Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

16 2014

Latest Ukulele World Tour Post

Oceanian Islands Ukulele Tour

 As we are settling well into autumn here, with the light decreasing a bit more each day, why not set the gloom aside and head for sunny destinations where bright-sounding ukulele rhythms will cheer us up ?

Oceania is a perfect choice for that purpose. To start our tour, here is a map to help you locate the various islands we will be visiting.

Oceania Map Source Wikipedia

Source : Wikipedia, author : Holger Behr

1. French Polynesia

First sunny glimpse brings us to Tahiti in the French Polynesia where the string band Te Ava Piti gives a live performance of the song E Hee Te Va on a beach.

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11 2014

Latest Ukulele Learning Post

Some ideas on how to play ukulele with a guitar player

In fact, this post could just as well have been entitled ‘Some ideas on how to play the guitar with a ukulele player’. If you are playing the ukulele and your best friend is playing the guitar, there is a chance that you might tire after long hours spent arguing which of the two instruments is best. How about trying to combine both instruments to play together instead ?

My friend Gwilym and I would like to share our experience on playing the ukulele and the guitar together. Gwilym is playing the guitar and I the ukulele. For a few years now, we have been trying different ideas to play our instruments of choice together in a way that allows both of us to make progress. We have chosen to write this post and to make two videos to illustrate how the ukulele and the guitar can play different roles when played together.

Of course, in order to play together, we needed to have a common structure, which could be seen as the ‘spine’ of our tunes. This is where playing the blues is interesting : the ‘spine’ consists of 12 bars following a set pattern (see below). We have opted to play a minor blues in the key of (Am and Dm are among my favourite chords). We have used the same structure for both videos but each of us improvised his/her part according to his/her fancy.

Our 12 bar blues is very standard and uses the following chords in I-IV-V progression :
(Am is I, Dm is IV and Em/E7 are V)

Am / Dm / Am / Am   (The Dm here is a quick four)
Dm / Dm / Am / Am
Em / Dm / Am / E7

Chords for A Minor Blues

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17 2014

Latest Ukulele Albums & Ebooks Post

Halloween ukulele songs : The Haunted Ukulele

It is about time, with Halloween nearing, for me to wake from the dead…
Rest assured, dead I have not been, I have merely chosen for a while to remain unseen!

Ryan Taylor, a composer, conductor, baritone vocalist and ukulele player from the US recently sent me an ebook for review, entitled The Haunted Ukulele, which consists of “a monster collection of 59 spooky songs”.

Cover of The Haunted Ukulele

Buy on Amazon.com (paperback format)

Buy on Sellfy (PDF version)

So Trick or Treat ?

General presentation :

The book definitely falls into the treat category. Besides being  a vocalist, Ryan Taylor leads the UFO HUM (Ukes for Others : Happy Ukulele Movement). Over the years he has collected over hundred songs on the theme of Halloween from which he has selected the 59 he found most compelling. Drawings by Ryan pleasantly illustrate the book and emphasize the humorous side he is taking on the macabre theme.

The Haunted Ukulele has been written by a musician and it shows : you will find scores that are professionally laid out for each song. The songs selection covers several musical styles, from traditional, ragtime, to classical. All arrangements are very neat with a good mix between strumming and fingerpicking. A diagram of the chords used is displayed for each song which come in quite useful as there are many songs with numerous chords. Where the songs are strummed, rhythm patterns are indicated. When the songs use fingerpicking, Ryan gives guidelines using different types of notation according to the complexity of the song.

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A place for language lovers where I’m trying to demonstrate how fun it is to learn other languages and how much of a culture you understand through its language.
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