direction. Copying King isn't the way to do that. So, enough talk already.

So, basically, I'm just asking for guidance or assistance from anyone. Anything from sources you might find to song suggestions to even just a supportive note will be appreciated. Tell me if what I'm trying to do here isn't clear, I'll go more in depth.

Thank you - JJ

TCK
02-04-2011, 03:54 PM
Man I wish masters in Biology were that fun...sigh.
You did not mention in your post whether you are a already a Uker, or if you are a cellist who would like to be a uker...but (and admittedly, I would not know a Bach cello piece if ti fell on my head) I figure that a project like this starts with technique, especially if the music is already in your head. My short exposure to all things Uke (and addiction- strange addiction) has lead me to this fellow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAgMqbsKhgw&feature=related
and wishing there were more like him. His name pops up here from time to time...but he is truly brilliant I think.
Good luck with it- and please, so share- so much more fun if it ends as a document for the collars, and a bunch of videos for us.
Cheers

Ukulele JJ
02-04-2011, 04:28 PM
My goal here is to help make ukulele more respected so I need to move in a new direction.

If I were you (and keep in mind that I have no idea what your major is), I'd start with first of all determining if the assumptions you seem to have are even true or not.

What are people's opinions about the ukulele anyway? What percentage of people "respect" it already? What percentage think it's a toy? What percentage don't really have an opinion one way or another? And what are ukulele player's opinions on the matter? What percentage cares about the amount of respect the instrument has vs. the percentage that doesn't?

Furthermore, would playing something fancy-pants on the ukulele change anyone's perspectives? If your goal is to increase people's respect for the instrument, is it better to try to get the instrument to play a style of music the people already respect? Or is it better to increase people's respect for the deep musical heritage the ukulele already has (the rich culture of traditional Hawaiian folk music, the role it played in early 20th-century vaudeville, etc.)

In other words, should you bring the ukulele to the people or bring the people to the ukulele?

What are the purposes of music in the first place, and by what yardstick do we measure how successful any given piece of music, or any instrument, is at achieving those purposes? What biases play into that evaluation? What legitimizes an instrument and/or a type of music? There's a treasure trove of thesis material along those lines, if you're interested in writing about it.

JJ



P.S. Technically you would transcribe a cello piece for the ukulele. This may, or may not, also involve transposing it.

JJ1726
02-04-2011, 05:14 PM
If I were you (and keep in mind that I have no idea what your major is), I'd start with first of all determining if the assumptions you seem to have are even true or not.

What are people's opinions about the ukulele anyway? What percentage of people "respect" it already? What percentage think it's a toy? What percentage don't really have an opinion one way or another? And what are ukulele player's opinions on the matter? What percentage cares about the amount of respect the instrument has vs. the percentage that doesn't?

Furthermore, would playing something fancy-pants on the ukulele change anyone's perspectives? If your goal is to increase people's respect for the instrument, is it better to try to get the instrument to play a style of music the people already respect? Or is it better to increase people's respect for the deep musical heritage the ukulele already has (the rich culture of traditional Hawaiian folk music, the role it played in early 20th-century vaudeville, etc.)

In other words, should you bring the ukulele to the people or bring the people to the ukulele?

What are the purposes of music in the first place, and by what yardstick do we measure how successful any given piece of music, or any instrument, is at achieving those purposes? What biases play into that evaluation? What legitimizes an instrument and/or a type of music? There's a treasure trove of thesis material along those lines, if you're interested in writing about it.

JJ



P.S. Technically you would transcribe a cello piece for the ukulele. This may, or may not, also involve transposing it.

Thank you for your quick response.

These assumptions are not neccesarily assumptions. I should of added this into the intro but I sent surveys to 3 college music programs and also sent them as a control to different high schools and college classes around my area asking most of the questions you asked me and got overwhelming responses basically stating that the view of ukulele was that it was a novelty and not as respected an instrument as say a cello or viola. This made me want to try and get it respected in the more theoretical music world. My goal is to get respected members of the musical world to look at the ukulele as a instrument that you can compose respectable music on, the same as on a piano. I'm trying to continue what Jake Shimabukuro and John King started.

Also, the transcribe/ transpose was a simple typo, sorry. :cool:

And to TCK, I'm an ex-cellist and I've been playing ukulele for about 5 years now. I have a musical background also, with drums and piano as my 2 main instruments along with ukulele. Thanks for the video.

