There is hope for the ukulele yet

The Argus of 6 February 1936 related the news that a chair of guitar playing had been set up in the music conservatory of Madrid by the Spanish Government. The argument for this move was that it would preserve the playing of the guitar against the onslaught of movies and jazz music — apparently young people were voting with their feet, listening to the radio rather than the strumming of folk tunes.

This seems to put the idea of a conservatorium in an unfavourable light. It is then the case that, once a thing cannot support itself in the popular imagination, it has to be conserved by government decree.  Nevertheless, did the headline of this article (with now forms the title of this post) mean that the jazzy ukulele would now be the popular choice of the young Spaniards, or did it mean that since the guitar has now made the grade for ‘conserving’, the ukulele might someday be ‘preserved’ in a similar way?

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 5:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Ukulele and the Prince of Wales

Of the musical members of the British royal family, Edward — Prince of Wales from 23 June 1910 – 20 January 1936 — played the bagpipes, the banjo and the ukulele, but not all at once. On 9 march 1935, page 8, The Argus (*the* Australian source of historical information for most things ukulele) reported that the Prince of Wales had mastered the ukulele under the instruction of Kal Keech, “an acknowledged expert”.  The Argus also shared the rumour that this Prince of Wales (while an Oxford undergraduate) had once played “The Red Flag” on the banjo at meeting of young communists. Who knows how the history of world might have been changed if he’d played that tune on ukulele.

By the way, the Hobart Mercury (19 April 1920, page 5) gives an extended account of the Prince of Wales’ visit to Honolulu. At a special entertainment, he heard Ukalele, “the principal singing girl”, perform with “a voice of much sweetness and charm”.

Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 6:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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