Friday Links: Ukulele Tea, Uke vs. Waterjet

Further proof Japan is ahead of the rest of the world: ukulele tea.

Ukulele Support System for upper limb disabilities.

Excellent new album from Nicholas Abersold: Eponymous.

On Video
– The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz’s documentary Under the Boardwalk: A Ukulele Love Story is now available on Amazon.
Got A Ukulele rants about shills, marketeers and the death of impartial reviews.
Ukulele cut In half with a 60,000 PSI waterjet.

Window Shopping
Da Silva Mango Tenor.
Antica concert uke.
HiGuitars electric uke.

BLACKPINK – Kill This Love (Tab)

BLACKPINK – Kill This Love (Tab)

I love Blackpink’s willingness to hurl every idea and genre into one song. Kill This Love starts with blaring brass, goes through rapping, diva crooning and girl-power yelling before switching from swing-time to march-time for a militaristic outro.

Keeping up with all that on a ukulele takes a variety of techniques. In the intro I strum the big blasts at the start of bars 1 and 3 and pick everything else. The verses are fingerpicked and played very staccato (i.e. keeping the notes short). I miss out the, “Here I come kicking the door,” section and move straight into the pre-chorus. This continues the staccato playing in the first half before being played more smoothly from bar 21.

Heading into the chorus, I use a triplet strum (strumming down with my middle and index fingers, down with my thumb then up with middle and index). Then I blast out the chorus with as much strum power as I can manage while strum blocking any notes I don’t want to sound.

The outro starts with some thumb and two finger picking with the thumb on the C-string having duel duties picking the melody and providing a steady beat.I make a bit of a hash of the final part of the outro. So follow the tab rather than the video here. But blast it out as loud as you can.

Links
Buy it on Amazon
K-pop riffs and intros tabs

Fretspace (Chord and Scale Maker) App Review

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that yesterday’s chord chart had different style chord diagrams to usual. With Apple ditching support for 32 bit apps in the next version of macOS, my chord making app of choice, Sibelius 6, is rapidly heading for obsolescence. So I’ve been hunting around for new ways of making them.

I stumbled across Fretspace and gave their demo a try (I’ve had no contact with the developer and this isn’t a paid review – because paid reviews are trash). And thought I’d share my thoughts for anyone looking for an app like this.

A big warning: the last update to the app was January 2018. And the Softpress haven’t updated their other apps recently either. Also, they don’t list the app as being supported on the developer’s support page. But they have been active on their forum recently so perhaps it’s not entirely abandoned.

The Basics

Fretspace is a macOS-only app and is priced at $29 (£25). You can download a time-limited demo from their site (click the “try” button at the top right).

The app creates chord and scale diagrams for a variety of instruments including guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo and, obviously, ukulele.

Here’s how the chord charts look:

Testing It Out

Back when I reviewed iOS chord apps, I came up with some tests to see how well suited to the ukulele their chord shapes are:

C test: Pass if the A-string is fretted with the 3rd finger rather than the first finger.
Em test: Pass if g-string is played open rather than at the 4th fret.
Fmaj7 test: Pass if the default chord is playable (i.e. not 2413) and another point if 5500 is there at all.
C9 test: Pass if both C9 and Cadd9 chords are available and have playable default shapes.

Here’s how Fretspace handled the test:

A fail on the C test and the 5500 test and a pass on everything else.

The Good Stuff

Easy to use: I found Fretspace intuitive and picked it up in no time. The layout is very simple. Almost to a fault as it looks plain.

But that is fine with me. I’ll take ease of use over prettiness any day.

Extensive musical options:

It’ll let you come up with whatever impossible chord shape you can imagine and let you name it anything,

I particularly appreciate the name not having to be a real chord name as I occasionally use an apostrophe to indicate different chord inversions and neither Sibelius nor GuitarPro would let me do that.

Ukulele suitable: The app has in-built ukulele support. It comes with standard, high-g tuning only but it’s very easy to add different tunings.

The app mostly works very well for ukulele tuning without weirdness. The only weird thing I’ve found is that the scale boxes don’t like the re-entrant tuning and won’t show any scale notes on the high-g string. It doesn’t have this problem with high-G tuning. Here’s the default C scale on high-g uke on the left and low-G on the right:

Lots of options for the information displayed: For both chords and scales you can choose between displaying the degree of the scale (left), the note being played (middle) or the fingering (right). You can also choose to highlight the root note in red.

