I’m going to have to revise my opinion that Lisa Hannigan and Damien Rice are the Brian Clough and Peter Taylor of Irish music; earth-conquering genius together but a bit disappointing apart. This song and the free track you get when you join her mailing list have got me very excited about her next album.
You need to tune all the strings down three frets so you get e – A – C# – F#. Which sounds like this:
The picking pattern stays the same the whole way though. But she takes advantage of the re-entrant tuning to make it sound more varied than it actually is.
The picking pattern goes like this:
Thumb picks g-string
Index picks E-string
Thumb picks C-string
Middle picks A string
Here’s how the pattern sounds slowed down:
Because the pattern doesn’t vary and is fast you need some hand strength to get all the way through.
Pre-Order via LisaHannigan.ie
Joe Dan emailed me with some interesting info about the tuning Lisa uses:
That tuning, e-A-C#-F#, is the tuning recommended in Wendell Hall’s Ukulele Method (edited by May Singhi Breen and copyright 1950, published by Forster Music, Chicago, Ill) for his “Taraguitar” (played like a uke but tuned three tones lower), an instrument I have never seen pictured or identified anywhere. Some believe the Taraguitar might have been modeled on the taropatch ukulele, but perhaps with a somewhat larger body and longer scale length. Hall, of course, was one of ukulele stars of the 1920s ukulele boom (“It Ain’s Gonna Rain No Mo” was his biggest hit of that era.)
Breen, of course, is in the Ukulele Hall of Fame. Hall also developed a variation of the tenor ukulele that he called the “Teeviola,”which was made by Regal and carried Hall’s signature on the peghead, and I own one of those instruments. Sometime after acquiring my first quality ukulele, a Martin concert model in 1961, I stumbled on that same tuning and used it, entirely by ear without even realizing exactly what I had done, and did not fully understand until many years later when I happened upon a copy of the Wendell Hall Ukulele Method, mentioned above. I liked the lower tuning on my Martin concert ukulele because it seemed better suited to my voice and I still use it today on my concert, my tenor and some of my baritone ukuleles.
It was not until the advent of electronic tuners that I knew exactly what tuning I was using, as I had previously only tuned the instrument by ear without comparison to pitch pipe or piano. Perhaps someday you can do the research and publish some background and photos of the elusive Taraguitar mentioned by Hall?