Ukulele & Languages

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

Ukulele World Tour Posts

A cheerful melody, a great voice, plenty of doo doo doo dee doo doo and pa pam pa dam pa to chase the melancholy of autumn settling in [lucky you on the other side of the world who now see the dawn of Spring!], all this provided generously by the great Icelandic singer songwriter Svavar Knútur. Enjoy !

Where did my brain go?

A few days ago, Ron Hale commented on my last post and mentioned the fact that he hadn’t seen many ukulele videos coming out of Scandinavia lately.

As it turned out, I received a mail today from Oslo folk singer-songwriter and guitarist Lillebjørn Nilsen,  father of ukulele player Siri Nilsen. I knew Lillebjørn played the uke and I had been on the lookout for videos in which he played our favourite instrument because I really like his songs in Norwegian. I searched in vain until Lillebjørn sent me a link to a ukulele session he played in an empty theatre in Oslo at the request of journalists from Svenska Dagbladet.

Lillebjørn Nilsen playing Se Deg Aldri Tilbake  (Never Look Back) on ukulele, an emotional session for him as he had just attended the funeral of a close friend.

Many thanks to Lillebjørn for sending me this video which gave me the impulse to write this post after many months of absence from my ukulele world tour posts.


I’m taking a break from my blog slumber to give anyone wishing to improve his/her fingerstyle ukulele technique enough to work on until I release a new post.

There has been quite a lot happening on the classical ukulele front lately.First piece of news, Wilfried Welti from Switzerland has created his own website where you can purchase three ukulele ebooks of his arrangements for a very moderate price. If like me, you do learn by ear more than by studying music sheet, you should consider buying the series of recordings (MP3 format) Wilfried has made along with the ebooks.

All three ebooks are available on his site :

Alte Musik mit der Ukulele (Early music on the ukulele, mostly Renaissance and Baroque)
Keltische Musik mit der Ukulele (Celtic music on the ukulele)
Klassische Musik mit der Ukulele (Classical music on the ukulele)

Wilfried has kindly sent me a sample of his work and I can say that it is very neatly laid out, with great attention to detail, in fact with much more information than I am able to read as far as music theory is concerned. His work is as neat as his playing and listening to this video will give you an idea just how neat that means.

The Frog Galliard by John Dowland, arranged and performed by Wilfried.

More videos are available on his YouTube channel.

Second piece of news is a brand new website for classical ukulele player Jamie Holding from the United-Kingdom. Jamie has also published a series of ebooks with ukulele arrangements of classical pieces initially written for the lute or classical guitar, instruments which he both plays.

I have purchased a few of Jamie‘s arrangements, and I can recommend the Dowland and Sor ebooks.

You can download a sample arrangement for free on his website here :  Robert de Visée suite nr 9 in Dm.

Here is an arrangement of a Scottish tune taken from Jamie‘s Blame Still Not My Uke ebook and beautifully performed by Valéry Sauvage

Next, if you suffer from UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome) and now have a collection of different ukes at home, some in re-entrant tuning, other with low G or even DGBE tuning, you might want to try Roger Ruthen’s universal tabs. Roger has written many arrangements which he calls Ukiversal tabs that can be played on all ukulele tunings. Which means you can use the same tab whether you are playing on a baritone uke or a soprano tuned GCEA. So basically you only have to learn one tab to play on your different ukes but that tab will produce different sounds depending on which uke you play it on.

There is quite a large number of tabs to choose from, all available for free, so you’re sure to find something you’d like to try out.

If classical music is not your cup of tea, you might want to try a different kind of fingerstyle uke, with some Bluegrass. Aaron Keim has created a series of tutorials to help you master the basics. You can send a mail here to receive the tabs to go through the tutorials.

Here is the first video in the series, you can find the other videos here.

Although I haven’t checked any of the books myself, Ondrej Sarek from Czechoslovakia has sent me a mail to inform me of the publication of four ebooks of ukulele sheet music, which you can purchase from
– Antonín D voák: Biblical Songs
– Comprehensive Slide Ukulele: Guidance for Slide Ukulele Playing
– Irish tunes for all ukulele: For C, D and G (Bariton) tuning
– Gospel Ukulele Solos: For C tuning

If you have tried any of these books, please let us know in a comment.

If I have missed on any interesting fingerstyle ukulele links, do let me know and I’ll update the post.



The focus of this World Tour will be mainly on instrumental fingerstyle ukulele from around the world but I’ve also featured a couple of  other videos with singing.

1. Poland

Pawel‘s ukulele arrangement of Sen o Warszawie (The dream about Warsaw) by Czesław Niemen performed on a Makapili koa tenor ukulele.

2. Belgium

Herman Vandecauter invites us to a trip to Santa Cruz de La Palma with his beautiful arrangement of a menuet, La Jalousie, by Spanish guitarist Santagio de Murcia (1673-1739) played on a Kiwaya concert ukulele.

3. Switzerland

Another great performance by Wilfried Welti who plays Planxty Burke by Turlough O’Carolan on a Flea ukulele. Wilfried informs us that he is working on an e-book in which the tabs will be included.

 4. New-Zealand

David Beckingham performs his original Phoenix Blues on a Makai MC-90 mango concert ukulele.

5. Australia

I really love this original blues by dreadlockandload, well played and with very amusing lyrics. She clearly doesn’t have anything to envy the sopranos. The song is called Alto Blues.

