– 1920’s Gibson ukulele owned by Bob Dylan.
– There are a heap of Lanikai’s with factory defects on eBay. Most with modest discounts that mean they’re still more expensive than Amazon. But there are some with more damage and a larger discount on them.
– A string of handsome banjoleles from Jake Wildwood’s shop: c.1925 Stromberg-Voisinet/Kay-made 8″ Rim Resonator Banjo Uke, c.1930 Slingerland-made/sold 7″ Banjo Ukulele, c.1920 Harmony-made Olympian “California Style” Banjo Ukulele.
– Eko suitcase ukulele amp
I love Lana Del Rey’s first couple of singles. But after Paradise and the baby seal beatings I’d given up on her. But I absolutely love her new album, Ultraviolence,. With some help from Dan ‘Black Keys’ Auerbach she’s gone full on Bond. So I felt compelled to do a version of the Bondiest track on the album.
And that’s where slash notation comes in. Slash notation looks a lot like standard musical notation. But it’s a lot simpler. It dispenses with all the notes because you only need it pick up the rhythm.
So this post is a combination slash notation primer and advanced strumming patterns post. Including the famous Mumford strum and the greatest strumming pattern in the world ever.
This post follows on from the ideas in the How to Play Ukulele Strums ebook which covers the basics of strumming and understanding how the fit into a song.
Basic Strums in Slash Notation
This example is just a simple ‘d u d u d u d u’ strum. Each strum has a vertical line. And each ‘d u’ pair are connected by a single line above them.
BTW the chords in the mp3s are all A – D – A – D unless it says otherwise.
Here’s how it looks when you play a down strum by itself (i.e. you miss out the accompanying up-strum):
That down strum just has the vertical line and isn’t connected to anything. So this one is a ‘d – d u d u d u’ strum.
When you miss out a down strum you use a tie. Which looks like a bracket that’s fallen over:
Here the up strum is tied to the next strum. Showing that you just let the chord ring. That gives you the good old ‘d – d u – u d u’ strum.
One thing slash notation has that basic strumming notation doesn’t is a way of representing rests. A rest is when you don’t make any sound at all. And if they chord is playing you stop either (by resting one or both of your hands on the strings).
This example – a diagonal line with a ball at the top – uses a rest that lasts the length of either a down- or up-strum. Here each down strum is replaced by a rest. So you play an up-strum. Stop the strings for the length of time you’d usually play a down-strum. Then play another up-strum.
The different length rests look different. You can look at the other rest lengths here.
Also, because the up-strum hasn’t got its down brother, the bar that would go across just goes flaccid.
Chord Changes in Weird Places
Slash notation is also great for indicating chord changes that occur in unusual places. You can indicate exactly where the chord changes by referencing the chord above the strum it changes on.
This example starts with a C chord. Changes to E7 on that second up-strum. Then you get a tie so you don’t play the next down-strum. Then you switch to F on the last up-strum of the bar. And that is tied over too. Finally, you have the same deal with the change to G7.
This example is strummed just like the first example (d u d u d u…) but it’s strummed at twice the speed. So whereas the first example had a ‘d u’ in the space of one click of the metronome, this example has ‘d u d u’ for each metronome click.
Because you’re doubling up the speed you also double up the lines going across the top.
Mumford and Strums
You’ve got the tie (meaning a missed down strum) combined with a batch of fast strums.
The chords here are Dm and F.
Lust for Life Strum
This is my all-time favourite strum. I throw it in every chance I get. It’s in How to Play Ukulele Strums, How to Play Blues Ukulele and Ukulele for Dummies. And now it’s here.
You’ll recognise the fast strumming. And the rests should look sort of familiar too. But these have two balls rather than the more Hitlerian one ball we saw before. That indicates they’re twice as fast. So they take up the space of one of the fast down- or up-strums. In this case, it’s down-strums both times.
One new thing: there’s a dot after one of the notes. That’s telling you to increase the length of the note by half. So originally it’s half a beat long. Add on half again. Now it’s three quarters of a beat long. With that fast up-strum filling up the rest of the beat.
