Christmas Ukulele: 12 Days of Christmas (Chords)

12 Days of Christmas (Chords)(PDF)

Incredibly irritating to song to go through sober, but the big advantage of it is that all the numbers from 12 to 6 just require one strum of a D chord.

The best bit, obviously, is the ‘FIVE GOLDEN RIIIIIIIINGS’. I like to beef that part up a bit with these chords:

I also like to add bits of the melody into the chord accompaniment as well. And a solo version in this key is, handily enough, in my How to Play Christmas Ukulele ebook.

There are two different versions of the D chord in the chart: one with an open A string and one with the A string at the fifth fret. But you can use just one of them the whole way through if you’re not comfortable with either. I’m going to have to come up with a better way of referring to different inversions of a chord than calling it ‘alt’, let me know because there must be one. Perhaps calling it D, D’, D”. Let me know your suggestions.

Requested by Annie

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Christmas With The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I find most Christmas songs unbearably bad. The only type of Christmas songs I love are the old Pagan ones that have had a thin layer of Christianity papered on top (much like Christmas itself) and one of the best, Down in Yon Forest, crops up on the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s new Christmas album. A quick lyric sample: “In the bed there lays a knight / Whose wounds do bleed by day and night / Under that bed there runs a flood / The one half runs water the other runs blood.” … and a Happy New Year.

But there’s plenty of jollity on the album as well along with a bunch of lyric changing that I’m dying to quote here and entirely ruin for you. These humorous, singalongs are enhanced by being recorded live while the more intricate songs are recorded in the studio.

But the highlight of the album for me is – as you might expect – the top notch uke playing. Their instrumental version of Wassail is a masterclass in arranging for a ukulele group – everywhere you look there’s something interesting going on and it still works as a whole – and Christmas Rose is a beautifully played waltz. They use the uke in some interesting ways; the album opens with sleigh bells imitated by playing the strings behind the nut. The uke playing highlight of the album is the album closer: a funky-ass version of Good King Wenceslas. The intro is incredible. I don’t know how they manage to build those up.

You can buy Christmas with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and listen to extracts here.
And The Ukes will be turning up on Colin Murray‘s Christmas Show on Radio 1 on the 22nd December (who has some mad ukulele skillz himself).

Christmas Ukulele: Let It Snow (Chords)

Let It Snow (Chords)

Does this count as a Christmas song? No mention of Christmas, but it seems to have become one anyway. It’s been covered by hundreds – most notably Frank Sinatra – but the chords for this one are heavily based on my new favourite version by Jodi Matthews and Dan Sargraves.

Florence and the Machine UkeTube

I’m a bit slow off the mark with Florence and the Machine. The song isn’t particularly uke heavy (and I’m still not 100% convinced that it even is a uke) but I love the song, so it’s here. Also this week is a duet between Seeso and Ukulelezo bursting with sexual tension, Ken Middleton covering a song from my favourite EP of the year and plenty more.

Florence and the Machine – Dog Days are Over

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Christmas Ukulele Window Shopping

A bit hard to find the interesting ukuleles this week and eBay is bulging with Christmas present ukes. musicguymic alone has 214 Kala ukuleles up for sale and also a ‘blowout’ on Koa Pili Kokos. But his most intriguing lot is a set of three Nunes style ukuleles by William King.

Not long left to bid on this Celtic Fluke. I would have thought that someone would have snapped it up on a Buy It Now a long time ago.

A couple of different eras of Disney ukuleles: Mousekulele and High School Musical ukulele.

You might know I’m very fond of my Ashbury Concert Koa, so I’m quite tempted to buy a spruce version and give it a light skinned brother.

There’s this strange ukulele on eBay France. You can get a clearer idea of what it looks like, on the maker’s website. And it looks like the French have the coolest ukulele instruction books and CDs.

Ukulele photo of the week. Why did the single curl of hair go out of fashion? That look is hot.

Plenty of Christmas ukulele kitsch around. Ukulele Christmas baubles like this and this are fair enough, but Ukulele Santa salt and pepper shakers?

