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Tag Archives: Ukulele

Carry On Campanella

A rather pretty style of playing ukulele is campanella (from the Italian for ‘little bell’), a way of picking which allows multiple strings to ring at the same time, creating a harp-like sound.

Jonathan Lewis devotes his site Jon’s Ukulele to campanella fingerstyle ukulele, including some interesting examples of Celtic, medieval, Baroque & folk tunes. He has a number of tutorials on there, including a useful free How To Play Campanella Ukulele guide. Many of his posts and YouTubes include a tab of his arrangement.

Recently he made the following free book available for circulation. It contains ten traditional tunes (some are known by different titles in various regions):

Campanella Ukulele: Ten Morris tunes now available to download for free (or a contribution if you insist). I may expand it at some point in the future but as I’ve been promising to publish the tabs for a long time I decided to release it now.
Here’s the link to Gumroad
Go to my YouTube to hear all of the tunes, there’s a playlist of Morris tunes

1. The Banks of the Dee
2. Brighton Camp
3. Bumpus O’Stretton
4. The Cuckoo’s Nest
5. Galopede
6. Lads a Bunchum
7. The Nutting Girl
8. Old Molly Oxford
9. The Princess Royal
10. Ribbon Dance

Here he is performing Brighton Camp (also known as The Girl I Left Behind Me & Waxie’s Dargle) :

 

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Fingerpicking Good

As this seems to be the month for challenge series, here’s the latest offering of a free fifteen day fingerstyle course from Terry Carter of Uke Like The Pros. It starts on 1 Nov.

Terry’s lessons are always clearly-presented and informative. He’s been running a number of monthly song challenges on the ULTP forum over the summer, ranging from old standards & pop hits to instrumentals, with prizes such as ukuleles for the best entries. This looks set to be the most thorough, taking people from beginner stage & upwards – covering good technique for finger-picking; introducing seven different picking patterns on alternate days, followed up with seven original pieces to play the next day using the pattern just introduced; including sheet music, tab and backing tracks. At the end of the process there will be a live interactive webinar with extra content.

Further details are in his introductory video. You can sign up here to receive daily updates during the challenge period.

Here’s Terry playing one of his original works, Fingerstyle Meditatio For Ukulele In A Minor, which is the type of piece he will be demonstrating on his course:

 

 

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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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Killing The Blues

Tyler at Ten Thumbs Productions is doing a Ten Day Blues Challenge in October, releasing ten different blues tutorials on various techniques & topics, including PDFs of each lesson. The crash course aims to take you from beginners’ blues to intermediate level, basic shuffles to soloing and pull-offs to pentatonics. Even if you already play a little blues, there’s bound to be something for you to learn with him.

Complete all ten challenges any time during October – as explained by him in his video – & optionally enter the draw to win a ukulele. It’s free and open to everyone.

(Winner will be picked on 1 Nov, based on effort rather than skill.)

 

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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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One Small Uke For (a) Man…

The fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing continues with widescale television documentaries and interesting online articles.  I recall being disappointed when told I was too young to stay up & watch the live event  – I was four at the time!

Two items that struck me most today were interview snippets from the two surviving crew members: Michael Collins spoke of being along in the Command Module and Buzz Aldrin was wistful at the death of Neil Armstrong meaning the three of them would not stand together at this month’s celebrations.

Neil Armstrong Playing A Ukulele Whilst Quarantined After Returning From The Moon (Michael Kohan Photography)Neil Armstrong Playing A Ukulele Whilst Quarantined After Returning From The Moon (Michael Kohan Photography)

Here’s an eleven-year old Asia’s Got Talent contestant, Feng E, playing his arrangement of David Bowie’s Space Oddity:

 

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Ukulele Festival of Scotland 2019 – Day 2

Saturday morning saw me up early to grab the bus to the Festival site in time for the first workshops of the day. Arriving with tons of time to spare, I wandered round the Marketplace in the Gilchrist Room of Easterbrook Hall, packed with stallholders selling ukes, straps, books, T-shirts, raffle tickets & more.

I spotted Colin Tribe, who is a very prolific poster of chord melody tunes on YouTube & writes the syllabuses for ukulele grade examinations. I’d previously bought a set of his arrangements & his Uniquelele book, so we had a nice chat & he showed me some better fingerings for some of his music, kindly giving me an updated copy of Spanish Flea to try out & a uke-shaped keyring.

