Tana, Gerald Ross: UkeTube

Full Playlist

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Brexit Sale: Friday Links

The British people, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to tank the value of the pound. If I understand economics (protip: I don’t) that means a dollar gets me more of my low-energy currency. So I’ve set up a discount. You can get 15% off any of my How to Play Ukulele ebooks until 10th July using the code: brexit.

Also, I made a preview of the first few pages of Ukulele Strums.

Learning
Two new tab books:

Jake Shimabukuro – Live in Japan: Tab of Jake’s live album including his arrangements of Bohemian Rhapsody and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
Fred Sokolow’s Slide & Slack Key Ukulele.

New Releases
– Speaking of Jake Shimabukuro he has a new album: The Nashville Sessions.
– Spacey new single from Kara Square Ukuambient.

Ukuleles
The Rebel NEO ukulele.
Meridian Uke.

Trumpton Theme (Tab)


Freddie Phillips – Trumpton Theme (Tab)

Like most Brits my age, Radiohead’s Burn the Witch gave me warm nostalgia for Trumpton and Camberwick Green. Although the Trumpton people are pissed off that it, “tarnished the brand”.

The Trumpton theme is ripe for a ukeing. The tune has an acoustic guitar backing with a high melody. I’ve mushed those two elements together but if, unlike me, you have a friend you can tease them apart and play them on separate instruments.

Easy Version

Here’s the tab for just the melody:

Trumpton Lead Tab

And the back I’ve tabbed for low-G ukulele. But it will also work for high-g without any changes.

Trumpton Backing Tab (Low-G)

This is how they sound together:


Easy Version

And here’s a backing track if you’d like to play along with it:


Backing Track

Links

Buy the complete Trumpton on Amazon
More TV theme tabs

Best Videos of 2016 So Far

Full Playlist

It’s about halfway through 2016 and it’s already shaping up to be another great year of ukulele music. It was tough to narrow it down to a reasonable length but I’ve deliberated, cogitated and digested and come up with a list I hope represents a good overview of the ukulele scene in 2016.

If you think I’ve missed something exceptional let me know in the comments.

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Folk Uke – Motherfucker Got Fucked Up (Chords)


Folk Uke – Motherfucker Got Fucked Up (Chords)

I’m so excited that Orange is the New Black is back. As well as being fantastic, there’s often some ukulele tucked in there. There was Miss E’s Hummingbird in season three and O’Neill’s anti-nun banjolele song in season two. Season four features this ditty from superstar-progeny duo Folk Uke at the end of the first episode.

The song is just three chords and has easy strumming so it’s perfect for beginners.

Suggested Strumming

You can use the old faithful strum almost all the way through:

d – d u – u d –

In the chorus and the solo: Play that pattern twice for the C chords at the end of the first and third lines. Play it once for everything else. So it sounds like this:


Strum

The only place that strum doesn’t work is in the outro. There switch to just down-strums. One for the G at the end of the line and two for everything else. For the very last line go back to the main strum for two chords then end on a down-strum on the C.

Twiddly Bits

With a little octave shifting, the solo transfers neatly to ukulele:

MFSolo

It sounds like this:


Solo

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More easy chord songs

Bonus: Papa Roach – Last Resort

The first episode also featured this song and I couldn’t resist.

Tune the C-string down to B for this one.

A video posted by @ukulelehunt on

LastResort

Buy it on iTunes

Honoka & Azita, Jeff Linskey: UkeToob

Full Playlist

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One Handed Ukulele: Friday Links

Building
– The Strum Buddy is designed to help ukulelists who only have use of one hand. It allows you to tap you foot to create the strums. You can read about a student who is using it to play in his school’s uke group. And learn how to make your own.
– Instructables tells how build a flag shaped ukulele.
3D printable ukulele.

New Releases
– New album from Lil Rev Claw and Hammer.
– You begged, you pleaded, it’s finally here: a ukulele tribute to Blink 182.

Ukes
1920s Harmony-made Supertone soprano.
1920s Slingerland-Style Victory banjolele.
Collection of recent Mya-Moes.
Electric axe ukulele.

The internet has gone crazy for ukulelist Grace VanderWaal on America’s Got Talent.

Scott Joplin – Cleopha (Tab)


David Beckingham – Cleopha (Tab)

After a bit of a break, David Beckingham is back with one of his excellent tabs. This time it’s a classic ragtime tune from the master Scott Joplin.

Links

David Beckingham on YouTube
More David Beckingham tabs

Top Eight Chord Progressions of All Time

I’ve covered a lot of incredible chord progressions over the years. And I wanted to pick through them to find the tricks they used. And how those tricks added to the story the song was telling.

