Author Archives: ukulelesecrets

Welcome Christmas, Dr Seuss’ Whoville Christmas Song for ukulele.

I just got back from Whoville and Cindy Lou taught me the town’s Christmas song, Welcome Christmas, so I thought I would share it with you.

It is simple and  99% campanella style so try to let notes ring as long as you can as you move to the next notes.

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Here is the video. Apologies for the sound quality. I really need to get my studio up and running again!

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And here is the TAB to Welcome Christmas

Whoville Christmas Song

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Top 50 Ukulele Sites


James Hill’s Assam/Like a Bird Revisited

Dusting this one off to see if I could still play it. I tabbed Like a Bird a while back and recently received James HIll’s permission to share it. This is a slightly different arrangement than the original version AND IT IS IN C TUNING. James recorded it in D tuning or ADF#B.

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Here is my recent video.

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And here is the TAB to Like a Bird

Like a Bird

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Top 50 Ukulele Sites


Ukulele Secret #12 The Campanella Arpeggio Workout

Here is one of my favorite ukulele secrets. Taken from my harp ukulele original, King’s Rain, these artful and impressive arpeggios span the neck and will improve your agility and accuracy for both your left and right hands.

The ingredients for a UKULELE BADASS!

When I composed King’s Rain I heard these arpeggios in my head before I even worked them out on the ukulele. I wanted to write a song for the harp ukulele that sounded like a traditional harp being played. What I didn’t anticipate was how much fun they would be to play. I spent hours shedding on them, easily hundreds of repetitions. I liked the way they sounded and I really liked the way they felt under my fingers.

I still use them as a workout… or just to show off.

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Performance Notes: Once again, three finger right hand technique. Thumb plays 4th string and index and ring fingers play the rest. See the instructional video for more explanation.

Left hand fingering should follow campanella judgement. Let the note on a string ring as long as possible before moving to the next note on the same string. This takes a bit of practice to do smoothly so go slow at first. This is important and when you get it faster it will sound like a harp.

Repetition. I don’t think you will get bored with these. Shoot for infinity.

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USE THESE IDEAS TO CREATE YOUR OWN.

Please. As with any of my secrets, they are meant to inspire you to learn and expand.

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The worksheet has 6 arpeggios written out in TAB with a chord diagram above each one.

Here’s the first example. Download all six examples below.

Campanella Arpeggio Ex 1

Download the full Campanella Arpeggio Workout.

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Here is the demonstration video with helpful hints.

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To refresh your memory of these being used in a song, here is the King’s Rain video. The arpeggio section begins at 1:18.

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And one last thing… PRACTICE!!!

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Ukulele Secret #11 Campanella Triad Patterns

Hi Folks!

In the last year I have stumbled across more campanella secrets I want to share with you. It all has to do with patterns, or SHAPES, using triads.

A triad consists of three notes. You can play chords as triads by using three notes out of that chord. For example: the root, 3rd and 5th notes in the C scale make up a C major chord and in this case, a triad. However, what I want to share with you will be playing the notes of different triads separately, campanella style. Yea! And for sake of keeping it simple, I won’t go into the names or notes of these triads. Let’s just play.

First of all, you might recognize some of these shapes from songs I have previously transcribed and possibly from other secrets I have posted.

These patterns can be moved around and even thought of as a slide rule, whereas you can move the entire sequences to different keys.

Performance Notes: I play these using “three finger” style. I use my thumb exclusively on the 4th, or top, string and I use my index on the 2nd string and ring finger on the 1st. I do not use my pinky, as in the “one finger per string” method. I use this three finger technique in at least 80% of my fingerstyle playing. (Refer to the Folksy Fingerstyle Secret for more on this) It is a common practice for banjo and guitar and, for me, flows nicely and affords ease and speed. That being said, do it however you feel comfortable, but I hope you try it this way. If you stick with it you will see why.

You will also notice I use a triplet feel. This is the easiest way to demonstrate this. Later you can fit this into any rhythmic feel you desire.

This TAB shows some forms in the key of C, first ascending and then descending. As stated before they can be shifted to fit into different keys.

Here is a short video demonstration.

