tUnE-yArDs – Powa (Tab)

You should be absolutely amazed that I’ve posted anything the last few days. This week has seen the two releases I’ve been looking forward to most this year: Portal 2 and the new tUnE-yArDs album. Both of which I’ve enjoyed even more than their predecessors.

Jonathan Coulton has written a new song for the game and if – like the first game – if it’s a ukulele song you can be sure it’ll turn up here. But I don’t want to ruin it by searching out the song before I finish the game, so here’s the standout ukulele-heavy track from W H O K I L L.


She’s playing a tenor but actually has it tuned dGBE (like a baritone but with a high-D string).

rIfF 1

The song is mostly made up of two riffs. The first uses both fingerpicking and strums. For the picking use the thumb on the bottom two strings (d and G), index on the second string and middle on the first string.

rIfF 2

The second riff is all strums with a couple of slides thrown in:

sTaNdArD tUnInG

tUnE-yArDs – Powa (Standard tuning)(Tab)

The song transfers pretty well to standard tuning (whilst keeping it in the same key). The one note I’m not entirely happy with is the open A string in bar 3. It’s an octave above what’s being played in the original and I don’t think it’s quite right. One alternative would be to play the open C-string instead. Or, since she leaves out this note late in the song, don’t play anything at all.

Here’s how the standard tuning version sounds:

Standard Tuning Version

View Comments


  1. Daniella April 21st, 2011 6:51 pm

    I really appreciate the double nerdiness of this post. Can’t wait to get home and try this song out!

  2. Jenn April 22nd, 2011 4:26 am

    So I checked out the tune-yards for the first time after reading this post…amazing! I’m new to uke hunt and loving it. Thanks!

  3. sanford(andsong) April 22nd, 2011 4:33 am

    i gotta admit that before watching this i was worried that she and her material just wouldn’t cut it live. wrong.

  4. Woodshed April 22nd, 2011 8:33 am

    Daniella: Thanks!

    Jenn: Glad you’re enjoying her and the site.

    sanford: By all accounts, she’s even better live than on disc.

  5. ukuleletim April 22nd, 2011 6:04 pm

    Wow. Intense video!

  6. Woodshed April 23rd, 2011 6:21 pm

    ukuleletim: Does that mean you’re coming around to her charms?

  7. Redmond April 24th, 2011 12:33 am

    The test results are in. You are a terrible person. Just thought you would want to know…

    I love Gladys. And this song is pretty fun too. Makes me want to play “Summer Days” from Grease…

    Thankee kindly!

  8. Woodshed April 30th, 2011 9:46 am

    Redmond: That’s just a data point!

  9. Logan May 4th, 2011 5:03 pm

    Still considering myself a novice (and a coward,) I usually shy away from tabs. I tend to go for the instant gratification of being able to sight read and sing along from the get-go. I do what I must, because I can.
    NOTE TO BEGINNERS: This tab is a piece of cake, and, save for the easy G5 shape, uses chords that you already know.

    Great song.

  10. Woodshed May 5th, 2011 8:19 am

    Logan: Glad you tackled it and conquered it!

  11. AJ January 4th, 2012 6:14 am

    I just started learning the uke yesterday and have never read tabs before. I tried to use your tutorial but i just don’t get this tab? any way to make it clearer for me? I really want to learn this song!

    I really appreciate it!

  12. Li May 28th, 2012 6:19 am

    Merril Garbus = my spirit animal

    Great tab! I’ve been dying to learn this one, thank you thank you! Couple tiny corrections:

    The third bar/chord in riff 1, the F, should be an F(add9).
    1. That’s what she does and
    2. It’s easier, as you won’t have to switch from an A to a G (1-3, just use 3 from the get-go) on the top string.

    Also, the chord progression remains basically the same even in riff 2, which means the second chord should be a Gmin, not a Bb.

  13. Woodshed May 28th, 2012 6:42 am

    Li: Thanks for the pointers.

  14. Omer September 5th, 2012 6:42 pm

    This is perfect, I LOVE this song.
    I got only one question:
    There’s some kind of riff she is doing in the “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” part-
    what is it?

  15. Woodshed September 5th, 2012 9:04 pm

    Omer: She’s just strumming a G chord.

  16. Blake January 31st, 2014 6:37 pm

    pleaspleasplease tab “You Yes You” off the same album. I know its tenor or baritone tuning, but i just can’t figure it out and would really apreeeesh!

  17. Woodshed February 1st, 2014 8:11 am

    Blake: I’ll keep it in mind.

  18. tbone January 17th, 2015 8:00 pm

    Merrill Garbus is a badass.

  19. Woodshed January 19th, 2015 7:08 am

    tbone: Agreed!

  20. Dominic September 25th, 2016 7:42 pm

    Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you

  21. Woodshed September 25th, 2016 8:02 pm

    Dominic: You’re welcome
    You’re welcome
    You’re welcome

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