Ukulele Player Magazine and other Ukulele Links

The next How to Play Ukulele ebook should be released next week. It’s a little different from my usual releases as I’m not the only person involved. It’s a kind of Live-Aid-for-Ukulele-Tabbers with all proceeds from the ebook going directly to Ukuleles for Peace. It contains tabs by Dominator, James Hill (yes, THE James Hill), Ken Middleton, Mark Kailana Nelson, Wilfried Welti and me. For once I can say it’s absolutely fantastic without feeling like I’m being boastful. I’ve been loving playing these tabs myself (and I got them free – which is the only reason I started the project in the first place). So make sure you don’t miss the launch next week (hopefully).

The first edition of Ukulele Player Magazine is up for download and includes interviews with Craig Robertson and Amber ‘Ukebucket’ Nash.

IZ’s uke in the Grammy Museum.

Get uke chords on your iPhone

The Duke of Uke blog has started putting up tabs and chords, starting with Babooshka.

More art ukes.

MFM has an MP3 of Florence and the Machine’s cover of Postcards from Italy.

Tony Danza pulled out his Flea for a quick song on Fox News. The only clip I could find was the snippet at the end of this video.

Frank Skinner’s continuing uke obsession: “It drives my girlfriend crazy. I sit up for hours watching instruction videos on the net after she’s gone to bed. But at least I’ve branched out on what kind of videos I’m watching online late at night. ”

Michael Leviton’s The Beach Gets Cold on Uker Tabs. And I’ve finally got round to listing the Uker Tabs contributions on the Ukulele Chords and Tabs page.

Friday Timewaster: Stick Cricket.

If the credit crunch is biting, try selling off your used MP3s (according to Idolator it isn’t a joke).

Mal Blum – Ode to Kulele

Mal Blum – Ode to Kulele (Chords)(PDF)

If she really loved the ukulele, she wouldn’t write songs in the key of E.

But I’ll forgive her that because this is a super-cute song with a hilarious video (by Ballard C Boyd who is due a new ukulele Christmas album pretty soon).

To combat the E problem, I’ve shifted everything up fret. So if you want to play it in the original key, tune down half a step.

Buy on iTunes

Christmas Ukulele Tabs and Chords

Christmas is coming and time to dust off a few party tricks, so here’s a list of all last years’ Christmas ukulele tabs and chords. More to come this year.

Christmas Ukulele Tabs

Jingle Bells
Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer
Mele Kalikimaka
White Christmas

And there’s also my How to Play Christmas Ukulele ebook with solo ukulele tabs for 12 Christmas songs (released last Christmas).

Christmas Ukulele Chords

Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
The Pogues – Fairytale of New York
The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight)
Sarah Silverman – Give the Jew Girl Toys
Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody

Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam – Can’t Keep

Eddie Vedder – Can’t Keep (Tab)(PDF)

Can’t Keep is my favourite of Eddie Vedder’s ukulele songs. It’s quite unusual for a ukulele song and sounds far better and more aggressive than the full band, album version.

For this song he’s at least in tune with himself, if not the rest of the world (perhaps some clever metaphor). But if you want to play along with the video, you’ll have to tune down very slightly.

The riff of the song works very well on the uke. It starts out like this:

And shifts a little for the verse to this:

The strumming for these sections is just up, down (a lot). He switches it up a bit for the ‘I won’t live forever…’ bit. Down, down, up, up, down should get you through that.

New Zealand Ukulele Festival

Garry Copeland attended the New Zealand Ukulele Festival and was kind enough to send back this report for us.

Music lesson: TeachUke in action on the main stage. Kevin is front row centre in the green flowery shirt.It’s a couple of hours since the second annual New Zealand Ukulele Festival kicked off at Auckland’s Mount Smart stadium and the joint is jumping.

Welcome to ukulele heaven.

As promised by organiser Kevin Fogarty, it’s proving to be a four-string feast and the menu is positively dripping with a mouthwatering selection of top international and home-grown fare.
As head chef, Kevin has been zooming around backstage and in the green room kicking ass, in the nicest possible way, to make sure the customers are kept satisfied.

And why wouldn’t they be?

Entry to the festival is free, the weather is warm and sunny and in the cavernous stadium, home to Auckland’s Warriors rugby league club, around four thousand guests are partying.

At least half are families, here to watch their ukenik kids in Kevin’s mega-band, the Kiwileles. There are so many of them – three hundred or so — that when they perform later they have to move to the seats surrounding the sportsfield because there isn’t room on stage.

The kids are pupils from fifty or so schools in the city where, thanks to Kevin and his music teacher colleagues, the uke is all conquering.

