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 2: Music Instruments and ComponentsAdd to your cart.
Item 1: National Grand Letar, 1937Add to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.001a, b, and c
Item 2: Harlin Brothers Kalina Multi Kord steel guitar, ca. 1940sAdd to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.002
Item 3: August Gerhard Almcrantz double-neck guitar, ca. 1900/1931Add to your cart.
Guitar is believed to have been made by August Gerhard Almcrantz (1864-1942), a string instrument maker working in Chicago, Illinois. Instrument is in fair-to-poor condition with a fracture at the top of the tone hole of the guitar's body. It has been suggested the instrument was modified by Letritia Kandle's father, and was given to her for her sixteenth birthday. Accession number 2016.1209150.012.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Item 1: Silvertone 5Z3 vacuum tube, ca. 1950sAdd to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.003
Item 2: Sylvania 6A6 vacuum tube, ca. 1950sAdd to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.004
Item 3: Philco 6A6 vacuum tube, ca. 1950sAdd to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.005
Item 4: RCA 6A6 vacuum tube, ca. 1950sAdd to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.006
Item 5: Philco 6A6 vacuum tube, ca. 1950sAdd to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.007
Item 6: Box of Tilco Hawaiian guitar strings, ca. 1950sAdd to your cart.
Includes two C-sharp, two A (fifth), two A (third), four E, and one blank.  Accession number: 2016.1209150.008
Item 7: Original electrical cords for the Grand Letar, ca. 1950Add to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.009a-d
Item 8: Box of Milton G. Wolf Hawaiian guitar strings, ca. 1940Add to your cart.
Includes one first string, one second string, one third string, one fourth string, one fifth string, and one sixth string. Accession number: 2016.1209150.010
Item 9: Box of Milton G. Wolf Hawaiian guitar strings, 1944Add to your cart.
Includes six first strings, two second strings, six third string, one fourthstring , two fifth strings, one sixth string, one seventh string, and one eighth string. Accession number: 2016.1209150.011
Box 5Add to your cart.
Item 1: Grand Letar tuning hammer, 1937Add to your cart.
Accession number: 2016.1209150.013.
Item 4: Letritia Kandle's Small Letar: National Electric Steel Guitar, ca. 1940sAdd to your cart.

Small Letar: Accession number 2019.1209150.001a

1 - to - 4 cable for Small Letar: Accession number 2019.1209150.001b

Item 5: Table for Small Letar and Component Parts, ca.1940sAdd to your cart.

Table for Small Letar: Accession number 2019.1209150.002a

4 wing nuts and bolts for Table: Accession number 2019.1209150.002b

Junction Box: Accession number 2019.1209150.002c

4 Single Cables: Accession number 2019.1209150.002d, e, f, and g


Browse by Series:

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