Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ukulele - Sweet & Melodious

Ukulele (source: Wikipedia)
The ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian interpretation of the machete, a small guitar-like instrument related to the cavaquinho, timple, braguinha and the rajão, taken to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants. The instrument became a very popular one in Hawaiian culture, and a majority of Hawaiian songs involves the ukulele. In Hawaiian, ukulele literally means "flea (uku) jumping (lele)." It was named as such because when plucked, the high pitch of the strings brings to mind the image of a jumping flea. There are currently four sizes of ukulele: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.The ukulele can be played with simple or elaborate strums, as well as fingerpicking. (source: Wikipedia)

Part of music sheet front
The handy, four-stringed instrument also became popular outside Hawaii and was soon adopted by the mainstream American popular culture as a frequently used tool by Tin Pan aley crooners and songbirds as well as by movie stars of the 1920s and 1930s performing light entertainment or comedy in Holywood films. However, in Hawaii the instrument has always been recognized and respected as a serious musical instrument that needs study to bring out the pinnacle of the instrument's natural limitations.Below I'll introduce a representative of the young generation of the Hawaiian ukulele musicians who has earned a degree of virtuosity on his instrument that combines the beauty of original music from Hawaii with the clearest musical expression.

Herb Ohta Jr. played the traditional Hawaiin tune "Ku'u Pua I Paoakalani" in the video. Herb Ohta Jr. is recognized as a true virtuoso of his instrument and he has released several recordings that prove his outstanding musical and technical abilities. Herb Ohta Jr. is the son of another famous Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso, Herb Ohta Sr. or Ohta-San as he is often named. Ohta-San took part in the 1960s and 1970s revival of traditional Hawaiian music, often associated with musicians who participated in concerts and recordings with the locally famous group The Sons of Hawaii, founded by ukulele legend Eddie Kamae in the late 1950s. Herb Ohta Jr. was taught ukulele by his father at an early age and has established a successful career as a performer and recording artist in his own right. You can learn more about Herb Ohta Jr. at his official website, here

CD-cover - Lele Music Productions, LMP CD 1005
The CD shown above, 'Ukulele Nahenahe (- which in English means 'sweet and melodious ukulele') is a nice examaple of the virtuosity of Herb Ohta Jr. The CD was released in 2010 by Lele Music Productions and is still available - you can buy it at Herb Ohta Jr.'s webshop, CD Baby, Amazon a.o..Herb Ohta Jr.s ukulele is the solo voice throughout the eleven tracks of the CD that contains examples of original Hawaiian tunes and ends with a splendid interpretation of the wellknown evergreen 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow'. In some tracks the ukulele stands alone, but other tracks also have accompaniment by a rhythm combo composed of Jon Yamasato (guitar), Nathan Aweau (bass) and Jeff Au Hoy (steel guitar). The music is magnificent and beutifully excecuted in the hands of Herb Ohta Jr. - the CD is an uplifting musical experience that brings a wonderful sense of peace and joy in your heart and soul, highly recommended.


The ukulele is rightly associated with Hawaiian music and culture, although the small instrument often has been used in other fields of music and entertainment. A true virtuoso of the Hawaiian ukulele style is Herb Ohta Jr. who recorded the CD 'Ukulele Nahenahe in 2010. The CD is a magnificent example of the beuty of Hawaiian music performed by Herb Ohta Jr. with the clearest musical expression - an uplifting musical experience that enchants the listener with a wonderful sense of peace and joy.

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