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PLUC Weekend Workout

PLUC - Circle of Fifths - Whole Wheel

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – Whole Wheel

Christopher Davis-Shannon, aka the Tinman, has a website with playalongs of old-time tunes as well as various tutorials and Uke Minutes with different tips and techniques, including singing whilst playing, practice exercises, strumming methods, picking patterns, chord melody, using a metronome and showboating tricks:.

His latest YouTube series 12 Keys In 12 Weeks (#12Keys12weeks) gets you playing a different scale each week. He provides a number of exercises, including a little melody up the scale for each one using broken – arpeggiated – chords that ‘fit’ within that key by containing just notes from that specific scale (known as a chord family).

In the first video, below, he is demonstrating C major – check the original YouTube page for links in the description for his free worksheets (and more detailed lessons on scales and chords within them). As he progresses, he’s starting to add in different chord voicings to get you to follow the melody notes and play further up the neck. By the end of the series you should be more confident at playing in any key.

Should you want to understand a little more how he arrives at the chords for each scale, have a quick look at a Circle of Fifths.

If you’re playing in the key of C major, take all the chords nearest C on the wheel in a little ‘L’ shape. These chords are made up from the same notes that you’ll find in that specific scale. Go through the letters alphabetically from C right round to C again to get the whole scale.

PLUC - Circle of Fifths - C Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – C Major Chord Family

 

When playing chords in this key, the letters on the outside are major chords, the ones on the inside are minor ones and the one out on the leg of the ‘L’ is a diminished chord (dim7 or sometimes written as °):

C major – D minor – E minor – F major – G major – A minor – B dim – C major

 

PLUC - Circle of Fifths - G Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – G Major Chord Family

 

 

 

For G major, you’ll get: G major – A minor – B minor – C major – D major – E minor – F# dim – G major

 

PLUC - Circle of Fifths - D Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – D Major Chord Family

 

 

 

 

For D major, you’ll get: D major – E minor – F# minor – G major – A major – B minor – C# dim – D major

 

And so on, round the wheel in the same way for each different key.

 

 

See more of our posts covering improving your chord playing; musical keys, the PLUC Transposing Tool and other PLUC Weekend Workouts. Original Circle of Fifths diagram from Wikipedia’s public domain images.

Here’s Christopher, with the first video in the series – C major:

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Musical-U Genre Quiz

Musical-U Genre Quiz

How much attention do you pay to the different styles and genres of music when you are listening to tunes? Can you identify what’s jazz or soul? Do you know your arias from your Elbow?

This week’s fun quiz from Musical-U has fourteen short clips for you to match up with the descriptions of various genres ranging from alternative to world, blues to rap & country to ska. Bonus points if you can also identify the artists!

More Musical-U articles & podcasts

More PLUC Weekend Workouts

 

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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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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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PLUC Weekend Workout

Why not try livening up your playing by using a few different chord voicings?

Most regular ukulele songsheets often only give the basic open or first position chords but it’s possible to play each chord in numerous ways just by finding the same selection of notes elsewhere on your fretboard. By experimenting and trying a few of these out you can add texture and interest to even basic songs.

Chords.cc is a handy website that gives you chord shapes for a number of stringed instruments, including three tunings of ukulele, banjos, guitars, mandolins and more. In addition to showing fingering alternatives for a good selection of chord types, there are nice advanced features where you can customise it to show left-handed chords; open strings or not; rootless voicings; maximum stretch (good if you have short fingers); whether to include muted strings; and a ‘how many fingers’ options (approximating how you might play the chord).

Here’s the standard layout for a regular gCEA tuned uke for C major:

Chords CC (http://chords.cc) - C Major voicings for a gCEA uke

Chords CC (http://chords.cc) – C major voicings for a gCEA uke

Other options are being added by user request, including the ability to zoom in on the chords to see more detail if you’re on a mobile device and to generate PDFs.

More PLUC Weekend Workouts.

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Why not whip out your ukes and have a go at Ukulele Hunt’s Annual Chord Quiz?

There are twenty-five questions, covering five different areas – from naming the chord in the diagrams to identifying different chord progressions (that’s where your instrument might come in handy!).

Good luck.

More Uke Hunt quizzes.

More PLUC Weekend Workouts.

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Our newest member, Dave, recently found this useful YouTube which gives a number of simple – but deceptively challenging! – finger independence exercises, from Rob MacKillop.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Escape the first four frets of your ukulele with the first in a new series of tutorials from Ukulele Russ. Here he shows you how to move up the C major shape, complete with a couple of song examples:

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Tamás Gáll has just developed a new chord training site called It’s Chordtime, which allows you to change chords to a regular metronome tempo and help become a smoother player. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

Want to brush up on your knowledge of the fretboard? Need to know how to relate written music to the notes you play? Then head over to Tom Potts’ handy Ukulele Note Finder tool.

All you need to do is hover over a position on the fretboard & it’ll tell you where else you’ll find notes of the same pitch (ie octave) elsewhere on other strings. Or, if you are looking at a piece of music, go to the bottom of the screen, find the note on the stave you have to identify, & it gives you your various playing options on the fretboard.

In the example below, you can see there are four high Cs (C5) on a standard gCEA-tuned 12 fret instrument. The open C string is an octave lower –  C4 / middle C. Use the various search boxes on the right hand side of the PLUC site pages to look up more articles, tools & tips from us about very basic understanding of music, notes & fretboards if this is all unfamiliar to you!

 

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