JJ1726
02-04-2011, 05:19 PM
TCK, I just read the the stuff posted under the video. I plan on sharing all of the work I complete and putting a link up when I'm done so people can see the work I've done I'll also hopefully be making videos of the pieces when I finish them.

You also reminded me that I have 3 classical pieces that I already did for fun to put up to the tabs section. :D

itsme
02-04-2011, 05:27 PM
You also reminded me that I have 3 classical pieces that I already did for fun to put up to the tabs section. :D
Oh, please do! :D

Indianarick
02-04-2011, 07:23 PM
Funny. I am in a similar situation. Looking for a later-career resaerch topic and have been exploring uke-related possibilities. I have some flexibility and am conducting literature research to see what has (and hasn't) been written. Good luck to you!

austin1
02-04-2011, 08:41 PM
My goal is to get respected members of the musical world to look at the ukulele as a instrument that you can compose respectable music on, the same as on a piano. I'm trying to continue what Jake Shimabukuro and John King started.


But the ukulele, as much as I love it, isn't the same as a piano. For one, the piano has far, far more range than a uke. For two, you can do things on a piano you can't do on a uke (and vice versa). For three, the piano has been around way longer, going all the way back to the late 1600's, early 1700's, and it's got a far more respected place in classical music.

I think (and this is just my 2 cents), that instead of using your master's thesis to convert all of musicdom to ukulele by saying "Look! You can play Bach on a uke!" you might have more luck taking a different approach. Technically, you can play Bach on a melodica too, but that doesn't mean you'll be seeing melodica symphonies anytime soon. Let's be honest, no master's thesis, no matter how brilliant, is going to turn the tide of popular thought.

A better approach might be to address such popular thought in your thesis, by saying "look, here's what most people think..." and then concentrating on the small but growing group of musicians who view the ukulele as something greater. Then, you've got options. You could look at:
--the reasoning for why this group imagines the ukulele as an instrument to compose on
--why these artists choose a ukulele as opposed to a piano, and what such pieces may be gaining/losing (you, as an ex-cellist, could offer an interesting personal perspective on that one)
--what virtues the ukulele possesses that makes it such a wonderful instrument for all types of music
--the shift in perspective from a ukulele as a toy instrument to a ukulele as a serious instrument
--how such musicians compose in the face of a general lack of support from classical establishments
--your opinions on what the ukulele must do to gain a foothold in classical music
--how classical music views the ukulele, and it's views thus far on the ukulele's "exclusion" (if you will)
--and I think it would be very interesting if you looked at all the reasons why the ukulele is not considered a classical instrument. Starting with the fact that Beethoven never wrote a part for the ukulele in any of his stuff.

And so on and so forth, you've got so many things you could do!

The way I understand it, I see two main problems with your argument as it stands now. One is that Jake is only one guy. And most people don't even know who John King is. So there are a few dozen great ukulele players. That's nice. There have been hundreds, thousands, of brilliant piano players, violin players, etc etc etc. Being a brilliant ukulele player is still a novelty. Being a brilliant piano or violin player is distinctly...not. So what, then, have Jake and John King started? This is something for you to consider examining in your thesis, but in my opinion, it's really something very small. They are big fish among us in the ukulele community, but in the larger world of classical music, they're guppies. Don't take that the wrong way. Jake creates absolutely stunning classical music on the ukulele, but he is only one guy. If anything, I would argue that Jake's success has created room for more ukulele success, but when it comes to classical music, there's still something of a disparity here. Mostly in sheer numbers.

The other problem is that I think you definitely need to avoid deifying the ukulele. As soon as you put the ukulele on a pedestal and say "this is the greatest, most perfect, most overlooked classical instrument the world has ever witnessed," your thesis has lost all credibility. The ukulele is not a perfect instrument, and it has limitations that you have to work around whenever you try to create/learn a piece of music. What are those limitations? How do people get around them? Why do people get around them? What do they stand to gain? These questions, I think, would make for a far more interesting and compelling thesis.

JamieFromOntario
02-05-2011, 02:09 AM
Hi JJ,

Consider touching base with James Hill; he has recorded and, I believe, lectured on classical music for ukulele. Check out his "One Small Suite for Ukulele" - a ukulele and cello duet. Additionally, it might be worth asking him about his guest teaching/lecturing at at least one prominent university here in Canada.

