The ukulele is a musical instrument with a traditional Hawaiian name which
was originally developed in the Madeira Islands of Portugal.
The ukulele is one of the first things that many people associate with
Hawaii. But actually, the ukulele descended from an instrument called a
braguinha, brought by immigrants from the island of Madeira, Portugal, who
traveled to Hawaii in 1879. Three cabinet-makers, Dias, Nunes and Santo
opened up a shop in Honolulu that created and sold the musical
instruments. This instrument became very popular with people on the
island, and it soon was changed into the ukulele. The ukulele is built from
koa wood, which is a tree native to Hawaii. These changes helped Hawaii
locals to create a unique sounding instrument in the ukulele.
Here are some more amazing facts about this unique musical instrument:
- Ukulele means “jumping flea” in Hawaiian. The last living queen of the
Kingdom of Hawaii, Liliuokalani, translated the Ukulele as “gift from
afar”. Some people also just call it by its common nickname, the uke.
- Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, loved to play
the ukulele. In fact, after returning back from the moon he spent
several weeks in quarantine as others feared he may have picked up
strange bacteria while in space but he actually spent much of this
time in quarantine strumming his ukulele!
- George Harrison of The Beatles was also a very big ukulele fan. At the
end of the song “Free as a Bird“, he plays the ukulele in the style of
Formby. He is also mentioned to be a collector of hundreds of
ukuleles and was often seen strumming them or giving them away to
- The first ukuleles were in fact played for the Hawaiian royals.Ukulele
players were found at royal events. This royal incorporation in turn
made the instrument more popular in Hawaii. Had it not been for the
royals, the instrument may have never left the island!
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