Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Note 1.b. The ukulele is NOT like the first four strings of a guitar capoed at the fifth fret!

How many times have I looked at a long string of chords in a piece of ukulele sheet music with my first thought being how to simplify it. Yet, simplifying often removes the part that makes the ukulele shine...without making things simpler!

Consider the sequence

[G] [Gmaj7] [G6] [Bbdim] [Am7] [D7]
(2 beats on each chord except for the last two, which get 4 each)

Hoo-boy! In the past, I might have looked at that and said, [G] for 8 beats, [Am] for 4 beats, [D7] for 4 beats... Yeah, that's it! And it would have worked, after a fashion. But, then I might as well have been playing cowboy chords on a guitar. (Not that there's anything inherently wrong with cowboy chords on a guitar. They've served me well. But, this is a ukulele arrangement and I've just removed everything ukulele about it!)

If we take a closer look at the sequence, we see

The only thing the intimidating sequence [Gmaj7] [G6] [Bbdim] [Am7] is doing is letting our fingers go for a walk!
  • The [Gmaj7] has us moving from the 3rd fret of the second string to the 2nd fret.
  • The [G6] removes a finger from the second string, effectively moving from the 2nd fret to the 0th fret (the nut).
  • The [Bbdim] moves the fingers on the first and third strings one fret closer to the nut.
  • The [Am7] has us remove our fingers from the first and third strings.
It's a lovely finger dance that says, "You're listening to a ukulele."

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