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PLUC Weekend Workout

There are a growing number of podcasts out there, including some specific to ukuleles and others covering all types of music theory.  The twice-weekly Musicality Podcast (brought to you by the people who run the Musical-U community music training website) is having a Beatles Month for April.

Through a series of interviews they will be talking to different people and analysing how & why the songs worked;  the relationship between music & lyrics; production techniques; how a tribute act goes about reproducing those Beatles sounds and much more.

On the practical side, people are asked to remind themselves of the active listening techniques covered in a previous podcast – which is a great way of encouraging you to pay more attention to the music around you each day and put your musician skills to use in actually noting the instruments being played in a tune, song structures, rhythms, chord progressions etc – and pick three Beatles songs to consider in detail. There will be a live chat session later in the month.

Another exercise suggested on the forums are to make yourself a song interval chart (ie a way to help you recognise the gaps between two notes) consisting purely of Beatle numbers.

Linking nicely with this is Cynthia Lin’s annual Beatles Uke Jam. For 2019, it’s on Sun 14 April and streamed live so folk can join in worldwide. Get the 2019 songbook for free (or make a donation); play along with a recording of the 2018 Livestream & watch some of Cynthia’s lessons on the Fab Four and others.

 

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PLUCking Ukes – Rhythm Without Blues 2

It’s always more difficult to play the slowest numbers, such as Abilene – which we play in a much more leisurely fashion than the original – because you have to be very accurate with your tempo and there is always a temptation to start speeding up!

Spending just a few minutes a day for a few weeks working on your strumming (eg with a metronome, to a steady backing track or using other rhythm tools) will soon improve your sense of timing.

We’ve discussed this previously in an earlier PLUCking Ukes – Rhythm Without Blues entry. This introduced some useful rhythm exercises from Rhan Wilson’s All In Good Time site, which are always worth recapping.

Several of the music theory sites we’ve covered contain fun rhythm games – a good one to try out is Theta Music Trainer.

If you’re confident with those, moving on you could try some of the rhythm tutorials from Stuart Fuchs. Stu has a number of lessons concentrating on different strums and rhythms, such as ones from his ‘Uke-a-Billy‘ rockabilly collection, which are suited to rock ‘n’ roll numbers – including straight strums, shuffle, backbeat, Bo-Diddley beat (aka clave) & boogie. He also explains how to play many different rhythmic styles in his playalongs, including swing, rhumba, calypso, boom-ditty, funky, reggae & more.

Get out your metronome (Google brings up its free one or there are plenty of free apps available) and try out Stu’s backbeat lesson:

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Sometimes people get a bit daunted at looking at sheet music or playing along to it. The fun TED-Ed animation below from Tim Hansen is a good way to see the basics without having to delve into too much detail.

After watching through, you could initially practice using a few tunes you know well. Try concentrating on the rhythm first and think about the pitch (ie the notes on the fretboard) later.

If you pick a simple familiar piece and look at the music whilst listening to it, you can follow the notes before even trying to keep up playing.  YouTube handily lets you slow the speed right down in the settings feature.

We have links to other quizzes and different ways of learning more about reading music and the basics of music theory in other articles to help you widen your skills. Plus more PLUC Weekend Workouts.

 

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Twelve Days Of Ukemas – Day Eight

We know Phil Doleman – he’s a nice chap! He’s a good teacher & performer – always doing workshops at every ukulele festival he’s at. He explains things very clearly, so his sessions are well-worth attending.  In fact, it never seems like a proper uke fest if he’s not there!

Phil has interesting online lessons (see his blog & YouTube Channel – or even via Skype) & a really good uke music theory book, How Music Works on the Ukulele (all based round the uke fretboard, so perfect for beginners or those who don’t read music).

From his selection of over twenty Two Minute Tips, here’s a demo on how to use your left hand more efficiently, without strain (and a little more on barre chords here – learning to play the Bb chord with ease).

 

By the way, if you’ve never attended a ukulele festival, it’s a great way to expand your knowledge. See many uke performers of differing styles; attend a few workshops to learn new skills, jam along with others and maybe even pluck up courage to play in an open mic session! The Got A Ukulele Calendar is international & updated regularly throughout the year as folk send in information. I’ve been a few – some small & local and others large-scale & national. My favourite to date is the Ukulele Festival of Scotland, which is held in lovely surroundings at Dumfries. It’s fantastically well-organised & packs in a lot from mid Fri afternoon to early Sun evening.

 

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Twelve Days Of Ukemas – Day Three

For those of you who are new to playing, Bernadette Teaches Music recently produced a 30 Day Challenge on YouTube which makes a good practical introduction if you have no experience of the instrument.

It takes complete novices through the basics, showing how to hold a uke, first chords, how to read tab, to play a few songs & an intro to music theory. Here is the full YouTube playlist & the worksheet booklet to accompany the videos (links also underneath each YouTube in the series).

Anatomy of the ukulele (video one):

 

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Twelve Days Of Ukemas – Day Two

If you’ve got a new ukulele for Christmas, you’ll soon find there are lots of on-line resources to help you, whatever your playing level:

Good luck & happy strumming!

Jeanette

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Chris has found this interesting lecture from the basic Listening To Music course by Yale University and feels it would repay many members of our group for the time spent watching it.

It opens with a preamble about musical notation & the reasons we use it (also mentioned in last month’s PLUC Weekend Workout & other music theory postings if you need more detail). Then the majority of Prof Craig Wright’s talk covers rhythm in many music styles, showing how different time signatures sound & getting students to listen to various pieces of music so they can conduct along to the beat. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Here’s a fascinating stop-frame animated YouTube from Vi Hart talking about how musical notes are made up of different frequencies. It uses an unfretted instrument (viola) to show how you can work out where along the fingerboard the different notes appear, so you can see how this translates to the uke & why the frets are where they are. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Course You Can

If you fancy improving your skills with some free online courses, do have a look at Coursera. They offer video lessons from lecturers at universities & colleges around the world; you’re assessed by answering quizzes & submitting assignments. There’s no need to pay for the certificates (which are meaningless, as they aren’t recognised qualfications), just enjoy learning & enhancing your skills.

They cover a huge variety of subjects and have some very interesting music topics. A six-week Songwriting course has just started if you’re interested & quick off the mark (or you can opt to be informed when the future sessions are held). Others currently available or in the pipeline include music theory; history of western music; classical music; history of rock; appreciations of The Beatles & Rolling Stones; the American South (which includes roots music & the blues); world music; rehearsing musical ensembles; musical sounds/electronics & several more.

We’ve also previously posted about other online courses, such as the Open University & ALISON, under our PLUC Weekend Workout topic if you wish to explore further options.

 
 

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Happy 2015!

Top Referring Sites 2014

Top Referring Sites 2014

Our free downloadable PLUC 2015 Calendar shows the movable major chord shapes for year-round reference, in a handy diagram from UkeGeeks.com. Thanks to Buz for kindly tweaking the layout for us! (He also runs PizzaByTheSlice, which contains many uke-related designs & is well worth a look.) Read the rest of this entry »

 

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