Billy Bragg – Between the Wars (Chords)

Billy Bragg – Between the Wars (Chords)

It was St George’s Day on Monday so I thought I’d do a song by the most English singer I can think of. And now Morriessey is persona non grata that’s Billy Bragg. His songs are a bit hit and miss for me. But when he hits the button he hits it hard. Between the Wars is a beautiful song and has had me in tears before.

I’m using a capo at the second fret (the equivalent of D-tuning). Bragg used a capo at the 7th fret so that makes the chord shapes the same for uke and guitar. It’s still easy to play without a capo where the chords C – Dm – F – G – Am will be D – Em – G – A – Bm respectively.

Suggested Strumming

You can use this short strum as the main pattern:

d – d u

The song has two slightly different verses divided between odd numbered verses and even numbered verses.

In the intro and the odd numbered verses: Main strum once for everything except:

– On the F chords in lines one and three do the main strum twice or the descending line shown in the twiddly bits.
– On the F and G in the last line do one down-strum each.

In the even numbered verses: Main strum once except:

– One long down-strum on the G in line 2.
– On the F chords in line three do the main strum twice or the descending line shown in the twiddly bits.
– On the F and G in the last line do one down-strum each.
– On the F in the last line do the main strum three times.

Here’s a go around of both those verse types:


Strum

Twiddly Bits

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Here’s a picking pattern similar to that in the intro. You can also use elements of this in the main song. Particularly the run down from the F chord in the second half of bar 2.

Here’s an alternative way of playing the F – C move at the end of the even numbered verses. Which sounds like this:


Verse riff

Links

Buy it on iTunes
All You Fascists Bound to Lose (Chords)
More UK tabs and chords

UkeTube: I’m With Her, Uker-Rapper Collabs

Full Playlist

Tracklist
I’m With Her – See You Around
Jay Hollywood x MARLOWE – Connected
Einer Bankz & Salsalino – Long Run
Aline Kelly – Estudo V
Manitoba Hal – Hope Of A Brighter Day
Victor and Penny – Wake Up Early
Matthew Brian Kirkland – Loch Shiel
Jonathan Lewis – Heart Shaped Box
Charlotte and Lorenzo – The Spin
Randy Gapasin – Kingdom Hearts: Simple and Clean

Friday Links: Foxy Uker, Howlett Legacy

Paul and his Ukulele by Robert Broder is the tale of a young fox’s travels with his uke.

Speaking of peripatetic ukers, the UOGB took time out of their US tour to play for an elementary school uke club.

Window Shopping
– The Southern Ukulele Store has some Pete Howlett Legacy Series ukes. The electric Fyrefly has me sorely tempted to turn from window shopper into actual shopper.
– I love the look of the Kala Ziricote.
Kamaka HF-3D2I.
Ana’ole AC-808 with Hawaiian island soundholes.

U2 – One (Tab)

U2 – One (Tab)

In One U2 make use of a simple melody trick that crops up in many popular songs. They take the highest note used in the verse (the E on the A-string, 7th fret) and use that as the first note of the chorus. It makes the song peak at the right moment and in this case adds emotion as Bono pushes for the note. They take that even further in the middle section with the starting note moving up to G (A-string, 10th fret). You can tell Bono’s reaching for the note and it really makes the song peak.

The rhythms in this one are a little unusual and wander around the beat. So I’d recommend going with the flow of the song rather than trying to recreate every rhythm.

To keep my arrangement short, I’ve chopped out the second verse and chorus and shortened the guitar solo in the outro.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More Irish tabs and chords

Why Use a Capo? And Tools for Transposing

I’ve written a bunch of posts about capos. But AJ pointed out that I’ve never done a post explaining why you might want to use a capo. So time to rectify that.

To Make a Song Easier to Play

Most of the time I use a capo is to make a song more uke-friendly.

When a chord progression is in a key like C# (such as When a Man Loves a Woman) it makes a lot more sense to put a capo on the first fret so the song is in the much more uke-friendly key of C. You can also use a capo to avoid chords you not comfortable with. So you might avoid dreaded E chord in songs like Wagon Wheel and Good Year for the Roses by putting a capo on the 2nd fret (making it into a D chord).

Some chord inversions would be difficult or impossible to play without a capo. For example, my arrangement of Black Hole Sun includes chords with open strings and strings fretted high up the fretboard. Which you couldn’t play without a capo unless you had Matt Berry fingers.

