Ukulele Music Hacks or: How to Connect with People Across the World and Create Art

I had an epiphany today when I was browsing the ukulele players facepage (AKA facebook). Right there, smack-dab on the first pinned post is a mention of the “files” section of the page that contains links, and songs… and links to songs. These are files uploaded by individuals of the group that are meant to be shared with other members. It occurred to me after reading this that there are probably lots of uke groups around the world that have similar pages where members can contribute music and share information.

So, the epiphany was simply this: I bet there’s a lot of interesting music out there hidden (or not so hidden) in the files sections of these group pages. Let’s test this hypothesis and go have a look-see.

We might as well start with the page that inspired the idea, the ukulele players facebook “files” section (you’ll have to join this “closed” group on facebook, but fear not rejection, they’re an accepting bunch). There are nearly 50 files here, ranging from “Five Foot Two“, a classic uke piece, to “I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie, a future uke classic. You’ll also find a great link to tons of other music. Some might call this a treasure trove of excellent ukulele information, I know I would.

Next, let’s do some exploring with meetup groups. Now, if you’re like me, you don’t live in New York City or Los Angeles, but let’s pretend we do. A search for ukulele groups within 10 miles of NYC gives me three potential uke groups. Enter tutorial mode and let me show you where the files are located. Step 1: Click on the group of interest (should be self-explanatory). Step 2: find the files section.

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I have to admit I’m a little disappointed in the files contained within the NYC Ukulele Meetup Group (there are only 15 files). But I’m impressed by the number of members! There 1,108 members of the NYC Ukulele Meetup Group. You’d think some of them would be interested in sharing music online. But, I’m guessing they’re probably just printing out 1,000 copies of the songs they want to play at any given uke jam. It’s only paper, right?

For the next group, let me save you some time and point you to the Brooklyn Ukes. They’ve got their act together with a much better “files” page containing significantly more files.

Next city: Los Angeles. Hmm… not a great selection here, but I’ll give props to the Ukulele Strummers of Pasadena for having some music in the files. Why is “Don’t Worry Be Happy” such a large filesize though? That’s all I’m gonna plug in LA, but don’t be afraid to check out their guitar and acoustic groups.

Just for giggles, let’s do a meetup search within “any distance” of Honolulu, HI. First result: The Tampa Bay Ukulele Society (could you get any further away?). The “files” page reveals an eclectic mix of tunes being played by the oldest fogies on the east coast. I’m not being insensitive, it’s simply a fact that Florida contains a large proportion of “experienced” ukulele players, some of whom may have ties to the NYC ukulele group.

We could repeat this exercise ad nauseam until we’ve exhausted all the uke groups in the country, and then we could jump across the pond for even more (and even more). The point is: there is enough music out there to keep you busy for days. And we’ve only just begun. On a side note, I’m entirely convinced that the uke is much more popular in the UK, or England, or Britain, or whatever we’re supposed to call it.

All these great places to find uke music, and we’ve barely even scratched the surface. Try it for yourself.  Look for local groups on facebook and google. You may even want to try finding a group close to home and actually going to it. It might not be all that bad to meet some actual flesh-and-bone people.

The most interesting thing about these communities is that the files you’ll find on these pages are topical. They are, for one reason or another, so important or useful to an individual that they decided to share them with others. Hoping, by sharing, that someone else might experience whatever it is that makes that piece special to the contributor; that others might share a similar connection. This is an idea innate to the spirit of music. What other medium conveys emotion in such a profound way, besides poetry, movies, paintings, photography, books… Fine, there are other ways to connect, but I think we can agree on the common link: Art.

You may ask, “Is it still art if we lurk on the pages of ukulele groups thousands of miles away trying to mooch music?” I propose that it is. Can you enjoy art all alone through an LED screen with retina display (rhetorical question)? In this  series of tubes (AKA the interwebs [Interpreted through music]) through which we conduct most of our daily business, our muse beckons. We must find her and embrace our own creativity. Let loose the inner artist (or artiste).