Vangelis – Chariots of Fire (Tab)

Vangelis – Chariots of Fire (Tab)

A quick bonus tab. In tribute to Roger Bannister I knocked together a simple version of the Chariots of Fire theme tune. There were a bunch of requests for a tab so here it is.

Links

Buy it on iTunes
More movie theme tabs and chords

UkeTube: Ukulele Death Squad, Dustbowl Revival, Daniel Ho

Full Playlist

Tracklist
Ukulele Death Squad – Not Afraid
Dustbowl Revival – Call My Name
Jerome Koko & Daniel Ho – Hi’ilawe
Joao Frazao – Blue Bossa
Tyrone and Lesley – Moth Song
Black Gardenia – No Moon at All
The Ladybugs – Tennessee Waltz
Phredd – Son You’ve Got Problems
Kyle Frazer – I’m Still Standing
Jonathan Lewis – Daffodilly Rag
Wilfried Welti – Mille ducas en vostre bource

Friday Links: Stretching Exercises, Grateful Dead and Background Radiation

The documentary Street Punk! Banda Aceh is now free on YouTube. It follows Indonesian punk band Marjinal who are living under Sharia Law while protesting the system, sheltering young homeless kids and teaching them ukulele.

Banjo wizard Clifton Hicks shares some hand stretching exercises he uses to prevent injury. And be sure to give his music a listen too because he’s an excellent musician.

A new series of Festival of the Spoken Nerd has just started on Radio 4. You can listen to Helen Arney’s ukulele song about background radiation (at about 6:40 if you can’t wait).

Marlowe runs her uke through an effects processor.

Vance “Riptide” Joy has new album out with some ukulele songs.

Window Shopping
– Alvarez have a series of pretty cool looking Grateful Dead ukuleles.
Daniel Round painted pirate ukulele.
1920s Kumalae.
Ludwig Wendell banjolele.

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Lumineers – Ho Hey (Tab)

The Lumineers – Ho Hey (Tab)

I’m about five years late to this one. And three years late to anyone caring about it. But I still love this tune. And it works very well on ukulele. All beginner chords and you don’t even have to move past the third fret.

The melody uses exclusively notes from the F major pentatonic scale: F – G – A – C – D. Here’s how the scale looks:

And shifting it to the first three frets where this tune is played you get:

Links

Buy it on iTunes
Ho Hey chords
More folk tabs and chords

Capo 3 Mac App Review

Learning songs by ear and tabbing them out is hard work. You’d think after all these years I’d have got good at it. But it’s still a real grind. So I need all the help I can get. One tool I reach for is Capo 3 from SuperMegaUltraGroovy.

I’ve used Capo since version 2 and have been using Capo 3 for four years now. So I’ve finally gathered my thoughts on it and am ready to review it.

This review is for the macOS version of the app. There is also an iOS version. If you want to try out the Mac version, you can find a free trial here.

What It Does

Capo helps you to transcribe tabs and chords of a song from an audio file.

When you open a file (WAV, AIFF, MP3, MP4 or M4A) Capo 3 will present you with something like this (I’m using James Hill’s legendary Uke Talk for these examples):

At the top you’ve got the track itself. Then in the middle you have the spectrogram. This shows the pitches of all the notes Capo picks up in the track. Below that are the chords Capo thinks are played at that point in the song. And at the bottom is where the tabs appear.

You generate the tabs by drawing over the notes on the spectrogram (you can see that in the image below). Each note you select on the spectrogram gets transferred onto the tab below.

Capo also allows you to manipulate the sound of the song. In the left-hand column there are sliders that adjust the tempo of the song (between 0.25 and 1.5 speed) and the pitch (plus and minus an octave).

Capo will also isolate sounds in the recording. You can select by where the sound is panned in the speakers or by the frequency of the sound.

The Good Stuff

Sound Manipulation: I most often use Capo to slow down a piece of music. You can slow it down as far as quarter speed. And it does that very well. Producing a sound that’s cleaner than anything else I’ve tried at low speed.

I also regularly use it to change the pitch of a song to a more uke-friendly key. I’ve found that within 7 or 8 semitones you get a very clear sound. More than that and you can get some audio artefacts particularly when pitching down. Helpfully, it adjusts chords and tabs along with the changes to the pitch of the audio.