I often use a capo when I’m working on instrumental versions of songs. I can move the capo up and down to see which creates the best arrangement. For example, here’s a section of Across the Universe with a capo on the first fret:


First fret version (MP3)

But with a capo on the third fret you could play it like this:


Third fret version (MP3)

Sometimes I’ll leave the capo on for the final version of the tune (as I did with Across the Universe). And sometimes I’ll take it off e.g. Feel It Still.

To Move a Song into Your Vocal Range

Luckily for me, my voice sounds equally terrible in all keys. But if you come across a song that’s outside of your vocal range you could use a capo to move the song into a key you’re more comfortable with. You could, of course, do this by transposing the chords. But a capo will let you use the chord shapes as they’re written.

To Change the Tone of the Ukulele

Playing with a capo high on the ukulele really changes its tone. This is a trick that Keston Cobblers’ Club use on Pett Level (and many of their songs). The high capo gives the ukulele a sharp, mandolin-like tone.

It’s a trick guitarists often use to give them a ukulele-ish tone. The obvious examples being Here Comes the Sun (which works so well on D-tuned ukulele I’m half convinced Harrison wrote it on one) and Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours.

To Make the Sound of a Ukulele Group Richer

When you have a whole group of ukuleles playing together it can sound a bit monotone if you don’t mix things up. By introducing capoed chords you increase the range of notes that are being played creating a fuller sound.

In this example I’m playing two ukuleles (one panned slightly left one right) both playing this progression:

C – F – G7 – C – F – G7 – C – G7 – C


No capo example (MP3)

In this example one ukulele is playing the open chords while the other has a capo on the 7th fret playing the chord shapes F – Bb – C7 – F – Bb – C7 – F – C7 – F (these work out to the same chord progression):


One capo example (MP3)

Transposing Chords for a Capo

If you’re convinced of the usefulness of capos, you might want a bit of helping transposing songs so you can actually use one. Here are a few tools that come in handy.

Circle of Fifths: You can transpose songs just by using the circle of fifths. The relationship between the notes on the circle of fifths is the same the whole way around the wheel. Move one segment clockwise anywhere on the wheel and you go up a fifth (hence the name). Move one segment anti-clockwise and you always go up a fourth. The same goes for any amount you move. Meaning all you have to do to transpose is recreate the pattern of chord changes starting on the chord you’re transposing to.

For example, you have a song with this progression:

Eb – Ab – Gm – Bb

You might want to transpose it to C to make it easier to play. Since Eb is three frets above C, you can do this by putting a capo on the third fret. To transpose the progression all you have to do is match the same pattern on the circle of fifths starting at C.

On the circle of fifths Ab is one segment anti-clockwise from Eb. To transpose to the key of C you move one segment anti-clockwise from C to get F. Similarly Gm is the minor chord one segment clockwise from Eb. The equivalent for C is Em. Finally, Bb is one segment clockwise from Eb. So the equivalent for C is G. Making the final progression:

C – F – Em – G

Logue Transposer: Logue’s transposer is a really handy (and old) tool. You can put whole chord sheets in and it’ll transpose it for you. Using the same example, if you paste this in:

Eb – Ab – Gm – Bb

Then select the old key of Eb and the new key of C. Press “Click Here!” and it’ll spit out the new progression C – F – Em – G.

Ultimate Guitar: Ultimate Guitar has chords (of varying accuracy) for loads of songs. They also have a handy transposing tool. At the bottom of a standard chord page there’s a little box allowing you to transpose all the chords in the song. So if you were playing with a capo on the third fret you’d hit the minus sign three times and you’re set.

Luis Fonsi – Despacito (Tabs and Chords)

Luis Fonsi – Despacito (Chords)

I’m about five billion views late to this one but with Fonsi’s latest includes a bit of ukulele and this track having a few tasty licks it’s still worth doing.

Update: Well, I can now pretend I’m being hyper topical rather five billion views late. YouTube had to take down the Despacito video today after it was hacked.

To keep the chords dead easy, I use a capo on the second fret. If you want to play without a capo you can use the chords Bm – G – D – A.

