Christmas Tabs and Chords

We’re about a month out from Christmas so time to start polishing up the festive tunes and learning a few new ones. Here’s a rundown of everything Christmassy on the site.

Christmas eBooks

I’ve written 3 collections of easy Christmas tabs: How to Play Christmas Ukulele, Christmas Ukulele 2 and Christmas Ukulele 3.

You can pick up all three for the price of 2 by buying the whole Christmas Trilogy at once.

Chords

12 Days of Christmas
2000 Miles – The Pretenders
A Christmas Duel – The Hives and Cyndi Lauper
All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
Chiron Beta Prime – Jonathan Coulton
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
Christmas for Cowboys – John Denver/Ballard C Boyd
Christmas in July – Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick
Cold Outside – Julia Nunes & Wade Johnson
Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
Fuck Christmas – Eric Idle
Give the Jew Girl Toys – Sarah Silverman
It’s Cliched to be Cynical At Christmas – Half Man Half Biscuit
iPod X-mas – Hello Saferide
Let It Snow
Lumberjack Christmas/Christmases Past – Sufjan Stevens
Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight) – The Ramones
Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade
No Christmas – Zee Avi
Present Face – Garfunkel and Oates
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Run, Run Rudolph – Chuck Berry
Santa Baby
Santa Will Find You – Mindy Smith/Tripping Lily
Silver Bells – She & Him
Somewhere Only We Know – Keane/Lily Allen
Space Christmas – Allo Darlin
The Christmas Song – Weezer
The Christmas Song Song – Rocky and Balls
White Christmas
Winter Wonderland
Year End Letter – Garfunkel and Oates
You’re a Mean One Mr Grinch

Tabs

Away in a Manger
Carol of the Bells
Christmastime Is Here (from Charlie Brown)
German Christmas Carols
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Instrumental)
Jingle Bell Rock
Jingle Bells
Little Drummer Boy
Mele Kalikimaka
Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence
O Christmas Tree (Single Note Version)
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Silent Night (Harmonics Version)
Silent Night (Single Note Version)
Sleigh Ride – U900 / The Ventures
Various – Wilfried Welti’s Musikalisches Naschwerk für Solo Ukulele
We Three Kings
White Christmas
Winter Wonderland

Lyle Lovett – God Will (Chords)

Lyle Lovett – God Will (Chords)

I absolutely love Lyle Lovett’s understated humour. And he’s written some of my all time favourite songs. So it’s well past time I wrote up one of his songs.

Suggested Strumming

God Will is in 3/4 time. Here’s a 3/4 time strum you can use almost all the way through:

d – d u d u

Intro/Chorus/Solo: Do the main strum once for each chord. Until the fast Bb – F – Gm move where you do one down-strum per chord. Here’s how that goes:


Verse Strum

If the fast chord changes are too quick you can just play the main strum on Bb through that change. And if it’s not enough you can go back up (as he does in the final chorus) and play Bb – F – Gm – F – Gm – F.

Verse: When the line has a Bb – F change do the main strum once per chord. Everywhere else do it twice per chord.

Twiddly Bits

Here’s a slide ukulele part based loosely on the steel guitar intro and solo (I wrote an ebook about playing slide ukulele if you want to learn). The main tip is to mute every string you’re not playing so you don’t hear anything you’re not supposed to.

I’m using open-C tuning which means you tune the A-string down to G.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More country tabs and chords

Elton John – Song for Guy (Tab)

Elton John – Song for Guy (Tab)

David Beckingham is currently on a road trip. But that hasn’t stopped him filing a tab. This time a mostly instrumental piece from Elton John dedicated to a young employee of his who died in a motorcycle accident.

David plays it with his thumb and index finger only. But I’ve been playing the arrangement using thumb on the g- and C-strings, index in the E-string and middle on the A-string (just switching to one finger per string in bars 13-14 and 21-22). So play around and see which suits you best.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
David Beckingham on YouTube
More David Beckingham tabs

UkeTube: Alison Krauss, Ian Whitcomb

Full Playlist

Playlist

Alison Krauss – Away Down The River Via Humble Baritonics
Led Kaapana – Nani Ka’ala
Ian Whitcomb – Hungry Women Thanks to Vincent.
Tyrone and Lesley – Dung Beetle
Avonlea – Stranger Does bass ukulele count?
The Ladybugs – Quizás, Quizás, Quizás
Daniel Estrem – Bourree from Partita 3
Choan Gálvez – Perspectivas
EatMyUke – Youth & Young Manhood Medley
Herman Vandecauter – Adrian Le Roy & Robert Ballard On rajão.

