Tune-Yards – FIYA

Tune-Yards – FIYA (Tab)

I started a new hobby blog today about African guitar music. There’s not a whole lot of crossover between ukuleles and African music but the one obvious link is Tune-Yards. Merrill Garbus cropped up on a couple of tracks on the recent Red Hot + Fela album including the standout track Lady with ?uestlove, Angelique Kidjo and others.

So today I’ve written up one of her African-influenced tracks FIYA.

The tab shows the riffs used in each section of the song (not the whole tabs).

The Tuning

The tuning on this one is weird. I think it’s baritone tuning (on a tenor ukulele) with a high-d string. But that high-d is tuned half a step to Db. So it’s dbGBE.

Standard Tuning Version

In case you don’t fancy making the effort for that tuning here’s a version in standard tuning that more or less works out:

Tune-Yards – FIYA (Standard Tuning)

Here’s how that intro sounds:

Intro Riff

The bridge:

Bridge Riff

And the chorus:

Chorus Riff


Buy it on iTunes
Tune-Yards: Africa in Your Earbuds
Hatari tab
Powa tab

View Comments


  1. karl November 8th, 2013 1:47 pm

    No crossover? Well Sir, p^lpease let me argue the opposite. I know somethings about highlife and soukous guitar basics:
    – play really up high the neck. Make the first fretboard half your ‘dusty end’.
    – play repetitive fingerpicking patterns, it’s the rhythm that counts most
    – the ‘mi composé’ trick: switch out your 4th D string (mi for all Continental Europeans) for a 1st string, tuned a full octave above your average D (and right below the E pitch it’s intended for by the factory)

    And voila: a re-entrant guitar, played rhythmically above the fifth fret – where have we heard that before?

  2. Woodshed November 8th, 2013 7:24 pm

    karl: You’ve got a point about the mi composé tuning. The rest of it I’m not so sure!

  3. Mike Lehner November 9th, 2013 11:48 am

    How about a tutorial on playing afro beat, especially soukous, guitar on the uke?

  4. Woodshed November 10th, 2013 4:33 pm

    Mike: I might well do once I get a handle on it myself.

Sorry, Comments Are Broken Right Now