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jjpan84
03-07-2013, 01:36 AM
Hello forum,

I need help coming up with a thesis for my informative speech of 6-8 min. I want to talk about the history of the ukulele (more specifically its waves of popularity in the U.S.) but can't find a proper thesis to build around. I was thinking about how the ukulele is labeled as a fad and talk about the rise and falls of the ukulele in the U.S.-- influences that started each rise, factors that caused its decline, etc. Any thoughts/comments would be much appreciated. Thanks!

jjpan84

Nicko
03-07-2013, 02:35 AM
An exhaustive analysis of the history of uke fads in the US would be a lot to cover in 6-8 minutes. I think it would be easy to talk about the reasons that uke fads began and the characteristics of the uke that contribute to its popularity as a fad instrument (low cost, small size, ease of playing at a basic but rewarding level, etc), but difficult to talk about why uke fads decline (probably because ALL fads decline, usually when replaced by the next fad).

tainauke
03-07-2013, 02:53 AM
I agree with Nicko, history of the ukulele may be a bit long for 6-8 minutes...
Do you have to write a thesis and then have a 6-8 minute presentation of the thesis, or just a short oral presentation?

jjpan84
03-07-2013, 07:36 AM
An exhaustive analysis of the history of uke fads in the US would be a lot to cover in 6-8 minutes. I think it would be easy to talk about the reasons that uke fads began and the characteristics of the uke that contribute to its popularity as a fad instrument (low cost, small size, ease of playing at a basic but rewarding level, etc), but difficult to talk about why uke fads decline (probably because ALL fads decline, usually when replaced by the next fad).

Thanks for the reply Nicko! I agree that an in-depth analysis of the history would be a lot to cover in 6-8 minutes. I originally planned to only have 3 parts to the body for each wave, but didn't know how to tie in the characteristics of the uke which were/are important to its popularity. After reading your post, I came up with this structure for the body:


1. Reasons Uke fads Began

A. First Wave
1. Start : Novelty and Link to Hawaii
2. Decline: Great Depression

B. Second Wave
1. Start: Arthur Godfrey + Cheap Plastic Ukes
2. Decline: Rock n' Roll

C. Third Wave
1. Start: Iz K's Somewhere over the Rainbow
a. Train's Hey soul sister + Jason Mraz's I'm yours.
b. Age of Internet: Yites with tabs/chord
2. Decline: To be determined.


2. Characteristics contributing to fad
A. price
B. size
C. Easy chords => gratification


**I could probably make a whole speech on characteristics alone. I still have a persuasion of value speech (convincing my audience to pick up the ukulele) where I could go more in depth on those.

I'll put in more examples/statistics in there and then time my speech to see how long the speech will be. I'm still thinking about a good thesis, but you got the ball rolling. :) Thanks.

jjpan84
03-07-2013, 07:40 AM
I agree with Nicko, history of the ukulele may be a bit long for 6-8 minutes...
Do you have to write a thesis and then have a 6-8 minute presentation of the thesis, or just a short oral presentation?

Hi Tainauke.

I need to give a 6-8 minute presentation as well as turn in a complete outline of it.

watrr
03-07-2013, 08:32 AM
Fascinating.

Here's a video of the story of the Kamaka family

http://video.pbs.org/video/1480799425/


Really good watch

Boston Bill
03-07-2013, 10:03 AM
I think that you may have things a little Bass-akwards, in regards to the Depression being a cause of the uke's deline.
Actualy,ukuleles sold very well during the depression.
So much in fact, that the Martin Guitar Company was kept afloat due to ukulele sales.
This is actually pretty common knowledge.

tainauke
03-07-2013, 10:16 AM
hey jjpan84,

You should watch "Mighty Uke" which details the whole history of the ukulele.
Also, Boston Bill is right, the ukulele thrived during the Great Depression.
I believe that the uke's first decline was due to blues and jass music which had a new sound which didn't include the ukulele.

jjpan84
03-07-2013, 07:00 PM
Thanks for more input BostonBill and Tainuke.

I was thinking the Great Depression could've played a part in its decline. I should change my wording from the reason for decline to factors of decline. In "The Ukulele: A Visual History", Jim Beloff includes a chart of Martin Ukulele Production Totals:

1926: 14,101
1927: 5,860
1928: 3,605
1929: 3,349
1930: 4,584
1931: 2,718 (Unemployment Rate: 15.82%)
1932: 987 (Unemployment Rate: 23.53%)
1933: 737 (Unemployment Rate: 24.75%)
1934: 917
1935: 985
1936: 1,076
1937: 1,436
1938: 1,144
1939: 862


Of course this is only for Martin ukuleles; cheaper ukuleles could have sold better. The decline of the ukulele during the Great Depression could also definitely be attributed to the rise of blues and jazz music as well. Thanks for pointing that out. I hadn't even considered that yet. It's like Nicko said above, it's "difficult to talk about why uke fads decline (probably because ALL fads decline, usually when replaced by the next fad)."

I have to give my speech on Monday, so I can't purchase the "Mighty Uke" and watch it in time to use it as a reference. Dang my procrastination. It certainly would've been a great reference. Again, I really appreciate the input. You guys are definitely helping me with ideas.

justinlcecil
03-07-2013, 10:03 PM
I recently did an informative speech on the ukulele and it turned out very well.

My thesis statement: I will share with you all the humble beginnings of the ukulele and its journey since its inception. Things like how did the ukulele come to Hawaii and, Its reception on the mainland, and its rise in popularity ever since.

Links I used for the info:
http://www.geocities.com/~ukulele/history.html

http://www.ukuleleguild.org/history.php

http://www.ianchadwick.com/ukuleles/history.htm

http://liveukulele.com/ukulele-info/history-of-the-ukulele/

justinlcecil
03-07-2013, 10:04 PM
I also HIGHLY recommend you watch the documentary "Mighty Uke."

tainauke
03-07-2013, 10:50 PM
Well to consider the decline of the ukulele, you have to see music as art.
Art, whether it be music, paintings, even fashion, is always redefining itself.
In music, it can be searching new ways to tell an old story or a new sound all together.

This is why the ukulele comes and goes. At first it starts out as a new sound, something fresh that people haven't heard too much, then musicians experiment with it to try to find a new sound with the ukulele.

The decline of the ukulele (and these are only my opinions, and I'm not an expert) is because the instrument isn't taken as a serious instrument. I imagine that as a musician if you say that you play the ukulele, people also expect you to play another instrument, a "real" instrument. On the other hand, if you say that you play the violin or the guitar, the "general public" won't (always) expect you to play something else because those instruments are already "complicated".
Hopefully for the ukulele, things will change thanks to musicians who have demonstrated that the ukulele, even though it is small, even though it only has 4 strings, can be as "complicated" as a guitar. Time will tell...

As for the ukulele and the Great Depression, yes, sales of the ukulele declined in the Martin Co at the time, but as it was pointed out, Martin is still an existing company thanks to the ukulele. Sheet music during the depression was written for the piano and the ukulele - not the guitar or another instrument, but the ukulele, because of its popularity at the time.

Oh and a last thing, (again this is still my humble opinion) I don't believe that it's the Rock movement that made the ukulele decline. I think it's electric guitar. I don't think that at the time the ukulele had gone electric, but I could be mistaken. You'd have to check on that...

If you can't watch "Mighty Uke" before the thesis, go on the internet on their site http://mightyukemovie.com/# and watch the extracts or on UTube...

Hope it goes well!!!!