Category Archives: Secrets

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.

——-

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.

——-

USE THESE IDEAS TO CREATE YOUR OWN.

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

——-

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.

——-

Here is the demonstration video with helpful hints.

——-

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.

——-

And one last thing… PRACTICE!!!

——-

Top 50 Ukulele Sites


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!

——-

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.

————

The tunes are:

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

————

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.

————

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.

————

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

————

And the viddie..

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

——-

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.

—————————————-

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

—————————————-

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..

——-

Top 50 Ukulele Sites


Ukulele Secret #10 Claw Hammer Triplet

Howdy folks,

I’ve been playing with this technique for a few weeks and thought I would share my progress and let you in on the secret. There is a prerequisite. You really need to be somewhat comfortable with basic claw hammer technique. But as you will see, and I would like some feedback on this, the technique is VERY similar to the mechanics of the common triplet STRUM.

So, my theory is.. if you are good at the triplet strum that is INDEX DOWN, THUMB DOWN, INDEX UP, and not that good at claw hammer, this might be a way to sneak into claw hammer technique. Kind of like a back door. Don’t know if that makes sense or not. But let’s continue

————————–

In the video I demonstrate the technique with a C F G ditty similar to Larry O’Gaff chords with a little A minor thrown in for a Swallowtail feel. I am not trying to play those melodies but just have fun with the progressions. I also use the ‘Pretty Up Your C F G‘ chord forms as an example of potential melody.

————————–

The technique is simple, but may be tricky.

Using the basic claw hammer technique, strike DOWN with the index finger. If you are striking the bottom string you can follow through to the body of the ukulele. In my case I am hitting the head of the banjo uke thus producing a percussion beat.

The thumb follows and lands to rest on the top string at the same time the index is striking. Basic claw hammer.

Next is the thumb pluck DOWN. It is important to leave your index finger where it landed after the first strike.

Now for the triplet finish. Pluck the same string UP with your index finger. And there you have it. The claw hammer triplet.

Getting a little deeper, you can use the index DOWN strike on inside strings as well. It takes a little more precision, meaning a little more practice, but you open up a lot of melodic possibilities. This is especially true when using the ‘Pretty Up Your C F G’ chord forms.

————————–

I have heard of this technique being used with banjo, maybe Celtic banjo. I am curious as to which songs can be learned with this technique. If anyone knows of any banjo or ukulele videos using this technique, please let me know. I am anxious to expand on this and see what others are doing.

————————–

Here’s the viddy..

——-

Top 50 Ukulele Sites


Ukulele Secret #9 Exotic Scales & Claw Hammer

Video and scale tabs at the bottom of post.

I know, it’s been a while. So many things are happening right now but due to some persuasive nudging from some of you I put this together as fast as I could. Forgive my always brilliant video editing.

———————-

Here are three exotic sounding scales that I have been having fun with on the banjo uke. (Banjo uke not required).

To be honest, there are only two scales here. The second example differs from the first only by skipping the note on the second string, sixth fret. It does make a difference. I like to mix them up, as you can see in the example.

———————-

Examples 1 and 2

If you noticed at the beginning of the video, I am using these examples with the Claw Hammer ukulele technique. It sounds really amazing when I get warmed up. Review my basic, basic claw hammer tutorial and all the other great tutorials out there if you need to brush up.

During the scale demonstrations of 1 and 2 notice the technique I use while demonstrating them a little faster. I pick out some strategic notes and do the Koto sounding micro bend technique that I showed you in Sakura Sakura. This adds tremendous effect and authenticity to the scale.

Quick review of the Koto technique:

Before you pluck the note with your right hand finger, bend the note SLIGHTLY up with your left hand fretting finger. Then IMMEDIATELY after you pluck the note, let it return to it’s original ‘unbent’ state.

Also, don’t be afraid to improvise. Mix the notes up.

———————

Example 3

You might remember this scale from Sakura Sakura. It is a common Japanese scale (I think). In that video (linked above) I play the scale using John King’s campanela style. Here I am playing it in a more linear fashion. THEN I add the microbend Koto style and there you have it.

Exotic Ukulele

And the vidya..


Ukulele Secret #8: Cross Training, with demonstration videos

I recently read a forum post with someone inquiring about an unusual instrument (harp ukelele, but that is not important). It seemed like every other reply was something like “I would never play that!” or “What’s the point?” or “That is stupid.” I am paraphrasing but that is the general feeling I got.

On the other hand, there were some folks, like myself, that were excited and intrigued and even wanted to get one in their hands. That’s more like it! To me, at least. I am always curious to try some new kind of instrument.

——

Which brings me to Ukelele Secret #8: Cross Training

——

If you ever get the chance to pick up a new (to you) instrument, I highly recommend doing so. Whether “picking it up” means buying one or just trying it out at a friend’s house or a music store, do it!

And I am not talking about trying different ukuleles. Do that, too. But I mean different INSTRUMENTS. Like a banjo, mandolin, sitar, bass guitar, venezuelan cuatro, hammer dulcimer, violin (wince).. etc. These are all stringed instruments but don’t stop there…

Try a piano or keyboard. Learn how to do a triplet or paradiddle on percussion. Get shakin’ with a shaker. Try like heck to get a good note out of a bamboo flute. Pluck a kalimba (thumb piano). Make a sound, make music with whatever you can get your hands on.

After all, you are a musician.

It might sound less than pleasing at first (starting something new always has some learning curve) but spend some time learning a few chords or fishing for a melody.

——

Getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing.

——

Gosh, why?? Well, because of the different tuning, different sound, shape and feel, new musical ideas emerge that would not have, if you stuck to just one instrument. You don’t have to master it, just noodle. Your brain gets exercised and your creativity gets a boost that you can bring back to the uke.

It will make you a better ukulele player.. maybe even a badass

I am not blowing smoke here, either. I speak from the mountain. I currently own, play, or have played all the instruments mentioned above and gained a level of proficiency with them as well.

——

Listening to different kinds of music fits into cross training, too. You don’t have to go buy K-Tel’s Top Hits but just be curious. Try to play something that was originally played on a different instrument. When I was 16 or 17 I transcribed Frank Mills’ Music Box Dancer, a piano song, to classical guitar. I loved the melody so much I just HAD to learn it. So I taught myself.

Which brings this stream of consciousness to my next secret.

——

Play anything. Any type of music.

——

Don’t limit yourself to “ukulele music”. That’s what’s fun about being a musician. But if you haven’t tried it, there are TONS of resources, tabs (even on this site) for ‘different’ kinds of music to play on the ukulele. Al Woods, proprietor of Ukulele Hunt is one of the best examples of a musician turning the ukulele into a black hole and sucking every kind of music into it.

And if you’ve come to know me even a little, you can see I love to play a great variety of music and flavors.

——

So.. here is an example of the joy I get playing different kinds of instruments. It’s a bluegrass classic called Blackberry Blossom. Rhythm guitar is in the left speaker and melody features mandolin, ukulele and acoustic guitar. I am by no means a master of any of these instruments but just getting through a song like this is really fun.

And now for something totally unrelated.. well, not totally. I wrote and recorded the music, played the instruments, except the electronic drum loop, for this self shot and edited video, featuring me enjoying another hobby of mine. Hula hooping.

Get creative!