Glee denotes „a melody of three or more voices“, „all the singing voices raising and closing at the same time with the same words.“ If there are fugitive or imitative sentences in it, and the piece is more in artificial than simple counterpoint, so it is less glee than madrigal, as it could actually be if the lyrics were more serious.„1)

An early example of a glee describes the content and meaning of the singing conventions which met first (originally only for men) in public pubs:2)

Come, come o noble souls, who skill'd in music's art,
Do join in this society to bear a part;
For in this pleasant grove, we'll sit, we'll drink, and sing;
And imitate those cheerful birds now in the spring;
The Muses nine shall know, and all most plainly see,
Our off'ring at their shrine is love and harmony.

Since the 19th century there are many glee clubs in educational institutions in the Anglo-Saxon world (also at East Asian universities of British or American tradition). The first university club in the United States was founded in 1858 at Harvard University, followed by Michigan (1859) and Yale (1861). These vocal groups (initially only for men, later also for women) often used popular and easily portable accompaniment and rhythm instruments such as guitar, mandolin, banjo and from about 1890 (Harvard) also ukuleles.

Girls Glee Club of the Elizabeth City High School (Elizabeth City, N.C.) 1922. From the school yearbook "The Spotlight", 1922, p. 81. According to the description the following instruments belonged to the club: violins, piano, ukuleles.
American instrument dealer Bruno, founded in 1834, sold ukuleles from third-party production under the brand name Glee Club in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Ukulele and the Glee Clubs

The first diffusion of the ukulele is closely linked to the tradition of these glee clubs. Heinrich Berger expanded the Royal Hawaiian Band to Hawaiian Glee Club, and Ernest Ka'ai founded his own club with which he went on tour around the world. In Japan, it was the Moana Glee Club band of Haida Yukihiko that was the first to professionally engage in Hawaiian music.

Soon, the Ukukele became a popular part of the academic and university glee clubs in the United States. A music dealer advertised as early as 1915:

Glee Clubs never fail to win tremendous encores with the ukulele.3)

The academic glee clubs were also part of the early contents business. As early as 1917, a journalist complained about the commercialization of university life:

Indeed, a sport that is not financially successful is not successful at all. Likewise with practically all of our campus activities. A man who has the knack with an ukulele or is gifted with a whiskey tenor hires a voice culturist or a music teacher and then tries out for the glee or mandolin club — strictly business organizations which give concerts and make professional tours.4)

Carl Friedrich Barth: Bragur: a literary magazine of the German and Nordic prehistory , Volume 4, Leipniz : Heinrich Gräff 1796, p. 173–174.
Dr. Rogers: Glee, 3 Voices. In: J. Paul Hobler (ed.): The Words of the Favourite Pieces, as performed at the Glee Club, held at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, London 1794, S. 2
Advertisement in Daily Illini, 12.11.1915, p. 8
„Nearly Pessimism.“ Daily Illini, 13.3.1917, p. 4; quoted from The Daily Californian