I also said hello to Matt Warnes, who runs World of Ukes & would be performing later in The League of Ukulele Gentlemen. He gave me a spare copy of UKE Magazine to pass round PLUC members who’ve not read it before (& is arranging for uke club discounts on his merchandise – let me know if you’d like details). I’ve been to a couple of the events he organises before – including seeing Taimane Gardner in Birmingham & a Big Boat On The Mersey weekend, which culminated in us playing our ukes at the Cavern Club!

Then off to the first of three workshops I was attending today: An Introduction To Chord Melody Solos, with Stuart Butterworth. I was interested to see how this would be run, as Stuart had led a mass session on the final afternoon of last year’s UFoS & teaches many different groups in Dumfries & Galloway. He gave us extracts of his new book & took us through the chords, tabs & sheet music. There were useful summary sheets of the various chord voicings used as a way of helping people familiarise themselves with the fingerings before playing.

The second workshop was Richard Durrant‘s Ukulele Circuit Training One. He’s a classically trained guitarist who was introduced to the ukulele by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s George Hinchliffe when they both were at the Royal College of Music – George gave him a uke tuned in fifths (ie like a violin) & he was soon enjoying playing that & the more usual reentrant-tuned one.

His workshop was very different & useful: at the outset explaining how vital it is to cultivate a good neutral posture with relaxed & efficient hand positions; giving us a two-finger strumming pattern (‘strumming with one finger is like being a drummer with only one stick’); and getting us to play rhythms & sequences that suddenly turned into other well-known tunes.  These techniques were designed to improve your playing & help advance you as a musician by guiding you towards effective ways of focused personal practicing.

There was then just under an hour for lunch before the afternoon concert. Folk eyed me eating my packed meal enviously as the queues for the eateries were massive with so many people rushing to use them simultaneously. One of the advantages of being in a self-catering flat, as I had grabbed plenty of interesting vegan goodies from M&S & Morrisons when I arrived on Thurs afternoon, so I could make decent meals & take snacks with me instead of risking nothing being suitable for me at the venue.

 

A Few of My Photos From Saturday’s Shows

The afternoon concert was nearly four hours long & packed with an interesting selection of acts. The compere, Paulus, did an excellent job throughout, as he had last year:

  • Local uke band, A Touch of Purple – led by the kilt-wearing Stuart Butterworth (who had been warned several times last year that he was revealing a little too much with his wide-kneed posture – & slightly disconcerting for me, sat in the front row!). I don’t know if their choice of playing Come Together was a hint! These were the best of his students.
  • Ukulele Simon, who had won one of last year’s competitions. He played several numbers, including Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
  • The Ukulele Evangelists – completely crackers, as this YouTube of Kung Fu Fighting shows.
  • League of Ukulele Gentlemen – a familiar trio to these events, here playing Blue Eyes.
  • Stables – the one on the left on my photo is a local Lewisham lad from Forest Hill & they sang a song about the Horniman Gardens, Dandelions & Daisies.
  • Peter Moss, a regular at every uke festival, celebrating fifty years of performing.  As ever, he gave us a selection from his wide repertoire, including Roy Smeck’s Rockin’ The Uke, Georgia On My Mind & the last movement from the William Tell Overture (the tune he used to win a competition at the age of twelve).
  • The Naked Waiters – back by popular demand after their UK debut here last year. I Wanna Be Your Butterfree is one of their originals.

No rest after the gig as it was straight into another workshop! Sandwiches were included (& somehow I ended up with two – possibly because someone else had eaten mine last year!). This was Circuit Training Two, with Richard Durrant again.  A little recap of some of the introductory principles, then off into another selection of interesting & deceptively tricky strengthening & dexterity exercises that aim to improve your accuracy, articulation & other areas of playing. More of that is covered in his online Ukulele Launch Pad course.

After the workshop, I was surprised to see folk were already queuing to gain entry to the main concert hall, over an hour before the doors were due to open for the Gala Concert from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. So I joined the throng & swapped uking tales with people until we were let in. Being on my own I still managed to get fairly near the front, with a good view.

Eight UOGB members were performing & it was a full gig, with interval. as expected, it was all very slick, tightly choreographed & enjoyable, with a mix of familiar numbers & others I didn’t know they covered. It was nice to see Dave Suich in full performance mode! They got a standing ovation at the end.  What a way to finish the day! I grabbed a taxi back to town whilst others jammed long into the night…

Here they are doing Highway to Hell:

 

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