There is one more thing: the little equation at the top left. That’s indicating swing time. But that’s a post for another day.
Here’s how the strum sounds at a slow tempo on a B chord:
And here’s how I used it in the blues ebook for an uptempo jump blues:
If you want to learn more about strumming check out my ebook How to Play Ukulele Strums
This work by Ukulele Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
I can relate to this song’s take on summer. Not so much the drinking, driving and leching. More the writing half a line of a song, running out of brain power and just lapsing into dee-dee-dees. But the main reason I’m tabbing it is Tom Richter‘s excellent ukulele version.
The only downside with the version is that he’s using the very high E- tuning (b-E-G#-C#). But it’s very easy to replecate that tuning by slapping a capo on the fourth fret.
If you don’t have a capo, here are the chords in non-capo form:
Here’s a simple strum you can use all the way through:
d u x u – u d u
Here’s a tab of that fantastic intro.
For the solo the basic chords are the same as the verse. But he’s throwing in all sorts of variations: 6, 7, sus2, sus4. Knock yourself out.
– The documentary Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings is on US Netflix.
– Three questions for James Hill
– Or you can kill two birds with one stone and watch Jake and James play live together (for the first time?): Billie Jean, In My Life (thanks to Rob).
– Documentary about the founder of Bristol Ukulele Club.
– Roy Smeck: The Wizard of the Strings (thanks to Ron Hale).
– New double album from Craig Robertson: Bad Choices/There Must Be A Circus In Town.
– The Entry’s Ukulele Outing.
– Songs For Swinging Ukuleles by Tricity Vogue.
– Dinosaurs Ate My Caravan by Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers.
I just love Zeppelin so this song has been on my to-do pile for a long time. It had stayed there because I was a bit intimidated by how much there is going on. But once I got stuck into it the tune transferred to the ukulele surprisingly smoothly. I didn’t even have to change the key and I think I crammed the most important parts in.
My version is shortened but most of the important sections are in there once.
My favourite technique in the tune is the long, drawn out up strums. I’m doing a slow up strum with my index finger there. Definitely worth incorporating into your playing arsenal.
I found sliding down the 3323 chord really tricky. You can simplify out without losing anything much by muting the g-string and just sliding down the G7 chord shape i.e. from x323 to x212.
It seems I just can’t stop myself tabbing. Despite being on a blog break the last few weeks, I put up a few time-sensitive tabs and chords in other places. Here’s a catch-up on them:
O’Neill – Nun Song (From Orange is the New Black)(Chords)
Of course my favourite part was O’Neill’s anti-nun banjolele song. So I had to put up the chords. And, delightfully, I got a shout out from the man himself.
Bottom Theme: The Mar-Keys – Last Night (Tab)
For anyone annoyed by my toilet humour and swearing in blog posts, you can lay the blame squarely at the feet of Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson. I was obsessed with Bottom and The Dangerous Brothers in my younger days. I’ve even snuck in the occasional reference on the blog.
So after the death of Rik Mayall I had to do my own little tribute.
Eux Autres – World Cup Fever (Chords)
It might be four years until this song is relevant again but it’s a top notch song all the year round.
Brett Domino – Sexy When You Do That (Bassoon Riff)
After all those emails begging me to transpose a riff from bassoon to ukulele I’ve finally caved in.
Scatter the nuns!
I spent most of my aestivation watching the second series of Orange is the New Black. And I was inspired by O’Neill’s delightful banjoleling to write up the chords for my favourite song of the series.
No, not Hey There De-bloody-lilah. But this gospel-inspired Tom Waits song. It has a strong call and response feel to it. Made explicit in Sarah Jarosz’s version. It would be an effective way of playing it in a uke group with the lead singing the the calls and the groups the, “Come on up to the house,” responses.
Since you’re busting out a capo, you can put it on the third fret and make things a bit easier for yourself by using these chords:
A dead simple main strum of:
d – d u
Intro/Solo: Once for each chord.
Verse: Once for each chord except: twice for each chord on the first ‘come on up…’ and twice on the last chord of each verse.
Chorus/Outro: Six times on the D, twice on the Bm. Then it’s just the same as the last half of the verses.