How Ukulele Folk Music Became Popular

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Find out how ukulele folk music became popular and the reasons behind its popularity. You’ll also discover the different styles of ukulele music and how to play them.

Origins of Ukulele Folk Music

The first ukulele was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants in the late 1800s. Ukulele means “jumping flea” in Hawaiian, and the instrument quickly became popular among the Hawaiian people. The ukulele has a unique sound that is perfect for folk music. Folk music is a type of music that is passed down from generation to generation. It is usually about the everyday life of the people who sing it.


Folk music has always been an important part of Hawaii’s history and culture. The ukulele is a beloved instrument in Hawaii, and Hawaiian folk music is often played on the ukulele.

Hawaiian folk music is a genre of its own, with its own unique history and sound. The first Hawaiian folk songs were probably brought to the islands by early Polynesian settlers. These early songs were passed down from generation to generation, and eventually, they began to evolve into the type of music we now know as Hawaiian folk music.

The ukulele is a relatively new addition to Hawaiian folk music. The instrument was introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants in the late 1800s. At first, the ukulele was not widely accepted by Hawaiians. But eventually, Hawaiians began to embrace the instrument, and it quickly became an integral part of Hawaiian culture.

Today, Hawaiian folk music is enjoyed by people all over the world. The sound of the ukulele brings a unique charm and beauty to the genre, and it’s one of the things that makes Hawaiianfolk music so special.

The United States

The United States is often credited as the birthplace of Ukulele Folk Music. The earliest known reference to the ukulele in the United States was in 1879, when Edward Purvis ordered a “mahogany Guitarlele” from an Honolulu, Hawaii music store. stirred up public interest in the instrument, and soon other Americans were clamoring for their own “little guitar.” In 1915, vaudeville star Roy Smeck popularized the ukulele with his energetic showmanship, and by the 1920s, the ukulele was a national craze. Thousands of American companies began manufacturing ukuleles, and everyone from celebrities to schoolchildren took up the instrument.

Despite its popularity, the ukulele fell out of favor in the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. It wasn’t until the 1950s that American interest in the ukulele was revived, thanks in part to Hawaiian music becoming mainstream popular culture. In 1957, Don Ho’s catchy tune “Tiny Bubbles” helped propel Hawaiian music—and by extension, the Ukulele Folk Music style—into American living rooms. From there, it wasn’t long before Ukulele Folk Music groups like The Kingston Trio and The Beach Boys were topping the charts with their unique sound. Today, American musicians like Jake Shimabukuro and Zach Condon continue to keep Ukulele Folk Music alive and popular.

The Popularity of Ukulele Folk Music

It’s hard to imagine a time when the ukulele wasn’t popular. The small, four-stringed instrument has been a favorite among music lovers for centuries. Ukulele folk music has become particularly popular in recent years, thanks to its unique sound and easy-to-learn playing style. Let’s take a closer look at the popularity of ukulele folk music.

The Ukulele Craze of the 1920s

In the 1920s, ukulele music became extremely popular in the United States. This was due in part to the introduction of the Hawaiian style of playing, which incorporated elements of Western and hapa haole music. Hawaiian-themed songs were also popularized by American Tin Pan Alley composers, such as Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. Ukulele music enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the 1960s with the rise of folk music and the popularity of singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

The Ukulele in American Folk Music

The ukulele is a small, four-stringed instrument that originated in Hawaii. It was first brought to the United States by Portuguese immigrants in the late 1800s, and American sailors who had visited Hawaii also helped to spread the popularity of the instrument. In the early 20th century, the ukulele became popular in American vaudeville and folk music circles. In recent years, the ukulele has once again gained popularity as a folk instrument, thanks to its relatively simple construction and its cheerful, mellow sound.

The Legacy of Ukulele Folk Music

Ukulele folk music is a genre of music that originated in the early 20th century. The genre is characterized by its use of the ukulele, which is a Hawaiian guitar-like instrument. The music is often upbeat and features simple lyrics. Ukulele folk music became popular in the early 20th century because it was seen as a symbol of the Hawaiian culture.

The Ukulele in Contemporary Music

The ukulele has been gaining popularity in recent years as a versatile and portable instrument. While it is often associated with Hawaiian music, the ukulele has also been adopted by other genres, such as folk, country, and pop.

One of the driving forces behind the ukulele’s recent resurgence is its versatility. The ukulele can be played solo or in a group, making it ideal for both intimate gatherings and larger performances. Additionally, the ukulele is relatively inexpensive and easy to learn, making it a great option for beginner musicians.

The ukulele’s small size also makes it a popular choice for travelers. Whether you’re visiting Hawaii or taking a road trip across the country, the ukulele is easy to pack up and take with you. Plus, its unique sound is sure to add some personality to any campfire sing-along!

Whether you’re a experienced musician or just starting out, the ukulele is a great option for anyone who wants to add some music to their life.

The ukulele is often associated with American popular music from the early 20th century, particularly the 1930s and 1940s. In part, this is because the ukulele was adopted by American performers who specialized in Hawaiian-themed music, such as Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards and Lyle Ritz. The ukulele also became a popular instrument in jazz bands of the 1920s and 1930s, thanks to its portability and affordability. Many famous jazz musicians, such as Eddie Lang and Bing Crosby, learned to play the ukulele and featured it prominently on their recordings.

The popularity of the ukulele in American culture was given a boost by Indiana native Roy Smeck, who was one of the most famous musicians of the 1920s and 1930s. Smeck was a virtuoso guitarist, banjo player, and ukulele player, and he helped to legitimize the ukulele as a serious musical instrument. Smeck’s 1926 book Method for the Ukulele helped to codify standard tuning and chord shapes for the instrument, making it easier for future generations of players to learn.

In recent years, the ukulele has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to its versatility and affordability. The rise of social media has also helped to spread awareness of the instrument; today, there are hundreds of thousands of videos featuring ukulele players from all over the world.

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