I encourage you to explore and arrange familiar songs using these shapes and patterns. It’s easier than you might think. Just go for it!

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Top 50 Ukulele Sites


Campanella Swing – Video, Tab, Tutorial

Greetings!

Here is a campanella (or 99% campanella) version I came up with for Chatanooga Choo Choo. Thanks to Ken Middleton and Al Woods for taking the time to look over the TAB and offer a few suggestions. Sometimes it helps to have some fresh eyes look at something when yours get tired.

I have included a 10 minute tutorial video if you have trouble getting the TAB and performance under your fingers.

NOTES:
In the performance video you will see/hear me use improvised chord fills between the campanella melody lines. I didn’t include this on the TAB as I play it differently every time. Mainly they are C6′s with D7 to G7 vamps. I encourage you to explore different inversions and have fun with it. I cover this a little in the tutorial video.

As with most of my campanella arrangements, look for places to use triad forms or places to have more than one finger on the neck at one time. This helps let the notes ring. It also sounds good letting the open strings ring.

Probably the biggest challenge will start at measure 36. I am playing the entire line with one chord form. To get to it quickly I grab the first two notes with the pinky and ring fingers FIRST. Then I let the other two fingers catch up. I suggest practicing the chord,

7
10
12
8

ahead of time so you will know what it looks like when you get to it. But remember to start learning the shape by putting the pinky down first and then the ring finger. This will make it easier on you.

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Here is the TAB
Chatanooga Choo Choo

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And here is the performance video..

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And here is the tutorial video. Get to work!

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Top 50 Ukulele Sites


King’s Rain.. a Harp Ukulele tribute

I have been further exploring harp ukulele and becoming more intrigued all the time. It is in a class by itself, I think. At least it is in the way I am approaching it. I really try to make it sound like the harp that it is. It’s about the same size as what I picture an ancient Greek harp to be so I feel like Pythagorus, many hundreds of years ago breaking new ground and making sounds never heard before.

Taking inspiration from John King, Asian sounds, this instrument itself, and the beyond.. I offer King’s Rain. I dedicate this to John as I thought of him continuously while writing it.

In my mind I picture a king in his chamber as it begins to rain outside. I will let your mind picture what it wants. Of course there is also a little play on words with the title.

And you know.. if there is a Heaven and there are angels playing harps.. John King is playing a harp ukulele.

Rest John, but keep playing.

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Top 50 Ukulele Sites


2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Exploring the Harp Ukulele, video demo

Well, as soon as I heard I could pre-order one, I did. Several months ago. I had all but forgotten about it when Mike from Uke Republic emailed to say my aNueNue Harp ukulele, designed by Pete Howlett, was about to ship.

I thought to myself, do I really want one anymore? It’s so expensive and I don’t feel as excited about it as I did when I ordered it.

But what the heck? It came and it is a lovely instrument. Well-built. Smells good. The tenor uke itself is a fine instrument and fun to play. (My first tenor) Also, a sweet biproduct of the harp uke is it’s resonance. When I play songs on it that don’t use the diapason strings (the upper four, non-fretted strings) they behave as sympathetic strings, vibrating and creating a rich natural reverb sound.

Onward…

Out of the box (and nice hard case) it is strung with a low G and the recommended tuning for the diapason is, from the top down, C D E F, with the low G of the regular 4 uke strings being next. Well, that didn’t work for me. I knew the first thing I would do is put a high G on it so that’s what I did. Better. Now I can play my campanella riffs and prettied up chords. Otherwise it is just a 7 string guitar to me and I have plenty of guitars laying around.

I wanted this thing to sound like a harp (hmm). I didn’t want to just play chords with bass notes because I do that on the guitar all the time. Note: If you don’t have or play a guitar, try it first with the factory stringing and tuning. It will definitely be an expansion from the norm. If you want to incorporate some Ukelele Secrets on it then read on.

So.. the top strings still weren’t doing it for me. My goal was, and is, to utilize reentrant tuning with campanella style somehow integrated into the bass notes.

I fished around and came up with (top down) C E A G. The same notes as the ukulele, only rearranged. When strummed they sound reentrant as well. And when the whole thing is strummed.. it sounds like a harp.

