In defence of the ukulele

The other day I was at a party, trying my best to pretend I am a sociable person. The conversation turned to music and I was asked what instruments I play. I gave my standard response: “I play the piano and sing, and can play a bit of ukulele, guitar and bass”. To which he snorted and said, “The ukulele is not a real instrument”. He went on to say that because it’s so easy to play (“Cmajor is only one finger!”) that it doesn’t count. I strongly disagree with this idea. Unfortunately I couldn’t verbalise my objection at the time so I just let it slide, but now I feel it is time to address this issue.

The ukulele is a real instrument. To say it’s not is to be a snob and kind of an asshole. Just because something is easy to play does not make it any less valid. That was what I loved about my ukulele: within a day of owning it, I could already play more songs than I ever could on the guitar I’d had for 3 years. Honestly, I believe that anything that inspires people to make music should be encouraged.

To prove that decent songs use this instrument, here are some of my ukulele favourites:

  • “With My Girl” – Poison Tongue
  • “5 Years Time” – Noah and the Whale
  • “Atlas” – Fanfarlo
  • “Alligator” – Ema and the Ghosts
  • “Sweet Pea” – Amos Lee

I recommend the ukulele wholeheartedly. It’s rewarding and versatile and so much easier than the guitar (though here you can find ridiculously easy guitar songs that don’t suck). And if you’re some sort of purist who shares Uke Snob’s beliefs, get over yourself. Or think it privately and don’t diminish someone else’s joy by raining on their parade.

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