Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ukulele: The Google Ngram View

My friend and Search Guru Steve Nelson pointed me to the Google Ngram Viewer. It shows you how often a particular word appears in books published in specific years.

I plugged in "ukulele" and it's cool to see three "waves" of ukulele popularity. But here they're not the three we usually think of (The Twenties/Arthur Godfrey/Third Wave). Surprisingly, ukuleles were mentioned with a lot of consistency between the late 20s and the late 50s. You can see when Rock & Roll started killing it off, but check out the unexpected renaissance of sorts in the 70s. Maybe this indicates that the uke was on its way back until something killed it again. (Aftershocks of Tiny Tim, maybe?).

Then, check out the Third Wave. It starts to build in '93, which is where I'd expect it. Lots of cool things happening in the late '90s. Note where things take off in '99. Which is about the time that Mark Frauenfelder founded Ukulelia. The biggest peak coincides with the video of Jake Shimabukuro playing Gently Weeps posting to YouTube in 2006.

Google Ngram Viewer

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