UD #40 Chromatic Walk in the Park

UD #40 Chromatic Walk in the Park

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UD #40 Chromatic Walk in the Park Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Today I want to talk about something that is incredibly useful when building a mental model for music. It’s called the chromatic scale. And in many ways it is the basis for all theory in music. Knowing the chromatic scale forwards and backwards really helps with learning scales, transposing, using moveable chords and more. THE SPACING OF THE NOTES IN MUSIC: A few lessons ago we talked about the C major scale up one string. If you take a look at the spacing of the notes   …Continue Reading


UD #39 Chord Melody: Spanish Melody!

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Chord Melody: Spanish Melody! (UD#39) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek This newsletter I want to share with you an all-time favourite chord melody piece among my ukulele students. The song is called Spanish Melody. I learned it from a book called Hawaiian Ukulele, The Early Methods published by Centerbrook. The song is a lovely lilting waltz. When I demo the song for my students they often say, “That sounds lovely, but difficult!” They are surprised to find that they are able to play it without too much trouble. One student commented, “This tune has a lot of   …Continue Reading


UD #38 Sixteen Beat Strum: Steal My Kisses

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            Sixteen Beat Strum: Steal My Kisses (UD#38) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek OKAY, let’s look at Steal My Kisses by Ben Harper. The song has three chords in it: G C6 and D6. Here are the chords in open position on the uke: And here are the chords “up the neck”: NOTE: The D6 up the neck needs to be played at the 5th fret. There’s a little 5 there at the top of the diagram that is hard to see. The progression goes like this: | G                 |  C6                |    …Continue Reading


UD#37 Horse First Then The Cart: One String Melodies

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UD#37 Horse First Then The Cart: One String Melodies  AN EXPERIENCE I remember being amazed by this experience when I was a kid: I used to listen to the same album again and again. I became so familiar with the songs on the record that when one song finished, the next song would “pop” into my head before the song had even started. This always seemed magical. Have you ever had a similar experience?This effect is one of the most magical things about music making: When you play or even think the notes of a melody or scale, the first   …Continue Reading


UD#36 Chameleon Chord: Diminished 7th Chords part II

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Chameleon Chord: Diminished Chords Part II (UD #36) -AKA The Coolest Thing You Can Do With Diminished Chords- from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek The coolest thing you can do with diminished chords…in my opinion… NOTE: For simplicity I will refer to diminished 7th chords as DIMINISHED CHORDS in this lesson. ALSO NOTE: If you don’t feel like reading there is a video at the bottom of the page. Try this experiment Take a diminished chord like this one: Lower one of the notes in the chord by one fret. Let’s lower the note on the G string.   …Continue Reading


UD #35 Anglular Symmetry: Diminished 7th Chords

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Angular Symmetry: Diminished 7th Chords (UD #35) from Ukulele in the Dark  w/ Guido Heistek Diminished seventh chords can be found in lots of different kinds of music. There are a few different ways to write them. Here are three different ways you might see a C diminished 7th chord written down: Cdim, Co, or Cdim7. For this lesson I will use this format: Cdim7 or Fdim7 throughout. Or I will write out the full name C diminished 7th or F diminished 7th. Most chord charts use the shortened form Cdim or Fdim. Now for some cool facts… 4 COOL   …Continue Reading


UD #34 The Magic of Chord Melody

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The Magic of Chord Melody (UD #34)from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek This week we are talking about chord melody. Here is a little video of me playing through a chord melody of Silent Night. First I play a fairly stylized version with a finger-style treatment. Then I walk you through how I usually approach teaching a simple chord melody arrangement of the song. These are the usual steps: 1. Learn the melody 2. Learn the chords. 3. Put the chords and melody together. Here’s the video: Here are a few notes to help you along. 1. Learn   …Continue Reading


UD #33 Mr. G7 Goes West: Low-Rider!

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Mr. G7 Goes West: Low-Rider (UD #33) THE INVERSIONS OF G7: First things first. Let me introduce you to my favorite one chord song. Lowrider by War. You can strum along with this song with one chord: G7. Give it a go and come on back and we’ll look at some different funky ways of playing G7.   Please find a fretboard chart on the right which you can use for reference as you go along through the lesson. ————————————> NOTE:-TAKE IT EASY!If you only learn one new version of the G7 chord today, that’s good ! You don’t have   …Continue Reading


UD #32 The Thrill of Accidental Harmony

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Singing or playing in harmony is one of the most thrilling things to do in music. This week I want to introduce you to a type of composition called a round. A round is kind of melody composed in such a way as to allow different groups to start at different points. When the melody is “staggered” in this way it creates harmonies. Here’s a recording of some of my intermediate students from Ruby’s Ukes singing a beautiful round called Jubilate Deo: Some simple rounds you may have heard of are Row Row Your Boat, Three Blind Mice or Frere   …Continue Reading


UD #31 The Power of Ukuless Practice?

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UD #31 The Power of Ukuless Practice? I’ve got a show coming up at the end of the month.  So I’ve been thinking this thought a lot: “ACK! I’ve got to practice!” For most people (and me), practice means playing things again and again until they get them right. The problem is that practicing this way can be very tiring! And when you have a lot of things to practice you may not have the energy to practice this way. (Oh, my aching fingers!) When my hands need a rest but I still have things to practice, I find practicing   …Continue Reading


UD #30 Thumb and Finger Notes: Travis Picking

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Travis picking is a right-handed finger picking technique named after Merle Travis, here is a video: As you can hear from the video, Travis picking creates a beautiful layered texture where the thumb of the right hand lays down a steady beat as the fingers (or finger in the case of Merle) add chord and melody notes. It’s very important technique for playing folk and blues music. Also many singer-songwriters use it as a staple technique. Players like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney and many others. Here are a couple of samples: Bob Dylan playing Don’t Think Twice Don’t   …Continue Reading


UD #29 Stay Together Everybody!

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Stay Together Everybody! (UD #29) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek This week I want to talk about playing together as a group. We are all familiar with the topsy turvy sound of a group of musicians who are not really playing together in time. I think this happens in large part because the members of the group are not listening to each other. Each individual is making their own playing more important then the playing going on around them. The other day I tried an experiment with a class to see if I could get them to   …Continue Reading


UD #28 Strum Like a Drummer: Backbeat

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UD #28 STRUM LIKE A DRUMMER: BACKBEAT (and Right Hand Muting) Hear is a real technical definition of backbeat: back·beat  n. “A sharp rhythmic accent on the second and fourth beats of a measure in 4/4 time, characteristic of rock music.” Hmmm…but how do we do that that? I don’t like getting too technical and getting people to count and try to put stresses on certain beats. Instead I’d like us to play backbeat by FEEL. Let’s start by listening: Here’s a recording of a rhythm with a strong backbeat being played on the drums. (go here if it won’t   …Continue Reading