Prince/Alicia Keys – How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore (Chords)


How Come U Don’t Call Me (Chords)

Prince had some really juicy chord moves. This song (originally a Prince B-side before Alicia Keys made it a big hit) has two of my favourite chord moves of all time.

The first is C – Ab6 – Abaug – F. I always think of the interval between C and Ab as the Goldfinger move. But making in an Ab6 replaces the bombast with a melancholy edge.

Secondly is the ascending notes against a Dm7 chord at the end of the chorus and bridge. The downside is that it’s pretty tricky. A simpler option is just to play Dm7 for the first four chords in the run then replace the last chord with 0010.

Warning: Capo at the first fret if you want to play along with either version.

Suggested Strumming

You can be pretty minimal with the strumming. In the verses and intro you can just use one down-strum per chord for everything but Fadd9 where you do three up-strums. Alternatively you can strum the same rhythm used in the tab below.

In the chorus and bridge I like to do double-time down-strums up to the D chord run at the end where I do one strum per chord then a down-up on the last chord. Like this:

Twiddly Bits

A video posted by @ukulelehunt on

Here’s a little picking version of the piano riff.

HowComeUDontPicking

Links

Buy the Prince version
Buy the Alicia Keys version

Anna Kendrick, Victor and Penny: UkeTube

Full Playlist

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Links

Videos
Ukulele puppet and pets.
Trailer for the upcoming Garfunkel and Oates special Trying to Be Special.
Lego men help restring a ukulele.
Jimmy Fallon free-throws a ukulele filled with Fruity Pebbles

Ukuleles
Port orford cedar, maple, mahogany and ebony tenor ukulele by Mya-Moe.
MP tenor Peruvian maple & Adirondack spruce
I’iwi Premier-Series soprano.
Martin custom “blister koa” soprano.
Bolivian Rambert Ferrufino Alba Ronroco.

Photos
Deng Nan-Guang, Some Day, 1935-1941.

New Releases
Craig Robertson – Big Town.

Neko Atsume Theme (Tab)

A primer for the uninitiated: Neko Atsume it a mobile game where you lure increasingly fancy cartoon cats to your yard. Until recently it was only in Japanese and inscrutable to non-Japanese speakers.

In short, it has all the ingredients to make it an inevitable massive hit. Including the most important: a smooth, lounge-jazz soundtrack (the favourite music of all cats). And Neko Atsume delivers with chilled major 7 and 9 chords just crying out for a ukulele cover.

Melody Part


Neko Atsume (Melody Tab)

I play this part on a standard C-tuned uke with a capo on the second fret (so it’s the same as D-tuning).

There are a few big jumps up and down the fretboard. It took me a good amount of practice to get them smooth. Also, when you’re leaping up the fretboard remember that the capo means that you actually play two frets higher than indicated (not a problem if you’re using D-tuning, of course).

If you just want to play the melody part, here’s a backing track for you:


Backing Track

Backing Part


Neko Atsume (Backing Tab)

If, on the other hand, you want to play the backing part (or you have a friend who does) you’re going to need a baritone ukulele and a mellow, cat-like outlook on life. I highly recommend stealing a few of these chord moves next time you’re looking for a laid-back jazz sound.

Links

Get the app
Buy the tune on Amazon Japan (I couldn’t find it anywhere else)
Game Themes“>More game theme tabs

Ukulele Capos: What to Get

One of the pleasant aspects of the ukulele is the nice symmetry between the four strings and your four fingers. But there are very few times in life an extra finger wouldn’t come in handy and for the non-polydactyl amongst us a capo does a pretty good job. And they’re so easy only a moron could get it wrong.

Capos are most useful for changing the key of a song. For example, if the song is in F but you want to play it in G you can put a capo on the second fret and play the chords exactly the same. It can also make a song easier to play. If you’re trying to play a song in Bb you can put a capo on the first fret so now the A shape gives you a Bb.

If you don’t have a capo I’d recommend picking one up. They often come in handy. And it’s not often you get the opportunity to buy a new finger (although there was that time I bought a human toe – long story).

Types of Capo

IMG_1339

Capos come in all sorts of weird and wonderful (and batshit crazy) forms. But the three most common forms (from left to right) are:

– Clamp/trigger capo.
– Screw capo.
– Band capo.

Recommended: Clamp/Trigger Capo

Capo4

This is the type of capo I’d recommend getting for ukuleles. Its big advantage is the variety of sizes of uke it fits. It works on all the ukuleles I own from my baritone to my tiny Kala Pocket Uke sopranino.