I like the idea of focusing on how the uke can be truly an instrument (for playing classical music) not just a toy. The ukulele is particularly interesting when used to play classical (aka any kind of music Renaissance-Romantic/Impressionist) because it, unlike the piano, did not exist during the time when the bulk of this 'classical' music was written. Though, I suppose that relatives of the uke (guitar, lute, etc) have been around much longer than most any other 'classical' music instrument. Perhaps this relation to much older instruments distinguishes uke from instruments such as piano which have a comparatively shorter history. Also, it could be argued that the ukulele may in fact be a better instrument for accurate performance practice of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music than piano as the tuning of the ukulele is more flexible and is not stuck in equal tempered tuning.

I'm not sure what discipline you are working from on this thesis, but you might consider looking at the ukulele from an ethnomusicologist's perspective - this would focus on ukulele in its social and cultural context. Further "...early ethnomusicology tended to focus on non-Western music that was transmitted through oral traditions. But, in more recent years, the field has expanded to embrace all musical styles from all parts of the world." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnomusicology) There might be something to looking at the connections between oral tradition and internet/social media.


If you are interest in the ethnomusicology approach, please feel free to PM me; I have connections with well-known ethnomusicologists who might be willing to give you some guidance.
I'd be very interested to know how you choose to go forward and what you discover.

peace,

lozarkman
02-05-2011, 02:44 AM
Will you have to orally defend/support your thesis to a panel or committee? When I did my master's (years ago :) ) I had to defend my thesis to a panel of six professors for a couple of hours. It was more grueling than the thesis itself. This might factor in to how you approach your thesis and the factors that contribute to the final analysis of the thesis. You might even get Jake to come to play for them. That should do it!! :) Good luck: Lozark

pulelehua
02-05-2011, 04:30 AM
I came to the ukulele about 15 months ago. As a composer/performer, I immediately went looking for all the "composed for ukulele" music. There isn't much (find Ernest Ka'ai if you haven't yet). One of the things which I think has hurt the ukulele is that it tends to perform arrangements of music written in other contexts. A cello suite on ukulele is always going to sound, to some extent, like a compromise.

So, what I did was to set out writing some music myself. This has slowly evolved into a series of etudes. I'm going for 10, and have 6 1/2 done so far.

The ukulele has a specific, unique voice, and when you find music written for the ukulele, it usually has something about it which brings out that magic just a bit more effectively than the usual arrangements (though John King's campanella certainly is unique-ish to the ukulele). That's essentially what I'm trying to do -- find the specific language of the ukulele, across a range of older genres (folk-ish to classical-ish). I should add that I am a bit militant about re-entrant tuning. Without it, you lose IMHO a huge aspect of the ukulele sound world.

I'm hoping to be done this summer, when I'll look to get them published somehow -- anybody out there good friends with Jumpin' Jim? ;)

If there's any help I can offer, please let me know, PM or otherwise.

Good luck. I did a PhD several years ago, and feel your impending pain.

JJ1726
02-07-2011, 06:10 PM
But the ukulele, as much as I love it, isn't the same as a piano. For one, the piano has far, far more range than a uke. For two, you can do things on a piano you can't do on a uke (and vice versa). For three, the piano has been around way longer, going all the way back to the late 1600's, early 1700's, and it's got a far more respected place in classical music.

I think (and this is just my 2 cents), that instead of using your master's thesis to convert all of musicdom to ukulele by saying "Look! You can play Bach on a uke!" you might have more luck taking a different approach. Technically, you can play Bach on a melodica too, but that doesn't mean you'll be seeing melodica symphonies anytime soon. Let's be honest, no master's thesis, no matter how brilliant, is going to turn the tide of popular thought.

A better approach might be to address such popular thought in your thesis, by saying "look, here's what most people think..." and then concentrating on the small but growing group of musicians who view the ukulele as something greater. Then, you've got options. You could look at:
--the reasoning for why this group imagines the ukulele as an instrument to compose on
--why these artists choose a ukulele as opposed to a piano, and what such pieces may be gaining/losing (you, as an ex-cellist, could offer an interesting personal perspective on that one)
--what virtues the ukulele possesses that makes it such a wonderful instrument for all types of music
--the shift in perspective from a ukulele as a toy instrument to a ukulele as a serious instrument
--how such musicians compose in the face of a general lack of support from classical establishments
--your opinions on what the ukulele must do to gain a foothold in classical music
--how classical music views the ukulele, and it's views thus far on the ukulele's "exclusion" (if you will)
--and I think it would be very interesting if you looked at all the reasons why the ukulele is not considered a classical instrument. Starting with the fact that Beethoven never wrote a part for the ukulele in any of his stuff.

