Uke Hunt is Seven: My Thoughts

Since I started the site on 12th May 2007 there’ve been 1,858 posts, 20 million visits and over 90 million page views. And I’m still amazed that I get away with writing about ukuleles for a living. It’s such a privilege that I get to do something I love and care about every day. I can’t believe my luck.

This is the self-indulgent ramble post I sometimes allow myself on my blog-birthday – covering my general thoughts, plans for the future and goals. If you want something more useful read the Review of the Year post.

Thanks!

Thank you 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.

Thanks for commenting and emailing: Makes me feel like I’m not screaming into the void.

Thank you for spreading the word: Telling people about the site is absolutely the best way to support it. I put the success of the site pretty much entirely down to people recommending it to other ukers.

Thank you for 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 stuff. There’s no way the site could exist without your financial support.

Thank you for playing: It’s a huge inspiration to watch people playing 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.

Coming Up (Or Not)

Will Happen

Another T-Shirt Run: I’ve had enough people complaining that they missed out on the last t-shirt run to run it again this year. It’ll be the same deal: a limited time to pre-order, they all get printed at once then that’s it.

Blues Ebook Update: After updating these three ebooks the blues one is next on the list.

More iPad Friendly: This one is a pain. It’s going to take a lot of video code updating. And audio plugins are causing a few problems. Hopefully I’ll be able to sort something out.

Might Happen

Project Monkey Butter: Every year I try to do one big, top secret project (like Ukulele for Dummies or the Uke Hunt app). I’ve started work on this year’s project (code name: Project Monkey Butter). I’m very excited about it. Some times these projects work out better than others. So we’ll see how it goes.

Chord Progressions Update: I’m not entirely sure what to do with this ebook. I think really it needs splitting into two. One focussed on the practical aspects of chord playing and one on the theoretical aspects.

Coding Projects: I’ve been learning some JavaScript and jQuery recently (as well as brushing up on my CSS and HTML). It’s entirely possible I’ll never make anything good enough to be actually used. But I’m having a lot of fun messing with stuff and have attempted a couple of ukulele related things so far: a strumming metronome that only works in Chrome and a very early stages ukulele-selector.

Won’t Happen

Three things I get asked about regularly but have no intention of doing: ads, video tutorials and looking cheerful in my videos.

Now I Am Seven

According to the child development websites, seven year olds are supposed to display an increased vocabulary and greater attention span. Which is very good news for me because those are two things I struggle with. And I’m looking to improve them in the next year.

Procrastination

I have struggled with motivation and procrastination the whole time I’ve been doing the blog. Particularly when it comes to big writing projects. It’s a constant source of frustration for me. If I knuckled down I could get the day’s work done in the morning and spend the rest of the day staring at mountains and twirling my mustachios very independently.

The problem has been worse since Ukulele for Dummies. I knew I only had one shot at getting it right and that a lot of people would be relying on it to get them playing. So I felt under pressure and put a great deal of work into it. Afterwards I was burned out and I fell into bad habits.

It’s not just laziness – although that certainly helps – it’s based in anxiety. That I’ll screw something up so mightily I’ll have to leave the internet forever. Of the pain of actually making an effort. That I’ll put in the effort for no return, have to ditch it and I’ll have wasted precious time that could’ve been spent watching OSW Review or playing Mini Metro.

Writing

I’d also like to improve my writing. With any luck spending less time procrastinating will mean more time for editing.

Thanks Again!

Thanks again to everyone for their support over the last seven years. I look forward to the next seven years at which point I expect we’ll all be playing futuleles.

Blondie/Imelda May – Dreaming (Chords)


Imelda May – Dreaming (Chords)

I’ve been enjoying Anything Goes Orchestra’s album Mr Otis Regrets recently which includes a ukulele cover of Imelda May’s Johnny Got a Boom Boom. Then Imelda May came out with this ukulele cover of Blondie. And next week I assume Blondie are releasing their Anything Goes Orchestra ukulele tribute CD soon to complete the circle.

That got me wondering what the longest chain of ukulele covers is. Here’s my best attempt:

- Kristina G did a ukulele cover of Summer Vibe by Walk off the Earth.
- Who did a ukulele cover of From Me to You by Paul McCartney (and John Lennon).
- Who did a ukulele cover of Something by George Harrison.
- Who did a ukulele cover of Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Arlen and Koehler.

If you’ve got a good ukulele cover chain leave it in the comments.

Suggested Strumming

You can use this strum all the way through:

d – d u – u d u

When you have two bars of the same chord a good alternative is:

d – d u – u d u
- u d u – u d u

Twiddly Bits


Dreaming (Riffs Tab)

Al (super cool name for a ukulele player) integrates the riff from the original version into his ukulele version. In the verse this riff takes the place of the C – F move:

DreamingRiffsVerse

And the chorus this is used in the C – F part:

DreamingRiffsChorus

Blondie Version


Blondie – Dreaming (Chords)

The Blondie version is two frets higher. Which makes it a little more tricky to play on uke but still very playable.