6. Iceland / Language: English

Svavar Knútur covers a song by Halla Norðfjörð called Let’s Walk.

At the other end of the world from France, Rose Turtle Ertler, an Australian ukulele player has decided to bring together two of her passions : ukulele and cooking. The result of this combination is a book titled What Do Ukulele Players Eat ? in which Rose has compiled recipes from ukulele players around the world.

Rose has been very kind to answer a few questions which tell us more about the ukulele in Australia and about her book.

U&L:  You are a musician from Australia. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your musical style and your ukulele story ?

Rose Turtle Ertler : I tripped upon the ukulele about twelve years ago, when I tried plugging one into a guitar effects pedal. I was amazed at the result – I could make this tiny cute instrument sound big and distorted like an electric guitar, or pitch shift it down like a wonky double bass or tinkle like bells or sing like an angelic harp. I was very excited that I could ride my bicycyle to gigs and not have to carry big instruments – just my uke and a little 80s drum machine I programmed.

I didn’t know any other ukulele players then, but gradually they started popping up out of the woodwork. I organized three Ukulele Land concerts in Sydney, gathering together as many uke players as possible.

As I met some fine players, I would learn a few tricks here and there and eventually, I threw aside the effects pedal and now play acoustically. I realized that I used to play it like it was a little guitar, not a special instrument all of it’s own.

I joined the Melb Ukulele Kollective when it started in 2004 – there was just three of us at the first meeting, but that soon changed once the word got out. All of a sudden, one day, everyone was playing uke! Since then, over 30 clubs have started up across Australia. I’ve visited lots of them to run workshops. I love the community aspect of the ukulele. All those clubs have similar stories – often people who may never have played music before are so inspired with their new creative outlet. It’s a very joyous thing, although I must admit, I do get sick of those classic ukulele songs that they bash out – You are My Sunshine, Five foot Two, etc!

When I perform, I play my own songs. I call them ‘wonky folk’ songs. I like to throw in odd time signatures here and there, just to make it a bit extra wobbly!

Follow Me Down The Way by Rose Turtle Ertler, with illustrations by comic artist Mandy Ord

U&L: You have just published the second edition of What Do Ukulele Players Eat ?. How did you come up with the idea of compiling a recipe book from ukulele players around the world ? What is new from your first book ?

 Rose Turtle Ertler : A few years ago I was planning to write a book about the ukulele scene in Australia – past and present. I started researching and collected some good stories, but it the scene was changing so fast I couldn’t keep up with it!

So I decided to do a much smaller project that would still give a feeling of the ukulele community – but this time – the international one.

One day, I was in my favourite zine shop in Melbourne called Sticky (a great place to be inspired), when I thought of the idea of combining my two favourite interests – ukulele and cooking. I wondered if other ukulele players were as interested in cooking as I was. So I emailed lots of players all over the world to see if anyone thought it was a good idea. I was pleasantly suprised with the response.

This latest edition of What Do Ukulele Players Eat ? also has a CD that comes with it. All the recipe contributors also sent a song. It’s a beautiful beautiful album and excellent to listen to when you’re cooking!

U&L: What countries are featured in your second edition of What Do Ukulele Players Eat ? Will there be songs in several languages on the CD ?

I tried to get a broad range of countries represented in the book. I would have like some more Pacific Islanders this time, so was very happy to have Seaman Dan from Thursday Island (right off Australia’s north east point).

I wrote to some uke players in Africa, but never got a response.

It’s still a good range of countries: lots in Europe (Spain, Latvia, Belgium, France, Germany, Nederlands and UK), some from US and South America (Brazil), Asia (Japan and Singapore), New Zealand and of course, Australia.

There’s a few instrumental songs on the CD. Of the ones with singing, most sing in English – that’s common these days I guess. But we’re very lucky to have the amazing Yan Yalego singing Eh Là Bas in French and Alexander Wandrowsky (aka Der Mit Der Ukulele) singing his beautiful Wiegenlied in German. He actually sent me an English and German version and we decided to use the German one.

Also, Rodrigo Lemos sings his gorgeous song “Alice” in Portugese.

Ooh, I’m excited – it’s a very beautiful collection of songs!

 U&L: Where can we purchase your book ?

 Rose Turtle Ertler : You can buy the book/CD at my website:

It’s AU$20 plus postage. I’m just off to the post office to see how much postage will cost!

U&L: Do you have any other ukulele project / gig planned in the near future ?

Rose Turtle Ertler : I’m really looking forward to the Melbourne Ukulele Festival coming up this weekend. I’m doing a workshop there – teaching a few strumming patterns for one of my songs, then people can join me on stage when I do my concert later in the evening. It’s a great festival and we get to host lots of members of the international ukulele family. We’ve got U.K.E from Paris staying with us as well as The Nukes from New Zealand.

I’m also taking The Nukes to the countryside for a couple of shows and workshops with ukulele clubs.

I don’t have any other uke projects planned for now, but I was thinking maybe for the next Melb Uke Festival I could take a type writer and set up a little space for people to write their thoughts about the ukulele. I’d like to read those!

Find out more about Rose Turtle Ertler by listening to the lively interview my friend Lou Armer aka Bossarocker has done on the Uke Hunt Podcast #14.

Rose Turtle Ertler on Facebook


Ukulele World Tour

Take a ukulele trip around the world and discover ukulele songs in many languages!
Latest posts :

World Tour Index


Monthly Archives