And so on and so forth, you've got so many things you could do!

The way I understand it, I see two main problems with your argument as it stands now. One is that Jake is only one guy. And most people don't even know who John King is. So there are a few dozen great ukulele players. That's nice. There have been hundreds, thousands, of brilliant piano players, violin players, etc etc etc. Being a brilliant ukulele player is still a novelty. Being a brilliant piano or violin player is distinctly...not. So what, then, have Jake and John King started? This is something for you to consider examining in your thesis, but in my opinion, it's really something very small. They are big fish among us in the ukulele community, but in the larger world of classical music, they're guppies. Don't take that the wrong way. Jake creates absolutely stunning classical music on the ukulele, but he is only one guy. If anything, I would argue that Jake's success has created room for more ukulele success, but when it comes to classical music, there's still something of a disparity here. Mostly in sheer numbers.

The other problem is that I think you definitely need to avoid deifying the ukulele. As soon as you put the ukulele on a pedestal and say "this is the greatest, most perfect, most overlooked classical instrument the world has ever witnessed," your thesis has lost all credibility. The ukulele is not a perfect instrument, and it has limitations that you have to work around whenever you try to create/learn a piece of music. What are those limitations? How do people get around them? Why do people get around them? What do they stand to gain? These questions, I think, would make for a far more interesting and compelling thesis.

Thanks for your response.

I see what you're saying but you have exactly the same the view that I"m trying to show is false. Comparing the ukulele to the piano was more just off hand but lets compare it to something similar. Look at a violin. It has 4 strings it has a similar range of ukulele, but it is still regarded as something a masterpiece can be created on (Paganini's Caprices). It is just a matter of time and effort being put into the instrument. Your example of the 1000s of amazing pianists and cellists just shows that more people play those instruments. If as many people started playing ukulele early as they did piano or cello, the ukulele would have much more Jakes and John Hills. I'm not trying to prove that ukulele is the best instrument, I'm trying to prove that it can be a respected instrument, and not the "guitars little cousin".

JJ1726
02-07-2011, 06:11 PM
Will you have to orally defend/support your thesis to a panel or committee? When I did my master's (years ago :) ) I had to defend my thesis to a panel of six professors for a couple of hours. It was more grueling than the thesis itself. This might factor in to how you approach your thesis and the factors that contribute to the final analysis of the thesis. You might even get Jake to come to play for them. That should do it!! :) Good luck: Lozark

Yeah, I have to defend it. But, the good part is, part of my defense will be me playing some transcribed pieces and pieces I've created so thats fun. :cool:

Ron
02-07-2011, 06:39 PM
This is INTERESTING. Well, it is to a geek like me.

I wonder if another branch of investigation might trace some history of plucked string instruments and their relationship with the Ukulele and their relationship with "real" music. I imagine a music major would never suggest the baroque music wasn't real music or that the crumm(?) horn or whatever or even the early guitar wasn't a real instrument in that context.

That's my tuppence worth.

Chris Tarman
02-07-2011, 07:19 PM
You ought to look into the way ukulele has been used in Canada to teach music in schools. Sure, a lot of those kids go on to play "real" instruments, but at least one of them went on to become James Hill! When I first heard about how uke had been (and still is, at least in some places) used in Canadian music education, I thought "Wow... that would be so easy to do in the U.S. if schools wanted to". Unfortunately, it seems that all we hear about here is schools CUTTING music and other arts programs. Sorry that I wandered a bit off topic... it would be a good thing to mention briefly at least, just to show that it's taken more seriously as an instrument in at least one place outside of Hawaii.

fitncrafty
02-08-2011, 01:06 AM
You know my friend (she has two kids in school now) said that she used to play the uke in music when she was in middle school and just loved it! She was in MS in the district we live in and their programs have certainly been cut. So I bought her one for a gift... Said what's happening to music in the US...
Good luck with your thesis

austin1
02-08-2011, 05:27 AM
Thanks for your response.