The Not So Good Stuff

Poor export options: The app has no way to simply export the charts as a single image. So to get an image you have to select print, save it as a PDF. Then open the PDF and export it as an image.

What you can do is copy each individual chord or scale as vector graphics then paste it into a document. You can select all the chords and copy them at once. But that won’t give a single image of them just a pile of individual chords.

Good image export options seems like a basic function this sort of app should have.

Lack of visual options: Other than changing the number of frets shown, there aren’t any changes you can make to the look of the chord and scale charts. You can’t change the font or the thickness of the lines. Which means it doesn’t look exactly as I’d like it to. For one, I’d like the line indicating the nut to be thicker so you could instantly see it.

Can’t change defaults: You can choose a default instrument and tuning and that’s about it. So every time I put in a C chord, for example, I’d need to go into the menu and change the fret number. And I’d like to make the default chord boxes five frets long but the default is four and I can’t find a way to change it.

Nitpicks

– Barre chords aren’t shown explicitly. I like to make it very clear when a single finger is fretting multiple strings. Fretspace (first chart below) only indicates it with the fingering numbers. Whereas GuitarPro (middle) links all fretting markers and Sibelius (right) arches over all barred notes.

– Doesn’t have split-view in full screen.

– Right clicking on the chord and scale boxes does nothing.

Overall

Fretspace is a pleasant app to use, creates good-looking charts and is versatile in the chords and scales it can create. It is massively let down by the ridiculously limited export options. And the lack of recent updates makes it a risky buy. Particularly with a new version of macOS on the horizon (it is 64 bit at least).

I don’t mind paying a decent price for apps. I wouldn’t mind at all paying $29 for a quality chord and scale app. But at that price I expect a well featured, polished app that’s regularly updated. And Fretspace isn’t that.

I’m going to keep trying out solutions to this but if I end up deciding Fretspace is the best option, I’ll be happy with it.

Twenty One Pilots – Cut My Lip (Location Session)(Chords and Tab)

Twenty One Pilots – Cut My Lip (Chords)

Cut My Lip first turned up on album Trench where it glided past me without much of a diversion. But Twenty One Pilots recently put out a heavily reworked version for their upcoming Location Session record (under the title Cut My Lip (40.6782°N, 73.9442° W)) and I was knocked out by it. So it’s that version I’ve written up (although both have the same chord progression).

I arranged this with a capo on the second fret to keep things easy. If you want to play without a capo Em – D – A transposes to F#m – E – B.

Suggested Strumming Pattern

For the strum, I take inspiration from Twenty One Pilot’s uke songs and do a ska-flavoured strum. I play a constant down-up but muting some of the strums (represented by the X) to create this pattern:

X X d u X X d X

Which sounds like this:


Strum

I go into more depth on ska and reggae strums in my ukulele strums ebook.

Twiddly Bits

Here’s a version of the riff that starts in the second half of the intro and crops up throughout the song.

It’s played without a capo.

Links

Buy it on Amazon
We Don’t Believe What’s on TV (Chords)
Nico and the Niners (Chords and Tab)

UkeTube: Luna Silva, Cliff Edwards

Watch on YouTube

Tracklist
Luna Silva – Billy Boy
Brenda Lee – Till There Was You via @ukeist
MARLOWE – Blessed
Choan Gálvez – Left Hand Reel
Cliff Edwards & Joe Tarto – He’s the Hottest Man in Town thanks to @hermanvdc
Uklectic Fred – Do Nothing till You Hear from Me
Randy Gapasin – Time After Time
Nicolas Le Proux de La Rivière – Lemon Tree
Nix – Redbone

Billie Eilish – you should see me in a crown (Tab)

Billie Eilish – you should see me in a crown (Tab)

I’ve already covered a lot from this album. But Billie Eilish seems to be dominating this year and When We All Fall Asleep is one of my favourite records of the year so far (along with Julia Jacklin, Lizzo and Fontaines DC). So having a stab at this Sherlock inspired song was inevitable.

For my version, I with a capo on the 4th fret. Making it the same key as the original. But there’s nothing stopping you playing it without a capo if you’re not playing along with the recording.

There are a couple of sections in this song that are full of swoops, whoops, beeps and boops that don’t transfer particularly well to uke. Which makes for the perfect opportunity to come up with your own parts.

The first of these comes in the intro. For that I took the notes in the melody and fingerpicked them campanella style to create a shimmering effect.

The second part is the solo. There I let the g and E strings ring out to produce the Em backing while playing octaves on the C and A strings using the E minor scale.

