Category Archives: Tutorials

We Wish You a Merry Christmas, campanella ukulele video with TAB

Well, lookie what the cat dragged in. I’ve been on a hiatus from posting because of my concentration on traditional old time fiddle while traveling the country and learning from master fiddlers in the Ozarks, Catskills and Blue Ridge mountains. I even spent a week in Port Townsend, Washington learning Finnish folk violin from Arto Järvelä. It is quite the undertaking but that is where my heart is right now.

However, I have not lost any love for playing ukulele! And this particular offering reminds me how fun it is to arrange simple tunes into the hardest way to play them… Campanella (or campanela).

Prerequisites for taking on this arrangement are determination and my campanella triad patterns tutorial and some holiday spirit. And watch the video closely to see how I incorporate barring with my index to get these patterns.

Notes: The barring I refer to occurs in measures 1, 3, 7-8, and 15-16. Also remember to let the notes ring as long as possible. There are a few places where this can sound dissonant so use your best judgement. In a few places I might not let a note ring if it clashes too hard with the next one. Measures 9 and 10 are a good example. in measure 9, let off the second string, 8th fret before you play the first note in measure 10. The last two notes should not ring (too long) at the same time, either. You’ll see why.

Also, measure 13 is probably the trickiest part. I actually stretch my index down to the fifth fret while leaving my middle finger on the eight fret.

It might take a little practice to get all this sounding smooth (I still haven’t gotten there yet) but it’s worth the effort.

Happy Holidays to you all and keep sharing the LOVE.

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Download the TAB for We Wish You a Merry Christmas

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And here is the video..

 

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


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here’s the viddy..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 #7: Pretty Up Your CFG… plus bonus chords

Who says a ukulele badass can’t play pretty stuff.. at least once in a while?

Here are some different chord voicings, or inversions, plus some ideas to ‘pretty up’ the basic C F G chord progression, otherwise known as the I IV V (1 4 5) progression in the KEY of C. C is the I chord, F is the IV chord and G is the V chord.

First some chords, then ideas. BTW, videos are at the bottom of the page.

CHORDS: These chords have a really nice continuity as they all have the C string open. I’ll throw in an Am voicing (VI chord) because it is very close to the F chord. They are played like triads with the open C as the glue between them. Pay close attention to the fret markers.

The left hand fingering for ALL the chords:

1st string – pinky
2nd string – index
3rd string – open
4th string – middle

Playing them this way makes it easier to switch between them.

C chordF ChordGsus ChordAm Chord

Experiment and try them in various orders. Below I’ll mention a few songs I mess around with as well as an original I wrote using all these chords. But first…

BONUS CHORDS: Here we ascend from the original C voicing and head for celestial realms. The Dm7 is the ii chord, the Em6 is the iii chord and here is another F. Again, pay attention to the fret markers.

Dm7 ChordEm6 ChordF Inversion

Honestly, this pattern of triads can continue for as many frets you have.

IDEAS: We all know there are thousands of songs in the key of C. Here are a few to play with using these voicings.

Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits
Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Insert yours here…

Here is the video tutorial so you can hear what it sounds like.

And here is the original song I wrote a few years ago using these chord forms. The actual chords mentioned in this tutorial begin around the 48 second mark. Also note, if you follow this blog, I am using the Folksy Fingerstyle technique.