I see what you're saying but you have exactly the same the view that I"m trying to show is false. Comparing the ukulele to the piano was more just off hand but lets compare it to something similar. Look at a violin. It has 4 strings it has a similar range of ukulele, but it is still regarded as something a masterpiece can be created on (Paganini's Caprices). It is just a matter of time and effort being put into the instrument. Your example of the 1000s of amazing pianists and cellists just shows that more people play those instruments. If as many people started playing ukulele early as they did piano or cello, the ukulele would have much more Jakes and John Hills. I'm not trying to prove that ukulele is the best instrument, I'm trying to prove that it can be a respected instrument, and not the "guitars little cousin".

But Iīm not saying that the ukulele canīt be composed on. Iīm just saying that traditionally, and in popular thought, it hasnīt generally been composed on, mostly because it just hasnīt been around. And the range of a violin canīt even compare to the ukeīs barely-two-octave range. The violin has more than double that, going from below middle c all the way up to almost the top of a piano.

And itīs not that if everyone started playing the ukulele early, weīd have more great players. Look at the history of the instruments. Traditional classical instruments have been around for centuries, whereas the uke is relatively new. Classical music on traditional instruments has had hundreds and hundreds of years to change and grow and develop a whole canon and school of thought. The ukulele is a new instrument, and therefore hasnīt had the time to earn a respected place in classical music.

Iīm not saying that classical music canīt be done on a ukulele, because it can. But your thesis has to be more comprehensive than "one time, I played Bach music on a ukulele" or youīll get torn apart when you go to defend it. Theyīll ask you all the questions that I asked you, and you have to be able to answer them. You have to look to locate modern classical ukulele playing in the bigger picture or else your thesis will be a moot point. In order to prove the ukulele is not the guitarīs little cousin, you have to look at how it became, to most people, the little cousin. And how people nowadays are working to free it from that moniker.

Lori
02-08-2011, 07:10 AM
I don't know if you can find out any information about this, but I always wondered if George Harrison might have composed some of his songs on the ukulele. When I pick out some of his melodies, like "Across the Universe" or "Here Comes the Sun", it just seems that much of the melody lands so conveniently on the open strings on a re-enterant ukulele. If you can discover if that is true, then you can maybe make the case for the ukulele as already been used as composing tool for now-classic modern music. We all know that George was a big ukulele enthusiast, so it would make sense that he might have come up with some of his songs on that instrument.
–Lori

Nickie
02-08-2011, 08:13 AM
Well, this is certainly an interesting thread. Some of it is way over my head, but I think it is a pretty lofty goal to have the ukulele accepted as a "real" instrument, like the violin or guitar. Not impossible, but with a lot of effort from many of us, it can eventually happen. I imagine it took a while for any new instrument to be accepted as "real", and not as a goofy toy.
I don't know if this counts in your project, but I might suggest you refer to some of the more prominent players/performers of today, and give short bios of great pickers of the past. somebody might even recognize some of them. If you can't afford to get Jake to come and play for your panel, maybe you or someone who is really good to give a demonstration of just want can be done on the uke. Demonstrations, as you know, are more effective than mere words. And teach them how to say UKULELE correctly, too.

austin1
02-08-2011, 08:33 AM
Well, this is certainly an interesting thread. Some of it is way over my head, but I think it is a pretty lofty goal to have the ukulele accepted as a "real" instrument, like the violin or guitar. Not impossible, but with a lot of effort from many of us, it can eventually happen. I imagine it took a while for any new instrument to be accepted as "real", and not as a goofy toy.
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Exactly. And the ukulele just hasn't had enough time, or enough brilliant players associated with it yet for popular thought to call it a "real" instrument. That doesn't mean it isn't, though.

janeray1940
02-08-2011, 08:49 AM
I always wondered if George Harrison might have composed some of his songs on the ukulele. When I pick out some of his melodies, like "Across the Universe" or "Here Comes the Sun"

I could be wrong, but I think Lennon wrote "Across the Universe." As for Harrison, I have been told that he composed "Something" on the ukulele, but I'm not sure how to go about verifying that.

pulelehua
02-08-2011, 09:41 AM
There are a few more important points, methinks:

