Intricate Strumming & Slash Notation

For simple strumming patterns the usual ‘du-‘ strumming notation works just fine. But for more intricate rhythms you need a more comprehensive system.

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.

SlashNotation1

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):

SlashNotation2

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:

SlashNotation3

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.

Rests

SlashNotation4

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

SlashNotation7

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.

Faster Strums

SlashNotation5

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

MumfordStrum

Here’s a strumming pattern that uses some of these ideas. You might recognise it from Mumford and Sons songs like I Will Wait and Little Lion Man.

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

LustForLifeStrum

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:


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And here’s how I used it in the blues ebook for an uptempo jump blues:

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Links

If you want to learn more about strumming check out my ebook How to Play Ukulele Strums

Creative Commons License
This work by Ukulele Hunt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Mungo Jerry – In the Summertime (Chords)


Mungo Jerry – In the Summertime (Chords)

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:


In the Summertime (No Capo Chords)

Suggested Strumming

Here’s a simple strum you can use all the way through:

d u x u – u d u

Twiddly Bits


In the Summertime (Intro Tab)

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.

Links

Buy the original on iTunes
Subscribe to tomrichtermusic on YouTube

Purple Ferdinand, Br’er Rabbit: UkeTube

Full Playlist

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Links

Learning

– James Hill has a new membership site: The Ukulele Way.
The Glory of Love by Ukulelezaza. I haven’t worked through this yet but if you liked his last book you’ll like this one too.

Videos

– 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).

Pictures

Ukulele fishing.
Tommy’s singed ukulele.

New Releases

– 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.

Another reason not to let kids play ukuleles.

Led Zeppelin – The Rain Song (Tab)


Led Zeppelin – Rain Song (Tab)

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.

Trickiest Bit

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.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More Led Zep tabs

Bonus Tabs and Chords

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)


O’Neill- Nun Song (Chords)

As I mentioned yesterday I loved the second series of Orange is the New Black (even if it was the straw that broke that camel’s back and made me sick of John “sick fuck” Green being everywhere.)

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.

Joel Marsh Garland on Twitter
Orange is the New Black on Netflix

Bottom Theme: The Mar-Keys – Last Night (Tab)


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.

The Mar-Keys version on iTunes
Watch Bottom on Netflix UK

Eux Autres – World Cup Fever (Chords)

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.

Eux Autres – World Cup Fever (Solo Tab)

Buy it on Bandcamp

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.

BrettDomino

Buy it on Bandcamp

Tom Waits – Come On Up to the House (Chords)


Tom Waits – Come On Up to the House (Chords)

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:


Come On Up to the House (Chords in C)

Suggested Strumming

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.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard Chords

Summer Holiday

It’s that time of year again where I burrow dead into the ground an aestivate to avoid sunlight. I’ll be back in a month or so. If you can’t wait that long I’ll still be posting on UkeToob and Tumblr.

If you’re looking for a summer project here are some lessons for you:

Beginner Lessons
Improver Lessons
Intermediate Lessons
Advanced Lessons

Del Rey, Penguin Cafe: UkeTube

Full Playlist

Just let me sneak this in here: Agathe (who you may remember as half of Agathe and Fine) is kickstarting an EP with her band Inglenook (pro-tip: click on the ‘Fr’ in the top right to Englishify it).

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Links

Ukes

Anatomy Custom Painted Ukulele
Mysterious Banjo-Uke Mister (c.1930)

Kickstarting

Bosko & Honey’s New Album

New Releases

Ninebarrow – While the Blackthorn Burns.
– Do you remember that session Emily Scott did for the Uke Hunt podcast? She has a new album out Stray Light. It doesn’t have any uke on but despite that obvious deficiency it’s incredible.

Video

– Trailer for the documentary Under the Boardwalk: A Ukulele Love Story.

Pictures

The Tale of Alan and His Rather Short Arms.
Chocolate Ukulele Ice Cream Treat.
– How many times have you wished you had a ukulele-playing wookiee on your crotch? Wish no longer.

The best thing about using creative commons licenses is seeing other people build on work I’ve done. The new web/iOS goal tracking app JUTSU has used my So You Just Got Your First Ukulele mini ebook (PDF link) to create this list of actions to start playing ukulele.

From the Comments

Things Ken learnt from 50 years of playing ukulele.

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