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 Jacques. As you can hear from the recording rounds can also create very sophisticated harmonic textures.I learned Jubilate Deo at CAMMAC, a music camp I used to go to with my family. It was taught to me by my teacher Scottie. The song is twelve bars long and is comprised of three 4-bar phrases all composed over the same chord progression:
| C | F | G7 | C |
The melody can be played with the notes of the C major scale. The highest note is the E on the A string. The lowest note is the open C.
When Scottie taught it to us she taught it one phrase at a time by ear. Here are the three phrases in the song. It’s a great idea to learn to pick and sing them by ear. The tab is at the bottom of the page so you can check your work.
Jubilate Deo can be done as a round with 2 or 3 groups. It can be done picking or signing. Both are very beautiful. If you have a group of players that you get together with you may want to give it a try with them. NOTE: It is a good idea to have someone to strum or pick the chords to help keep everyone together.Let’s say you are doing it with three groups. Group 1 will start and will do the 1st four bars alone. Group 2 will start at bar 1 when Group 1 gets to bar 5. When group 2 gets to bar 5, Group 3 enters at bar 1. You can go through the song as many times as you like. When you decide to finish say “last time” and each group will stop when they get to the end of the melody. This way Group 3 will finish on their own.
In the recording of my intermediate class we did the song twice through with 3 groups. You may want to practice picking or singing along with them. You can practice being a member of Group 1, 2 or 3. Here’s the tab (click for a printable version). Have fun with it!
All for this week! See you next week.