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Move to make ukulele state instrument needs fine tuning

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:42 a.m. HST, Apr 23, 2014

The decision to name a state instrument in Hawaii is proving more difficult than some lawmakers expected.

At first, it seemed a proposal to give the title to the ukulele it was going to be an easy bill to pass. But then fans of the steel guitar and instruments like the ipu gourd made a case that their sounds should represent Hawaii.

Now, with less than two weeks left in the legislative session, lawmakers are trying to find a way to please everyone before they run out of time.

"It's surprising that with all the huge, substantive bills that we're discussing here, ukulele is one of the more controversial bills this Legislative session," said Sen. Glenn Wakai, D-Kalihi, chairman on the Senate side of the bill's conference committee. "I think the public feels strongly about what they feel should be a designated anything. Whether it's a ukulele, bird, flower, color or smell, people have strong opinions about those issues."

To please more musicians, lawmakers are considering naming one "ancient" instrument and one "modern" instrument, he said. That could leave room for both the steel guitar and ukulele lobbies to have their way.

Members of the Senate want to leave the decision up to a group of children to decide which musical tradition should represent the state. Children chose the state fish years ago, picking the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, a fish that isn't unique to Hawaii, Wakai said.

"We have precedent on going down this route, and we thought, because of the controversy, why don't we let the children take a second crack at designating our state symbol again?" Wakai said.

But adults don't want to be left out of the process, and neither do lawmakers, said Rep. Mark Takai, D-Aiea, chairman on the House side of the conference committee considering the ukulele bills.

"Ultimately, the Legislature is going to have to pass a law, and we can't handcuff a future Legislature," Takai said.

House members thought it might be less touchy to designate the ukulele the state musical string instrument, rather than overall state instrument, leaving room for the likes of pahu drums and nose flutes to have a moment in the spotlight. On the House side, the ukulele reigns supreme.

"Being able to carry the ukulele, versus the steel guitar, makes the ukulele much more popular and common," Takai said. "I think a lot of people, both in Hawaii and out of Hawaii, see the ukulele as our state instrument" -- then he corrected himself -- "state musical string instrument."

A panel that met Tuesday on two competing bills said the proposals need more work. They plan to meet again on Thursday.

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Barefootie wrote:
With all the business going on in the legislature, they don't have time to do stupid stuff like this, when the legislative session is coming down to a close; they have more important matters to get done and this just shows how useless and lame our State legislature takes it's role as a governing body of the State of Hawaii!
on April 22,2014 | 12:53PM
kauai wrote:
Gee, real important business, naming a state instrument. So these folks can't seem to agree and are considering punting it to the children to decide. Perhaps these so-called elected officials should punt all the other issues to the children to decide. Oops, I forgot, these "elected officials" ARE children. But, oh my, that's a terrible thing to say; calling these politicians "children" are an insult to the real children. Is it any wonder that the public holds these "elected officials" in such low regard?
on April 22,2014 | 01:36PM
st1d wrote:
certainly the instrument of bing crosby and tiny time should be memorialized as hawaii's instrument. not.
on April 22,2014 | 02:09PM
st1d wrote:
oops, tiny tim. fat fingers that time.
on April 22,2014 | 03:19PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
The absentee ballot is the official instrument that keeps the thieves,criminals and looters in power.
on April 22,2014 | 02:10PM
loquaciousone wrote:
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the ukulele is originally from Portugal.
on April 22,2014 | 02:12PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Who improved it and made it known and popular, worldwide?
on April 22,2014 | 03:27PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Uhhhhhh Jake Shimabukuro?
on April 22,2014 | 03:36PM
loquaciousone wrote:
No wait.....Tiny Tim1
on April 22,2014 | 03:40PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Jake plays and makes the ukulele sound like a samisen.
on April 22,2014 | 03:41PM
hanalei395 wrote:
For real ukulele finger picking with local styling, feel and expression, just three of many: Brittni Paiva, Herb Ohta, Sr. & Jr.
on April 22,2014 | 04:41PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Correction ...HERE IS just three of many .........
on April 22,2014 | 05:17PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Shades of jumping fleas! Bradda IZ should be the state instrument.
on April 22,2014 | 02:13PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Shades of jumping fleas! Bradda IZ should be the state instrument.
on April 22,2014 | 02:14PM
loquaciousone wrote:
And Frank Delima should be the next Governor.
on April 22,2014 | 02:15PM
loquaciousone wrote:
And Frank Delima should be the next Governor.
on April 22,2014 | 02:15PM
false wrote:
Geez…. where the heck did this picture come from. I guess with this bill being one of the more controversial bills nothing really important is happening at the Capitol. At least the lawmakers will have time to discuss this one.
on April 22,2014 | 02:33PM
mitsuni wrote:
so you can't decide..how about let the people vote.....oh wait tried that.....with gay marriage and didn't work neither....guess legislaters will decide once again the will of the people and what we stand for!!!
on April 22,2014 | 02:46PM
W_Williams wrote:
Let's see...the Hawaii State Legislature strums while Hawaii burns? Anyway, if we did have a state instrument I'd say it should be the ukulele. In our 4 adult household we have at least 7 of them. I don't have an ipu or a guitar. That's all.
on April 22,2014 | 02:58PM
opalaedo wrote:
Do other states in the U.S. fret over something as stupid and meaningless as this? In the bigger scheme of things, this probably comes at the bottom of the list. Now we know what everyone's taxes are being used for, all the while there is a slew of dire issues that need addressing. And who's idea was it anyway?
on April 22,2014 | 03:15PM
Mahalo wrote:
I'm glad our tax money is hard at work
on April 22,2014 | 03:16PM
handsomeguy wrote:
Is this all they have to worry about? And why the heck do we need a state instrument in the first place? I'm going to send this story to the New York Times and let the rest of the country get a good laugh.
on April 22,2014 | 04:34PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Partial list of the official State Musical Instruments: Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, S. Dakota ... the Fiddle.... Texas ...the Guitar. ... Wisconsin ...the Accordion
on April 22,2014 | 05:14PM
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