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View Full Version : From whence comes the name "Concert Ukulele"



southcoastukes
08-02-2011, 06:16 PM
What we know as a "Concert" today, was first called a "Tenor". Why was it later changed to "Concert". I have a theory, but don't know for sure.

Anyone have a definite answer?

ichadwick
08-03-2011, 07:22 AM
What we know as a "Concert" today, was first called a "Tenor". Why was it later changed to "Concert". I have a theory, but don't know for sure.

Anyone have a definite answer?
When was a 15" scale referred to a tenor?

southcoastukes
08-03-2011, 07:28 AM
When was a 15" scale referred to a tenor?

Look at the Johnny Marvin models - maybe also some of the Regals. Cliff Ewards had at least one "Tenor" that today we would call a concert. In all cases, this was before the modern Tenor had made it's appearance.

Any ideas on the Concert name, Ian?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-03-2011, 08:38 AM
OK, I'll take a stab at this. This is my made up version BTW and has no basis in truth or fact.

Since the only size ukulele at the time of it's origin was the soprano, the concert size was introduced (around 1920 I think) to provide a louder instrument in concert like settings. Since we can never leave things alone, and as a society we seem to want things bigger and better, the tenor was built shortly after the success of the concert. (It was originally called the "Astrodome" model, but the name never stuck.) The baritone was invented by Authur Godfrey because his fingers were too chubby to play the smaller sizes.

(In hindsight I think at least some of this is true.)

Lori
08-03-2011, 12:41 PM
I am confused now, because I thought there was an Alto size, which is the same as the concert size. I would love to know more info on how this all came about.

–Lori

southcoastukes
08-03-2011, 02:04 PM
I had always kind of assumed something like Chuck (astrodome?), that it was just a bigger instrument for a concert setting. Lori, however, brings up the point about the Alto name. I think there was some brief use of it somewhere, but irregardless, it seems the most logical choice.

Why, then, did it end up as a "Concert". I think there's another reason!

kissing
08-03-2011, 02:06 PM
In Korea, they call Concert ukuleles Alto.
It makes more logical sense as far as a naming system goes.

You don't have a Soprano, tenor and concert voice. You have an Alto voice.
Same applies to other instruments. You have Alto saxophone, not a "Concert" saxophone.

No idea why "Concert" caught on with ukulele. Must be some kind of trend thing throughout ukulele history that became convention.
Or maybe when it first came out, one company called it that and the rest followed suit.

PoiDog
08-03-2011, 02:09 PM
How about the smaller-than-soprano ones? I've heard/seen them called sopraninho, but back when I was living in Honolulu, some of the older locals called the tiny one a "ne-ne"

southcoastukes
08-03-2011, 06:23 PM
Well, I was hoping someone would know for sure, but here's my theory.

Music written in the key of C is often referred to as being in a "Concert Pitch". With the piano, this scale is all white keys. Since the Concert Ukulele is the only ukulele originally designed for tuning to the key of C - hence name: "Concert Ukulele".

What'ya think?

zac987
08-03-2011, 06:36 PM
That is definitely the most logical reason, in my opinion. Then again, it could possibly just come from one maker calling it "Concert" and the rest following suit.

kissing
08-03-2011, 07:13 PM
That's a good explanation, but I think it's still a bit of a long shot..
I'm still more convinced with the theory that when it first came out, it was hyped to be a "Concert" uke due to having a longer neck, more frets and a larger body, somehow making it a more deluxe "concert" standard instrument than a shorter-scaled soprano.

After the first company who made the "Concert" ukulele released it, I guess it didn't take long before others copied it and also called it "Concert"...

pulelehua
08-03-2011, 07:14 PM
I like the tuning answer. It also says how it's different from a "traditional" (an older popular name for sopranos).

All that being said, I like the term "alto". It makes it easy to understand if you understand music a bit.

joejeweler
08-03-2011, 07:40 PM
Look at the Johnny Marvin models - maybe also some of the Regals. Cliff Ewards had at least one "Tenor" that today we would call a concert. In all cases, this was before the modern Tenor had made it's appearance.

