Archive for May, 2020

Introduction to Ukulele

The Ukulele is a small-sized, four-string instrument that we normally associate with Hawaii. The little instrument is vitally important in the area’s musical culture. It was created in 1880 by immigrants, before that there were no string instruments on the islands. Let’s find out more about this fun instrument.

Unlike the guitar, which has six strings, the ukulele only has four, so it is easier to learn to play it.

Types of Ukulele

The most common to find are: soprano, concerto, tenor and baritone. Others have also been built such as sopraninos (smaller than soprano), low ukuleles and banjoleles. There are even some ukuleles in an electro-acoustic format, known as electric ukuleles. While the “concert” ukulele has a sound with more body and depth, the smaller ones, such as the soprano, better preserve the bright and exotic tone so characteristic of Hawaii.

One fact which may help you to choose which ukulele to play, is that the bigger its size, the more “lower” it sounds.

Ukulele prices depend on many issues, like any other instrument, material, quality and method of production, brand. It helps to try a few out to see which sound you prefer.

Important accessories for your ukulele

It is important to buy a good case to protect the instrument from bumps and knocks and from natural exposure to the sun, air and dust. Some other things that will help you are a capo and a tuner. The capo is placed on the frets and allows you to raise the tone of the song or melody you are playing. The lower you place it the tone will be higher. If the tone is too low for your voice, if  you are singing, you can lower it with the capo without problem and the same in reverse, to find the right match.

The tuner is another resource that makes things much easier when playing any instrument, it is inexpensive and easy to get, you can find one in any music shop.

Get Going!

On the internet you can find a lot of information, videos and history that will help you when you decide to start playing your ukulele, as well as practice videos and tutorials. Read our post on free apps that might help you out too!

If you have the instrument and want to start testing yourself you can find a song that you would like to play and practice! You can also do this using the Ukulele-tabs or Ukutabs tabs that you can easily find online.

Besides being easy to learn, one of the best features of this instrument is its diminutive size, you can take it everywhere. It’s so lightweight that you can take it out for dinner at a friends house, or even travel across the world with it stashed safely in your hand luggage! And did we mention it’s easy to learn?! With very few chords you can play many of your favourite songs.

As with any instrument, practice is very important to incorporate sounds and rhythms. As you move forward with your ukulele playing, you can make them more complex.

Famous ukulele musicians

Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole is one of the main references of Hawaiian music, well known worldwide for his versions of the songs Over the rainbow and What a Wonderful World. His incredible voice, along with his skill at combining ukulele playing with jazz and reggae fusions, made him renowned.

Another of the musicians who loved this little instrument was Frank Sinatra, Fly me to the moon is one of his wonderful songs on ukulele.Paul McCartney, meanwhile, often plays the ukulele in his live recitals in his version of Something.

If you are a lover of Pearl Jam, you can not stop listening to the album Ukulele Songs, by Eddie Vedder. It is an unmissable album to always have on your playlist.

If you are interested in taking Ukulele classes, you can contact us as we have great teachers who will help you learn and improve very quickly. In no time you will be playing your favourite songs and composing your own music.

Sound it Out

Pump up the Volume!

A decibel is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale. Basically how loud or soft a sound is. Decibel meters are machines used to measure these units.  Over half of Barcelona’s population is subjected to noise levels over 65 decibels during the entire day (0800-2200 hours) which explains why locals have to shout to make themselves heard. It also explains the rule of no noise after 10pm! As a music school that works with sound and music, we are aware of how vital it is to be mindful of the effects of sound.

One of the greatest benefits that a person feels from sound is relief from stress. Sounds are used in sound therapy, meditation, and in many locations to promote a peaceful setting. The soothing sounds help to re-tune your brain to cope with stress better by replenishing brain energy with high-frequency sound. Many people use sound therapy and music to get relief from chronic headaches and migraines, and music is proven to improve your mood, as well as your quality of life.

Normal conversation is about 60 dB, a guitar played loudly somewhere around 80 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a loud rock concert is about 120 dB. In general, sounds above 85 are harmful, depending on how long and how often you are exposed to them and whether you wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.

So let’s sound it out:

-9dB The world’s quietest room, at Orfield Labs in Minneapolis, is so silent you can hear your internal organs. The longest a person may stay in the room is 45 minutes, as zero sound does strange things to the mind, causing hallucinations and schizophrenia.

44dB Birds singing.

The loudest purr by a domestic cat is 67.8 dB and was achieved by Merlin, owned by Tracy Westwood (UK), at her home in Devon, UK, on 2 April 2015. Merlin is 13 years old.

70dB The average volume of an opera singer singing fortissimo (loudly). French tenor Avi Klemberg hit a reading of 109dB, his personal best, in 2010 on Scottish TV show The Hour.

80dB Chamber music concert.

105dB How loud Jaime Vendera sang (at the right frequency, 556Hz) to shatter a wine glass — recorded and confirmed on Mythbusters.

110dB The noise inside a video arcade. This is also the average for a symphony orchestra, though it can get louder.

113.1 dB The loudest bark in the world, according to Guinness World Records, set by Charlie the golden retriever from Adelaide, Australia.

115dB A baby crying.

118dB The sound in a cinema.

121dB; The loudest voice in the world (says Guinness World Records), belonging to Annalisa Flanagan, an Irish primary school teacher.

127dB; The volume, give or take a decibel or two, of a vuvuzela (if expertly blown). The referee’s whistle blasts at 121 dB.

129.5dB The last officially recorded measurement for ‘Loudest Band in the World’ (metalheads Manowar) by Guinness World Records in 1984. It stopped including the category because of hearing damage caused by record seekers.

137dB Measured at a Leftfield concert at London’s Brixton Academy in 1996. It caused chunks of plaster to fall on the audience from the roof.

The loudest drummer in the world is Col Hatchman (Australia) who hit a peak reading of 137.2 dB during a gig with his band, Dirty Skanks, at the Northern Star Hotel, Australia, on 4 August 2006.

The world’s noisiest land animals are the howler monkeys (Alouatta) of Central and South America. Once in full voice they can be heard clearly up to4.8 km (3 miles) away. Their howl measured at 140 dB.

The loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium is 142.2 dB and was achieved by fans of the Kansas City Chiefs (USA), at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, USA, on 29 September 2014.

150dB A jet taking off, if you’re standing about 25 metres away from it.

172dB A shot from a 0.357—calibre revolver.

Not only did it cause serious damage to the island, but the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 created the loudest sound ever reported at 180 dB. It was so loud it was heard 5,000 km away.

188dB Blue and fin whales emitting a sound underwater that can kill other marine creatures.

Sources include : Guinness World Record, Highlife Magazine