– People have been busy trying strings this week. GotAUkulele tries using fishing line for strings (and The Ukulele Blog considers it). While Uke Nut has a more conventional string comparison.
– KoAloha Naupaka. Mango and koa wood, live together in perfect harmony, side by side on my uku-lele soundboard, oh Lord, why can’t we?
– The Ukulele 2015 Spotify playlist is filling up nicely. Recent additions include the UOGB, Twenty One Pilots, Melanie Doane and Herb Ohta Jr.
– Joe Linthecome’s only two known tracks have been reissued. They’re the only pre-war blues ukulele recordings I’m aware of.
– Pre-order the new one from The Jive Aces.
– Treehouse EP from Furuberget.
A guest tab from Sam Muir today. It’s her simple but effective arrangement of a tune from The Guitarist’s Way by Peter Nuttall and John Whitworth.
The tune works well as a solo piece but it’s a perfect piece for ukulele groups as it has parts for all abilities: simple chords for beginners, a picking part (below) for those starting on fingerpicking and the melody (above) for the show-offs.
The picking part is just the chords played arpeggio (i.e. one note at a time). Played against the melody part it sounds far more intricate than the simplicity of the two parts suggests.
And here is a baritone version of both parts for the bariukers in the group. It’s in the same key as the standard tuning tab so they can be played together.
Ukulele players love to blow chnks all over the place. It’s a useful technique to have in your arsenal. But it takes some practice to get down.
So here are a few alternatives you can use while you’re practicing them. And a few alternative strumming ideas for everyone else.
The strum I’m recreating here is down, up, chnk, up, down, up, chnk, up. In shorthand:
d u x u d u x u
Which sounds like this using a chnk:
For more info on chnks and strumming patterns have a look at my ebook How to Play Ukulele Strums.
How do you do it? Slap the palm of your strumming hand down on the strings around the noise-hole area.
Advantages: Easy to do. Very percussive sound.
Disadvantages: There’s no strumming sound to it.
How do you do it? A muted strum doesn’t require you to do anything different with your strumming hand at all. All you do is stop the strings from ringing by laying fingers on your fretting hand across the strings to stop them ringing. One finger will usually do the job but two fingers is safer.
In this example I’m playing a C chord. So I release the A-string then lay my index and middle fingers across the strings.
Advantages: You can do muted strums on down and up strums (not possible with chnks), they don’t break up the rhythm of your strumming hand, and they’re easy to do.
Disadvantages: They’re a bit wimpy compared to chnks.
Four Finger Muted Strum
How do you do it? Do a muted strum but strum with all four fingers. Try to line them up so they all hit the strings at about the same time.
Advantages: Louder and more in-your-face than a muted strum.
Disadvantages: Doesn’t have the same slap as a chnk.
How do you do it? Just like the four finger muted strum but you follow through and hit the body of the uke with your nails.
Advantages: They sound as close to a chnk as it’s possible to get without chnking. You can vary the sound you get my changing the amount of force you hit the uke with.
Disadvantages: Is a bit more tricky. It might damage your uke. Or your fingers.
It’s been a sad few weeks with three music legends dying: BB King, Ben E King and Percy Sledge.
In tribute to Percy Sledge I had to write up one of the greatest cheating songs: When A Man Loves a Woman. Bang a capo on the first fret and it works perfectly on ukulele.
Two ponderous downstrums per chord will get you through the verses.
In the verse it’s four downstrums per chord. But at the end of the first and second lines there’s a little walk down on the A-string. There do three long downstrums on the C. Then one quick downstrum each on C – Cmaj7 – C7. If you prefer you can just play 3 – 2 – 1 on the A-string.
From the second verse on there’s a great guitar part. Here’s my adaptation of it for ukulele:
Again, this is played with a capo at the first fret.
– The Mother Ukers are raising money for Margaret Green Animal Rescue.
Following on from ABBA, my other favourite Eurovision song is Luxembourg’s 1965 winner: France Gall’s Poupée de cire, Poupée de son (written by Serge Gainsbourg).
The only tricky part in this arrangement is the intro. Here I’m picking the A-string with my middle finger and everything else with my thumb.
From there on it’s all pretty simple. Everything is plucked with the thumb apart from a few bits of strumming (indicated by the arrows on the tab).
I can’t believe I’m still getting away with this!
