Sigur Ros – Hoppipolla (Tab)

Sigur Ros – Hoppipolla (Tab)

I think this tune has to be the most overused piece of music on television: reality shows, sporting montages, documentaries. And now it’s been covered by the guy off of G4. That would usually be enough to kill off any song. But this song is so magnificent it gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.

For the uke arrangement I’ve moved everything up a fret from the original to the more uke-friendly key of C. The first half of tune is all played campanella style (i.e. one note per string letting them ring into each other). I know a lot of people don’t like this way of playing but, screw it, it’s easily the best way of arranging a tune like this.

The most important thing to get right is the dynamics (quiet and louds bits). The original gets this one spot on. Obviously you’re not going to have the same dynamic range as a full band and a string section. But try to let the music swell in the first half and blossom in the second half. The dynamics are what gives emotion to the tune.

Another important thing to get right – which I completely failed to do in the video – is to keep an even tempo. I speed up much too fast towards the end. So do as I say not as I do.

View Comments


  1. mcnilly February 21st, 2010 4:41 pm

    Your a legend for doing this :D
    Nearly got it sorted as well!

  2. Donnie Bubbles February 21st, 2010 5:08 pm

    Love the tags: Fingerpicking, Iceland, Instrumental, Tricky

    Thank you Mr. Wood!!!!

  3. Victor February 21st, 2010 5:16 pm

    Thank you very very much. It’s going to take me ages to learn this and probably that much longer to play it half decent, but it’s such a beautiful song it’s worth the effort.

    The video is a big bonus, it helps a lot.

  4. SamD February 21st, 2010 5:41 pm

    This sounds so beautiful on uke. Your playing gave me goosebumps even more than the original does! I’m definitely getting stuck into this one straight away.

  5. Nick B-C. February 21st, 2010 5:51 pm

    …Very large Thank you!!!…I should learn to not be so inpatient…

  6. Bossarocker February 21st, 2010 6:58 pm


  7. Armelle Europe February 21st, 2010 7:34 pm

    Thanks so much for tabbing this, Al. Excellent playing too !

    I’m so going to try and play this even though the tag ‘tricky’ is giving me serious doubts about my ability to do so.

  8. Phredd February 21st, 2010 11:43 pm

    As I listened, my wife from the other side of the room heard it and said, That is…..pretty! Well done.

  9. krabbers February 22nd, 2010 7:49 am


    cheers for this

    i am gonna have a good go at this one

  10. Woodshed February 22nd, 2010 3:51 pm

    mcnilly: Look forward to hearing your version.

    Donnie: Yeah, that’s the format for the redesigned site. I’ve had to go through all the past posts sorting them out.

    Victor: Good luck with it.

    SamD: Thanks very much.

    Nick: Me too!

    Bossa: Ta!

    Armelle: Give it a go anyway.

    Phredd: Thanks! And thanks to Mrs Phredd.

    krabbers: Good luck with it.

  11. J-Hob February 22nd, 2010 8:29 pm

    Beautiful! I might have to have a crack at this myself

  12. Josh Blair February 22nd, 2010 9:48 pm

    Awesome job. This is something that I can aspire to!

  13. Dan February 22nd, 2010 10:28 pm

    That is absolutely first class Al!

    Like Victor said, the video’s really helpful. I reckon it’s going to take a lot of practice to get it sounding anything like as good as your version.

  14. stewkulele February 23rd, 2010 8:10 pm

    Hey, thanks for this. Dan’s right, this will take a while to get anywhere near as good as yours. I’ll keep at it though….
    Thanks :)

  15. Al Bruce February 24th, 2010 4:07 am

    The guy of G4? Really?

    That’s bad news.

    At least your version’s good!

  16. Fivetide February 24th, 2010 12:53 pm

    Stunning. Love the video too. I’d love to be able to play this but just can;t get my fingers to stretch and hold firmly enough, or move quick enough. Trying, but sadly much buzzing :(

  17. Vatsal February 25th, 2010 1:51 am

    Argh… simply beautiful. I want to learn this so bad, but who knows how long it could take. You are awesome for doing this.

  18. Woodshed February 25th, 2010 6:43 pm

    John: Good luck with it.

    Josh: Thanks!

    Dan: I know I should do more videos. I just hate doing them so much.

    stewkulele: Keep going!

    Al: Yep, the G4 guy. I don’t know how that could be allowed.

    Fivetide: The buzzing is something I struggle with as well. Keep at it.

    Vatsal: Thanks very much.

  19. Jeff / HumbleUker March 5th, 2010 11:26 pm

    Hey Al:

    It does work quite well and gets a very un-sanitary, that is, fresh-rough-edgy look. I think you’re also doing a good job showing the availability of your great books. I have most of them. To anyone that doesn’t have one yet I would like to say that these are very well written and F-U-L-L of information that will build real uke understanding and skills.

