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View Full Version : John King, for those who may be unfamiliar with him



janeray1940
12-25-2013, 09:04 AM
This post (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?91372-I-know-we-would-be-good-friends), along with a couple of other recent ones about uke size, made me think it would be worthwhile to do a post dedicated to the late John King, seen here playing the seasonally appropriate Carol of the Bells (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7eCz8SC86U).

He played reentrant. He played mostly soprano. He was an amazing player and a learned historian and all-around advocate of the ukulele as a "serious" instrument.

A lot of ukulele players are unfamiliar with him, partly I'm guessing because he is no longer with us, and partly (sigh) because he didn't have the "cute factor" or "flash factor" or some of the players that are better known, so this post is my attempt to do something about that.

A few links for those who would like to know more:

Nalu Music website (http://www.nalu-music.com/)
John King's YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/NaluMusic/videos)

Some of his books and recordings on Amazon:
Johann Sebastian Bach: Partita No. 3, BWV 1006 For Unaccompanied Ukulele (http://www.amazon.com/Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Partita-Unaccompanied/dp/B00007IOYR/ref=ntt_mus_dp_dpt_1)
John King - The Classical Ukulele (http://www.amazon.com/John-King-Classical-Ukulele-Masters/dp/0634079794/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388001619&sr=8-1&keywords=john+king+ukulele)
Famous Solos & Duets for the Ukulele (http://www.amazon.com/Mel-Famous-Solos-Duets-Ukulele/dp/0786669152/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1388001619&sr=8-3&keywords=john+king+ukulele)
The Ukulele: A History (http://www.amazon.com/The-Ukulele-History-Jim-Tranquada/dp/0824836340/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1388001619&sr=8-4&keywords=john+king+ukulele)
The Martin Ukulele: The Little Instrument That Helped Create a Guitar Giant (http://www.amazon.com/The-Martin-Ukulele-Little-Instrument/dp/1476868794/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1388001619&sr=8-9&keywords=john+king+ukulele)

Paul December
12-25-2013, 09:22 AM
:) Thanks for that post. Really beautiful music.

Hippie Dribble
12-25-2013, 09:28 AM
Hmmm, we need a 'love' button.

ukuleletim
12-25-2013, 09:44 AM
Thanks for posting this janeray! This will need to be reposted every few years. The John King Lives Society!

John was also a classical guitar player/teacher so this style of playing the ukulele may have been more natural to him.. I THINK. I only say that because I had a classical guitar background which is partly how I found him, searching for classical pieces for the ukulele, and his playing style and transcriptions were exactly the challenge I was looking for and able to play. This is elevated stuff here! Highest level. I quickly acquired "The Classical Ukulele". There are still tunes in that book that scare me but there are some accessible tunes for beginners like Greensleeves and Sakura. Just beautiful stuff. I have also transcribed his arrangement of Ka Ipo Lei Manu, a beautiful Hawaiian folk song that is wonderful to play.

Basically, his campanela pioneering on ukulele has formed much of my playing. I speak of it in depth along with tutorials and demonstrations on my blog because to me his playing (and a few others, of course) give me the substance to help elevate the ukulele as a serious and valid musical instrument. I am in Austin and hang around some top notch musicians and they are always surprised to see what can really be done on the uke. But they never believe it until they see/hear it.

I'm not saying that accompanying yourself singing to I'm Yours or Royals is not valid. It's just another beautiful and effective way to use the ukulele. I strum up songs daily, recently Royals because it has finally got to me. But what a great instrument to have by your side to make instant music with?

If you're a technical player and seek some challenge then get his books, check out my toobs (will usually have the word campanela in the title) and don't be afraid to stretch your boundaries. It really is a fun way to approach the ukulele with it's special reentrant tuning.

I hope I didn't stray from your original post too much but I got a little excited since there is an opportunity to talk about John.

ANd then there is this..


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fayAg5o9oZ4

hmgberg
12-25-2013, 10:04 AM
Great post! Maybe he wasn't flashy in the ways other players are, but to me John Kings playing is mesmerizing.

Dan Uke
12-25-2013, 10:04 AM
Uketim, I checked out your blog and you explained campanella style very well. I like Royals and I like John King. It's us uke players who are very closed minded. hahaha

janeray1940
12-25-2013, 10:11 AM
Thanks for posting this janeray! This will need to be reposted every few years. The John King Lives Society!

...

I have also transcribed his arrangement of Ka Ipo Lei Manu, a beautiful Hawaiian folk song that is wonderful to play.

...

I am in Austin and hang around some top notch musicians and they are always surprised to see what can really be done on the uke. But they never believe it until they see/hear it.

...

I hope I didn't stray from your original post too much but I got a little excited since there is an opportunity to talk about John.

ANd then there is this..



You know, your post made me think exactly that: every now and then a reminder is worth reposting. Maybe I'll do this every Christmas :)

Definitely going to check out your arrangements, my uke teacher keeps me pretty busy so I don't spend much time checking out the work of others but now I know where to start!

Similar thing here - I'm in Los Angeles and know quite a few amazing musicians. While I doubt that I will personally ever qualify as "amazing" in this lifetime, when they hear what I am trying to do they're always surprised and I always get the sense that I've done my part to make the ukulele a little more... respected, perhaps?

And you didn't stray at all, Tim, I really enjoyed reading your response. I hadn't seen that video in a few years, definitely worth revisiting!

soupking
12-25-2013, 10:19 AM
Awesome reference post here. I'll be checking this out later- each link- beer by beer. Can't wait. Haha. Merry Christmas, all!

ukemunga
12-25-2013, 12:06 PM
Thank you for your post. I was familiar with the name but never sought out the music. Beautiful stuff. And he made it look so effortless.

janeray1940
12-25-2013, 01:14 PM
Really happy to see all of the interest in this post :)

Ukulele Eddie
12-25-2013, 02:28 PM
So appreciative of being introduced to his work. Thank you!

GeorgeUke
12-25-2013, 03:24 PM
A serious player. What's interesting is that his music sounds so sweet and beautiful and he looks so relaxed playing but it can be REALLY hard to play. I done a youtube cover of one of his Bach tunes about a year ago and it was THE hardest piece to learn, mainly due to the fact that the Campanella style means the notes had to ring-out and be seamless throughout which required all sorts of strange fingerings and picking patterns. Really have to hand it to him for working out all these pieces on the uke. The Martin book he co-wrote is also fantastic and thorough.
Such a shame he's gone.

Btw it wasn't just Campanella style, he does some cool strums in this...


http://youtu.be/Pb-owEOQXR0