Category Archives: Performance

Sakura Sakura: Japanese Traditional Video and Tab

Download the TAB to Sakura Sakura

Well, since I am a bit under the weather tonight and missing my monthly Austin Ukulele Society meeting, I thought I would at least try to be a little productive.

I arranged Sakura Sakura using influence from John King and Jake Shimabukuro’s versions. John’s version, found in his Classical Ukulele book is a single note melody and Jake’s version has more chords and some harmonics. Although I hope I am not ripping them off (I really don’t think so), I think I came up with a good combination of the two that is not difficult to play. It sounds good, too.

PERFORMANCE NOTES: Koto sounding notes and harmonics. These are the two SECRETS to this arrangement.

FIRST the KOTO sounds. Very often in the song I am using tiny bends of the strings to get that particular sound. I know you can hear it. They are not noted on the TAB.. because I didn’t know how. So, you will have to watch the video and listen closely. I try to place them strategically.

The 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. And there you have it. Instant KOTO. The technique combined with the right notes will transport you to their origin. Badass.

SECOND.. the HARMONICS. I may be mistaken but I believe they are called ARTIFICIAL harmonics, hence the “A.H.” over the notes in the tab.

The TECHNIQUE, if you don’t know how already.. Fret the note indicated in the TAB with the left hand finger. Then place your right index finger on the string DIRECTLY over the fret (not between the frets like we play regular notes) TWELVE FRETS UP, on the same string. An octave.

IMPORTANT: DON’T push the string down onto the fretboard.

With the right thumb pluck the string. It’s a little tricky but worth figuring out. If I haven’t explained it well enough just ask and I will try again. Or, I am sure there are countless explanations online.

There are also many versions of this song on youtube and Al Wood recently tabbed out a nice version over at ukulelehunt. Listen to as many as you can, even versions played on other instruments. You might get some really cool ideas to incorporate.

さようならありがとう (thank you and goodbye)

Download the TAB to Sakura Sakura

And here is the viddy..

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Cripple Creek: Bluegrass Video and TAB

Download the TAB for Cripple Creek

Well, let’s see. What haven’t I covered? There’s been Irish, Scottish, classical from Rossini, folksy fingerstyle, Hawaiian, Spanishy..

Oh, yea.. BLUEGRASS

Although I’ve touched a little on the claw hammer technique (more old time than bluegrass) I think it’s time for some three finger ukulele bluegrass.

I say “three finger” because it is a technique borrowed from the guitar and banjo that I use frequently. If you remember Folksy Fingerstyle, we are using the same fingers here.

4 – T or P
3 – T or P
2 – i
1 – m

I don’t have the right hand fingering notated on the TAB so pay close attention. Your thumb will ALWAYS pick the 3rd and 4th strings (top two). Your index finger will ALWAYS pick the 2nd (from the bottom) string. Finally, your middle finger will pick the 1st (bottom) string. Therefore your thumb will be doing a sort of alternating bass line.

But don’t think about it that way. Just learn the TAB. It is probably at the intermediate level so be patient. The rolls can be tricky.

Also notice the tied notes in the 8 to 9th measures and 10 to 11th measures. The note begins on the AND of the four beat as it sort of jumps in early. You’ll hear it. Additionally, the tie between the 3rd and 4th frets on the third string is always a slide.

I don’t follow the TAB in the video. I play it different every time. The TAB has most of the variations and you can mix them up and develop your own. It is quite fun.

I am basing this arrangement on a youtube video I found a few years ago. There was no video of the performance, just a picture and the music. I labored to pick out the notes and I’m fairly satisfied with the outcome. I also threw this video together way too fast and at too fast a tempo so enjoy the ‘naturalness’ of it.

Download the TAB for Cripple Creek

And the vidya..


Alacran y Pistolero: Spanish Ukulele Vocal Video and Tab

Download the TAB for Alacran y Pistolero

This is my favorite song from the Once Upon a Time in Mexico movie soundtrack. I recorded this a few years back and strangely enough it is by far my most viewed video on youtube. 5,000+ views! Google for the lyrics.

And so, two years later, after many viewers literally demanded the tabs and berated me for not providing them… I have succumbed.