1. The age of an instrument CAN be important, but isn't always. The piano stepped right into the harpsichord's shoes, and suddenly offered dynamics, and so was for most composers, a much improved keyboard instrument. And so very quickly it had everyone writing for it.
2. The saxophone, as a contrast, was invented in 1846. It was, inc ertain respects, an improved bass clarinet, but that instrument was hardly burning up the charts. It wasn't until Ravel composed Bolero in 1928, that the saxophone really had much respect as a "serious" instrument (and that was a soprano of all things!). And even in jazz, it wasn't much featured until Kansas City jazz took off, and the big band movement/craze. So, the saxophone took a good 90 years to hit its stride.
3. The ukulele has no classical tradition for the fairly simple reason that by the time it hit the mainland in 1915, classical music was fast losing its audience, the genres defining themselves as classical were changing drastically, and a small instrument, unable to compete with almost any orchestral instrument in terms of volume, was not going to attract much attention. You can't imagine Richard Strauss or Gustav Holst writing little ukulele passages in the middle of their symphonic onslaught. The ukulele probably would have fared much better had it been invented in 1720, and could have been composed for to entertain court, and other chamber music settings. But it wasn't, and so it had to fit in to genres which could accommodate it. It is an essentially intimate instrument, and so lent itself to situations where one person was playing.
4. If you're looking for great classical reputation and a limited range, the oboe is probably your winner. It doesn't reach 3 octaves (2 1/2-ish), and has had lots of music written for it, from great part-writing to whole concerti. So, an oboe has the same range more or less as a ukulele with lots of frets, but can only play one note at a time. So, that limitation isn't necessarily all that limiting. The oboe, incidentally, is sort of an indoor shawm, a prettier version of a much older instrument, and like the piano, a big hit fairly quickly.
5. In the first golden age of the ukulele, it settled very naturally into its role of accompanying song, which it has never left. It did have proponents of instrumental music, but again, given the lack of amplification technology, its uses were limited. Unfortunately, when it would have been quite easy to amplify a ukulele, it was in its transition stage from Arthur Godfrey (whose career ended badly) to Tiny Tim, who probably did more to damage the image of the instrument than anyone. (That's not a statement against Tiny Tim, so much as against pop culture and the whole "in"s and "out"s of fashion.)

K. Done. Sorry for the long-windedness...

Lori
02-08-2011, 10:34 AM
I could be wrong, but I think Lennon wrote "Across the Universe." As for Harrison, I have been told that he composed "Something" on the ukulele, but I'm not sure how to go about verifying that.
George was always giving his friends ukuleles, so John and Paul had them too. I don't know if Ringo ever got into it, because I have never seen a photo of him with a uke, but I am sure George tried. I had kind of assumed "Across the Universe" was George because he got them interested in East Indian music and philosophy. But maybe John wrote it on the ukulele... it's the same result either way. Songs are greatly influenced by the instrument that they are composed on. It becomes clear that Brian Wilson was using a piano, not a guitar or uke when writing many of the Beach Boys songs.
–Lori

knadles
02-08-2011, 11:42 AM
If you're looking for a musical performance tie-in, perhaps you could investigate how the ukulele could translate into a wide variety of musical forms. Maybe historical musical forms? Ukulele shanty? Ukulele klezmer? Ukulele chant? :)

Just thinking out loud here... (But not kidding.)

-Pete

philpot
02-08-2011, 12:06 PM
That sounds like a great idea to me. I think its easily defensible. It's going to take a lot of work, but (as we all know) it is truly an amazing instrument, and you should be able to show that :)

ukecantdothat
02-08-2011, 12:07 PM
Wow! Looks like you just went from "I have to write a thesis" to "I get to write a thesis!" Plus, you came to the right place for direction. I always get a chuckle when I hear the suggestion that the uke is not a "real" instrument. It doesn't take much more than a paragraph to blow that notion out of the water. I would suggest not even bringing that up and just stick to the facinating history that is the ukulele!

Good luck and have fun with your thesis!

Plainsong
02-08-2011, 12:13 PM
There's an interview somewhere, where George outright says he considers himself a uke player and not so much of a guitar player. He wasn't just a little into uke. He was very into uke. If he was alive, I bet he'd be all over Jake's version of Gently Weeps.

JJ1726
02-08-2011, 03:05 PM
But Iīm not saying that the ukulele canīt be composed on. Iīm just saying that traditionally, and in popular thought, it hasnīt generally been composed on, mostly because it just hasnīt been around. And the range of a violin canīt even compare to the ukeīs barely-two-octave range. The violin has more than double that, going from below middle c all the way up to almost the top of a piano.

