Thursday, February 19, 2009

Made by Someone's Hands




Our Cook Islands (Rarotongan - Rarotonga being the largest island of the group) coconut ukulele. The strings are a blue-green fishing line, all four in the same width, and there are far fewer ... what are they called? Things embedded in the neck to guide you to press the right positions... compared to a regular ukulele.

There is no hiding the rubbish bag today, but it's been a good day so far. Whereas yesterday I was preoccupied about being distracted by the building, today I feel more settled. Time to get a little work done!

4 comments:

  1. Cook Islands Ukarere: Made by Someone's Hands.
    Kia orana. The Cook Islands Coconut Shell Ukarere is unique in two ways: it is made from available resources and the Cook Islands is the only Pacific Island nation who has a coconut shell ukarere.
    The Kamaka ukulele represents Hawai'i. The banjo-like ukulele represents Tahiti. The coconut shell ukarere represents the Cook Islands.
    The finger board is wild hibiscus, the sound-box cover is plywood, the frets, bridge, and nut are aluminium strips compounded for the desired thickness, the tuning pegs are any wood, and the strings are fishing lines from 30lbs to 45lbs.
    The inmate who made the ukarere is the carver, musician, and artist. The money received for the ukarere is used as partial reparation to the victim. His expertise is in knowing where to make the cut for the frets - all is done by shifting a strip of the coconut leaf midrib to a spot that he thinks the fret should be.
    Because of the lack of tools, the fingerboard and the head are thick in comparison to a guitar.

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  2. Meg this is a delightful musical instrument. I just got a conventional ukulele for my birthday to add to my collection of musical instrument but would love a coconut shell ukarere. The coconut tree in general is a remarkable resource for many things.

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  3. Oh my goodness, Sammybond, how do you know so much? How absolutely riveting! As I said in the previous post, it makes and absolutely lovely, warm music when played by the right player. Warm air, tall trees, and the wave crashing into the rocks on the west side of Rarotonga, and everything. When we were there in October (?) 1993, lots of groups were preparing for an upcoming competition, and there was one big garage where we stayed (Lagoon Lodges) and we used to walk kind of towards it and have a listen. One night we must have been there for over an hour, until they finished the rehearsal. Magical stuff. We'd love to go back to the Cooks. Aitutaki was beautiful, and the female voices angelic. But I am nuts for the drums so I follow wherever I hear the drums.

    Kaz, I didn't know you had an instrument collection. How lovely! I, too, love many of the tropical plants - very sculptural to begin with. I've been wondering if banana trees would survive the Nelson winter.

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  4. Sammy, by the way, how do you know the maker of my ukulele was in inmate? Was he famous? Is he still making them? Is there a signature somewhere that I missed?

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