Friday Links

A while back (quite a long while back now) I totalled up the chords in the songs I’d written up to find the most common ukulele chords. Now Uke Stuff have made a similar list. There are plenty of interesting similarities and differences. But I’m pleased to see the Pareto distribution remains.

Easy Ukulele Songs has beginner tips from 11 ukulele experts plus me.

Ukulele Go spends a month playing blues ukulele and nothing else.

Ukes
– If you’ve got $3,500 to spare you can read the the report on the ukulele market in 2017. Although it’s baffling that they split the sales of ukuleles between normal and pineapple rather than splitting them by size which seems like it would be more useful.
Ukulele Go‘s badass customised zombie ukulele.
Martin Taropatch 1917-20.
Mele jumbo tenor.
TD tenor.
Black Rose Designs uke.

Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (Tab)

Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill

Fats Domino’s version of Blueberry Hill perfectly shows off the roots of rock and roll. He plays the driving boogie-woogie and has blues riff bassline. But the song itself is a country song first released by Gene Autry. So you have this sweet, major key country melody rubbing up against bluesy runs and liberal use of the minor third (the C-string, 3rd fret in my tab).

I’ve tried to keep those two elements in my arrangement of the tune. The verses have the melody with the bassline sitting between the lines (now not at all bassy). Try to separate these by playing the melody a bit louder (I didn’t do a great job of this in the video). The, “Wind in the willow…” section lays off the bassline and has chord stabs in between the melody. Keep those short by releasing the pressure with your fretting hand just after you strum.

To finish the song off I’ve added a little blues run. A great place to throw in your own favourite blues licks and play around.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
How to Play Blues Ukulele
More 50s tabs and chords

Tutorial: What’s the Deal with Sus4 and Sus2 Chords?

A good chord progression is all about building tension and releasing it. Which makes the mysterious and unsettled suspended chords, sus2 and sus4, so effective in a progression.

This post should demystify them a little. Giving you ideas for when to use them, how to play them and why they work so well.

Using Sus4 Chords

Suspended chords are neither major nor minor which makes them sound unfinished. Sus4 chords particularly have a bright, restless feel to that pushes a chord progression forward.

Compare this progression that ends with Csus4:


C – F – Csus4

With this version where the Csus4 resolves into C:


C – F – Csus4 – C

The first example feels wrong because the Csus4 demands the C chord comes to the rescue to end the progression. It fuels the progression with momentum.

This move from a sus4 chord to its major chord is the most common use of the suspended chords. A classic example is The Who's Pinball Wizard which starts with a repeated move between Bsus4 and B then continues with a series of sus4 chords resolving into their relative major chord.

Sus4 chords in Pinball Wizard

Another favourite of mine is Keston Cobblers' Club's fantastic Pett Level that uses both Csus4 and Gsus4.

Sus4 chords create enough tension that just switching between the sus4 chord and the major chord you can just hang out and do that for a while as Queen do in the intro to Crazy Little Thing Called Love. And as ABBA do in Dancing Queen when they switch between A and Asus4.

Asus4 in Dancing Queen

Although suspended chords can't be major or minor they can be 7 chords. Here's an example using G7sus4:


C – F – G7sus4 – C

In this example I'm using the 2013 inversion of F which means the A-string, 3rd remains constant through the chord changes. Giving the progression continuity.

A great example of this is Prince's masterpiece Purple Rain. That uses G7sus4 to maintain F (E-string, 1st fret) and C (A-string, 3rd fret) notes through the first three chords:


G7sus4 in Purple Rain

Shifting from major to sus4 and back right at the end of song is a classic ending move. Here's how it sounds:


C – F – G7sus4 – C – Csus4 – C

Using Sus2 Chords

Sus2 is very similar to sus4 in that it is neither major or minor. But it is much more mellow than sus4. To the point where it's almost melancholy.

This aspect of the chord is used to full effect in Radiohead's Paranoid Android with a move from Gsus2 to Gm. (It crops up once the hand moves down the neck.)

Amanda Palmer uses it to similar effect on Bigger on the Inside this time moving from Gsus2 to G.

Like sus4 chords, the most popular move with sus2 chords is to switch between the sus2 and its relative major. On uke this works particularly well with G, D and F (so long as you use the 2013 version of F). What makes them particularly good is that you can play the sus2 version of these chords and hammer-on an extra finger to create the major chord. You can hear me doing that to these chords in this example:


Succession of sus2s

Sus2 Chords are Also Sus4 Chords

If you've really been paying attention you might have noticed that Fsus2 and Csus4 are exactly the same chord (0013).

