Letritia Kandle Papers and Hawaiian Guitars

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Subject Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Papers, Photographs, and Sound Recordings

Music Instruments and Components



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Finding Aid for Letritia Kandle Papers and Hawaiian Guitars, 1931-2010 | The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

By Scott Schwartz and Hannah Jellen

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Collection Overview

Title: Letritia Kandle Papers and Hawaiian Guitars, 1931-2010Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

ID: 12/9/150

Primary Creator: Kandle, Letritia (November 7, 1915 - June 9, 2010)

Extent: 17.05 cubic feet

Arrangement: Materials are arranged by file type.

Date Acquired: 04/18/2016. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Electronic Music, Hawaiian guitar, Instrumental music, Music - United States, Music teachers

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Consists of photographs, newsclippings, correspondence, sheet music, concert programs, a scrapbook, newsletters, music trade journals, and Letritia Kandle's National Grand Letar, National Small Letar, Harlin Brothers Kalina Multi Kord steel guitar, and Almcrantz double-neck guitar, documenting her career as leading Chicago, Illinois Hawaiian guitar performer and music teacher between 1931 and 1955.

For more Hawaiian guitar materials, see RS 12/9/50 and RS 12/9/101.

Biographical Note

Letritia Kandle (1915-2010), the only daughter of Charles and Alma Kandle, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.  Her earliest music lessons were on the piano, but in 1928 she switched to the Hawaiian guitar after watching the film, The Cisco Kid, and talking with her music teacher.  Her early steel guitars included a Koa Weissenborn and a National Style 2 resophonic guitar.  In 1933 Letritia attended the Chicago World's Fair and met Geroge Kealoha Gilman who mentored her in Hawaiian music and lore, and the following year she formed an all-girl music ensemble that played matching National Resophonic guitars that called themselves The Kohala Girls.  Several years later the ensemble switched to electric lap steel and double-neck steel guitars.

While waiting for an appointment during the 1930s Kandle came up with the idea of creating an electronic twenty-six string guitar that would use colored lights to change colors as the instrument was being played.  She envisioned a guitar that would enable her to stand while playing it, one that would have a full sound like an organ and produce tones like a vibraharp.  In 1937 Letritia's father helped construct her large console Hawaiian guitar that consisted of a top cast in aluminum with one eight-string and three six-string necks, sides made of wood that was covered with chrome-plated steel, and top and side panels made of glass.  National installed electronic pickups and a 20-watt amplifier that utilized two twelve-inch JB Lansing field-coil speakers.  Inside the glass panels a network of 120 colored lights that flashed and changed colors as it was played.

The instrument was premiered by Letritia, who was performing Hawaiian guitar with the Paul Whiteman Band, at Chicago's Drake Hotel in 1937.  The instrument was eventually named the Grand Letar by Whiteman based on the first two letters of Letritia's name and the last three letters of the guitar.  That same year Kandle demonstrated the Grand Letar at the 1937 National Music Trade Convention held in New York City.

In 1939 Letritia's father constructed a smaller and more portable electronic Hawaiian guitar that did not have internal amplificiation or lights, and she used it as a replacement for the Grand Letar.  When Kandle wasn't performing with the Kohala Girls or directing the forty-nine piece Chicago Plectrophonic Orchestra, she ran a music school in Chicago's Kimball Building and wrote numerous articles several different music trade journals.  In 1955 she married Walter Lay, a one-time bassist for the Chicago Plectrophonic Orchestra, and went to work for her father's company which manufactured earth-boring equipment.

Subject/Index Terms

Electronic Music
Hawaiian guitar
Instrumental music
Music - United States
Music teachers

Administrative Information

Repository: The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

Accruals: Almcrantz guitar acquired June 10, 2016 from TC Furlong. Six Discs (Box 6 Items 2-6) and a CD of duplicate recordings acquired May 12, 2017 from William Lay. [Note: Disc 6, an untitled record produced by Milton J. Wolfe deaccessioned due to delamination]. Small Letar and table purchased from Paul Warnik on October 14, 2019.

Acquisition Source: Paul Warnik

Acquisition Method: Gift


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Papers, Photographs, and Sound Recordings],
[Series 2: Music Instruments and Components],
[All]

Series 1: Papers, Photographs, and Sound RecordingsAdd to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Grand Letar materials, 1943-2010Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Hawaiian guitar sheet music and method books, 1939-1951Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Memorium and concert ephemera, 1938-2010Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Photographs of Letritia Kandle and the Kohala Girls, ca. 1930-1940Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 5: Scrapbook, ca. 1937-1944Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Vintage Guitar magazine, 2010Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Photograph of Almcrantz triple neck guitar, ca. 1931Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Photographs of Letritia Kandle with Small Letar, ca. 1940sAdd to your cart.
Photos of Letritia Kandle with other instruments as well. Also contains an autographed photograph of Anthony Rocca inscribed to Letritia Kandle.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: The Kohala Girls photograph, ca. 1935Add to your cart.
Folder 2: The Chicago Plectrophonic Orchestra concert photographs, ca. 1941-1946Add to your cart.View associated digital content.
Folder 3: Original Handwritten Drawing of Design for Grand Letar, ca. 1940sAdd to your cart.
Pencil "blueprint" to scale of design for Grand Letar in Letritia Kandle's handwriting. Contains her notations and measurements. This is the blueprint from which the instrument was made.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Item 1: Who is Who in Music, 1941Add to your cart.
Oversize Portfolio Box 3Add to your cart.
Oversize Portfolio Case 1: The Chicago Plectrophonic Orchestra photograph, 1942Add to your cart.
Box 6Add to your cart.
Item 1: Letritia Kandle Duplicate Recordings, ca. 1937-1944Add to your cart.
CD of tracks duplicated from LPs donated by William Lay. [Note CD contains only copy of recordings from deaccessioned delaminated disc, see control file] Tracks include: 1. Navy Pier Dance Band "Stormy Wheater", 2. Navy Pier Dance Band "Farewell Blues", 3. Navy Pier Dance Band "Theme Song", 4. Kohala Girls "Mother's Lullaby", 5. Kohala Girls "Chile Blues", 6. Untitled track, 7. Untitled track, 8-16. Paul Whiteman Interlude's 1-9.
Item 2: "Hilo March" and "Hawaiian Medley" by the Kohala Girls, undatedAdd to your cart.
10" Direct cut Acetate Disc.
Item 3: "Chile Blues" and "Hawaiian Mother's Lullaby" by the Kohala Girls, undatedAdd to your cart.
10" Direct cut Aluminum Disc.
Item 4: Paul Whiteman Radio Broadcasts with Letritia Kandle Interludes, December 1, 1937Add to your cart.
12" Glass Disc. (Copy 1)
Item 5: Paul Whiteman Radio Broadcasts with Letritia Kandle Interludes, December 1, 1937Add to your cart.
12" Glass Disc. (Copy 2)
Item 6: Untitled Recording of Navy Pier Dance Band produced by Milton J. Wolfe, November 4, 1944Add to your cart.
12" Direct cut Glass Disc. [Note: companion Disc produced by Milton J. Wolfe deaccessioned due to delamination]
Item 7: Student lesson diary, 1943Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Papers, Photographs, and Sound Recordings],
[Series 2: Music Instruments and Components],
[All]

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