By Greg Olwell
In some corners of the world, folks will claim that Arrested Development was one of the all-time funniest TV shows. The show, which was about the highly dysfunctional Bluth family, spent three seasons on Fox before it was cancelled in 2006. After its cancellation, however, it developed a following that grew enough that it had a fourth season on Netflix, while talk of further seasons continues.
One of the show’s most distinctive elements is the catchy theme song. The bright, looney theme, written by composer David Schwartz, features the distinctive sound of the Tahitian ukulele.
Though it sounds ukulele-ish (emphasis on the “ish”), the Tahitian ukulele really quite a different instrument than the jumping flea. For one, it’s tuned like a ukulele (G C E A), but with doubled strings, so it’s GG CC EE AA. This combined with the wood body—which is hollowed from a single piece of wood and with a wooden resonator and rear-facing soundhole—gives the Tahitian uke a jangly, percussive tone that sounds like an extreme version of a banjo-uke.
It was also the perfect tool to give the theme song an instantly memorable, always recognizable sound. Check out this how-to video from the composer and the person who played the uke on the theme song, LA studio musician George Doering.
And, now if you’ve caught Tahitian uke fever and might want one, check out this piece about making one yourself.