In a little while I will be taking a short break in the Canary Islands - Lanzarote to be precise. Imagine then my delight to find that their native folk instrument shares a lot in common with the ukulele!
The Canaries are home to a traditional instrument called the Timple - (and before you get in touch to tell me I have the spelling wrong, there is also a very similar instrument called the Tiple, but in the Canaries, it is spelled with an M). You may have read my piece on Ukulele History which explains that whilst Hawaii is most famous for the uke, it was introduced to the islands by Spanish and Portuguese settlers. Those sailors brought with them a range of small stringed instruments including the Tiple, the Machete and this one, the Canarian Timple. The stringed instrument had been introduced to Spain and Portugal by the invading Moors from North Africa, leading to those countries become famous for developing a range of instruments, most notably the Spanish Guitar.
On the Spanish Canaries, they developed the Timple - A very similar instrument to the ukulele but most normally made with five strings (tuned GCEAD, in other words the same as the uke but with an added high D string). It is also easily identified by its distinctive very arched back. Like the uke it is mainly strummed (though can be picked) and is a staple of traditional Canarian folk music.
In recent years, in the old Lanzarote capital, Teguise, (the town on the island most noted for the Timple), they opened a museum dedicated to the instrument. You can check their website HERE (apologies if you don't follow Spanish, but you will get the gist). What really made me smile is that the museum has a room called "Retrato de familia" in which a host of other instruments to which the Timple is connected are on display, including Cuatros, Charangos and, of course, the Ukulele!
I fully intend to visit and give my readers a full report on my return. Who knows, I may even come back with a new instrument to add to my reviews page - who knows!
And finally - what do they sound like? - well, quite beautiful as you will see by watching the video below.