It’s Culture Freedom Day on Saturday. It’s a day to celebrate artists who let others freely use, study, distribute and improve on their work. That’s particularly useful for anyone learning an instrument as it means you can pass around tabs and chord sheets, play their songs and put them up on YouTube without fear of being hassled by the man.
So this week is dedicated to ukulelists who participate in free culture. Starting with one of Jonathan Coulton’s non-uke songs.
In the verse: You can use this as the main strumming pattern:
d – d – d u d u
Except for the two quick chords at the end of lines 1, 2, 5 and 6. Just two down strums each for those.
Which – slowed down a little – sounds like this:
In the chorus: For the main strum:
d – d – x – x -
On the F chords you can just do down strums. Or you can follow the what he does by doing:
- One down strum on F
- Take your index finger off so you’re playing an Am shape. And strum that once.
- Do that four times.
So the chorus strum sounds like this:
In the bridge: One down strum for each chord.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Jontom has an ebook-type series of 3 Months of Ukulele Licks
On Video: Day eight in the Big Brother house and the housemeeyates are hoeing down to The D’Ukes (from 21 minutes), For The Win – Sexy Python, SNL ukulele (it’s blocked in the UK so I haven’t seen it).
In the Comments: Eron G. reviewed the Red Aquila strings.
Ukulele protest for West Papua. Which I can certainly get behind. Here’s a piece I wrote about West Papuan activist and ukulelist Benny Wenda
Being a fan of playing theme tunes on the ukulele, I very much enjoy the Uke of Carl blog. Carl’s done some great tabs of movie, TV and game themes. It was the first birthday of his blog yesterday so I asked him to guest blog a few of his arrangements and he was kind enough to agree.
My Most Viewed Video
I posted this late on a Friday night after watching the show. It was a quick one I worked out by ear. When I awoke on the Saturday morning it had notched up well over a thousand views. This was around 950 views more than I was used to at the time!
My Most Requested Tab
This is a lovely melody, I’m not surprised that I get almost daily emails asking me for a copy of the TAB. I’ve just started to play Skyrim, so updates to my site will probably begin to peter out until I get sick of it.
My Video With The Most ‘Dislikes’
Although I don’t dwell on it, the dislike button on Youtube is a strange invention. This has had 5 dislikes so far, compared to 8 likes. Perhaps the public didn’t like the mask I made for the video? I think it’s a vast improvement to the one I normally wear.
The One That Took The Most Time
No matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t get a perfect take on this one. After around a month of nightly attempts, I settled with this performance. People have often remarked that I look bored in my videos. I’m not bored, just angry and frustrated that I take so long when recording.
Visit Uke of Carl.
It’s not hard to work out the musical inspiration for Zooey Deschanel’s Saturday Night Live song. The intro and verse chords are almost identical to her version of What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?.
But after that the swirly, hotel-lobby piano makes it tricky to work out what to do on a ukulele. I had my best shot at doing those parts in the write up. But I’m not entirely happy with it so feel free to make changes.
While she’s playing the uke the strumming is pretty straight forward. You can just do down strums – two for each chord – most of the time. For a fuller pattern try:
d – d u
In the middle section I like to do just down strums but cutting them short by releasing the pressure on them. Then follow with this little bit.
Which sounds like this:
If you want to play the big band outro you can do it like this:
I think I might be breaking the cardinal rule of the internet by featuring an anti-cat song this week. If you’re of a strongly pro-cat bent, skip the Uke’s Not Dead track and watch this instead (or this one which seems to be equally enjoyed by cat lovers and haters).
Also this week a non-ukulele selection: Dennis Lobo from Venezuela playing bandola (and backed up by cuatro). You can find out about those and many other South American plucked instruments on this page – check out the charanguita.
The amount of ukulele stuff on the net is swelling rapidly. I spend most of my day trying to keep up and I still miss loads. So here’s a list of uke goodies you may have missed because they are nowhere near as popular as they should be. If there’s something you think I should be made aware of, please do leave a comment.