Let me know your favourite progressions in the comments.

8. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

The Chords

BackToBlack

Full chords

How it Sounds


Chords

What Makes this Progression So Good?

First, it’s in saddest of all keys D minor. But my favourite part is the chromatic move down from Bb to A (chromatic means you move up or down one fret). That falling back feels so resigned and deflated. It’s perfect for the song.

7. Dream a Little Dream of Me

The Chords

Dream

Full chords

How it Sounds


Chords

What Makes this Progression So Good?

This song, written by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt and covered by everyone, uses the same chromatic trick twice. Being in a major key it gives the move a lazy and dreamy quality.

6. Bon Iver – Skinny Love

The Chords

This one is in open-C tuning i.e. the A-string is tuned down to G.

SkinnyLove

Full chords

How it Sounds


Chords

What Makes this Progression So Good?

This song makes great use of drones i.e. notes that stay the same through all the chords. And I made sure that carried through on the ukulele version by using an open tuning. So the C-string rings through the whole progression and the E-string for all but one chord.

Skinny Love also makes use of dissonance on the D7sus2. That chord has three notes close to each other: B, C and D. These clash to create an uncomfortable feeling that propels the progression forward. I wrote more about that in the best ukulele chords post.

5. Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better

The Chords
NobodyDoesIt

Full chords

How it Sounds


Chords

What Makes this Progression So Good?

The IV to iv chord change (Bb to Bbm in this case) is an absolute classic. This change is the famous
strange change from major to minor in Every Time We Say Goodbye. You can also hear it in Radiohead, in Arctic Monkeys #1 Party Anthem and umpteen by the Beatles. It’s another case of a chromatic move down but this time on just the C-string. Going from 2nd fret to 1st fret and resolving to the open string for the F chord.

After that is another neat trick: introducing notes on top of a base chord. So the underlying chord is F and she adds 9 and 7 notes on top of it.

4. ABBA – Dancing Queen

The Chords

DancingQueen2

Full chords

How it Sounds


Chords

What Makes this Progression So Good?

This is a clever twist on changing notes over background chords. The notes on top of the chords (g-string, 1st fret to g-string, second fret) are repeated for each chord.

3. (I Wish I Could Shimmy Like) Sister Kate

The Chords

SisterKate

Full chords

How it Sounds


Chords

What Makes this Progression So Good?

This is my absolute favourite chord turnaround. It’s adapted from Bob Brozman’s guitar version. The first three chords combine drones on the g- and E-strings with chromatic notes on the C- and A-strings. But this time the notes are ascend chromatically. That creates the opposite effect and makes the song a lively, excited.

2. Prince – Purple Rain

The Chords

PurpleRain

Full chords

How it Sounds


Chords

What Makes this Progression So Good?

Another chord progression using drones. This time the notes on the E- and A-strings sound through the first three chords.

But the highlight of the progression is the use of Bb9 and Eb9. These are unsettled chords like the D7sus2 in Skinny Love. But they’re not discordant. They’re melancholy and restless. The song is in Bb and using a Bb9 means the progression doesn’t feel like it’s relaxed and complete. The chords keep cycling and never resolves.

I wrote more about Prince’s use of 9 chords here.

David Bowie – Life on Mars

The Chords

LifeOnMarsPreChorus

Full chords

How it Sounds


Chords

What Makes this Progression So Good?

The pre-chorus section of Life on Mars uses the ascending chromatic notes over chords trick and keeps doing it until your head is about to explode.

First there’s an Ab chord with ascending notes on the C-string. Then it moves to Db and ascends on the E-string (Note: I adjusted the chord names to make them more readable). This section is the perfect over-the-top build up for the contrast between the mundane life the mousey haired girl is living in the verse and grandiosity of what’s happening on the silver screen.

Prince – Purple Rain (Chords)

Prince – Purple Rain (Chords)

A few weeks ago I wrote about Prince’s favourite chord trick and it lead to an inevitable cavalcade of requests for Purple Rain. And why not? It has to be one of the best chord progressions ever written.

Suggested Strumming

Here’s the slightly sparse strumming pattern I like to play:

d – – – d – d u
– u – – d u d u


Strumming

You can use that everywhere except the few chords he strums once then brings a halt to the backing.

Twiddly Bits

I’m not going to write up the whole solo but here’s the little repeating motif:

PurpleMotif


Solo Motif

Towards the end of the song this little run is introduced at the end of the chord progression:

PurpleTurnaround1

If you’re really adventurous you can play it with full chords. Here’s how it sounds (easy version then hard):


Turnaround

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More Prince

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