Or more commonly known as the theme to the Lone Ranger series.
Here I am using a flamenco style triplet strum or rasgueado in the form of a gallop. I will post a short tutorial on that strum soon.
The instrument is my new Gold Tone open back banjo ukulele. I have a t-shirt stuffed in the back to control the overtones. You can also expect a clawhammer demonstration with it soon. This instrument was MADE for clawhammer.
There is nothing new under the sun. This is a common fingerstyle pattern for ukulele, as well as three finger banjo or guitar (but that’s another blog or two). It is also known as Travis picking. I am just offering a different angle at showing you how to play it.
In the video I am not counting out the time or beats proper. I use words as a shortcut to playing music in a cool, badass way.
Pay particular attention as to which right hand fingers are to pluck which string. RIGHT HAND fingering explained..
T = Thumb, I = Index Finger, M = Middle Finger, A = Ring Finger
So.. what are the beats we’re playing?
Follow along with the video. I use a lot of repetition. YOU will use a LOT of repetition. Dozens or even hundreds of reps are not uncommon in learning a new technique or pattern or section or song. Don’t be intimidated by those numbers, though. When you practice this way results come within minutes. The more uninterrupted the reps, the faster the results, and the more badass you become. I promise.
Practice this as slowly as it takes and speed it up only when you are comfortable.
If you have questions just comment to this post. I will do my best to help you along.
If you know me, you know John King is my biggest ukulele influence. It pains me to say he passed a few years ago, just after I began my ukulele journey. I am sorry he is gone but so glad he was here. Much of my ukulele playing philosophy comes from John.
I have poured over his book “John King’s The Classical Ukulele” and learned so much. I have read his entire website Nalu Music. And I have worked up several of his arrangements.
This particular arrangement is a Hawaiian song I saw him perform on youtube. I am not familair with Hawaiian music (shame on the ukulele player) so I had never heard (of) this song. John’s description: “A poignant love song written by Julia Kapiolani for her dying husband David Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii.”
Intrigued, I investigated the song, read about it, listened to many youtube instrumental and vocal versions and found I really love the melody as much as the story.
I never found a TAB of it so I took it upon myself to learn it from his video. This is the result..
I have been playing it for a few years now but only recently youtube’d it..
Some performance notes: There are some tricky right hand rolls beginning with measure 9. Use your thumb on the top string, index on the next string down (3rd) and middle finger on the second string from the bottom. The string roll order is 3432 (these are strings, not frets). Let me know if you need any help.
Practice it. Over and over. Practice just that roll. It is worth it.
And overall, watch his performance, my performance, and listen to vocal versions for inspiration. I wrote the TAB in straight time but I encourage you to play it with feeling and lots of breaths between sections.
Then play it for your sweetie
UPDATE: A fellow from the Ukulele Underground forum asked me for a little help.
I have to admit. Al started it. He had the nerve to transcribe and demonstrate the “Larry O’Gaff” section of my favorite John King/James Hill performance; Larry O’Gaff and Swallowtail medley.
I wasted no time “woodshedding” over Woodshed’s (Al’s youtube moniker) transcription. I even tried to work out James Hill’s accompaniment. With this version I thought James was using a split stroke, but you will see in the final performance (James’ part by Jim) I realized it was a triplet-type strum, later verified by James himself.
Here is that result, with the split stroke accompaniment.
Now, let’s add Swallowtail.
Like Al must have done, I poured over the performance video with the ears of a blind man, listening to and absorbing every note. To accurately see what John was doing I had to download the video, import into iMovie, strip the audio and realign it to the video. Youtube just doesn’t play things perfectly in sync.
Experience from being in my first cover band, age 16, the one where the band leader vehemently wanted everything to sound like “the radio” really helped me in putting what I hear and see onto to the fretboard.
So.. I worked up John King’s Swallowtail.
Fate brings me Jim. A gifted learner (now badass) that lets me beat him into submission and joins me on my task. We worked up the entire Larry O’Gaff and Swallowtail medley and practiced it every day for months (we work at the same place so it was logistically feasible). One day we finally took a video in his big yellow kitchen, before too many beers (that’s another secret).. and here is that result. BTW, Swallowtail begins at 1:10.
Since then I have received many requests for the tab to Swallowtail.
Performance notes: It is a tricky piece, especially to play at speed. If you need help with fingering, let me know. I’ve already received feedback that it may be confusing (from Jim.. harhar) so don’t be shy.