Advantages:
– The fastest to put on.
– Secure and no buzzing.
– Fits all sizes of ukulele.

Disadvatages:
– Tend to be the heaviest of the capos so can off-balance your ukulele.
– If you’re as clumsy as I am you might find it flying out of your hand with a frankly terrifying amount of force. Here’s some footage of the last time it slipped out of my hand.
– Can be a little too firm. If you’re not careful, it can bend the strings out of tune.
Tip: You can mostly avoid the bending problem if you rest the capo against the back of the neck before clamping it down on the strings.

UPDATE: Since writing this post my clamp capo broke. I still recommend this style but go with a less junky brand than I did.

Buy One

Most of the trigger capos I’ve seen look like the were made in the same Chinese factory and had a logo put on them. So I wouldn’t worry too much about the brand.

Buy on Amazon US
Buy on Amazon UK

Screw Capo

Capo5

This is my favourite type of capo. But I don’t recommend them above trigger capos as they are limited in which ukuleles they fit. Mine works great on my Ohana tenor (which has a thick neck), not so great on smaller ukuleles. If you do get one of these make sure it’ll fit all the ukes you want to use it on.

Advatages:
– Very durable.
– Easy to put on and take off.
– Firmly holds the strings down.
– Very easy to fine tune to suit your uke.

Disadvatages:
– Won’t fit all ukuleles.
– Usually more expensive.

Buy One

The big name in these capos is Shubb. Mine’s a Shubb screw capo and I can recommend it on the proviso that you’re sure it’ll fit your uke.

Buy on Amazon US
Buy on Amazon UK

Band Capo

Capo6

This is one step up from a pen-and-elastic-band capo. The concept is the same: it’s a piece of plastic held on by an elasticated strap.

The capo in the gif is actually for guitar rather than ukulele. I never bothered getting a ukulele one because they’re pretty crappy.

Advatages:
– Very light.
– Cheapest option.
– Fits most sizes of ukulele.

Disadvatages:
– Complete pain in the arse to put on and take off.
– Least secure. I find I knock it out of place when playing now and then and it does create more buzzes than the other styles.
– The elastic does mean it can fit a bunch of ukuleles but not all of them well.

Buy One

If you really must.

Buy on Amazon US
Buy on Amazon UK

The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil (Chords)


The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil (Chords)

This is my all time favourite Rolling Stones song. And it’s proved of interest to a few ukulele groups too. Most notably it’s the tune that kicks of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s medley track Melange and Sinfonico Honolulu did a great version.

The song is very straight forward. It consists of just four chords (E, D, A and B). You can just stick with those chords all the way through if you like. But the piano does throw in a few Esus4 chords and I’ve included those as well.

Chord dictionaries can include a few janky versions of Esus4. Here’s the version I like to go with:

Esus4

An alternative is to use this version of chords throughout the song. If you’re in a group, it’s a good idea to vary the chord inversions to create a fuller sound. Here’s a set of inversions that you can use:

SympathyAlt

Suggested Strumming

To start of with you can do just one down strum per chord. When it gets going you can use this as the main strum:

d – d – d u d u

The tricky bit comes in the switch between E and Esus4 chord. In those bits play the main strum once then one down strum on E. Then switch to Esus4 for:

d u – u d-

Together they sound like this:


Strum

Twiddley Bits


Sympathy for the Devil (Solo)

The solo is a decidedly rough around the edges affair but I love it for that. If you want to take a similar approach to it just arm yourself with your E minor pentatonic scale and have at it.

I fancied doing it close to the original and just moved a few bits around to make it ukeable.

Here’s my go at it (with another uke playing the chords underneath):


Solo

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More 60s tabs and chords

La Familia de Ukeleles, Cactus Tractor: UkeTube

Full Playlist

Read the rest of this entry »

Ukulele Batman: Friday Links

Ukulele Batman vs Bagpipe Superman (here’s the tab if you want to play along). And, inevitably, it looks like a Batman ukulele is on the way.

New Releases
– Another excellent record from, UK folkies Ninebarrow, Releasing the Leaves.
House of Skin & Bones by Dana Hubanks
Sky Heart by Leaf Eichten Lovetree
The King has Two Horse’s Ears by Inni-K

Sufjan Stevens – Death with Dignity (Tab)

Death with Dignity is a beautiful song by Sufjan Stevens about the death of his mother (a subject that clearly resonates with Kanye West). The song is heavy with grief backed with sparse, shimmering ukulele. And idiots will still tell you it’s impossible to be sad when playing a ukulele.

