It’s Theme Tune Week on Uke Hunt this week. And I’m starting out with Steven Universe. The show is packed with great ukeable tunes thanks to show creator and ukulelist Rebecca Sugar. If you’re an SU fan and a uker I highly recommend following her Tumblr where she often posts ukulele demos of the songs and occasionally chords.
The plan was the right up the theme tune but I like the songs so much I ended up doing a bunch.
The Steven Strum
This chnky strum – henceforth known as the Steven strum – is clearly Steven’s favourite strum. It crops up all the time:
Again start of with one down-strum per chord before moving on to the Steven strum once per chord in the verses. In the middle section play the strum twice on the B7 then one down strum on the Em and G then once on the Cmaj7 (a chord that crops up a fair bit in Steven Universe and Adventure Time songs).
The two chords at the end are played way up the neck (as indicated by the fret numbers at the top right). If your uke doesn’t have a 13th fret you can just play the chords in their more familiar positions Bbmaj7 – 3210 and Bb = 3211.
Verse: Steven strum once per chord. All except the last chord then do the Steven strum twice.
Bridge: Steven strum twice per chord.
Chorus: Steven strum once per chord. Except the Eb – F change on “alternate” do d – d u once each there. And just one down-strum on the last two chords.
I was very worried about the wellbeing of his ukulele in this episode.
I’m using a fairly strange way of playing the F and G chords. Barreing the g, C and E strings with my middle finger and muting the A-string. If you prefer you can play the usual open versions of all the chords. If you doing that you might want to switch the B for a G7 and change chords normally rather than sliding.
Intro: d u d u d u d u
Verse: The Steven strum once per chord.
Last line: d u d u once for Cm and G7. Then d u on the C, down on the B then slide the shape up one fret to make it the C chord.
Whoever put together Apple Music’s UkeBox – The Ukulele Today playlist has been paying attention. The short list includes James Hill, Tune-Yards, Magnetic Fields, Beirut, Mr B, Garfunkel and Oates, Sophie Madeleine, Shiny and the Spoon, Victoria Vox and other Uke Hunt favorites. The only misstep is the incongruous inclusion of Arlo Guthrie’s version of Ukulele Lady.
Continuing the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s 30th Anniversary celebrations with my first attempt at doing a UOGB style version of one of their tunes: Misirlou (most famous as the Pulp Fiction intro played by Dick Dale). I had a lot of fun putting it together and it gave me a new level of appreciation for what they do.
My arrangement is based on theirs but pared down to four ukes and a guitar/bass part.
This is main melody of the tune. I don’t use the g-string here so you can use either high- or low-G. It’s played with a pick.
There are two bits of notation you might not be familiar with. The dots above the notes in the first few bars and the last few bars indicate that the notes are played staccato i.e. they’re very short. The two thick lines under notes in the loud section (bars 38 – 70) mean the note is tremolo picked. More on tremolo picking here.
I don’t have a bass (I’m not an animal) so I used a guitar for the bass part. But I’m just using the bottom four strings so you can transfer this tab directly to bass or bass ukulele.
This part has the least to do. In the intro and outro it makes the very high notes by picking the strings above the bridge. Then in the loud section (bars 38 – 70) it strums all the strings muted with the left hand in the same pattern as the rhythm ukulele in the quiet sections i.e. – – d u – – d -.
There’s no baritone on the track but here’s a baritone version of the lead ukulele part.
Alternatively, you could just play the lead tab for standard tuning on a baritone as it is. For example, if the standard tuning tab says 3rd string (C) 4th fret then you’d play the baritone 3rd string (G), 4th fret. That provides a readymade harmony for the lead part. But it does clash with the second uke sometimes so don’t use them both.
I’ve watched a few movies featuring ukuleles to various degrees (they’re all on US Netflix because that’s the only good one). If you’ve got any other suggestions leave them in the comments. In decreasing order of ukulele-centricity:
– Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings: I was worried there was going to be too much Jake-talk (“If everyone played the ‘ukulele there’d be no war” and that) but there’s very little of that and a lot more of Jake’s personal life than I was expecting. Being so personal it gets his philosophy on music across much more effectively than his speeches. I’m not the biggest Jake fan but I really enjoyed the movie and found it very affecting towards the end.
– Austin to Boston: Ben Lovett off of the Mumfords takes a bunch of folky acts on the road: The Staves, Ben Howard, Bear’s Den, Nathaniel Rateliff and Gill Landry (off of Old Crow Medicine Show). Being hipsters, they do it in the most impractical way possible. There are some great bits but it’s very frustrating. Lots lovely music interrupted by pretentious jibberjabber. I don’t know why you’d talk all over The Staves telling us how good their harmonies are when you could just shut up and let us hear it for ourselves. Worth it if you’re not a fan of the new folkies. Otherwise steer clear.
– The Dirties: I loved this film. If you’re into low-budget indie movies I recommend watching it without reading anything about it. Other than the fact that Kate and Janelle pop up for a quick ukulele cameo.