Friday, January 30, 2009

Is the ukelele a folk instrument?

When I was young...
(I mean REALLY young. By the age of seven years I was forbidden to wear terry-towelling nappies any more, and disposables had not been invented,)
... my elder brother responded to the question, “What would you like for your birthday?”
“A geetar, please,” I heard him say.
Now, here was a word I hadn’t heard before; I certainly couldn’t spell it!

The due anniversary arrived. My brother arose from the single bed that poverty obliged we many siblings to share under the kitchen sink and, half-dressed and unwashed, ran into the living-room to view his gifts.

Have you ever seen a crest fall?!

The larger of two parcels was a mere eighteen inches long. His disappointment was apparent as he loosened the wrapping to reveal … a ukulele!
“Well,” said Daddy, “It’s a stringed instrument with frets. Won’t that suffice?”
(Philip didn’t know what ‘suffice’ meant.)
“But it’s only got four strings!” he exclaimed.
(He knew about geetars.)
“And it’s not in standard tuning!”
Long-faced, he surveyed the instrument. While looking at the accompanying tutor–book, he began to wish he had learned to read.
Graciously he acknowledged the gift and tried assiduously to take the music on board. Then he got bored.

Some while later, in recompense for having beaten me up the previous day, (I still bear the bruises,) he said I could have it.

By then I could read the tutor. I learned a couple of chords, although I didn’t know what a ‘chord’ was. The plinky-plonky sound so irritated my mother that she, in a fit of bipolar exremity, threw the ukulele onto our open fire. We couldn’t afford coal so the piano went next because I had been unable to procure any nutty-slack from alongside the railway line.

Decades passed, nutty-slack became an anachronism, (as did proper railways,) and I came to forgive those foregoing abuses.


One evening last year a couple sneaked unobtrusively in to the City Folk Club. They were demure, quiet and self-effacing. David had a smallish bag that looked like it could contain a modest instrument. Jane said she might sing.

Then, oh then … it was their turn!
The room fell silent.
Ken didn’t say a word.
This is the delight we heard ...

Wowed, or what?


Ken of the Islands said...

Of course it's a folk instrument! It's parentage/origin in Portugal (the "caravinho") and use in traditional music there, it's gift by Portuguese sailors to the Hawaiians (who haven't seen the joke yet), it's use by the Hawaiians in their traditional music ... . Couldn't be more folk, now could it?

St. Anley said...

Did I say otherwise?

l. King said...

What kind of font/fount designer makes an 'I' look identical to an 'L'?
Well, who the **** are you? I mean, who's running this blog?
Did you say otherwise? I think we should be told!
BTW your last chance to partake of the Experience that is the Eastergate Players' production of 'Puss in Boots' has (barring returns) just passed.

Anonymous said...

Adrenelin is to blame! Be calm & depressed like the others