For me, visually, there are two kinds of beautiful ukulele. One kind is where the beauty all comes from the wood and the way it has been worked and crafted, and the other is where the luthier has used artistry to decorate the instrument with beautiful inlays of patterns or other images. In this second category, Chuck Moore's ukuleles are a joy to behold. Chuck Moore operates as Moore Bettah Ukuleles of Big Island, Hawaii, and if you want so spend some time drooling over "uke porn" get over to his site and take a look. A good, long look. In the ukulele world, the artistry of Chuck Moore is legendary.
On his For Sale page, you'll find The Three Mermaids tenor ukulele. Here are just two of the pictures of it.
This is what Chuck writes about it.
"This all koa ukulele was challenging yet immensely satisfying to build. Living so close to nature in this beautiful Hawaiian environment was naturally very influential in my choice of whimsical designs depicting two mermaids frolicking in the sea and one dreamingly relaxing in a banana moon. I use AAA Big Island curly koa for the body and ebony elsewhere including the fretboard and headstock veneer. Paua abalone is used unashamedly throughout, adorning the entire front and back of the instrument. The seahorse on the end graft was an afterthought that occurred to me only after I sprayed the first couple of coats of lacquer. The mermaids are made up of composite stone and 10,000 year old fossil mammoth ivory. After the ukulele was finish sanded, I scrimshawed the details in the bodies, remembering the art form I was involved in years ago. Other inlay materials include gold mother of pearl, abalone shell and fossil walrus ivory."
It's not really any surprise that this particular ukulele proved inspirational for one player, Ganga Karmokar. I was knocked out by her instrumental - watch her video to hear what she had to say about it. For me, her music conjured up the mermaid and the sea, just the way it was meant to - and put me in mind of the music of the French composer, Claude Debussy. Writing in the early 20th century, his work was inspired by the painters of the impressionist movement, and his music, full of light and air, was full of a similar imagery. Think of "Clair de Lune" (Moonlight) for example. In fact, the first piece in his first collection of "Images" was "Reflets dans L'Eau" (reflections in the water.) In my college days I lapped this stuff up.
Ganga's composition not only conjures up the sea, but has an eerie, mystical feeling to it that brings those mermaids to life. Please watch, listen and enjoy!
And if you liked that, just wait awhile, and I will post her other version of this, the version that is a song with words. It changes the mood again, and Ganga's voice is that of a siren, luring with her ethereal and bell-like voice the sailors of old to their fate on the rocks....
NEWS 6th November - Ganga is thrilled to have taken delivery today of a new (to her) Moore Bettah tenor uke - and has done a new video of The Three Mermaids....