I highly recommend you play around and try to find something you like for your own version.

Links

Buy it on Amazon
More Billie Eilish tabs and chords

The Big Chord Quiz 5

Time for the Uke Hunt Annual Chord Quiz. Test your chord knowledge, theory knowledge and musical ear. The method is as low-tech as ever.

– Grab a pen and paper.
– Answer the questions (using a ukulele to help you is entirely allowed and encouraged).
Check the answers here (no peeking).

If you’re reading by email or feed reader you may need to click through to the post to see everything.

Chord Diagrams

Name the major chord from the chord diagram.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Chord Flavour: Diagrams

All these are F chords but are they F, Fm, F7, Fm7, or Fmaj7?

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Chord Flavour: Listening

All these are A chords but are they A, Am, A7, A6, or Amaj7?

11.


MP3

12.


MP3

13.


MP3

14.


MP3

15.


MP3

Chord Makeup

Each of these triads of notes makes up a minor chord (e.g. the notes of an A minor chord are A, C and E). Which one? (The notes are listed in alphabetical order starting at C to make it harder.)

16. D, F and A

17. C, E and A

18. D, G and Bb

19. C#, F# and A

20. E, G and B.

Chord Progression

Match the MP3 to the chord sequence:

a) F – C – F – C – F
b) F – Eb – C – C7 – F
c) F – C – Bb – C – F
d) F – Eb – Dm – C – F
e) F – C7 – Eb – C7 – F

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

Go here to check your answers

Links

Big Chord Quiz 1
Big Chord Quiz 2
Big Chord Quiz 3
Big Chord Quiz 4
More ukulele quizzes

Fontaines D.C. – Boys in the Better Land (Chords and Tab)

Fontaines D.C. – Boys in the Better Land (Chords)

I’m very glad Fontaines D.C. came along and showed that rock music isn’t dead quite yet. Boys in the Better Land sticks to the old rock formula of “three chords and the truth” and makes it sound exciting and vital again.

There are two versions of the song. The original version is the much slower “Darklands version”. Which really threw me off for the balls-to-the-wall version on their album Dogrel. And it’s the album version I’ve written. In terms of chords, they’re the same. But the arrangement of the Darklands version is slightly different with the solo coming after the first chorus and missing out the repeat of the second verse and the pre-chorus and chorus that follow it.

The song is in the key of E. If you don’t fancy using any of the variations of the E chord, you can always slap a capo on the second fret and play the E – D – A chords as D – C – G respectively.

Suggested Strumming

For everything but the chorus, you can use this for the E chord:

d – d – d u d u

On the D:

d – d –

And on the A:

d u d u

Together it sounds like this:


Strum

The only exception is the repeat of the second verse. There you play three lots of this on the first E:

d u d u d u d u

And in the chorus, play this on the E three times.

d u d u d u d u

Then the same as the verse strum for the D and A.

Twiddly Bits

Here’s a version of the riff the lead guitar part that first blasts in at bar 9 of the intro. It crops up throughout the song. Sometimes in a reduced form where it’s just switching from -45- to -44- every two bars.


Riff

And, finally, a version of the solo that I play using a pick. Those two thick black lines on each stem indicate that it’s tremolo picked in constant sixteenth notes. Or, if you’re anything like me, as close to constant as you can manage. If you prefer, you can just pick each note once without losing too much.

Links

Buy it on Amazon
More rock tabs and chords

UkeTube: Filipino Ukers, dodie

Watch on YouTube

Tracklist
Jegs Benedict – The Point of No Return
BennyBunnyBand – Pam ToGetHer
Eduardo Enaje – Balatkayo
dodie – Guiltless
Iris Wagner – Lean In
Professor Ogma – Thunderer
Yohanna Liang – layang layang

Sinead O’Connor/Prince – Nothing Compares 2 U (Tab)

Prince – Nothing Compares 2 U (Tab)

The last few tabs have been at the trickier end of the scale. So for this one I’ve gone super-simple. The melody for this song is so great it benefits from having very minimal backing.

The whole arrangement is played with just the thumb on the picking hand. And most of the chord shapes used will be very familiar to you. The only time it ventures up the neck is the high variation on, “nothing compares,” right at the end. It’s a bit of stretch. So if you’re struggling you can stick with the way it’s played in previous bars. Or you can replace the 55 at the start of bar 32 with an open C-string.

Links

Buy the Sinead O’Connor version
Buy the Prince version
More Prince tabs and chords

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