Suggested Strumming

If you want to keep things very simple you can just follow the keyboard stabs and do short down-strums on the off-beats (four per chord). For something a little more involved you could do this once per chord:

d – x u – u d u

Which sounds like this:


Strum 1

Or you can go all out and do this once per chord:


Strum 2

Twiddly Bits

The video version of the song starts out with two very nice picking patterns. I’m using one finger per string picking for my version. And it sounds like this:


Intro Picking

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The intro proper starts out with a tasty lick flowing into the picking pattern under the woah’s and wails.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More pop tabs and chords

UkeTube: Zoe Bestel, Disney Songs, Garfunkel and Oates

Full Playlist

Tracklist
Zoë Bestel – Eye For An Eye
Honoka and Azita – Disney Medley
quenantropo – Someday My Prince Will Come
Garfunkel and Oates – Both Sides Can Laugh
camsuke – Kemp’s Jig via @ukeist.
Jonathan Lewis – Packington's Pound
Abigail Flowers – Spring Never Felt So Wrong
Délinquante – Conne comme une blonde via @HermanVDC.
Vannesa Ding & Kalei Gamiao – A Thousand Years

Friday Links: Effective Practicing, Banjo Tunes, Vintage Strings

Manitoba Hal has some great advice on effective practicing.

Jonathan Lewis has a new tab ebook of minstrel banjo tunes arranged for ukulele. It’s 17 tabs for $7. Check out his recent guest tab for a flavour of it.

Friends of Mike Hind are raising funds to help with medical bills after a collapsed lung.

Ukulele Mag looks at vintage ukulele strings (via @HermanVDC).

The Ukulele 2018 Spotify playlist is filling up quickly this year. There’s already an hour of ukulele goodness there. Recent additions include Zoe Bestel, Mt. Jay and The Sonder Bombs.

Ukes
Jan Laurenz discusses his harp ukulele from Emerald.
– Elderly have a uke going by the resplendent name Blue Star Konablaster Deluxe Electric Tenor Ukulele, Blonde Bomber Edition.
– Another steel string electric: Seagull.
Kanilea Kuuipo.
Kepasa Madeira soprano.

Janis Joplin – Mercedes Benz (Tab)

Janis Joplin – Mercedes-Benz (Tab)

Time for a song of great social and political import. And, more importantly, an easy to play song. I’ve kept the simplicity of the accapella original. Just adding a few chords in for support.

I’m using fingerpicking in my version. But it’s arranged so you can play the whole thing with your thumb if you prefer.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More 60s tabs and chords

G7th UltraLight Ukulele Capo Review

After I put up my round-up of capo alternatives someone suggested I check out the G7th UltraLight capo. I bought one recently and it was a good suggestion.

How it Works

The G7th is a screw-capo. You wrap the capo around the neck, put the screw in a notch in the capo and tighten it to suit.

The Good Stuff

Adaptability: It fits all of my ukuleles from a sopranino to a baritone and does the job on all of them. Definitely a good capo to have if you’ve got a wide variety of ukes.

Light: They are not BSing when they call this “ultralight”. It’s noticeably lighter than even my elastic capo. I find a heavy capo can throw the balance of the ukulele off on smaller ukes.

Firm grip: I haven’t had any problems with it being knocked out of place or not holding the strings down well enough. You can fine tune how firmly the capo grips the fretboard more exactly than any of my other capos.

Price: G7th list it at $15. I got it for less than £10 on Amazon. Good value for money.

The Not So Good Stuff

A Little Fiddly to Put On: You can’t just slap it on with one hand like you can some capos. It is a two-step process of attaching the capo the screwing it tight. It’s only a few seconds so it’s not a deal breaker. But other capos do this job better. And ease of putting on a capo may be important particularly if you’re playing live.

Interfering with Playing: The capo does wrap all the way around the fretboard so I’ve find it slightly impedes my playing hand. I tend to prefer capos such as G7th’s Newport capo which leave the underside of the fretboard open giving your hand more room.

Again, it’s nowhere near enough to stop me using the capo but I do notice it’s there more than I do with some other capos.

Overall

The lightness and adaptability of the G7th capo make it a great choice for ukulele players. I’m definitely going to keep using it on my smaller ukes. But I am going to keep using my Shubb capo on my tenor Ohana and baritone. That one’s great to use, sturdy and unobtrusive. But it is heavy and only fits a couple of my ukes. So the G7th nicely fits with that for use on smaller, lighter ukes. So if you have similar capo needs I’d recommend checking this one out.

Links

G7th
Buy it on Amazon UK

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