The first and most famous version of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree was by Brenda Lee, but these chords are taken from the version by Roses Polenzani and Cousins. All the chords are pretty simple. And I’ve substituted the E chord in the intro for an E7 to make it even simpler.
The secret is out; I’m a massive Mariah fan.
Or not. I decided to write up the song after watching the ukulele version by Mariel a la Mode and Uni and her Ukelele. But I ended up missing the jazzier chords in it and wrote up the Mariah version instead. But they’re both in the same key and not a million miles apart, so play along with whichever you prefer.
Plus, it has the de rigueur Christmas intro:
Some great instrumental ukulele videos this week – including versions of Apache, Maunaloa Slack Key and Allemande – as well as plenty of singing (but no Christmas songs).
Someone’s going to be lucky this Christmas. There’s a whole bunch of lovely looking vintage Martin ukuleles on eBay this week. At the top of the range, there’s and this Martin Taropatch, this Martin Style 3 and this 1K on eBay UK. If vintage isn’t the way you want to go, there’s also a brand new Martin 5K.
If you want a bit of vintage ukulele action but can’t afford a Martin, cross your fingers and add this Leonardo Nunes to your watch list. It’s listed in the ‘Hula’ section which might explain why, at the time of writing, bidding stands at $11.
Ukulele photo of the week.
Thanks to everyone who has bought How to Play Ukuleles for Peace already (six days left to get the ebook at the cheaper price). And an ever bigger thanks to everyone who promoted it including Valerie who made a video for Project 4 Awesome promoting UfP. I’m going to keep going on about this until everyone’s bought it – it’s my last chance for avoiding eternal damnation. I think the only way to counteract my lifetime of coveteousness, apostacy and making girls cry would be to bring peace to the Middle East.
If you were quick off the mark and downloaded an early version of So You’re Just Got Your First Ukulele, you might have found some of the links didn’t work (specifically, the ones with numbers in). It’s been fixed and you can download the new version here.
If you’ve been following UkeTube, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Jake Wildwood. As well as the old-timey songs, his videos always have him playing the gorgeous vintage instruments that he repairs and restores. And he’s now started a blog Antebellum Instruments. There’s already a healthy amount of ukulele pr0n including a Regal Soprano Ukulele.
New fish-tacos/ukulele song from Flight of the Conchords. (Thanks to Zak).
Wii Music creator Shigeru Miyamoto plays the ukulele in real life.
Bucky Greenhorn: Hollywood’s next leading man.
Jason ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow on American Idol‘ Castro has just released a ukulele version of White Christmas and you can get it free on Amazon (or on ReverbNation if you’re outside the US). I don’t want to be mean at Christmas time, but I’m guessing that isn’t him ukeing on the track because it being played well.
I’ve written a mini-ebook as a bit of an introduction to the ukulele aimed at people who got a new ukulele for Christmas. It’s free and released under a Creative Commons License. So you can email it people, let people download it on your site, print it out and hand it round to people – so long as you keep the content as it is.
1 Five Things to Know
2 Five Chords to Learn
3 Five Songs to Play
4 Five Websites to Visit
5 Five Things to Get Free
6 Five Things to Buy
7 Five Videos to Watch
8 Five YouTube Channels to Subscribe to
You can download it free here:
I pinky swear I won’t pass your email on to anyone else and you won’t get any spam. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a beagle in my eye.
As well as his work as a director (including the video for Mal Blum’s Ode to Kulele, Ballard C Boyd put together a Christmas ukulele album each year and releases it online. You can download the previous years’ songs here.
I caught up with him to find out what he’s cooking up this Christmas.
Why only Christmas albums?
Well, the first one just happened to be the only record I had recorded. I had only been playing for about a year at the time and it was as a christmas present for all of my friends and family. But at the same time, I heard another friend of mine rocker Stuart Davis (who’s recorded over 13 albums) when asked once “when are you going to make a christmas record?”, he yelled back “What are you talking about?! I’ve done nothing BUT Christmas records!” So in my time writing songs, I’ve decided that for the past three years – going on four – that IS genuinely hilarious. So that’s all I’ve recorded officially. Though I have written and recorded some demos for some other (hate to admit it) NON-holiday songs.
What can we expect on this year’s EP? Any more originals?
I’ve been really trying to work out this arrangement of The Christmas Song, that I’ve always wanted to do, but with a 3/4 swing beat I heard in a recording, but it’s taking a little bit of effort in the translating. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed. But I hope also to record two more originals. And this might be my first foray into traditional christmas carols with Good King Wenceslas perhaps. Maybe not, we’ll see. I’ve kept so far with more secular Christmas carols, which, yes, I know is an oxymoron, but it’s my style.
What makes for a good Christmas song?
My instinct is to say novelty, but really a catchy tune plus a good story I think really make it. There’s so much great imagery with Christmas to work with, that just like any good song, if you can combine those with a tune you enjoy, whether it’s peppy or melancholy. But I really am a big fan of so many obscure Christmas songs that I might have only found because of their novelty. Like Lord Nelson’s “A Party For Santa Claus” that is almost impossible to find, but is a straight calypso tune and is a FANTASTIC Christmas song. So story, plus tune first. And then novelty just sets some out from the pack for me.
What’s in your uke collection?
I really only have one uke. It’s a dark mahogany-shaded Hilo concert uke, from Cotton Music in Nashville, that I bought for $50, and that’s been like my best friend. I remember buying it, even without a case and before I could even play it, and seeing myself reflected in a glass window down the street as I walked to my car, and thinking “I’m a real Nashvillian now. I own a stringed instrument.” Because just about everyone plays something, mostly guitar. And I picked the uke because it’s obviuously not a guitar, but it’s cute and different and easy, and it’s hard to be taken too seriously on it which I see as a plus. I also once owned a Hilo baritone that was on the first record, but it’s since wandered into someone else’s possession in Colorado.
What tips would you give someone looking to spice up their YouTube videos?
Add the tag “erotic” to everything you have. I’m not saying it’s ethical, but it works. It’s a sad erotic state of the internet.
What’s on your Christmas list this year?
This year? Probably financial support. But seriously, like socks and dress shirts. I’m such an adult now. There may be a song on this new record that goes into detail on some other “christmas requests”. I’ll let you know.
In the ukulele harmonics post I promised tab for a harmonics only version of Silent Night. I hope you’ve been practicing the stuff in that post, because here it is. And it’s tricky.
This version starts off fairly easy. The natural harmonics at the twelfth fret shouldn’t cause too many difficulties. It’s much more difficult to get clean harmonics at the fifth and seventh frets.
In bar 14 the artificial harmonics start. here you have to keep track of where both your left and right hands are. I find it easier to start the artificial harmonic technique at the beginning of bar 13 to avoid switching hands quickly.
The hardest note in the entire piece is the first note in bar 18. You have to fret the A string with your left hand and play a harmonic at the eighth fret (seven frets above the note you’re playing). It’s very difficult to get that one to sound cleanly.
Even though it’s tricky, I think it’s worth playing. The harmonics give it a Christmas bell feel to it.
If you want a non-harmonic, easy to play tab of Silent Night there’s one in my Christmas ukulele ebook.
Another Harmonic Tune