Main Uke

Death with Dignity (Main Uke Tab)

I think he’s using open C-tuning for this which is gCEG (i.e. tune your A-string down so it’s the same pitch as the g-string). Then capo at the fourth fret.

The picking uses one finger per string in an AMIP pattern (going down the strings).

Baritone Uke

Death with Dignity (Baritone Uke Tab)

This part is really quiet on the record so I’m making it up about half the time. Take that as a free pass to mess around with this part and play it how you feel it. I’m guessing it’s played on a classical guitar but it works perfectly well on baritone.

Solo Ukulele

Death with Dignity (Solo Uke Tab)

Here’s a ukulele version of the piano solo from the song. It’s played in standard tuning without a capo.

DeathWithDignitySolo

Links

Buy it on iTunes
Sufjan Stevens – Lumberjack Christmas/Christmases Past Chords

Making Ukulele Tabs with Guitar Pro

I’ve been using Guitar Pro for almost 10 years. I think all my tabs on Uke Hunt have been made with it. I highly recommend it if you’re getting into making uke tabs.

Out of the box, it is set up for guitar so I thought I’d pass on what I’ve learnt about using Guitar Pro 6 for making ukulele tabs along with a few general tips (note: this is not at all a substitute for reading the actual manual).

Starting a Ukulele Tab

Start by going to File > New Score > Empty. (You can just cancel out of the Score Information screen for now.)

Now set up a ukulele tab by going to Track > Add… and it’ll bring up this window:

NewTrackWindow

You can find the ukulele under the slightly kinky sounding “Exotic Guitars”. In the bottom left corner there are options to show slash notation (more on that later), standard notation (which I leave off most of my tabs) and tab.

Changing the Tuning

By default, the tab created is in high-g gCEA tuning. You can change that by clicking on the guitar in the far left column which brings up this picture of a bass guitar head:

TuningBox

If you click the drop down menu where it says “C Tuning” you get options to change to D-tuning or low-G tuning. Select which you want then click either of the Apply ticks (it makes no difference which if you haven’t started your tab yet).

There aren’t options for low-A or baritone tuning but they’re easy to create. Make low-A by selecting D-tuning. Then go to the bottom left tuner of the bass guitar and click the down arrow until the box reads A3. You can save the tuning for future use by clicking the arrow that has just appeared next to the drop down box:

AddNewTuning

Setting up baritone tuning is the same process with a lot more clicking. Start with low-G tuning then click the down arrow on each of the little tuner boxes five times to give you D3, G3, B3 and E4. Then you click the down arrow, give the tuning a name and you’ll be to use it at any point in the future.

Making Ukulele Chords

There are a couple of ways to add chord charts to the tab. By default it’ll put the chord name above the stave and show all the chords used underneath the song title, artist etc.

The first way is to find the location of the chord change on the tab then click this little Am guitar chord:

AmButtonArrow

That brings up a box that lets you select or create your chord. It’s pre-populated with the notes in the tab at the position you’ve selected.

The other method uses the sidebar that pops up when you click the big C7 in the far left. You’ll see a box with a dotted outline and a plus sign. Click that and it’ll bring up the same chord maker used in the first method. Make your chords there and you can add them to the tab at any point you select.

Whichever way you create the chords they’ll end up in that sidebar. It’s a much easier way of adding the same chord at many places in the tab.

I’d recommend adding some common ukulele chords there in the sidebar. They are saved as part of the template that we’re setting up so they’ll be there for any new tab you create. Mine has all the major, minor and 7 chords (arranged in circle of fifths order so chords that are played together are close together).

By default Guitar Pro uses slash chords for the chord names. This is less than ideal for ukulele chords so I recommend going to preferences (Guitar Pro > Preferences on Mac or File > Preferences on Windows) and unchecking “Add the bass note to the chord’s name…”.

If you want your chord diagrams above the tab itself rather than all at the beginning you can change that by going to Files > Stylesheet then tick “Diagrams in the score”.

Changing the Sizes and Other Styles

I find the default sizing of ukulele tabs to be a little small. You can bump it up by going to File > Stylesheet. The option for “Global score proportions” is 6 by default. I like to set it to 8.

There are a whole heap of options in the Stylesheet. I recommend having a look through to see what’s there. There might be a few things you want to change straight away. And there’ll be others you’ll find you want to change as you make tabs.

Saving a Ukulele Template

Now you’ve done all the hard work setting the tab up you can save it to use any time you want it.