Now to just play it. The ideas that came popping out weren’t what I expected. This instrument has a way of revealing itself to you. I forced myself on it but it said let me show YOU some things. I listened.. and then I had to learn how to repeat what it revealed. This thing is not that easy to play (just watch me rubbernecking throughout the video, so much to keep an eye on). But it is cooperative. It responds to high repetition gifting you with greater accuracy and ideas. Snuck a Secret in there, didn’t I.

So, here is my first seedling of a composition. I know the future holds more and I look forward to sharing with you my journey into Harp Ukulele.

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I shared this video in a forthcoming post but will add it here to have them together.

My second harp ukulele composition.. King’s Rain

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Top 50 Ukulele Sites


Ukulele Christmas Medley Video with TABs

Well, the season sort of snuck up on me and I wanted to work up some new holiday tunes for Christmas. There are so many other things in the queue now but I decided to try to get this out sooner, in case you want to practice up before Christmas.

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The tunes are:

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
We Three Kings
Away in a Manger
Silent Night

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The Ukulele Secrets I use in these arrangements are:

Ukulele Secret #3: Campanela riffs
Ukulele Secret #7: Pretty Up Your CFG… plus bonus chords

What I did here was make them as hard to play as possible. Ha! That’s just another way of saying I tried to put in as much campanella that I could.

The exception is We Three Kings. There is a wee bit of campanella but if you pay attention to the chord forms you will see it’s 90% ‘Pretty Up Your CFG’. It’s a great example of that secret. Coupled with the baroque feel, it makes for a fun song to play.

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So, I am only offering the TABs to It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and We Three Kings for now.

Here’s why…

My arrangement of Away in a Manger is in the key of C, like every one else’s I’ve seen. I really made it hard to play. So hard that I couldn’t really get the full campanella effect in the video. There are just too many easier ways to play it and make it sound just as beautiful. It is super easy so fish around and you’ll find it.

And…

This Silent Night arrangement started from my friend Jim’s interest in the song a few years ago. Then I saw Al’s version the other day at Ukulele Hunt. I wanted to give it the ole campanella try so I went after it. It’s really not much different than the others except some campanella and harmonics.

It is a beautiful melody and I encourage you to play it with a friend and do harmonies. Jim and I have been having fun with it and we might post a video before long.

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TAB: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
TAB: We Three Kings

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And the viddie..

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

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Top 50 Ukulele Sites


Secret Update and James Hill cover video

Hey Folks,

Well, I am finally moved back into my space, with the studio partially together.

1. Apartment repairs complete
2. Garage semi normal
3. Doctor visits complete and feeling much better
4. Business trip to Seattle over
5. Earned my CUA – Certified Usability Analyst
6. Lots of craigslist.com stuff out the door (with still more to go)
7. Received my signed copy of James Hill’s new CD A Man With A Love Song

And started a new chapter in life.. in a few different ways.

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My day job is absolutely crazy right now and will be for several months to come but I am resolved to share more secrets… so here’s what’s coming up.

1. the Train rhythm (my secret weapon)
2. a duet version of Tico Tico that will make your socks go up and down
3. Elvis has left the building.. the quintessential Elvis rhythm
4. a TAB of my Danny Boy arrangement
4. and “Claw-panela” a unique (to me) way to combine claw hammer technique with campanela runs

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WTH is claw-panela?

Well, I coined the term yesterday after having loosely worked up James Hill’s claw hammer medley from his new CD, of which I was a “Mover and Shaker”. The track is called Assam/Like a Bird and is a tribute to John Kavanagh and John King, respectively. An incredibly beautiful tribute. When I first heard it I was entranced. I still am.

BTW the CD is great. Lots of excellent James Hill compositions and playing and musicianship from guest artists. I highly recommend it.

Back to claw-panela. The song is played in the claw hammer style utilizing campenala style to play beautiful melody lines. I have been exploring ideas with the technique and will share what I have come up with in the future.

Meanwhile here is my toob of James HIll’s Assam/Like a Bird (minus his superb foot-stomping)

See you soon..

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Top 50 Ukulele Sites


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