Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another Theory about the Ukulele
















It's a musical instrument, it's not a metaphor for stunted creativity or dissociated social consciousness, a proletariat plunk of defiance, a universalist auditory embrace, a simplistic but humble nod to the musical historical discourse, an unpretentious prop for thesbians, an inroad into the lair of the youtubey universe or, even, a metamusical emblem.

It's a musical instrument. make music on it. if you're not going to make music on it, go do something else.

14 comments:

Howlin' Hobbit said...

Ha! Well said!

Gary said...

You kinda look like Sam the Eagle in that captcha. http://www.carenvy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/sam-the-eagle.jpg

You have more hair, though.

Ted/sonic uke said...

Feel better now, you intolerant uke player you? You forgot the jugglers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgHdCFzynuo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXh4hpgw11U

craig said...

Ha! I didn't forget the jugglers, Ted, I was just hoping to ignore them.

Jon said...

Craig, you're ignoring your semiotics studies. Everything signifies. Everything carries several layers of meaning. I do agree that the topmost layer of meaning is *Musical Instrument*.

Gary said...

Here is my ukulele theory, which I have and is mine. Eh hem: Ukuleles are thin at one end, much, much fatter in the middle, slightly thinner and then fat again at the other end. This is my theory, and what it is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAYDiPizDIs

RH said...

The ukulele may not be a metamusical
emblem, but as it plays an important
role in a high-fiber diet, it is, in fact, a metamucil emblem.

craig said...

jon; much to Umberto Eco's dismay, I do not agree that everything has multiple layers of meaning. Semiotics is something to ponder, ukuleles are something to play.

Gary said...

Strum und Drang?

Gary said...

"The Name of the Compass Rose: Semiotics and Semitones in Re-entrant Modalities" by Ukeberto Eco

craig said...

You're getting WAY too clever, Gary! Go watch an hour of the Bobby McGees.

L.Bo Marie said...

perfect.

Steven Strauss said...

You're steaming open my mail, Craig. Deliver us from entertainers whose main strength is the will to entertain and whose instrument of choice is the ukulele. The ukulele teacher cannot live without them, yet they are the primary reason audiences fear the ukulele.

Bill Robertson said...

You guys kill me. This sounds like the same old crap I hear all of the time from quasi-professional failed guitar players who picked up the uke because of their own inability to succeed with guitar, and who now need to establish some kind of musician's hierarchy so they can have a shot at being big fish in a small pond.

Real musicians don't waste time bitching about other people who may or may not be "real" musicians--they just like everyone to play for whatever reason, regardless of how accomplished they may be.

The ukulele has a certain novelty baggage that dates back to King David Kalakaua, aka "The Merry Monarch." Like it or not, it's a populist musical instrument. It's easy to play in a rudimentary way and provides anyone who wants to express themselves musically near instant gratification.

To suggest that it is not an instrument with a social and cultural meaning underlying it is to ignore its very unique history.

None of this contradicts what musical masters can do with it. But nor do musical masters negate the humor and populism of the instrument.

You know, guys, everyone who embraces the uke--for whatever reason--plays it. Regardless of how well they play it, they play it. Your comments reflect more about your own insecurities as "accomplished musicians" than anything.

If you want to bitch about someone, it makes more sense to go after the fetishists who collect hundreds of them, hang them on their walls and don't play them.

In conclusion, this reminds me of a board discussion I weighed in on in which a guy started bitching about ukulele players who perform in hats. I'm not kidding--hats. He felt hats were an indication of novelty. So I pointed out that two very good ukulele players, Craig Robertson and Howlin' Hobbit, both wore signature hats and they didn't seem to be hurting the instrument's credibility much.

 
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