UD#109 So What: Ukulele Jazz Band

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UD#109 So What: Ukulele Jazz Band
from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek


Today’s lesson:

I thought I would share with you one of the tunes that I’ll be teaching at the BC Swing Camp. It’s a song called “So What” by Miles Davis. Have a listen here:

One of the really unique things about this song is that the melody is played by the bass. The students that I have taught this song have really enjoyed learning the bass part on the uke.

The original key is D minor, but I moved it to C minor for the ukulele arrangement. Have a listen…


For today we will just look at the bass part. I will of course provide tablature for the whole arrangement below.


To play the bass part we actually use a scale called C Dorian minor, also known as the C Dorian mode. I’ll talk a little more about that later but, for now, let’s just learn the notes that we will use.

We start out using this pattern of notes from the C dorian minor scale. Notice that I give fingering suggestions for the left hand. Don’t worry if you have a different fingering that works better for you. Give it a try! 

C Dorian Minor Bass Part Notes

C# Dorian Minor Bass Part Notes

We also use the same pattern using notes of the C# dorian minor scale. It’s the same as the C dorian pattern but the notes are all shifted up one fret. The fingering is tricky. It uses the a leap between the index finger and ring finger on the first two notes. Though challenging, I have found that this is the best fingering for high-G ukes. Also, it is a really good way to practice a more spread out finger position, which is really useful to have some facility with, even if you do have a low G string. If you are interested in an alternate fingering for low-G ukes, please see the hand out. Here are the C# Dorian Minor Bass Part Notes. Fingerings are suggested only.

Okay! Those are the “raw materials” that we will use.

For those of you interested in learning by ear, I’ve made up a little recording that you can listen to and we will learn the bass part bit by bit. 

NOTE: There is also a walking bass part in the solo section of the song. Please see the hand out for that. I intended to put it in the recording, but it was getting too long!

Here is the HAND OUT for SO WHAT including all the parts. You can print it out double sided and it makes a book.



Here is a slower version you can practice along with:

Here is the slower version with the bass part muted. See you if you can play along with only YOU playing the part: 

When you are ready you can play along with the recording at full speed!

And finally here is some information about the Dorian minor scale. 

C Dorian minor has the same notes as a Bb scale…
 Bb major scale =  Bb  C   D   Eb   F   G  A  Bb 

…but we start on the C note instead. Like this:

C dorian minor  =    C   D   Eb   F   G   A   Bb  C

Here is one way to play it:

Part of the song is in C# Dorian minor, which can be played with the exact same shape, just moved up one fret. Like this:

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed it! Let me know if you have any questions. Always great to hear from you. 

Best Guido

P.S. I am regularly adding new lessons to Ukulele in the Dark. Please subscribe to my mailing list below to receive every lesson right when it comes out. Be sure not to miss a thing!


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