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Tag Archives: Ukulele

Save Tin Pan Alley!

Denmark Street – known as the British ‘Tin Pan Alley’ – lies tucked away just off Charing Cross Road & has been the home of many important music-related businesses since the 1920s: music publishers, songwriters, recording studios & rehearsal spaces, bars, sheet music vendors & instrument shops. Musicians connected with the street include the Rolling Stones, Kinks, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John & the Sex Pistols. The NME & Melody Maker magazines had their early offices there.

For most of us now it’s the nearest place we can go to find a selection of shops to try out ukuleles & other instruments – particularly specialist guitars – before buying, rather than making purchases online. It’s still the centre of London’s music industry, with many hundreds of thousands of visitors.

With the Crossrail development cutting through the area, numerous places round Tottenham Court Road station have already been closed down & demolished. In January 2015, properties such as the 12 Bar Club and the Enterprise rehearsal studios were shut in preparation for further building works.

A petition has been raised to try to preserve this historic musical street & rejuvenate it, before it’s completely lost to becoming luxury flats, hotels or more faceless offices, with just a very few shops allowed to remain.

Do please have a read about the background to the campaign & sign the petition if you feel Denmark Street’s musical heritage should be saved. Thank you.

Trailer from RoundBoy Pictures‘ forthcoming official documentary, The Demise Of Denmark Street:

 

 

 

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Hollesley 2015

If you like listening to or playing the uke, if you like meeting fun-loving, friendly and knowledgeable people, all in the heart of the beautiful Suffolk countryside, then Hollesley Ukulele Jamboree was the place to be.

Friday was open mic night, where our very own Rufus gave a wonderful rendition of Blue Turning Grey Over You.

The highlight of Saturday night’s show was Phil Doleman and Ian Emmerson reuniting as The Re-entrants and knocking out a better-than-Lemmie version of Ace Of Spades; the whole show magnificently MC’d by ‘Top Table’ Chris. Eat your heart out, Brucie!

In Sunday afternoon’s communal sing-song we went through forty numbers, ending with a tear-jerking version of that well known Vera Lynn WW2 ditty, Whale Meat Again.

To sum up, despite the effing weather, it was still a f***ing great weekend. And the beer was only £2.80 a pint.

Sweary Steve

See Rufus’ commentary on the 2012 event.

Here are The Re-entrants at Hollesley 2009, playing Thriller for German TV station NDR:

 

 

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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.

Given how important it is to recognise the rhythm of the songs you play & be able to keep time, this is a very useful exercise. Several people have been puzzling over how to work out strumming patterns to fit tunes, so they will find it handy to be given these practical tips to aid them in improving their listening skills.

 

The lecture is number three in Yale’s full free course, available online. Coincidentally, it has been updated for 2015 & is being run by Coursera (about whom we wrote recently) as part of their Introduction to Classical Music. Their courses are also free & include lectures, interactive quizzes & discussions with tutors & other participants. Even if you only decided to register to watch the videos from the first two weeks & not bother with any of the exercises, they would help your music skills.

Week 1
Music in Our Lives
Rhythm: We’ve All Got It!
What is Melody?

Week 2
Harmony: From Bach to Do Wop
Tone Colour: Welcome to the Orchestra!
Texture, Form, and Style

(Weeks 3 – 8 cover music styles from the Middle Ages to Postmodernism.)

The recent Coursera Songwriting course was excellent – hugely interesting; ideal for making you pay more attention to the style, structure & nuances of songs; & the assessments kept you focussed on learning, so this should also be good.

 

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Dr Crotchety’s Top Twelve Uke Tunes

PLUC founder, Simon, recently spotted an article in the Guardian by BBC Radio 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews, aka Dr Crotchety, on her top twelve populist ukulele songs. In true form, we only play one of these (see if you can guess which of our numbers it might be, before checking out the link).

 

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UkeTubes

As today is Ringo Starr’s 75th birthday, here’s a nicely done version of the Harrison – Starr composition & my favourite of his solo numbers, Photograph, from LeoHareMusic. Remember to say “Peace & Love!” at midday. But don’t ask him for his autograph!

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

There are so many online learning resources out there, it’s difficult to know where to start! One of the interesting sources is TED-Ed, who create ‘lessons worth sharing’. They produce fun & informative videos & lectures on numerous topics. Here are three for you to view for starters.

How To Read Music – by Tim Hansen:

 

To help you consider your strumming: A Different Way To Visualize Rhythm – by John Varney.

And a fascinating lecture by Evelyn Glennie about How To Truly Listen.

Why not look at their site or channel and recommend any music-related YouTubes you’ve enjoyed in the comments section below?

 

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PLUCking Ukes – Free Fingerpicking Lessons

Brett McQueen, from the excellent Ukulele Tricks site is offering a free three-week Fingerpicking Tricks Mini Lesson Series to subscribers on his mailing list & PLUC website readers. For any of you that have followed his free videos or enrolled in his Strumming Tricks onine course, you’ll know he’s a very clear & articulate teacher. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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