Ten Ukulele Sites That Aren’t in the Top 25 But Should Be
Taken from the Top 50 Ukulele Sites
Armelle’s world tour of ukulele is only just outside the top 25. She has a great range of non-English and English language videos alike.
You haven’t noticed how often ‘Via Humble Uker’ turns up on the Saturday UkeTube?
Jim D’Ville travels the world interviewing ukulelists about their approach to music and provides invaluable information about the most widely used chord progressions.
Two French sites with some excellent tabs.
Michael has a real knack for finding great old news stories and pictures.
A relatively new blog from UkuleleTim promising to teach you, “how to play ukulele like a badass.”
Two ukers offering tabs and playing advice on their sites.
10. Ukulele Brasil
A few years back I’d get emails from Brazilians unable to find a ukulele amongst the cavaquinhos. Good to see that’s changing.
10 Posts Fewer Than 500 People Have Seen This Year
How quickly people forget, eh. Rod Thomas was the 2008 Ukulele Video of the Year and Ukulelezo was the 2008 Bushman Contest Winner.
Let me explain the story of the Fall-feit: I posted I’m Yours, against my better judgment, to stop the cavalcade of requests. Less than two hours after it went live, I was being taken, unconscious, to hospital. Realising I had angered the indie gods, I pledged to do a post on the most indie band there ever was whenever I posted something suspiciously popular.
I only posted this because I had a bunch of requests and now no one reads it. Typical!
If you’re ever wondering why I don’t do many interview posts anymore it’s because, no matter how famous the interviewee, no one ever reads them.
Two great songs probably suffering from the fact they a) aren’t very well known and b) don’t have a video on YouTube for me to embed.
Plenty of GUGUG in the more popular posts. But not this one.
His musical talents were enough to attract Ginger Rogers, but not to attract any views.
The Blockheads without Ian Dury really isn’t the Blockheads.
10 YouTubers with Under 300 Subscribers Who Should Have Thousands
Loveable, tuneful folkies. Top band.
Kimya Dawson-style songs with touching and insightful lyrics.
Two top-notch instrumentalists.
Old-school songs made fresh.
So much fun your pants will explode.
Writer of adorable songs.
Two Madeiran masters of the uke-precussor the machete.
5 Books Amazon Keeps Hidden
Search for ukulele books on Amazon (US) and you won’t find these on the first page.
I wrote a full review here .
It’s not even out yet, so I can’t complain. It’s more favourably placed in the UK store. I wrote all about Ukulele for Dummies here.
Still no decent Internet here, so a rather shortened post this week. So go ahead and leave your favourite of the week in the comments to give people something to listen to.
A genre hopping week this week with soul from Celisse Henderson, backwoods punk from the Denver City Saltlicks (and check out their badass diddley bow riffing) and reggae from Tribal Theory along with the usual bits of instrumental wizardry and girls with jazzy voices.
Long time friend of the blog, Shigeto Takahashi‘s album Roots Trip is for download on iTunes and on CDBaby. Must have tracks: Hilo March, Kohara March. Unfortunately, two of the best tracks (Peanut Vendor and Rhapsody in Blue had to be dropped for copyright reasons).
Hull Ukulele Group have made their Halloween/Guy Fawkes songbook available to all
Stephin Merritt hasn’t been playing ukulele much recently but he still some nice things to say about it. But the most interesting parts of the interview was him and Claudia Gonson realising they’ve been playing Papa Was A Rodeo incorrectly for the last decade. (Thanks to Paul)
I’m a bit ambivalent on the subject. I certainly support artists making money from their work. It’s my policy not to put anything up when there are official uke tabs available. (It helps that they were nice about it and didn’t threaten to send in the lawyers). Also, I’d like to see sites with official tabs on the net. There needs to be an iTunes for tabs. But there isn’t really anything like that for guitar so a uke site like that is a long way off.
On the other hand, I do think you can build up a big fanbase through teaching. Aldrine’s certainly won a big audience on the back of teaching on Ukulele Underground.
One issue I’m not ambivalent on: 95 years is a ridiculously lengthy term for copyright and absolutely has a negative impact on culture. The Economist, those famously anti-business hippies, suggest 14 years is more sensible.