Any ideas on the Concert name, Ian?

Yep,...here's a Johnny Marvin "Professional Tenor" currently on Elderly Instruments that is nowadays a concert
scale at 14 7/8".

http://elderly.com/vintage/items/180U-1157.htm

redBee
08-03-2011, 11:07 PM
I am confused now, because I thought there was an Alto size, which is the same as the concert size. I would love to know more info on how this all came about.

–Lori

I've seen an interview with Fred Kamaka where he mentioned the concert was called Alto, before Sam Sr. decided to name it concert. So I think he was the person who coined the term.

Uke Whisperer
08-03-2011, 11:49 PM
Confirmation? Waiting with bated breath!

bdukes
08-04-2011, 12:55 AM
The tuning rationale seems to have legs. Wasn't D tuning more common for Sopranos in the 1920s? A lot of the sheet music is written in D from the time. So it would make sense that a longer scale built for/perhaps more appropriate for C tuning be called Concert for "concert pitch." Sam Kamaka may have called it that first for that reason. As a marketing guy, I also think the bigger is better rational may have some merit too considering the times. Acoustic instruments in band settings needed to project louder to be heard. Just as there are Flamenco guitars named after the style of music or setting in which they're played, they're very close to the same size as "regular" guitars but primarily built for projection and tone to be heard over the clapping, dancing and vocals.

Fun to ponder though.

FiL
08-04-2011, 04:16 AM
This same question was posted on the Flea Market Music Bulletin Board, and this is the reply I posted there:

My understanding is that the concert-sized ukulele was originally just a four-string version of the Martin taropatch.

I always assumed the "concert" moniker was taken from Martin's guitar line, where the concert guitar (single-O) was the first "big" guitar Martin made. I'm guessing the intent was that because it was bigger, it was loud enough to be played in concert setting, rather than just in a parlor.

Here's a nice, but short, article on the concert uke:

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/great-guitars-the-origins-of-the-concert-uke/

And a little bit more info here:

http://www.geocities.com/~ukulele/martin2.html

Ron98GT
08-04-2011, 04:48 AM
I've seen an interview with Fred Kamaka where he mentioned the concert was called Alto, before Sam Sr. decided to name it concert. So I think he was the person who coined the term.

I've watched all those history of Kamaka YouTube videos and I also remember Kamaka claiming that Sam Sr built and sold the first Concert. Anybody else see that clip?

70sSanO
08-04-2011, 06:02 AM
I'm throwing my hat behind the Martin naming convention and not the tuning.

I think evolving from the taropatch makes sense and during that time frame Martin guitars were concert guitars. I think the dreadnaught did not carry a Martin badge until the 1930's.

I am wondering if the tenor ukulele was not named after the vocal/brass instrument vernacular. I am more inclined to believe that the tenor ukulele was named after the tenor guitar, both of which first appeared at about the same time (late 1920's).

John

southcoastukes
08-04-2011, 05:04 PM
Seems we are at a loggerhead. Martin or Kamaka? If Kamaka, maybe the tuning theory holds - if Martin, maybe the Concert Ukulele as mini Concert Guitar is the answer.

According to the article, Martin did their first Concerts in 1924. Anyone know when the first Kamaka Concert was made?

joejeweler
08-04-2011, 06:44 PM
OK, I'll take a stab at this. This is my made up version BTW and has no basis in truth or fact.

Since the only size ukulele at the time of it's origin was the soprano, the concert size was introduced (around 1920 I think) to provide a louder instrument in concert like settings. Since we can never leave things alone, and as a society we seem to want things bigger and better, the tenor was built shortly after the success of the concert. (It was originally called the "Astrodome" model, but the name never stuck.) The baritone was invented by Authur Godfrey because his fingers were too chubby to play the smaller sizes.

(In hindsight I think at least some of this is true.)

Geeze, just what i need,.....another "size does matter" scenario. :smileybounce: