This part plays the riff for most of the song. For the intro and middle sections I make use of campanella style. Letting close harmony notes ring into each other makes them extra spooky. If that’s not your bag you can play the intro like this:
My original plan was to combine this part and the melody part. In the end I split them off so I could have the vocal part more prominent than this one. But the two parts are never playing at the same time so you can easily combine the two into one part if you wish.
The part starts of by plucking the strings with a pick between the nut and the pegs. It’s always high-pitched and out of tune up there so you’ll always get a spooky effect from it.
The intro spooky noises do include one additional uke. I scrapped a pick along a wound low-G string to get a bit of a creaking effect.
No notes at all in this part. I’m just muting all the strings with my fretting hand. I’m using two main patterns. The first one in the video I strum down right in front of the bridge to create a thud. Then up again in that area. Then and other down-up where the fretboard hits the body.
The next pattern is the same sort of idea. Start with the same down-up near the bridge. Then three down-ups at the fretboard.
The bridge strums do give you a good sound but they’re a bit tough on the fingers and not essential. You can also emphasise beats just be strumming more forcefully.
I’ve written up a fair few Halloween songs over the years and have spotted a few common traits that make for a spooky song. Here are some tricks you can use to write your own terrifying tune or spook up an existing one.
The quickest way to create a creepy, unnerving chord is to play notes together that are a semitone (i.e. one fret) apart. Since the strings of a ukulele are tuned so close together it’s perfect for doing this.
Similarly playing chromatic notes (notes that are a fret apart) in sequence also sounds spooky.
The classic example of this is the theme to The Twilight Zone. Here’s an example that uses a similar idea:
Low + Slow = Suspense
High + Loud = Terror
You can create suspense by playing slow, quiet and low (or as low as you can on a uke) and build the tension by getting faster and louder. The most iconic use of this is the Jaws theme (which, again, uses chromatic notes)
Almost all common chords contain a perfect fifth note (e.g. a C chord contains the root note C and a perfect fifth G). Moving the fifth note up one fret you get a sharpened fifth (in a C chord you’d move the G up to G#). Because it’s so unusual an unexpected it has a very unnerving feel.
Similar to the sharpened fifth but this time you’re moving the fifth note down one fret (in a C chord you’d move the G down to F#).
This is known as the devil’s interval. It was considered so evil it was banned in churches.
The most famous use of the devil’s interval is during the octaves the very start of Purple Haze. Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter goes one step further and uses a flattened fifth and a sharpened fifth together (bar 21 of that tab). Perhaps those nutty evangelicals were right about Harry Potter being satanic after all.
This example is in C minor. It shifts octaves up the fretboard and includes flattened and sharpened fifth notes:
I had a go at using some of these techniques to come up with my own spooky ukulele tune and this is the result:
Holy Cribbins! Now that’s a comeback song. I managed to see through the floods of tears long enough to write up some chords.
As well as being incredible, it’s sparse (in the first half at least) which makes it ideal for ukuleling. Strap on a capo at the first fret and the chords are dead easy. The only chord that isn’t entirely beginner friendly is Bm. If you haven’t got your barre chords down here’s an alternative chord you can use in this case.
Because the song is so sparse you can do just one down strum per chord most of the way through (or even all the way through if you like). If you want something more full for the chorus try this:
Note that you’re changing chords slightly before the second half of the bar. Here’s how it sounds: