Continuing Theme Tune Week with a selection of my favourite themes to listen to and play.
Disagree? Think there’s a theme I’ve egregiously not tabbed yet? Let me know in the comments.
Top 5 Game Themes
Top 5 Movie Themes
Top 5 Songs from Movies
1. Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me)
2. Moon River (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
3. Rise (Into the Wild)
4. Scream and Run Away (Lemony Snicket)
5. Falling Slowly (Once)
Runner-up: Hanging Tree (Hunger Games)
Top 5 Sitcom Themes
Top 5 TV Drama Themes
Top 5 Songs from TV Shows
Top 5 TV Animation Themes
Top 5 New Media Themes/Songs
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:
d – x u – u d –
Here it is played slow then fast:
You can use chnks or muted strums for the x. Or use one of the chnk alternatives. You can also emphasise the second down-strum:
d – D u – u d u
We are the Crystal Gems
I was going to refer to this as the longer version of the theme tune but since this version showed up at Comic Con it’s now the medium sized version.
This version is a different – more uke friendly key – than the theme version. To play along with the version used as the theme tune put a capo on the second fret.
Start with one strum per chord. Then use the Steven strum once per chord in the verse and twice per chord in the chorus.
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).
Do It For Her (Demo)
Rebecca Sugar posted a lovely fingerpicked ukulele version of this tune on her Tumblr. And it’s that version I’ve written up.
The thumb picks the C-string (and at one point the g-string) with index finger on the E-string and middle on the A.
The rhythm is much more tricksy than it sounds. I’d recommend just picking it up from listening to the track.
Here’s how the picking of the intro and verse looks:
What Can I Do For You?
A steamy soul-rock song is a nice change of pace from most SU songs. It put me in mind of The Detroit Cobras.
You can recreate(ish) the guitar picking like this. Pick with your thumb, then middle finger. Then flick up across the strings with the middle finger.
This is how the picking looks slow then up to speed:
If you don’t want to pick, this is a good opportunity to break out your favourite triplet strum since it’s slow.
TTT d – TTT d –
Or you could just use down-strums:
ddd d – ddd d –
Let Me Drive My Van into Your Heart
Nice and easy up until the Ab in the middle section. If you want to avoid that you can play the middle section the way she does in the demo version: Bb F C Bb Cmaj7.
On the Run
You can use a modified Steven strum replacing the chnk with a down-strum:
d – d u – u d –
Once per chord in the verses and twice per chord in the middle. In the outro twice on Am and once on everything else.
Steven and the Crystal Gems
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.
Cookie Cat Rap
Lots of fun to play.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have won their court battle against the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra. Absolutely the right decision. They shamelessly ape every aspect of the UOGB.
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.
– New album from Ben Rouse Love of Rin.
– In other UOGB news, the mash up of The Ukes and, early music ensemble, Theatre of the Ayre Lutes & Ukes have a new YouTube channel featuring some nutso instruments. (Thanks to Ron Hale.)
– Interesting to compare Seth Godin’s template for organic and viral growth to the success of ukulele groups.
– Lap steel ukulele (complete with Sons of Hawaii t-shirt).
– 2014 Kiwaya KTS-95 Flamed Koa Soprano Uke.
– Eddie Vedder ukulele gig posters.
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.
Lead Ukulele: Standard Tuning
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.
Second Ukulele: Low-G
This uke plays a harmony part to the main melody and a few runs. Again using the pick. It’s trickiest of the parts.
Rhythm Ukulele: Standard Tuning
This part is very simple for the first half of the track. It’s just two notes strummed – – d u – – d – (the same pattern as the rhythm guitar in Dick Dale’s version).
When it switches to full chords I use this strum:
x – d u – u d x
Then when it opens up I use this strum:
d – d u – u d u
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.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain are celebrating their 30th anniversary at the moment. And I’m celebrating it as well with a series of posts. Starting with the first song of theirs I heard: Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.
The track first appeared on A Fist Full of Ukuleles but I worked from the version on Live in London #1. Because that song ends “Biiiiiiiii-llllly Shears” and nothing Kate Bush says can change that.
Just down-strums will get you through the song.
Verses: Four down-strums per chord.
Bridges: Two downs for the first two chords on each line. Then four for C# chords except the last one: two lots of four there.
Chorus: It’s a little tricky to keep track of the changes in the chorus.
Ukuleles on Netflix
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.