Requested by RobNY and AlistairC.

Links

Buy the Imelda May versionbuy the Blondie version

Imelda May, Da Ukulele Boyz: UkeTube

Full Playlist

Don’t miss the James Hill video. It’s on Vimeo so it’s not part of the playlist.

James Hill – New Moon

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Friday Links

In case you missed it, I released new editions of three of my ebooks this week. If you bought one or more of them before and haven’t received a free update let me know the email you bought with and I’ll send you the update. If you haven’t you can get any of my ebooks at half price by using the code freebooting before 14th May.

New Releases

- Craig Robertson is putting together a “Greatest Hats” collection of songs. Which is excellent news because he’s very prolific and I never know which album to recommend to new folks. He’s going to remaster the tracks but he’s also putting the originals up for free on his blog starting with The Hypnotist and She Likes to Pull the Wings Off Flies.
- Folkie colouring book.

Ukes

- Ukutele – two neck ukulele/Telecater guitar.
- Sufjan Stevens, Bieber and their ukulele.
- Purple People Eater.
- Myka Cocobolo.

FretPen – the tiny-guitar iPhone periphery I mentioned a little while ago – has cancelled it’s Kickstarter. The Kickstarter that used some pretty shady misleading quoting.

The debate surrounding making the ukulele Hawaii’s official state instrument has officially become a farce. The choice between ukulele, steel guitar and ipu was too much for them to handle. One of the senators did realise that this was a decision even a child could handle and suggested putting it to a vote amongst primary and secondary schoolchildren. But they rejected that and decided the best thing to do is drop the bill and forget it ever happened. Politics in action.

Wilfried Welti – Klassische Musik mit der Ukulele, Volume 2

Wilfried Welti has just released his second ebook of classical ukulele tabs. You can buy the tabs here and the MP3s here.

If you’ve used Wilfried’s free ebooks Musikalisches Naschwerk für Solo Ukulele and Solo Ukulele für Einsteiger I’m sure you’re already itching to hand over your money. This collection is just as imaginatively and meticulously arranged as those. And I’d say it’s his most accomplished collection yet.

It’s such a broad and well put together collection I’ve been trying to convince him to charge more than €9 for it. So I recommend buying it quick in case I succeed.

Here are the tabs in the ebook (or I should say ebooks since it contains four ebooks with the tunes arranged and presented in different ways).

Renaissance
1 – The Squirrel’s Toy
2 – Villanella
3 – The King of Denmark’s Galliard
4 – Almande le Pied de cheval
5 – Tourdion (Video)
6 – Wilson’s Wilde (Video)
7 – Mr. Dowland’s Midnight (Video)
8 – Se l’aura spira tutta vezzosa (Video)

Folk and Romanticism
9 – Stenka Razin
10 – Dark Eyes (Video)
11 – Kalinka
12 – Plaisir d’amour
13 – Barcarolle
14 – Blind Mary

Fernando Sor
15 – Opus 60, No.1 (Video)
16 – Opus 60, No.2
17 – Opus 60, No.3
18 – Opus 60, No.4

The Magic Flute
19 – How strong is thy magic tone
20 – The birdcatcher am I
21 – That sounds so glorious (Video)
22 – The Queen of the Night

Johann Sebastian Bach
23 – Now all the woods are sleeping
24 – Edifying thoughts of a tobacco smoker
25 – Air Italien

Links

Ebook description page
Buy the tabs here
Buy the MP3s here.

Pulp – Do You Remember the First Time (Riffs Tab)


Pulp – Do You Remember the First Time (Tab)

The original version is tuned a bit sharp (my guess is the sped up the recording a touch). So if you’re trying to play along with the original it’s going to sound a bit off. But it should sound right with this live version. Plus Richard Hawley is playing guitar in this version so it’s automatically marvellous.

Here’s how my uked version sounds:


MP3

Intro/Verse

FirstTime

There are two main riffs. This verse riff is the easiest. All the picking is done with the index finger on the E-string and the thumb on the g-string.

Chorus

FirstTime 2

The chorus riff is much more involved and required a bit of rearrangement to make it fit on the uke. For the picking I use my thumb to pick the string nearest my face in that bar. Then employ my index and middle fingers as they’re needed.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
PulpPeople.com
More Pulp tabs and chords

Pulp – Disco 2000 (Tab/Chords)


Pulp – Disco 2000 (Chords)

I thought I’d keep the Britpop theme going with my favourite of the Britpop bands: Pulp. I couldn’t decided on just one song so there are two posts today. And there’s every chance of more in the future. They were a great band.

Disco 2000 is prime ukulele group fodder. It’s a got a big singalong chorus, simple chords and some fancy bits for the show offs.