The intro is fingerstyle and strumming and here is where you get to use one finger per string. Thumb on the fourth, or top string, index on the third, middle on the second and ring finger on the first or bottom string.

When the singing starts I tabbed it to be one strum per measure but as you see in the video I am strumming the one and three beats. It’s in 3/4 time. You can interpret however you like.

Download the TAB for Alacran y Pistolero

UPDATE: pepamahina has graciously provided the lyrics in Spanish along with the English translation. Thanks, pepamahina!

Download the LYRICS for Alacran Y Pistolero

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UPDATE #2: Manny Sanchez has offered up the lyrics with chords. Now you can strum, fingerpick, or play it any way you want. Thanks, Manny!

Download the LYRICS and CHORDS for Alacran Y Pistolero


Niel Gow’s Lament: Irish Video and Tab

Download the TAB to Niel Gow’s Lament

My friend Jim introduced me to this hauntingly lovely SCOTTISH tune. Niel Gow’s Lament for the Death of his Second Wife. Niel Gow was Scottish. I call it Irish because some people searching for Irish ukulele songs would be happy to find something like this. No offense to anyone.

From Niel’s wikipedia page, “After having been widowed, Niel married Margaret Urquhart from Perth in 1768, and they went on to share a happy married life until she died in 1805. Niel was deeply hurt by her death, and stopped playing the fiddle for a while. His friends finally convinced him to pick it up again, and the first thing he played was his ‘…Lament for the Death of his Second Wife’.”

Jim and I were mostly moved by the classical guitar versions we found on youtube but when we arranged it as such, very slow with almost no rhythm, it still lacked a little.. at least for the ukulele. So I added more open sounding chords and some rhythmic ‘ghost’ notes to give it depth because the ukulele’s range isn’t as lush as a classical guitar. The ghost notes in the TAB are in (parenthesis). Play them very softly as I do in the video.

Also, the TAB is in straight time so I encourage you to interpret it with feeling and sensitivity. I am sure everyone will play it a little differently and that is a good thing. It should be personal.

Download the TAB to Niel Gow’s Lament


Farewell to Whiskey: Irish Campanela Video and TAB

So how the heck is it spelled? Campanela or Campanella? I use the “John King” spelling but I think I am greatly outnumbered.

Regardless, here is the TAB to my arrangement to Farewell to Whiskey. It’s a lovely tune and I really take good advantage of the campanela style with the reentrant tuning. The TAB is the basic arrangement but expect a reentrant campanela secrets post next that demonstrates my approach to John King’s style.

Download the TAB to Farewell to Whiskey

And the video..


Red Haired Boy: Irish Campanela Video and TAB

Here is a snappy Irish tune that I arranged in 99.9% campanela style. Be on the lookout for an upcoming Ukulele Secret devoted to campanela and the reentrant tuning.

This would be called “melodic” style for the banjo where the melody of the song is played in the three finger banjo style. The TAB contains the main melody for the song but as you will see in the video, I play a lot more flowing notes in some sections, taking full advantage of the campanela style and reentrant tuning.

Download the TAB for Red Haired Boy

And here is the vidya..


Video: Ring of Fire (instrumental)

Some peeps were asking for the rest of it. Honestly I never play it the same way twice… and I always sing along.

Regardless, I whipped up an instrumental version of the whole song, loosely arranged, to demonstrate the use of my Folksy Fingerstyle pattern.

Download TAB for the intro riff here. When I get around to tabbing the rest of it I will let you know.


YouToob

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While ukulelesecrets.org is new and I am working on new content, feel free to visit my youtube channel.

Currently there are 20+ videos demonstrating music played on the ukulele in such styles as Irish, bluegrass, classical, holiday, funky, Spanish and just plain crazy.

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Ka Ipo Lei Manu.. John King arrangement

Download the tab here

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..

And just today I tabbed it… for you.

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.

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Swallowtail… bluegrass ukulele tab

Download the tab for Swallowtail

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.

..

Well.. what is a badass to do?

Without further ado…

Download the tab for 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.

[EDIT]
I posted a slowed down how-to for Swallowtail.