Tropic50, Hope and Social: UkeTube

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Friday Links: Madagascar, America’s Got Talent

There’s a new episode of my favourite travelogue Matt Kresling’s Madagascar Journals. This time he learns a Malagasy song on his ukulele, chooses between a girl and an exploding mountain and objects to a zebu being sodomised.

This year’s America’s Got Talent was won by 12 year old ukulelist Grace VanderWaal.

Ukulele Go! reviewed my How to Play Blues Ukulele ebook and was very kind:

This is a great ebook that I’d definitely recommend even if you have a passing interest in playing the blues on your ukulele. I wouldn’t particularly consider myself a big blues fan but I got (and still get) a lot from the book. It’s so packed with information and ideas that I think pretty much everyone will find something useful here. A definite buy recommendation from me!

Edna Marion.
Two sad mice.
Blue Booby Boogie.
Tommy Purcell’s signed ukulele.

Sera Was Never (Dragon Age Inquisition)(Tab)

Raney Shockne – Sera Was Never (Tab)

I do enjoy a good fake-Celtic game tune like Gwent Flute Song from Witcher 3. So when I got a request for this tune I couldn’t resist. I might make it a trilogy and do the Hearthstone theme at some point. Until then I’ll keep brushing up on actual Celtic tunes.

For my version I’ve kept the chords and melody separate. The melody is a good opportunity to use a pick to get a mandolin-ish tone. But I’m using my fingers mostly alternating picking with index and middle fingers.

Here’s a backing track for you to play along with. There’s one bar of Am to count you in.

Backing track MP3

For the backing strumming I’m using a touch strum then a full strum. There’s a full guide to touch strums in How to Play Ukulele Strums but the basics is you lightly hit just the g- and C-strings with your strum.

Download the soundtrack here if you own the game
More game theme tabs

Chord Updates: ABBA, Bon Iver and Others

I’ve been updating some of the chord posts I did back in the olden days when the internet was in black and white. Updating the chords, adding strumming patterns, videos and audio and whatnot. Check ’em out:

ABBA – Dancing Queen

Arctic Monkeys – Despair in the Departure Lounge

Bon Iver – Skinny Love (Tabs and Chords)

Radiohead/Amanda Palmer – Creep

Prince Buster – Madness (Chords)/Al Capone (Tab)

Prince Buster – Madness (Chords)

Oi, 2016. If you could let me go a few weeks without needing a tribute post I’d appreciate it. Cheers.

Prince Buster was the king of ska and a huge influence on the UK ska revival. Madness alone was covered by The Specials, Selecter and, of course, Madness.

Suggested Strumming

You can use the classic ska strum all the way through this one:

– u – u – u – u

Make sure those are chord stabs by stopping them ringing immediately with your strumming hand (there’s a guide to chord stabs and ska strums in How to Play Ukulele Strums). If you use the barre chord version of the chords you can make them chord stabs just by taking the pressure off your fretting hand.

If you’re playing by yourself though it might be worth beefing it up by playing a downstrum on the first beat and not muting it.

d u – u – u – u

Here are both those strums:


Buy it on iTunes

Prince Buster – Al Capone (Tab)


I recorded a backing track for this one. The first uke is an F chord played with a ska strum and the second is muted strums playing this pattern:



Buy it on iTunes


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Friday Links

Cyprien Verseux and his crew mates successfully completed their year-long isolation as part of NASA’s HI-SEAS experiment with some help from his ukulele.

Dennis Quaid has formed a ukulele band.

Stuart Fuchs plays the world’s largest ukulele.
Flula serenades Michael Phelps.

How to convert a concert into a tenor ukulele.
Johnny’s got you covered.

1960s Favilla baritone
Argapa concert
1970s Kamaka white label baritone.

I took advantage of my blog break to do a rare guitar tab: Pepe Kalle’s soukous masterpiece Roger Milla.

Gene Wilder – Pure Imagination (Tab)

Gene Wilder – Pure Imagination (Tab)

For my little tribute to Gene Wilder I had to do this beautiful tune by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

It’s such an affecting tune it’s a great opportunity to play with emotion. I recommend experimenting with varying the tempo and volume and use vibrato when you play to get the most out of it.


Buy it on iTunes
More movie themes

How to Write a Hit Intro in 2016

If you want to write a hit song at the moment you need an intro with at least two of these features and preferably all three:

    1. A minor key
    2. Lots of echo
    3. This rhythm:


To illustrate the point I threw together into a medley including Sia’s Cheap Thrills, Shawn Mendes’s Treat You Better, The Chainsmokers’ Don’t Let Me Down and Let Me Love You by DJ Snake and Justin Bieber

Intros Tab

And here’s a Spotify playlist with a few more besides.

But I always associate this rhythm (and the echoy sounds) with the fittingly titled Intro by The XX.

This rhythm might be having a moment right now but it’s also timeless and well worth adding to your strum repertoire. The basic strum (from the video above) goes like this:

d – – d – – d –

The important thing to do is to use chord stabs i.e. stopping the strings ringing right after you play them (much more on the in How to Play Ukulele Strums).

The downside with this rhythm is that it does sound a bit sparse on ukulele. The best way fill it out is with some muted strums. Like this:

d x x u x x d x

This version sounds really funky when you speed it up:

Steven Universe – Here Comes a Thought (Chords and Tab)

Rebecca Sugar – Here Comes a Thought (Chords)

After doing It’s Over, Isn’t It? before the break, I wasn’t planning on doing another Steven Universe song so soon. But I got some requests (as I always do for SU songs) and there are some really nice chord moves and picking in it.

I worked this out from the ukulele version Rebecca Sugar did at Comic Con. The version on the show uses the same chords but is arranged differently.

Suggested Strumming

In the chorus: you can just do one down strum per chord (or two down strums on Fmaj7 if you’re feeling adventurous).

In the verse: I’ve written up the whole C9 – C – Cmaj7 – C6 line but you don’t have to play the whole thing. You can just play C9, let the g, C and E strings ring while you play 5 – 3 – 2 – 0 on the A-string. Or you can just play the Steven strum on C9 then C6.

For everything else you can use the old Steven strum:

d – x u – u d –

In the verse do that twice on Fmaj7 and once each on E and E7.

In the pre-chorus: The Steven strum twice for everything except the first two G7sus4 – G7 moves (once each there).

In the bridge: Steven strum twice for all Cmaj7 – Fmaj7. And just a down strum per chord elsewhere.

Twiddly Bits

Here Comes a Thought (Tab)

Like It’s Over, this one uses one finger per string picking. Don’t worry too much about recreating the exact pattern. You can try any pattern you like the sound of so long as you’ve got the chords right and the rhythm is similar. The sound quality of the video isn’t great so the picking in the tab probably isn’t completely accurate anyway.


Steven Universe on Cartoon Network
Rebecca Sugar on Tumblr
More tabs and chords from Steven Universe
Everything Stays chords

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