For the folks who are keeping it simple in the chord sheet I’ve just referred to the main F and C chords (other than in the intro). You can play that and it’ll fit great. Or you can play the riff which switches in sus4 chords (a very common move in Pulp songs) like this:

Disco2000Strum

Which sounds like this:


Verse/Intro Riff

Suggested Strumming

You can use the same two bar pattern as the riff almost all the way through the song. So just the strumming goes like this:

d u d – x u – u
- u – u d u d -

Use that all through the verses and for the first two lines of the chorus. Then do d – d – d u d u on the Cm and two down strums each on the Fsus4 and F. Together that sounds like this:


Chorus Strum

In the bridge you can just do one down strum for each line. Or you use this two bar pattern:

d – d u – u d u
- u d u – u d -

Twiddly Bits

In the bridge there’s this dead simple line from the guitar:

Disco2000Bridge

And this one in the chorus:

Disco2000Chorus


Chorus Riff

Links

Buy it on iTunes
PulpPeople.com
More Pulp tabs/chords

Ukulele Strums, Slide Ukulele, National Anthems: 2nd Editions

I’ve just launched three new and improved editions of my ebooks:

How to Play Ukulele Strums
How to Play National Anthems
How to Play Slide Ukulele

They’ve been updated with a sleek new look more in line with the site. Plus more info, new arrangements and videos.

If You’ve Already Bought Them

Firstly, I’m insanely grateful. It means so much to me that people are willing to lay down a bit of their hard-earned money for my stuff. I couldn’t run the site without that support and after nearly 7 years of doing this it’s still amazing to me that it’s my job to write about ukuleles.

As a little thanks for that support if you bought the first edition of any of these books you get the second edition free. You should have had an email from me with a link to a new download last week. If you haven’t just send me a message with the ebook you bought and the email you used when you bought it and I’ll fix you up.

50% Off

If you didn’t buy the first edition now is the perfect time. To celebrate getting them out (and partly because I’m embarrassed at how long it’s taken to get them out) here’s a code for 50% off any (or all) of the ebooks.

Just use this code in the shopping cart up to the 14th May: freebooting

How to Play Ukulele Strums

Strums-cover

The biggest problem I see new ukers having is with strumming patterns.

You can pretty easily find chords online for most songs but you’re usually left on your own to sort out a strumming pattern.

With this ebook I’m fixing that two ways:

- Providing a whole bunch of strumming patterns. There are 49 in the book covering different time signatures, genres and occasions. All with video and audio examples.

- Understanding how a strumming pattern fits into a song. I think this is the biggest barrier for new folks. After reading this book you should be able to listen to a song and have a much better idea of what strumming pattern to use and how it fits in with the song.

Learn more about Ukulele Strums

Add to cart

How to Play Slide Ukulele

Slides-cover

This is my most straight-ahead fun ebook. Before starting work on it I felt a bit in a rut with my playing. Like I was playing the same thing every day. So I started playing around with a slide and it got me really excited again.

In the short term it was exciting to have a new toy and new sounds to play around with.

Even more importantly in the long term it made me appreciate how restrictions can open up new ideas and new avenues. With a slide being less flexible than fingers I had to delve into new tunings and harmonics much more deeply than I had before.

And that’s what I hope people will get from reading this ebook. It’s definitely not a book for beginners. But if you’ve been playing a while and are feeling slightly jaded then I’d highly recommend playing around with a slide.

Here’s one of the examples in the book:


MP3

Learn more about Slide Ukulele

Add to Cart

How to Play National Anthems

NationalAnthems-cover

For the update I’ve made the anthems much easier to play. And I’ve added duet versions with easy to play, single-note melody and backing chords.

The ebook has:

- Easy to play solo ukulele arrangements of 7 national anthems.

- Even easier to play duet version with a single note melody and chords for backing.

- Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK, the USA (and a mystery bonus solo tab – which is less of a mystery if you’ve got good flag knowledge).

Listen to the tunes and read more about National Anthems

Add to cart

Damon Albarn – Mr Tembo (Chords)


Damon Albarn – Mr Tembo (Chords)

There’s some sort of amorphous Britpop 20th Anniversary going on at the moment with people celebrating and denigrating it.

Added to that, Damon Albarn has just released a ukulele song about an orphaned elephant. So I didn’t have any choice other than to write it up.

Alert: There are large swathes of this song where I’m not sure what’s happening in the lyrics so don’t trust those.

Suggested Strumming

This strumming pattern is a bit involved. Here it is:

TemboStrum

You can do the exact same strum for the D – F – C bit.

Make sure you stop the strings from ringing on the rests (by releasing the pressure on your fretting hand and muting the strings with your strumming hand).

I’ve included the little descending bit at the end of the C chord. But if you find it too fiddly you can just play a straight C chord there.

Here’s how it sounds slow then up to speed:


MP3

Twiddly Bits

MrTembo

Here’s the ukulele solo played in the live Kimmel version. It’s similar to the keyboard solo on the record. But different enough to screw you up if you try to play along with it.

Links

DamonAlbarnMusic.com
Buy it on iTunes
More Albarn/Blur/Gorillaz tabs/chords

krabbers, Duncan Sisters: UkeTube

Full Playlist

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