– Helen Arney updates Tom Lehrer’s The Elements to include the four new additions to the periodic table.
– Folk guitar legend Martin Simpson discusses playing the ukulele (I tabbed out the tune he talks about and noodles with back here) (Via @ukeist).
Congratulations to Robin Evans who successfully set a world record by playing ukulele for 30 hours straight.
What a great melody this is. And it’s matched with some juicy jazz chords. Making it perfect for a ukeing.
In case you’re not familiar with the repeat markings I use, you play up to “D.S. al Coda” go back to the squiggle in bar five, play up to “Da Coda” then skip to the target in bar 23.
As a companion to the “Songs with Chords You Know” post I thought I’d put together a list of posts for people just getting started learning fingerpicking, tabs and solo playing.
Tutorials for Tabs and Fingerpicking
I’ve written a nine part guide on how to read tab. But you don’t have to read them all before getting started. But I’d recommend being familiar with:
When you start tackling fingerpicking have a look at these fingerpicking patterns and familiarise yourself with:
A couple more tutorials you might find helpful for solo playing:
One Note at a Time Tabs
These are a good place to start reading tab and playing them. If you want to keep it simple you can pick them all with just your thumb. Or if you’re practicing your fingerpicking you can use the thumb and two finger picking method. Some of these contain both full arrangements and “one note at a time” versions so you might have to scroll down to find some of them.
Thumb Only Solos
These arrangements all combine chords and melody in one part. You do that by holding a chord shape then strumming your thumb down the strings up to the melody note.
Away in a Manger
Happy Birthday to You
Little Drummer Boy
Smoking Gun Bleeding Knives (Ryan Gosling)
We Shall Overcome (Pete Seegar)
We Three Kings
Here are some pieces that use fingerpicking patterns as backing.
Easy Fingerpicking Tabs
Finally, here are a few pieces that use fingerpicking patterns of the basis or have very easy to play arrangements.
It’s not often I break with my schedule but Nick Drake’s Horn popped into my ears this morning and I felt compelled to get my own up.
It also fits well with the real post today about pieces suitable for solo ukulele beginners. It’s the sparsest track on Drake’s sparsest album. For my version there’s just a droning open C-string (plucked with the thumb) and the slow melody mainly on the A-string (middle finger) and occasionally on the E-string (index finger).
The only downside is that it requires a ukulele with at least fifteen frets. If you don’t have one you can play this version in G:
This moves the drone to the g-string. Making it an octave higher (unless you’re using low-G tuning). So it doesn’t fit perfectly but it does still work.
There’s a new 5 CD/50 song album from The Magnetic Fields on the way and the five tracks that have come out already have made me very excited for it. The standout track ’74 No is great for uke too. All beginner chords. The strumming is trickier than the chords.
The only slight change is I’ve included a version of the F chord with the A-string played at the third fret. That makes for a nice transition into the C chord. But it’s not mandatory. You can play the standard F and it’ll work perfectly.
Intro and outro The bars in the intro and outro are divided unevenly. So in the first half of the first bar you strum d u d u – u on the Am and a down strum on the G. And in the second half (still G) do – u d u d – d u.
All together it looks like this:
Verses 1, 2 and 5 I use the same strum for these verses but they’ll divided up a little differently. So for the first two lines the C chord takes up the same strumming as Am and G in the intro strum. So it’s like this:
The third line goes back to four chords so you strum and change in the same places as the intro. And the final line is exactly the same as the intro.
Verses 3 and 4 Things get a lot more straight forward in the keyboardy verses. For those I just use this pattern twice for C and once each on F and G:
d – d – d u d u
It’s nearing the end of the year and the Ukulele 2016 Spotify playlist is taking shape. As always, there’s a wide variety of great music from world famous virtuosos to low-fi indie acts, novelty songs to slick Hawaiian standards. So whatever you’re into you should find something you like on there.
– New record from Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer: There’s a Rumpus Going On
– Kamaka have collected the cream of Hawaii’s ukers for the double album Keep Strumming.
– Kyle Frazer’s It Was You has been out for a while in CD form but it’s now on Bandcamp on a pay-what-you-like basis.
– Formidible Vegetable Sound System’s Grow Do It
I wrote up the chords for Hallelujah way back in 2008. But, since it’s a huge hit with ukulelists, I wanted to do an instrumental version as a little tribute to Leonard Cohen. And a tribute to Jeff Buckley since the intro is completely ripped off from his incredible version.
I try to keep most of my tabs fairly disciplined and work them up fully beforehand. It’s easier for people to read and learn that way. But be warned: this one I played pretty freely then tabbed out what I played. So the fingerpicking is all over the place.
In the verse the melody is everything played on the A-string plus the third fret of the E-string. Everything else is backing so should be played a little more softly. The chorus is more strange since the melody notes are played on the g-, C- and E-strings. I’ve notated all the melody notes with an accent > above them.
If you’re looking for something festive to learn here’s a complete rundown of everything Christmassy on the site.
You can pick up all three for the price of 2 by buying the whole Christmas Trilogy at once.
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 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
Year End Letter – Garfunkel and Oates
You’re a Mean One Mr Grinch
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
Little Drummer Boy
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