    Tack så mycket

  20. Woodshed March 6th, 2010 11:17 am

    Jeff: Thanks. Very glad you like the new look.

  21. maduke March 7th, 2010 5:30 pm

    nice! thank you thats beautiful and something to learn. if i can. like the new look of the site by the way.

  22. Andrea March 7th, 2010 8:45 pm

    Love the new look and layout here. LOVE. IT!!!!

  23. Woodshed March 8th, 2010 10:07 am

    maduke: Thanks very much.

    Andrea: Glad to hear it.

  24. Jellie March 8th, 2010 4:52 pm

    Hi! First off, thank you so much for this! It is going to be a huge surprise for someone special to me once I (gruelingly) learn how to play it. Second, a question: Is the mp3 for purchase a ukulele version? Listening to you play makes me ache for your version of the song. Any possibilities???

  25. Woodshed March 9th, 2010 6:39 pm

    Jellie: The MP3 link is for the original version. You can get the sound off the video using something like video2mp3.

  26. Fivetide March 22nd, 2010 11:54 am


    The lead singer of Sigur Ros, Jonsi, just played a live session on UK’s BBC 6Music station today in which he performed a stripped back version of new single ‘Go Do’ on a baritone ukulele. It’s very special indeed.

    From tomorrow you can go to the BBC 6Music site and ‘Listen Again’ to the Lauren Laverne show. the session is about 1hr 40 into the show I think.

    Of course if it was possible to tab this for GCEA… :)

    Check it out, it’s terrific.

  27. Woodshed March 26th, 2010 9:36 am

    Fivetide: Thanks very much for that. Rather lovely.

  28. alek April 1st, 2010 1:10 am

    hey, thank you so much for this
    i had seen the video on youtube a while ago
    and now that i have my own uke i can learn and play all these great songs thanks to people like you

  29. Woodshed April 3rd, 2010 3:50 pm

    alek: Thanks very much.

  30. Issy April 6th, 2010 1:54 pm

    Hi! This is stunning and I’ve almost got the hang of it! But I would really like to sing with it as well. I’m not really sure where the singing comes in. Could you give me a hand? xx

  31. Woodshed April 7th, 2010 2:39 pm

    Issy: This version is arranged quite differently to the original.

    The verse vocals would begin on the section that starts at bar 7. The middle section at bar 14. And the chorus at bar 18.

    But if you’re singing, it might be worth relying on the chords more heavily (C – Am – G – F for this key).

  32. sam June 7th, 2010 6:20 pm

    nice, sounds even better than the real version

  33. Woodshed June 7th, 2010 9:29 pm

    sam: I have to disagree with you there!

  34. Johnny B! June 18th, 2010 10:36 am

    Unfortunately I have never heard this song prior to today. I have checked out this site years before and I thought it was awesome. But this arrangement for the uke is bad ass and is balls to the walls. Thank you!

  35. Woodshed June 21st, 2010 11:01 am

    Johnny B!: Thanks. Bad as and balls to the wall is exactly what I aim to be.

  36. Jimmy July 28th, 2010 9:44 pm

    playing this song really pisses me off because it’s realy hard to do the second part (my ring finger can’t stretch)

  37. Woodshed August 3rd, 2010 4:31 pm

    Jimmy: Don’t give up yet. It’s a tough one but worth it.

  38. johnny September 13th, 2010 10:21 pm

    can you give me some tips on how to make my playing sound more clear? it’s such a fun piece to play but i feel like when i hear your version, i can hear every single note in your chords, but when i play, my chords sound muddled, so when i do minor changes like -03- -03- -00- -05- -03- it all kinda sounds the same. I also think I’m having trouble hitting only those strings. Any suggestions?

  39. Mr.28 May 1st, 2011 2:05 pm

    Wonderful man. I’m gonna have to up my game to play this but it will be totally worth it. Going to practice this every day till I’ve got it down.

  40. Woodshed May 5th, 2011 8:32 am

    Mr.28: Thanks very much!

  41. Olivier June 29th, 2011 1:22 pm

    Thanks a lot for this video and tab !!

  42. Olivier July 6th, 2011 4:33 pm

    I’m trying to play this but, indeed, … it’s totally tricky !!

    Just a question : What does “P.M.” mean ?

    Thanks !


  43. Ian July 23rd, 2011 4:47 am

    This is amazing. Been working on this for about 2 months now on and off and finally got it to sound about 30% the way it should. You rock!

  44. Woodshed July 23rd, 2011 12:55 pm

    Olivier: PM is palm muting. You rest your hand lightly on the strings.

    Ian: Thanks very much! Glad it’s getting there.