Just go to File > Save template as… then give it a name and save it in the templates folder.

Now when you go to File > New Score you’ll see your new setup there.

If this is going to be the setup you use most often then you can make it the default. Go to the preferences screen and change the “Default template” to the one you’ve just made.

Once you’ve done that you can start a new ukulele tab with your preferred settings by clicking this little button at the top left:

NewTabArrow

My Template

If you don’t want to go through that palaver here’s the template I use:

Guitar Pro Ukulele Template

To add it, unzip the file. Then open Guitar Pro and select File > Open and find it on your computer. Make any changes you like, save it as a template and set it as the default.

Changing Bar Layout

Guitar Pro does try to automatically layout the bars in your tab in a sensible way. But I always do some tweaking to get it right.

You can bring up the bar arranger by clicking on this tiny button with the blue triangle at the bottom of the window:

BarArrangerArrow

That gives you the options to increase or decrease the number of bars on a line and lets you adjust the width of each bar.

Better still, you can change how many bars on every line of the tab. Go to Bar > System Layout… and select the “Fixed bar count per system” radio button. I like to go with either two or three bars per line depending on the piece. If you select “Same size for all bars” then they’ll be nicely lined up through the whole tab.

Transposing to Ukulele

A big advantage of Guitar Pro is the amount of tabs for it that can be found on the web. Ultimate Guitar is a great source (you even find my pre Uke Hunt guitar tabs on there).

It’s easy to transfer tabs from guitar (or bass or whatever) to ukulele. You just copy it from the original tab and paste it into a ukulele tab.

The big problem you’ll come across is that most guitar parts will have notes that are too low to played on the ukulele. These are just turned into rests by Guitar Pro. You need to transpose the tab up into the ukulele’s range.

You can transpose any piece of tab by selecting the part you want to transpose then going to Tools > Transpose. That brings up a box with a few options. Choose how many semitones up you want to transpose it (one semitone = one fret) then OK it. You can also transpose the whole track (by selecting “All bars”) or all the instruments in the tab (“All tracks”).

There are a couple of ways you can approach transposing to ukulele. If you don’t care about what key it is in, find the lowest note in the tab and work out how much you have to transpose it upwards until it reaches the C of a ukulele (or whatever the lowest note you’ve got in the tuning you’re using).

If you want to keep it in the same key you need to transpose the track up by an octave (+12). It’s possible you’ll still have notes that are too low. In that case, transpose up another octave.

Thanks to it’s reentrant tuning, the ukulele is a tricky instrument to transpose to. There are so many ways to play the same series of notes on a ukulele. Because of that when you transpose into ukulele tuning you’re going to have to do some rearranging of notes to get it playable in a sensible way.

Slash Notation Weirdness

Guitar Pro’s slash notation (used to show strums) doesn’t play well with ukulele tab. The chord names overlap with the stems of the notes. Like this:

SlashNotation

But slash notation looks exactly the same for guitar as it does ukulele. So make your slash notation on a guitar tab (the notes don’t matter at all) and that fixes the problem.

SlashNotationFixed

Preferences

It’s been a long time so I’m not sure of the defaults for Guitar Pro. But I’d highly recommend making sure of these settings:

Back up every [] actions: I have it set to every five actions. It’s saved my arse a few times.
Add the bass notes to the chord name…: Turn it off for ukulele chords. They’re useful for guitar slash chords but on the ukulele they’re just unnecessarily confusing.
Play sound when editing: I find it helps me to pick up on any mistakes I make.

Tips for Exporting

I find the best way to export tabs is to go with PDFs. They’re very shareable, downloadable, don’t require any special software and can be viewed on pretty much any device. And Guitar Pro handles them very well.

It doesn’t handle images so well though. It does export lower quality png files with a grey background. That’s pretty much ideal for use on my blog (it makes them quick to download and the grey matches the background of the site). But it’s definitely not ideal for all occasions.

If you want high-quality, white-background images the best way I know of is to export a PDF. Then export the PDF as an image (I do this in Preview on the Mac: Go to File > Export… and in the Format dropdown box choose your preferred image type).

You can also export your tab as a Guitar Pro file. This is great if you’re collaborating with someone or are looking to give other people the chance to build on your tab.

Unfortunately, the file format used by GP6, .gpx, is tightly locked down. I haven’t seen any other tab software that’s able to import it. However, many can open .gp5 files. So this is the best way to share Guitar Pro files.

You can create them by going to File > Export > GP5…

Links

Guitar Pro

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