“Harp-like sound.” - John Berger, Honolulu Star Bulletin
“John King stretches a small instrument to new lengths.” - Bob Boillin, NPR
“King takes Bach to inspired levels. His playing is superb.” - Jason Verlinde, The Ukulele Occasional
“King has a virtuoso technique; ornaments and scales are delivered effortlessly, creating a delicate beauty that takes these adaptations from simply being thought of as a novelty to the sublime.” - Douglas Back, The Fretted Instrument Guild of America
“I cannot find enough superlatives to describe John King’s performances of Johann Sebastian Bach on the ukulele. It is fantastic! I listen to it often. The sound of the ukulele is exquisitely well-suited for Bach’s music and I delight in this discovery. I hope that a vast audience will listen to this music and be captivated by its beauty.” - Pepe Romero
J.S. BACH, PARTITA No. 3 FOR UNACCOMPANIED UKULELE
John King, solo ukulele
The ukulele is an instrument of the chordophone class. It is a small, treble guitar descended from the machête de braga of Madeira, and was probably brought by Portuguese immigrants to the Hawaiian Islands in the latter half of the 19th century. Early examples of the ukulele crafted in Hawaii by Portuguese luthiers are little changed from their European predecessors: both are plucked or strummed to produce music and have a figure 8 body, a fretted neck, and four strings or courses that are similarly tuned. The machête was popular in Portugal and its insular possesions in the 18th and 19th centuries and is mentioned by Anotonio Diniz de Cruz e Silva (1731-1799) in the mock-heroic poem O Hyssope. Some scholars believe it to be descended from the small Renaissance guitarra, antecedent of the modern classical guitar. The guitarra was enormously popular in the mid 1500¹s in southern Europe (judging from the number of tablature books that were published for it, beginning in Spain in 1546 with Mudarra’s Tres Libros de Musica en Cifra) but it was eventually abandoned in favor of the newer and more versatile five-course guitarra española. After a brief but intense popularity that captured the imaginations of the finest vihuelists and composers of the Spanish Renaissance the fortunes of the little four-course guitar fell hard and fast: from interpreting sophisticated diferencias and pavanas to providing a rough accompaniment for a rural folk culture in less than forty years. Perhaps not so exalted a fate musically but one that enabled the instrument to survive, and eventually thrive as an icon of 20thcentury American popular culture known as the ukulele.
ABOUT THE CAMPANELLA STYLE
The early baroque masters of the guitarra española pioneered a style of playing now known as campanella. The campanella style is noted for a bell like quality of sound in which individual notes over-ring one another producing an effect very much like that of the harp. This is accomplished by playing each succeeding note in a melodic line on a different string. Theukulele adapts well to this style of performance due to its hallmark re-entrant (my-dog-has-fleas) tuning.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
John King began playing the ukulele in 1960 while living in Hawaii, receiving his first instruction from his mother, an accomplished amateur. His technique has been described as flawless, effortless and sublime. In addition to his recordings of the music of Bach and Hawaii’s royal family, he has compiled and edited two popular books of music for the ukulele.