Saturday, January 20, 8880

Invention of the Ukelele (c. 1880)

Tahiti - Ukulele Song

The ukulele is a chordophone classified as a plucked lute, generally with four strings or four courses of strings.

The ukulele is commonly associated with music from Hawaii, where the name roughly translates as "jumping flea." It was developed there in the 1880's, based on portuguese small guitar-like instrument, the cavaquinho, introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants (mainly from Madeira Island).

Ukuleles are generally made of wood, although variants have been made composed partially or entirely of plastic. Cheaper ukuleles are generally made from ply or laminate woods, in some cases with a soundboard of an inexpensive but acoustically superior wood such as spruce. Other more expensive ukuleles are made of exotic hardwoods such as mahogany. Some of the most valuable ukuleles, which may run into the thousands of dollars in price, are made from koa (Acacia koa), a Hawaiian wood known for its fine tone and attractive colour and

The Tahitian ukulele, also called "Tahitian banjo," is an 8-stringed open-backed ukulele.


Vincent Rose (born 1880 in Palermo, Italy; died 1944 in Rockville Center, NY, USA) was a musician and band leader.

Vincent Rose has one of the longest histories as a band leader. He achieved much popularity with his Montmartre Orchestra in the 1920s, and recorded with the group for RCA. The same personnel later recorded for the Columbia label as the Hollywood Orchestra. After leaving California, he settled in New York, but continued to record as "Vincent Rose and His Orchestra" for various labels throughout the 1930s.

He was very active as a songwriter, publishing well over 200 songs. Among his hits are:

1920 "Whispering"

1921 "Avalon", with lyrics by Al Jolson and B.G. DeSylva, a big hit for Jolson.

1923 "Linger Awhile"

1940 "Blueberry Hill"

There's an interesting sidelight to the song "Avalon". In 1921, the estate and the publisher of Puccini's operas, G. Ricordi, sued all parties associated with that song, claiming the melody was "lifted" from the aria "E lucevan le stella" from Puccini's opera "Tosca". The Court found for Puccini and his publisher, and they were awarded $25,000 in damages, plus all future print royalties earned by "Avalon." The composer and his heirs, however, continued to receive performance royalties under an agreement reached with Ricordi for payment of only $1. Such royalties amounted to a very significant amount of money during the remainder of the 20th century, certainly far more than the $25,000 paid in damages to the publisher.

[8881 Bartok / 8880 Ukelele / 8880 Mariachi]