  45. jen April 7th, 2012 8:42 pm

    I know I ask some pretty stupid questions here but I am a beginner and am trying to self teach myself. Can you explain during the strumming part of the song, how one strums only 2 or 3 strings if those are the only ones indicated in the tab? Or if that is even strummed at all? For example it’s 300, 500, 00, 102.. then goes on to the 30, 30, 00, 30, 50… etc. How do we approach this part of the song? Thanks! I much appreciate this website and all the resources!

  46. Woodshed April 9th, 2012 10:57 am

    jen: By muting the strings I don’t want with my fretting hand. For example, I mute the g-string by wrapping my thumb around the neck and stopping it ringing.

  47. oscar July 22nd, 2012 9:10 pm

    Awesome job with this! Sounds really great on your uke! I have one question about the tab though. The strings that are’nt marked with a numer, should they be muted? E.g, the beginning of the 16th bar, you should play the second string third fret and an open third string, and then mute the first and fourth string? Watching you play it, it seems as you play all of the string, just a bit confusing. Thanks!

  48. Woodshed July 23rd, 2012 3:37 pm

    oscar: Thanks very much! Yeah, I’m muting the others. Using my thumb on the g-string and whatever finger is available on the E-string.

  49. Shaun O'Reilly January 16th, 2013 6:02 am

    I’ve been at this one since early October… been practicing pretty casually, but I’ve got the first part mostly down.. thanks so much for this! It’s so nice to show off how diverse the uke can be.

  50. Woodshed January 16th, 2013 8:39 am

    Shaun: Thanks very much! Glad you’re getting to grips with it.

  51. Liam January 18th, 2013 4:49 pm

    I’ve just discovered this, and have been playing for the last half hour. I seem to be okay with most of it, apart from the 2nd verse bit.. I’m trying to not hold down strings separately like you do so it keeps the note held. I’m currently trying it with g : 3rd finger, c : first finger, e: 2nd finger and a : 4th finger. That seems to be the easiest way for me to move a finger up the c string. Still can’t get it right though.
    Anything you would recommend?

  52. Woodshed January 20th, 2013 8:53 am

    Liam: Sorry, I’m not sure which bit you mean by 2nd verse. What bar numbers is it?

  53. ah im confused March 29th, 2013 6:36 pm

    Did you change the tab? I’ve been learning it and now I’m so confused cause I checked the tab and its way different! Ahhh.

  54. Woodshed March 30th, 2013 7:49 am

    ah im confused: No, I haven’t touched it.

  55. Katrina March 31st, 2013 3:32 am

    Ahhhh I have such a crush on you woodshed!

  56. Woodshed March 31st, 2013 7:15 am

    Katrina: I’m blushing!

  57. ah im confused April 22nd, 2013 4:10 am

    Woodshed: First of all, I applaud you with a standing ovation. Second: I’m confused. I feel like I got the whole song down, but it doesn’t sound as good as when you play it. (It might just be me haha). Are you strumming it differently than what is listed on the tab sheet? Maybe I just don’t have the rhythm fully down yet? Thank you :) I read something about palm muting above? What parts of the tab do you do it?

  58. Woodshed April 24th, 2013 6:44 pm

    ah im confused: The tabs don’t always contain the exact strumming. For the backing strums you can really do whatever you think sounds best.

  59. ah im confused May 14th, 2013 9:39 pm

    thank you!! Sorry if I sound so dumb. I’m new to most of this. :)

  60. Woodshed May 15th, 2013 7:15 am

    ah im confused: Not at all. Happy to help.

  61. mark909 April 14th, 2014 1:29 pm

    Just wondering if anyone else had tried printing out the pdf for this? I just tried and all the tab numbers have come out wrong. For example all 4’s replaced by %. All 5’s replaced by &. Is this a formatting error?

  62. Paul December 22nd, 2016 8:03 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you for doing this. It’s a shame I have bananas for fingers, my attempt is terrible!

  63. Woodshed December 22nd, 2016 9:06 pm

    Paul: Thanks!

  64. MikeRedman July 11th, 2017 8:59 pm

    I want to be able to play this so desperately it hurts my heart a little bit. I’m in serious need of a tutorial ’cause I just can’t get to grips with it after the campanella section!

    Oh, and Woodshed, thanks for indirectly teaching me practically everything I know about the ukulele. You are a scholar and a gentleman.

  65. Woodshed July 14th, 2017 1:08 pm

    MikeRedman: Thanks so much! Yeah, this is definitely a tricky one.

  66. MikeRedman July 18th, 2017 8:20 pm

    Woodshed: Quick questions – how do you get the single notes on the high frets to ring out so clearly? I’m figuring it either has something to do with strumming technique or potentially difference in ukulele. Though you know what they say about a workman and his tools.

    Also, is there any chance you could note the strumming pattern you actually use? Bit tricky figuring it out – if not, no problem, worth a try!

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