And itīs not that if everyone started playing the ukulele early, weīd have more great players. Look at the history of the instruments. Traditional classical instruments have been around for centuries, whereas the uke is relatively new. Classical music on traditional instruments has had hundreds and hundreds of years to change and grow and develop a whole canon and school of thought. The ukulele is a new instrument, and therefore hasnīt had the time to earn a respected place in classical music.

Iīm not saying that classical music canīt be done on a ukulele, because it can. But your thesis has to be more comprehensive than "one time, I played Bach music on a ukulele" or youīll get torn apart when you go to defend it. Theyīll ask you all the questions that I asked you, and you have to be able to answer them. You have to look to locate modern classical ukulele playing in the bigger picture or else your thesis will be a moot point. In order to prove the ukulele is not the guitarīs little cousin, you have to look at how it became, to most people, the little cousin. And how people nowadays are working to free it from that moniker.

Thank you for your response.

You are saying that all of the typical classical instruments have been around longer and such have become respected instruments. Well, we have to start somewhere with the ukulele. I can defend those questions as I am trying to do my part to further it the knowledge of the ukuleles capabilities. Playing the Bach pieces will only help to further show what the ukulele is capable of. I can't tackle all of the bigger picture of my ukulele in my thesis.

Jim T.
02-08-2011, 03:16 PM
While it's true that there is no classical tradition associated with the 'ukulele -- that is, a tradition of classical musicians composing on the 'ukulele -- there is a long history of individual artists stretching the repertoire to demonstrate its versatility, and, yes, demonstrate that it's a "real" instrument. I'm thinking of George Kia attempting, "not unsuccessfully, a solo interpretation of ‘Il Trovatore,’ showing how far a ukulele expert can go in the use of his favorite instrument” in Los Angeles in 1914. Jennie Durkee, an early 'ukulele virtuoso of the teens and twenties, favored a classical instrumental repertoire that included pieces by Puccini, Grainger, and Rubinstein to demonstrate the 'ukulele’s range. And so on.

JJ1726
02-08-2011, 03:30 PM
While it's true that there is no classical tradition associated with the 'ukulele -- that is, a tradition of classical musicians composing on the 'ukulele -- there is a long history of individual artists stretching the repertoire to demonstrate its versatility, and, yes, demonstrate that it's a "real" instrument. I'm thinking of George Kia attempting, "not unsuccessfully, a solo interpretation of ‘Il Trovatore,’ showing how far a ukulele expert can go in the use of his favorite instrument” in Los Angeles in 1914. Jennie Durkee, an early 'ukulele virtuoso of the teens and twenties, favored a classical instrumental repertoire that included pieces by Puccini, Grainger, and Rubinstein to demonstrate the 'ukulele’s range. And so on.

Do you have recordings of these performers or know where I can find them?

Ron
02-08-2011, 05:33 PM
...
4. If you're looking for great classical reputation and a limited range, the oboe is probably your winner. It doesn't reach 3 octaves (2 1/2-ish), and has had lots of music written for it, from great part-writing to whole concerti. So, an oboe has the same range more or less as a ukulele with lots of frets, but can only play one note at a time. So, that limitation isn't necessarily all that limiting. The oboe, incidentally, is sort of an indoor shawm, a prettier version of a much older instrument, and like the piano, a big hit fairly quickly........
Aaah, the oboe. An ill wind that nobody blows good ;-)

Jim T.
02-09-2011, 05:31 AM
Do you have recordings of these performers or know where I can find them?

Both Kia and Durkee published 'ukulele methods (Kia in Los Angeles in 1914, Durkee in Chicago in 1917), and Durkee was a regular radio performer in Los Angeles in the 1920s, but I'm not aware of any commercial recordings by either.

JJ1726
02-09-2011, 03:34 PM
Both Kia and Durkee published 'ukulele methods (Kia in Los Angeles in 1914, Durkee in Chicago in 1917), and Durkee was a regular radio performer in Los Angeles in the 1920s, but I'm not aware of any commercial recordings by either.

Rats. I'll keep searching, i might stumble upon something. Thanks.

ukecantdothat
02-09-2011, 09:11 PM
You could probably do a thesis on the underground here. Call it:

"Close, But No Guitar: Inside The ukuleleunderground"

:nana:

Ukulele JJ
02-10-2011, 04:50 AM
"Close, But No Guitar"

That

is

brilliant!

:shaka:

JJ

JJ1726
02-10-2011, 11:59 AM
That

is

brilliant!

:shaka:

JJ
Ha, that should be used as a slogan somewhere.