Similarly, the chord shape for Asus4 (2200) is exactly the same as Dsus2. So, for example, the A – Asus4 move in Dancing Queen could also be thought of as an A – Dsus2 move.

Every sus2 chord has a twin sus4 chord (and vice versa).

That gives suspended chords another layer of ambiguity. Not only are they not major or minor but also you can't be sure what chord they are.

The Theory Behind Suspended Chords

Chords are all built from scales. For this example we'll use the C major scale since it's the most straightforward. It goes:

C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C

Major chords are made up of the first, third and fifth notes of this scale. In this case C, E and G. You can find all these in the standard C chord:

C on the open C-string and A-string, third fret.

E on the open E-string.

G on the open G-string.

Since the uke has four strings and major chords have three notes you can double up one of the notes in the chord. It doesn't matter which so it's usually the one that's easiest to play.

Suspended chords do exactly what they say on the tin. They take out the third note in scale and replace it with the fourth note in sus4 and the second note in sus2.

So Csus4 will take out the E and replace it with an F. You can play that just by adding the E-string at the first fret to the C chord.

Csus2 will replace the E with a D. That's a bit more tricky to play. First you need to get rid of the open E-string. You can do that by playing it at the third fret (a G note) then add a D by playing the C-string at the second fret.

C on the A-string third fret

D on the C-string, second fret.

G on the open G-string and E-string, third fret.

And, of course, the Csus2 chord shape is the same chord shape as Gsus4.

Arctic Monkeys – Mardy Bum (Chords and Tab)

Arctic Monkeys – Mardy Bum (Chords)

Rumours of a new Arctic Monkeys album this year don’t seem to have come to fruition. So I’m doing one of their old songs in an attempt to The Secret a new album into existence.

The chord that really makes this progression is the F# (the major III chord in theory terms). In the key of D you’d expect to hear and F#m (which also crops up the progression). The Bb note in the F# chord doesn’t fit in the D major key so in creates loads of tension until it becomes more settled in the G chord. It’s a classic chord trick. You can hear the same move (I – III – IV) in the chorus of Tennesee Waltz.

Mardy Strum

Intro, Verses, Break and Solo: The intro starts with all down strums (eight per chord). Then I switch to this pattern (which you can hear in the video below):

The xs indicated strums muted with the fretting hand. If you want a simpler strum that doesn’t use muting here’s one that takes the rhythm from the intro solo:

Which sounds like this:


Easy Strum

Chorus: The chorus is much more straightforward. It’s all down-strums. One each on all the Gs and As. Two on the D. And three on the Bm. The exception is the last chorus where it’s just one down-strum per chord (and don’t forget the lenthened Bm chord).

Middle: Eight fast down-strums per chord. Until the final F#-G-A move where you do two slower down-strums per chord.

Twiddly Bits

Mardy Bum (Intro Tab)

Two little twiddles from the song. Both use the D major pentatonic include C# from the standard major scale.

Mardy Bum (Solo Tab)


Solo

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More Arctic Monkeys tabs and chords

UkeTube: Anne Janelle, Bud Sugar, Ukulele Death Squad

Full Playlist

Tracklist

Anne Janelle – In The Morning
Claire Hastings – Come Spend a While wi’ Me (Thanks to Colin)
Bud Sugar – VIRAL
Ukulele Death Squad – Paris On A Train via @ukeist
Natasha Ghosh – New Rules
Gracie Terzian – Bitcoins from Heaven
Jan Laurenz – The Ukulele Song
Jonathan Lewis – Hard Times
The Ukelites – Lurleen Lumpkin Songs

Friday Links

It’s your last chance to get a Uke Hunt t-shirt. You can buy them in the US and the UK until 31st October. Both campaigns have hit their goals so you’re guaranteed one when you order.

New Releases
– Debut self-titled album from Les Guitares Magiques with lots of old-timey jazz and blues. With appearances from long time Uke Hunt favourite Winin’ Boy (thanks to Karl for the heads-up).
– Jazz, R&B and hip hop ukulelist Sam Trump has released a “reimagining” of his 2013 debut EP:
Sam Trump plays the Uke Redux. And the songs scrub up very nicely indeed.

Window Shopping
– The Ukulele Review discusses three Japanese custom builders.
Ohana’s new Pequeno ukulele a Nunes-style soprano.
– A couple of handsome Pelem ukes with Indonesia-shaped soundholes: Flame Acacia Concert and Mixed Wood Tenor.
Tim Laughlin Style-5K.
Yoshida UC-STD Concert.
Kamaka soprano 1916-21.

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