The sound isolation can also come in handy. If you’re lucky enough that the instrument you’re focussing on is panned either left or right I’ve found that isolation can work well. Isolating by frequency I find more fiddly and harder to get a helpful result.

The Spectrogram with One Instrument: You can often get very good results from the spectrogram when there’s just one instrument on the track. Here I’ve marked up the spectrogram for Uke Talk:

The tab there was automatically generated from the marked up spectrogram and it’s pretty much spot on. I didn’t even have to adjust the string each note was on (something that Capo isn’t always great at doing).

Ukulele Options: The app has a good range of ukulele options in the instrument tab. It has all the tunings you’re likely to need: standard, low-G, D-tuning, D-tuning with low-A, baritone and baritone with high-D.

Well Designed: The app is easy and intuitive to use. And it looks great. It has a huge range of options and makes them easily found without cluttering the app.

They also do a good job keeping the app updated and fixing bugs. It even supports the ridiculous MacBook Touch Bar.

The Not So Good Stuff

Price: Capo 3’s $50 price tag will put most people off. It is more expensive than apps with similar functionality like Anytune at $30 and Transcribe (Windows, Mac and Linux) at $40.

And if you’re just looking to slow music down there are free apps like VLC that’ll do the job (albeit not as well).

Chord Detection: Capo 3 is supposed to automatically work out the chords for a song for you. It doesn’t.

Even in the simple James Hill example it doesn’t work correctly. The chords at the start are A5 – E7 – A7 – D5 but it transcribes them as Am – Bm – A7 – D. But at least it’s in the same ballpark. With anything more complicated it’s only useful in giving you the vaguest idea of what’s happening.

Sometimes it gives up entirely. I’ve been working out the solo to Waxie’s Dargle recently and put it into Capo 3. The auto-generated chords just showed a G7 at the beginning and a G at the end. Nothing in between. You can click a button to force it to add chords at each point. I did that and…

Capo will also attempt to detect the beats in the track and add bars. This is more accurate than the chord detection but still hit-and-miss. If you look at the James Hill track above the bar lines don’t correspond to any of the notes in the slightest. Perhaps not a fair test since he varies the tempo throughout the track.

It does fare much better with songs with simple rhythms and played to a click track. Here’s a more successful attempt with Ho Hey:

Spectrogram with Full Band: The spectrogram is not as helpful when a track has many instruments playing. Here’s what you’re likely to see when you load in a track with a full band:

You can still pick out some parts but it’s much more difficult. But when it looks like this it’s easier to use your ears than it is to use the spectrogram.

Lack of Export Options: The only export options you have is to export the audio (the same track you imported but slowed down and pitch adjusted by Capo) or to export the tab and chords as a midi file (as far as I can tell the midi file is just a piano track keeping none of the actual tab). You can’t export the tabs or chords in any useable format.

Overall

The glorious future when you can plug an MP3 into an app and it’ll spit out perfect tabs and chords is a long way off. Capo 3’s sales pitch over-promises and under-delivers. Particularly for transcribing chords.

Having said that, I wouldn’t be without the app. It helps a great deal in working out songs and the app is a pleasure to use. The $50 price of entry will put off casual users. But if you’re doing a lot of song working out I highly recommend trying it.

Six Songs from The Simpsons (Tab)

It’s been more than a decade since I tabbed The Simpsons theme tune and it’s long overdue for a follow-up. To make up for it here’s a collection of short tunes all from the golden age of The Simpsons.

Baby on Board

Baby on Board (Tab)

With the song being four part harmony it makes sense to use all the strings for this one. So I’m mostly strumming the tune here. Just a few notes here and there picked out.

I also throw in a few triplet strums inspired by the banjoleling. For the triplets I’m doing: down with index, down with thumb, up with middle.

Skinner and the Superintendent Theme

Skinner and the Superintendent (Tab)

Mostly fingerpicking in this one with just one bit of strumming in bar 5. After the intro everything else is one finger per string picking.

Dr Zaius/Chimpan-A to Chimpanzee

Dr Zaius Medley (Tab)

Two songs bashed together here. The opening, Dr Zaius, song is mostly strumming and the second, Chimpan-A to Chimpanzee, is all fingerpicking apart from the triplet strums at the end. I’m using a different triplet strum here. I’m doing: down with middle, up with index, up with middle.

