Ode To Joy: Easy Classical Strumming

Ode To Joy (Tab)

On Jen Kwok’s appearance on Midnight Ukulele Disco, she and Jason Tagg were discussing playing classical music on the ukulele. There has been quite a bit of classical music arranged for the uke. John King’s The Classical Ukulele and Wilfried Welti‘s arrangements (you can download his tab here) leap immediately to mind. But they were talking about playing classical music by strumming rather than fingerpicking and I couldn’t think of any. So I decided to take up the challenge myself.

My aim with this was to make the easiest strumming classical piece it’s possible to play on the ukulele. I’ve chosen a very simply tune: Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. There are only two basic chords in the it C and G and the strumming is just a steady up and down. The melody notes are put inside these chords.

You don’t have to do anything to make these notes stand out. Because these are the only notes that are moving the ear picks them out as a melody (particularly with a well known piece like this).

The first part of the tune is very simple. Here it is played slowly:

When the tune moves to G it is a little more difficult to play and requires a bit of fancy little-finger work. Good luck with it.

Apologies for all the hacking and wheezing in the background of these mp3s. I’ve been laid up in bed with a cold all weekend. And apologies to everyone I owe an email or a message to.

View Comments


  1. Thomas September 16th, 2007 9:33 pm

    Thank you for that fantastic lesson. Please arrange more “classical pieces by strumming” :)
    Maybe “Fur Elise”, “Traumerei”, or “A Little Night Music” – it would be great!!!

  2. Woodshed September 17th, 2007 8:05 pm

    Glad you liked it, Thomas. Those tunes would be really tricky to strum through. I’ll have to put my thinking cap on.

  3. jake & a uke September 30th, 2008 9:22 pm

    classical is my second favourite music type after rock,
    thanks woodshed :)

  4. Woodshed September 30th, 2008 10:30 pm

    Jake: I think I’m too dumb to understand classical music. It’s one of the few forms of music that’s never really grabbed me emotionally.

  5. Kendensuki May 21st, 2010 5:59 am

    Don’t really know if this classifies as classical but the first uke video I put up on youtube was a strumming version of Greensleeves. <— (mindless veiws whore)

  6. Woodshed May 21st, 2010 7:31 am

    Kendensuki: If it was views you’re after, you should have included a link!

  7. Sqratz August 21st, 2010 12:27 am

    I’m having trouble with when the song moves to G. I’ve never played a song that required you to play only three strings before :(

    Is there a special technique for it? Or do I just try to strum only three strings.

  8. veejayblox August 27th, 2010 5:42 pm

    excellent tab, thank you Woodshed. this is something i can sink my teeth into. :)

  9. Woodshed August 27th, 2010 10:54 pm

    Sqratz: The trick is to rest one of your fingers against the string (not hard enough to press it down) so if you hit it it just makes a ‘click’ and doesn’t interfere with the music.

    veejayblox: Glad you like it.

  10. Paul Mc March 5th, 2011 11:41 am

    I was given a Ukelele for my birthday yesterday. I was just looking for chord charts and came across your site. I was amazed how easy it was to play song of Joy and it sounds great. I congratulate you on your arrangement.

  11. Woodshed March 6th, 2011 10:54 am

    Paul: Thanks very much. Enjoy your uke.

  12. Noodles September 7th, 2012 8:27 pm

    I really love this. What’s great is you can use any rhythm with it and it still sounds good.

  13. Woodshed September 9th, 2012 1:57 pm

    Noodles: Glad you like!

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