The multi-coloured Mahalo Army is on the March and some wag has promised from the stage a few minutes ago that at next year’s festival they’re going to make a bonfire of school recorders.
“We’re tired of hearing London’s Burning,” he quipped to a cheering crowd.

Kevin and his other band, TeachUkes, are on stage at the moment showing the kids how it’s done. They’re all music teachers, so they should know.

With a slick and stomping set that includes at least one show-stopper – Rock That Uke – they go down a storm.

Kevin dashes back to the green room to grab a slice of pizza and talk to Ukulele Hunt, apologising a few minutes later for having to break off for a TV interview. When he returns he munches on the same slice of pizza, looks down at the crowd and grins broadly.

“We’re waiting to hear from the Guinness Book of Records about the Kiwileles,” he says. “Today’s performance might be the biggest group of uke performers ever assembled.”

The Mahalo Army: a section of the Kiwileles in action at the second annual New Zealand Ukulele Festival.He’s used to big crowds. In a previous life, as lead guitarist with the pop-rock group Knobz, Kevin took on the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rob Muldoon, one of the great philistines and bigots of the 20th century, when he declared that music wasn’t culture and imposed a stinging sales tax on records.
Kevin wrote a song about it and the band recorded it.

Don’t Give Me Culture hit the charts and stayed there for seventeen weeks much to Muldoon’s annoyance.

“We performed it at a festival once and had 80,000 people singing it back to us,” says Kevin, his grin widening at the recollection. “That was quite something.”

Today, he acknowledges modestly, is quite something, too – another stage in a ukulele campaign that began in 2001 when he introduced the uke into music lessons at his school in Auckland. Now the uke is on the syllabus in 50 schools in the city and Kevin aims to have similar success in schools all over New Zealand.

He has the backing of the government, thanks largely to a little Fogarty groundwork. In 2002, Kevin flew to Wellington, the nation’s capital, and held a ukulele workshop for MPs. The result was a promise of funding.

Attendance at today’s festival is proof that the campaign is working.

“Everyone’s having so much fun,” says Kevin, somewhat stating the obvious, before heading backstage again to marshal the kids for the first of the Kiwileles’ two performances.

The main stage, of course, is the focus of the crowd’s attention. In addition to TeachUkes, we’ve already seen SEGUE, an eleven-piece outfit from Australia, whose material ranges from Robert Johnson blues to Lou Reed, by way of the Kinks and the odd bit of skiffle. They have a nice line in self-deprecating humour which goes down well.

On offer for the rest of the day is a non-stop parade of class acts, including Azo Bell and the Old Spice Boys (also from Oz), The Nukes, Cook Islander Chuck Upu, Sione Aleki from Tonga, the Big Muffin Serious Band, the Dukes of Uke, Jordan Luck, up-and-coming young singer songwriter Thom Jackson whose original stuff sits well with the obligatory Iz version of Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World, and US fireball Uni who tears up the stage and pumps out enough adrenalin to take the crowd to a new high.

Upstairs in the stadium’s entertainment suite, there’s more music from keen amateurs who have turned up from all over New Zealand to do floor spots. In between acts there are workshops provided by performers who have finished their main stage stints.

And when they feel the need to stretch their legs, the crowds can look at entries in the Paint-a-Uke contest or check out the stalls in the market where dozens of ukes are on sale, many of them cheap and cheerful like the Mahalos and the budget end of the Kala range. But there are Martins, too, and pricy Fleas and Flukes.

Competing with them all is New Zealand luthier Ian Milne, whose concert ukes, tastefully decorated with mother-of-pearl, are show-stealers. But his piece-de-resistance is his banjo-shaped concert model, with a cedar top and back and sides made from reclaimed kauri, a wood that has an almost sacred significance for the Mauri.

The design is based on a DIY kit Ian designed for New Zealand Scouts. You can check out his stuff on his website.

Meanwhile, backstage Kevin Fogarty is briefing the troops for the final performance of the day – an all-join-in version of the festival theme song. Appropriately enough, it’s called Ukulele Heaven and, of course, Kevin wrote it.

By four in the afternoon, it’s all over bar the shouting for more.

And you can bet your last Kiwi dollar that Kevin Fogarty will provide it. Plans for next year’s festival are already on the drawing board.

Kevin’s seen the future.

And it’s ukulele.

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