The Ukulele – A Real Instrument Or Not?

If like me, you have probably never taken the ukulele seriously as a musical instrument, you might be surprised by the James Hill video below. I know that many musicians have played the ukulele and obviously regard it as a “real” instrument.  But I have always found it somehow to be lacking some quality that […]

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If like me, you have probably never taken the ukulele seriously as a musical instrument, you might be surprised by the James Hill video below.

I know that many musicians have played the ukulele and obviously regard it as a “real” instrument.  But I have always found it somehow to be lacking some quality that is required for a musical instrument to be taken seriously.  I know that musicians as diverse as Tiny Tim, Kate Micucci (in her alter ego of Oates in the duo Garfunkel and Oates) have played the ukulele with total commitment, and obviously consider it to be a very real and worthwhile instrument.

And of course, famously George Formby strummed away on one as well.

But for me, it has always been a sort of pre-pubescent sort of an instrument. With its high, squeaky voice, and the strumming way it is normally played, it seemed to me to be simply a silly thing.

To demonstrate my point, here is good old Kate Micucci strumming away on her ukulele…….

As always with her, this song is of course rather surprising….   But that awful plunky ukulele!.

Or conversely, here is Tiny Tim doing his thing on The Rowan and Martin Laugh In all those years ago…

Whilst the has his own unique charm, that awful ukulele is there, plunking away.

However, last night I came across a video of a guy who has managed to make the ukulele if not any more pleasing to listen to, he has at least made it much more interesting.

James Hill is a Canadian musician who has made the ukulele his own, creating all manner of sounds on the thing,  He has turned it into a sort of instrumental equivalent of Mongolian Throat Music – a single note instrument, a chord playing instrument, and to top that off, into a whole drum set as well.

I still don’t like the sound of the ukulele, I have to admit that what James Hill does with it make it much more interesting, see what you think.

In the following video he explains all of this rather well.

And to be fair to him, here is another video of him with a rather better sound quality.

By the way, this was recorded in one go, and is absolutely what you see and hear, no loops or other electronic tricks, he actually payed all the sounds you will hear at the same time!

So, there you have it, the ukulele in all its rather scratchy glory.

If you want to find out more about James Hill, here is a link to his website, which contains no end of stuff about both him and his ukulele.  http://www.jameshillmusic.com/

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