Mr Plow

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Everyone Loves Ned Flanders

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Gracie Films Theme

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UkeTube: Lucy Wise, Ron Artis

Full Playlist

Tracklist

Lucy Wise – Solid Ground
Ron Artis – Don’t Give Up
The Ouse Valley Singles Club – Funky Skiffle
EatMyUke – Hippo Campus Bashful Creatures Medley
Jim Boggia – Born in the USA
The Hedge Inspectors – Leave Me Alone
Jósean Log – La Vida La Vida
J. Walter Hawkes – Old Devil Moon
Robin N – Ma Belle Evangeline
Wild Child – Expectations

Friday Links: eBay Shenanigans

Something very suspicious is going on with the eBay seller jp-cultures. They have a large range of very impressive ukuleles for sale. But some of their listings seem to be identical to listings by other sellers. They only have 17 feedback (despite having nearly 6000 instruments for sale) but their positive feedback seems to be all for cheap instruments while their two items of negative feedback are for expensive instruments never delivered. So avoid buying anything from them and just look at the pretty pictures.

Window Shopping
– Two double-neck Geoff Preston ukuleles.
Kanile’a talk shop with CNBC.
– Jake Wildwood has a bunch of banjo-ukes in his shop including 1920s Stromberg-Voisinet, 1930s Schoenhut, 1940s Orpheus and 1960s Marma Resonator from East Germany.

New Releases
– Danielle Ate the Sandwich wrote, recorded and produced a record in 24 hours.
The Tides from Krista Muir.
Amelia Coburn’s covers EP.
Victoria Vox’s Colorful Heart.

Feel Good Stories
UCLA Chapter making 3D printed ukuleles for disadvantaged children.
Playing the ukulele in the light: how darkness ended for one Puerto Rican woman.

Adele/Bob Dylan – Make You Feel My Love (Tab)

Make You Feel My Love (Tab)

Rounding off Valentine’s week with one of the few lovey-dovey songs I actually like. Make You Feel My Love first cropped up on Bob Dylan’s Out of Time (a record that was seen as Dylan’s “I’m nearly dead” album when it came out twenty years ago). But it became much more widely known when Adele covered it on 19. My arrangement leans towards the Adele version. But there’s not a lot to choose between the two anyway.

I’ve kept the arrangement very simple. I’m mostly using thumb and two finger picking. The only exception is when I strum all the strings with my thumb in bars 7, 24 and 26. But it is arranged in such a way that you could play the whole thing with your thumb.

The one part that might be a challenge is the jump down the neck between bars 10 and 11. If you’re having a hard time with that you could try playing that section like this:

Links

Buy the Bob Dylan version
Buy the Adele version
More love song tabs and chords

Anti-Valentine Tabs and Chords

Happy St Skeletor’s Day to all the cynics and the heartbroken. Here’s a selection of songs of loneliness, loss and despair to keep you company through the long, empty nights.

If you’re not one of those people you can enjoy the (much shorter) list of Valentine’s tabs and chords.

Anti-Valentine Chords

Ryan Adams – To Be Without You
Bacharach and David – Anyone Who Had A Heart
The Beatles – Girl
Bon Iver – Skinny Love
Joe Brown – I’ll See You in My Dreams
Zooey Deschanel – You Forgot About Valentine’s Day
Lana Del Rey – Terrance Loves You
George Formby – Why Don’t Women Like Me?
Garfunkel and Oates – The Fade Away
Ryan Gosling – You Always Hurt the Ones You Love
Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know
Cee Lo Green – F**k You
Haim – Want You Back
Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind
Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love
Lyle Lovett – God Will
Brendan Maclean – Stupid
The Misfits – Dig Up Her Bones
Julia Nunes/The Foundations – Build Me Up, Buttercup
OK Go – Needing/Getting
Paramore – Interlude: Moving On
Kelli Rae Powell – Some Bridges are Good to Burn
Prince/Alicia Keys – How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
She and Him – Gonna Get Along Without You Now
She & Him – I Could’ve Been Your Girl
She & Him – Turn to White
Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra – It’s A Heartache
Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

Anti-Valentine Tabs

Burt Bacharach – Walk On By
Patsy Cline/Willie Nelson – Crazy
Lana Del Rey – Shades of Cool
Lana Del Rey – Video Games
Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
Irving King – If I Had You
Biz Markie – Just A Friend

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