Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Archive for September, 2010

I am not sure whether it is the fact that temperatures have been unusually low this week or rather my reading a fascinating book about Norse Mythology but this week’s Ukulele World Tour will be exclusively Scandinavian.

On the menu, a favourite of mine, Svavar Knútur from Iceland, Siri Nilsen singing in Norwegian, some punk uke with Swedish Elvira Bira, a ukulele composition from Denmark by Carsten Knudsen , and a fishy Danish children song by the Kapitalen Klash.

1. Country: Iceland / Language: Icelandic

Most of Svavar Knútur‘s latest videos are guitar videos so I was well pleased to find one featuring the ukulele and even more pleased by the fact that he was singing in Icelandic, a language that really ravishes my ears.

Svavar Knútur is a talented Icelandic folk singer songwriter with a wonderful melancholy voice often singing about Icelandic myths and legends. Read an interview of Svavar Knútur here.

Svavar Knútur singing Mamma at the Melodica Acoustic Festival in Iceland.

2. Country: Norway / Language: Norwegian

Another pleasant find this week is this video of Siri Nilsen and her ukulele

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This week’s search for ukulele videos from around the world started rather badly as 90% of the videos uploaded were either in English or of very poor quality. Things got brighter towards the end of the week however with two new languages to add to my list: Arabic and Vietnamese.

Add to these new languages a bit of magic from Brittany (please refrain from starting a technical discussion as to whether Nantes is part of Brittany), some alternative Greek mythology and a few interesting covers and you’ll end up with a good dose of ukulele entertainment for a good start to your weekend.

1. Country: Tunisia / Language: Arabic

Tunisian band Zemeken and their camel perform Zahwani.

2. Country: Vietnam / Language: Vietnamese

This vietnamese song Cô hàng nước (She found the water) sounds

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Many original songs in this week’s Ukulele World Tour, with a focus on Europe and Asia. We’ll be starting with France (yes, I know France is video number one yet again, but it is really nice), moving North-East to Germany then Poland, back to Switzerland and end up in Thailand.

1. Country: France / Language: French

Les Poupées Gonflées have just released a new song, Les Copines de la Femme de Mon Mari (The girlfriends of my husband’s wife).  Lovely vocal harmonies, great video, a real treat.

Many thanks to Valérie from Les Poupées Gonflées for sending me the link.

2. Country: Germany / Language: English

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I watched a few wish lanterns floating about in the night sky while visiting the city of Tianjin in China. Watching their red glow rise in the night was kind of mesmerizing and felt a bit magic. I was amazed at how high these paper lanterns could rise, and at how long they could float about. I was a bit concerned that they could set fire to something on their descent but there was no casualty to report on that night and the old quarters of Tianjin are still standing.

I did actually bring one of these lanterns home and I started reading the instructions on the packaging last weekend. Now, they are by far the funniest instructions I have ever read _ not that I have read very many, I usually can’t be bothered, but this once I thought what with the risk of setting fire to something and all, and decided to be wise.

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Today’s Ukulele World Tour brings two new language additions : Lao or Laotian and Estonian. You will see that the number of flags on the World Tour Index is increasing steadily (the index is visible on the right hand side when you are inside a World Tour post and you can click on the flag of any country to see all related posts). Don’t hesitate to send me links to ukulele videos in other languages! I need all the help I can get to carry on documenting the ukulele spread around the world.

Other international ukulele news include the fact that a YouTube ukulele channel has been created in Georgian. No ukulele videos in Georgian as per yet but the aim of the channel UkuleleGeorgia is to make the ukulele known to people in Georgia in their own language.

Let’s hope this will make many Georgian ukulele converts who will, some day, upload Georgian songs performed on the ukulele. I just love the look of the Georgian alphabet. Seeing ukulele written უკულელე makes it all the more exotic.

We’ll also be travelling to Argentina, the United-States (including Hawaii) and France.

1. Country: Laos /Language: Lao (Laotian)

Lao music played by Luke and Ey with cheerful villagers from near Thakhek in south-central Laos.

2. Country: Argentina / Language: Spanish

Argentinean band Las Taradas perform

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