I started the site on 12th May 2007 without particularly high expectations. I certainly didn’t expect to still be here eight years later with the site close to 100 million page views. That’s a mind-blowing amount to me. I count myself incredibly lucky and privileged to still be able to do work I love.
This is the self-indulgent ramble post I sometimes allow myself on my blog-birthday – covering my general thoughts on the site and the ukulele world in general. If you want something more useful read the Review of the Year post.
I’m really blessed to be part of a world that is as encouraging and enthusiastic as the ukulele community. The success of the site is entirely down to all of you for your support over the years. I’m pathetically grateful to everyone for:
Reading: It’s such a thrill for me that people find the site useful. I know playing the ukulele helps me relax and – when I really practice a piece – accomplished. And I hope this site helps you feel the same way.
Feedback: commenting, emailing, tweeting and reviewing: I judge the success of a post almost entirely by how much of reaction it gets in comments, emails and on Twitter. That feedback is so important to me.
Ukulele for Dummies has about 500 reviews on Amazon (mostly on the UK store and US store). The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. They’re the most important thing for a book to be successful on Amazon so I’m exceptionally thankful to everyone who took the time to leave one.
Spreading the word: Telling people about the site is absolutely the best way to support it. I put the growth of the site entirely down to people recommending it to other ukers.
Buying: It’s my nightmare that one day I might have to get a proper job. So I can’t thank enough those people who spend hard earned money on my ebooks. I’m not one of those people energetic and productive enough to do a day job and run a side project. There’s no way the site could exist without your financial support.
Getting involved: There are so many clubs and groups and festivals I can hardly keep up. Add to that the number of people writing blogs, tabbing and doing YouTube tutorials. It’s staggering and it all makes playing the ukulele a better experience.
Playing: It’s a huge inspiration to watch people playing on YouTube and listening to the records. Just watching random YouTube videos gets my brain firing. If you do something cool I’m very likely to steal it.
Why I Do It
I’m very slow on the uptake. So it hasn’t been until the last year or two I’ve actually figured out why I care about this site.
Most people assume I’m a ukulele advocate and think everyone should play it. I can see where they might get that impression but it’s not the case. I’m not one of those, “If everyone played the ukulele there’d be no wars,” types. Ukuleles are great but the success of the ukulele isn’t something that gets me out of bed in the morning (metaphorically, I’m writing this in bed – I’m not an idiot).
What really gets me excited is helping people to feel accomplished and proud of themselves. Like this. (If you’re similarly excited to play Toxic the tab is here.) Or playing to entertain their friends. It’s such a buzz to be able to do that for people.
I do think the ukulele is a particularly good way of doing that. It’s a much more to people who just want to make music for their own enjoyment.
The Only Real Problem I’ve Ever Had
Most of the problems I have with the blog (the website going down for reasons that are way beyond my understanding, arseholes being arseholes, some stuff I work being a flop, YouTube messing around with stuff) are fixable or at least bearable. The only big problem comes when governments screw things up. There’s no getting around those.
In January EU laws on VAT on digital products changed (VAT = sales tax). Before I was under the UK system which has a threshold comfortably above anything I’ve earned. From the beginning of the year everyone selling digital products in EU has to account for sales in every country they sell even one copy in. There’s no longer minimum level. You’re lumped with the administrative burden of it no matter how small you are.
It’s set me back a great deal this year. I spent January without the ebooks on sale while I search around for a solution before Gumroad came up with their solution (then the time and cost switching to that system). And I’ve moved a big project I was working on to the back burner because I still haven’t got a good solution to it.
EU VAT Action has been doing some great work towards convincing politicians to make the laws more workable. So there’s some hope.
Thanks again to everyone for their support over the last seven years. I look forward to the next eight years when I expect I’ll have renamed the blog Futulele Hunt.
Uke Hunt is eight years old. Apparently eight year olds should be able to form, “complex sentences with few grammatical errors”. I wouldn’t hold your breath for that. Here’s a selection of the stuff I managed to cobble together from half-formed sentences full of grammatical errors in the last year:
In tabs: Swamp Whistler from Rayman Legends and the classical Canzone Danza.
In chords: The ukulele classic I’ll See You in My Dreams and The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
– Top five old school chord intros.
– Jonathan Lewis launched his excellent ebook of campanella arrangements of Irish tunes and wrote his introduction to campanella for Uke Hunt.