There’s a new episode of my favourite travelogue Matt Kresling’s Madagascar Journals. This time he learns a Malagasy song on his ukulele, chooses between a girl and an exploding mountain and objects to a zebu being sodomised.
This year’s America’s Got Talent was won by 12 year old ukulelist Grace VanderWaal.
Ukulele Go! reviewed my How to Play Blues Ukulele ebook and was very kind:
This is a great ebook that I’d definitely recommend even if you have a passing interest in playing the blues on your ukulele. I wouldn’t particularly consider myself a big blues fan but I got (and still get) a lot from the book. It’s so packed with information and ideas that I think pretty much everyone will find something useful here. A definite buy recommendation from me!
I do enjoy a good fake-Celtic game tune like Gwent Flute Song from Witcher 3. So when I got a request for this tune I couldn’t resist. I might make it a trilogy and do the Hearthstone theme at some point. Until then I’ll keep brushing up on actual Celtic tunes.
For my version I’ve kept the chords and melody separate. The melody is a good opportunity to use a pick to get a mandolin-ish tone. But I’m using my fingers mostly alternating picking with index and middle fingers.
Here’s a backing track for you to play along with. There’s one bar of Am to count you in.
For the backing strumming I’m using a touch strum then a full strum. There’s a full guide to touch strums in How to Play Ukulele Strums but the basics is you lightly hit just the g- and C-strings with your strum.
I’ve been updating some of the chord posts I did back in the olden days when the internet was in black and white. Updating the chords, adding strumming patterns, videos and audio and whatnot. Check ’em out:
Oi, 2016. If you could let me go a few weeks without needing a tribute post I’d appreciate it. Cheers.
You can use the classic ska strum all the way through this one:
– u – u – u – u
Make sure those are chord stabs by stopping them ringing immediately with your strumming hand (there’s a guide to chord stabs and ska strums in How to Play Ukulele Strums). If you use the barre chord version of the chords you can make them chord stabs just by taking the pressure off your fretting hand.
If you’re playing by yourself though it might be worth beefing it up by playing a downstrum on the first beat and not muting it.
d u – u – u – u
Here are both those strums:
Prince Buster – Al Capone (Tab)
I recorded a backing track for this one. The first uke is an F chord played with a ska strum and the second is muted strums playing this pattern:
I took advantage of my blog break to do a rare guitar tab: Pepe Kalle’s soukous masterpiece Roger Milla.
For my little tribute to Gene Wilder I had to do this beautiful tune by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
If you want to write a hit song at the moment you need an intro with at least two of these features and preferably all three:
- 1. A minor key
2. Lots of echo
3. This rhythm:
To illustrate the point I threw together into a medley including Sia’s Cheap Thrills, Shawn Mendes’s Treat You Better, The Chainsmokers’ Don’t Let Me Down and Let Me Love You by DJ Snake and Justin Bieber
And here’s a Spotify playlist with a few more besides.
But I always associate this rhythm (and the echoy sounds) with the fittingly titled Intro by The XX.
This rhythm might be having a moment right now but it’s also timeless and well worth adding to your strum repertoire. The basic strum (from the video above) goes like this:
d – – d – – d –
The important thing to do is to use chord stabs i.e. stopping the strings ringing right after you play them (much more on the in How to Play Ukulele Strums).
The downside with this rhythm is that it does sound a bit sparse on ukulele. The best way fill it out is with some muted strums. Like this:
d x x u x x d x
This version sounds really funky when you speed it up:
After doing It’s Over, Isn’t It? before the break, I wasn’t planning on doing another Steven Universe song so soon. But I got some requests (as I always do for SU songs) and there are some really nice chord moves and picking in it.
I worked this out from the ukulele version Rebecca Sugar did at Comic Con. The version on the show uses the same chords but is arranged differently.
In the chorus: you can just do one down strum per chord (or two down strums on Fmaj7 if you’re feeling adventurous).
In the verse: I’ve written up the whole C9 – C – Cmaj7 – C6 line but you don’t have to play the whole thing. You can just play C9, let the g, C and E strings ring while you play 5 – 3 – 2 – 0 on the A-string. Or you can just play the Steven strum on C9 then C6.
For everything else you can use the old Steven strum:
d – x u – u d –
In the verse do that twice on Fmaj7 and once each on E and E7.
In the pre-chorus: The Steven strum twice for everything except the first two G7sus4 – G7 moves (once each there).
In the bridge: Steven strum twice for all Cmaj7 – Fmaj7. And just a down strum per chord elsewhere.
Like It’s Over, this one uses one finger per string picking. Don’t worry too much about recreating the exact pattern. You can try any pattern you like the sound of so long as you’ve got the chords right and the rhythm is similar. The sound quality of the video isn’t great so the picking in the tab probably isn’t completely accurate anyway.