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I love harmony singing and the richness that it creates. Sometimes when I am doing a song on my own, I miss that feeling: the feeing of two voices interacting. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with how to create a melodic interaction between the uke and the voice that can give a similar effect….
When playing bar chords, all uke players, at one time or another, experience “dead notes.” This is when one string does not sound clearly because we haven’t managed to get it down onto the fret. In my casual survey of students, I found that their general approach to this problem is to squeeze like crazy until all the notes sound clearly, or until they give up in frustration. For some time I’ve been meaning to create a lesson with some practical information about the workings of the hand and fingers as it relates to barring. Here goes….
UD#101 Chameleon Jazz Chordfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek I love this chord shape. It’s super useful in jazz. There are many types of chords that this shape can play. I’ll just talk about one of them today, the 6/9 chord. How does it work? Let’s say that you are trying to play an F6/9 chord This shape can be used to play an F6/9 in two different places on the neck of the ukulele. First, a wee bit of theory. Here are the notes in an F6/9 chord. ROOT (1) 3 5 6 …Continue Reading
UD#100 Uke Bar-o-phobia!from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Full disclosure. I don’t love barring, and I try to avoid it when I can. It’s tiring. So, in a series of chord shapes, if there is an opportunity to get up on my finger tips, I take it. For example, this chord shape would suggest barring with the index finger, as it has two notes on the same fret. Barring would look like this. However, I prefer to fret it like this, unless I have a really good reason not to. More comfy! Sometimes you don’t really have …Continue Reading
UD#99 Chord Melody: I’ll Be Home for Christmasfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek The first thing I do before I make a chord melody arrangement is learn the chords and melody of the song. So, here is a simple song sheet for “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” You can strum the chords and sing it, or you can pick the melody. Click the image for a printable version: If you are unfamiliar with chord melody you might want to check out this earlier article: https://ukuleleinthedark.com/ud-68-how-chord-melody-works/ When we create a chord melody arrangement it’s often necessary to use different chord …Continue Reading
UD#98 The Tale of Billy the Gap Hunterfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek It is really hard to fix a problem you are not aware of. I heard this story some time ago. I can’t remember who told it to me. And, full disclosure, I know very little about tennis and may have gotten some things wrong. Here goes. The back hand… There was a tennis teacher who noticed that her student was bending his elbow too much on the backhand. She told him again and again to keep his elbow straight and she was getting more and more frustrated. She …Continue Reading
UD#97 Your Amazing Shape Makers!from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek I was recently working with one of my students, Angela, on the chord melody arrangement of St. James Infirmary from my chorld melody book. She was having trouble getting to an inversion of the G minor chord in bar 7. Here’s the excerpt, if you’d like to give it a try yourself. We both noticed that she was placing her fingers one at a time to make the chord shape and we agreed that it would be better if the fingers could “fly in formation” and land all …Continue Reading
UD#96 Chord Melody: Brahms’s Lullaby!from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Last lesson we learned Brahms’s Lullaby by ear with the plan of arranging it as a chord melody this week. If you missed the last lesson you can find it HERE. Have a look, and then come back to this lesson, when you are ready. For those of you who learned Brahms’s Lullaby by ear, here is the answer sheet so you can check your work. You can see that I have added lyrics, which I forgot to do last week. I used the third verse because I like it the …Continue Reading
UD#95 Confessions of a Uke-by-Ear Zealot…from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek When I started Ukulele in the Dark in 2012, my first plan was to create “audio only” lessons. No visuals! Hence, the name, “…in the Dark.” I came around to the idea that this would be a tad extreme, thankfully. But, I still wanted to create and share some material that would fill a gap in the way that uke was being taught. I wanted to get away from the traditional “do this, then do that” approach and create lessons that would facilitate experiences for students that would help …Continue Reading
UD#94 Send a Songfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Moving to Zoom… When the pandemic hit, I pictured myself shutting down the teaching studio and being forced to find some other way to make a living. I am so grateful that I have been able to continue teaching online. I’ve been surprised at how well it works. In fact, for practically all of my students, this period has brought significant growth. There is, however, one serious drawback to online lessons: I can’t play with my students. This is because of the delay or latency in the system. What …Continue Reading
NOTE: If you don’t feel like reading today skip to the “CHALLENGE” section below and learn a couple of songs by ear! UD#93 Five Pitfalls when Playing by Earfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek …but something was missing. I remember seeing one of my favourite jazz guitar players play a gig. Most of the songs the band played were familiar jazz standards, so they didn’t need any sheet music. A few times though, a lesser known song would come up, and the guitarist would have to pull out a chart. On these sight-reading songs, I could feel a …Continue Reading
UD#92 White Christmas Chord Melodyfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Today’s lesson is about chord melody, which is the subtle art of playing chords and melody at the same time. It is a solo technique that creates the illusion of two ukes playing together. I would like to talk about an aspect of chord melody that many of my students find elusive. Here is the basic concept: “Whenever possible, the chords in a chord melody arrangement are meant to be sustained for their full duration.” In essence, what this means is that chord melody arrangements sound better if …Continue Reading
UD#91 The Joy of the Lonely Roundfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Row Row Row Your Boat Gently Down the Stream Merrily Merrily Merrily Merrily Life is but a dream Way back in UD#32 and UD#43 I shared with you two of my favourite rounds, Jubilate Deo and Donna Nobis Pacem. Rounds are great fun to play or sing in groups. It’s exciting to hear the harmony that is created by the melodies entering at different points. Generally, you need at least two groups to do a round. Each group plays or sings the same tune …Continue Reading