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When Captain Cook landed on the Hawaiian Islands, he named them the Sandwich Islands. But he did have the decency to record that the people who lived there called the big island Owyhee. This was the late 18th century, the age of Mozart and Haydn, the Classical era (note the big C). My goal was the create a piece of music in that style, not attempting an homage so much as a pastiche, something evoking that era, a tune played by one of the gentlemen on board HMS Resolution.

From an etude point of view, Owyhee tries to create more open chord voicings than are typical on the ukulele. The intervals are 6ths, 10ths and 13ths, consonant and rich.


Be prepared to stretch. I've never tried it properly, but I suspect this piece would be quite difficult to negotiate on a tenor. The second chord, D minor, involves reaching from the 2nd to 8th fret, which I can manage on a tenor... just. In addition, there is some tight fingerwork up around the 12th fret, in the transition from section A to B, where the voicings close considerably.

Whereas most of the etudes feature a more complicated B section, I think this etude gives a bit of a breather. Much of the material uses slightly shifting chords over a pedal note. The end returns to complexity, with string skips and some more rapid notes. I play the appogiaturas (the chromatic 6-7 and 4-5 notes) as slides, but they can be plucked individually if you prefer. As per usual, do whatever suits your own interpretation.