Poetic uker from New Zealand in 1919.

The following found its way into the New Zealand Evening Post on 28 October 1919:

I first heard the ukulele (ukelle); played by a little Mormon maid away in Star Valley among the Rooky Mountains; she strummed an accompaniment to the “Missouri Waltz;” it was soul-haunting and magical—Coleridge would have forgotten his “damsel with a dulcimer.”

 All through America I found the little instrument, singing with a sweet melancholy of far-off Honolulu, with its rustling palms and surf-beaches, and low-voiced hula-hula girls, swaying in their strips of straw under the Pacific moon.

I brought one home with me (a uke, not a “straw-stripper”), and the Customs man loftily declined to claim a duty, refusing to recognise it as a musical instrument; the village said I had brought home “a little fiddle that you played with your finger.

In England the instrument is practically unknown except on the stage, and yet in its simplest form I know of no other learnt so easily that can provide so much pleasure.

 You need not have a good voice; you can talk your songs and make them beautiful:  and if you have no South Sea melodies you will find the plaintive strains of Scotland are every bit as suitable.

In the drawing room you will hold people spellbound, and when choruses are hummed on quiet summer evenings you will be ever in demand.  Jazz music is barbaric—the compelling primeval—the wailing Hawaiian music, drawn from guitar and banjo ukuleles, is barbaric, too, but more compelling because it is the primeval with the soul beginning to steal in.

When the jazz music begins you laugh and tap the ground with your foot, or maybe rap the table with your knife handle; but- soon you will be shutting your eyes and holding your breath and swaying ever so slightly as the ukes wail out and draw your heart with sweet pain.

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Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. […] the original post: Poetic uker from New Zealand in 1919. « The Backward Ukulele Player Share […]

  2. Hula Girl Straws…

    […] c—the compelling primeval—the wailing Hawaiian music, drawn from guitar and […]…


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