UD#110 The Strum-o-lo-gy of Swingin’ the Blues

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UD#110 The Strum-o-logy of Swingin’ Blues
from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek

I’ve created an arrangement of “Blue Monk” by Thelonius Monk. Have a listen, and then read on!


The music sheet is below. Try it out with some uke buddies!

Today, I am going to focus on strumming the chords. 

In the song we use three chords: G7, C7, D7. 

A lot of times when we play jazz music on the ukulele we use chords “up the neck.”

So today, instead of playing the open G7 like this… 

 we will play the G7 like this: 

We will also use these less familiar chord shapes for C7 and D7. 

You Don’t Have to Play the Whole Shape!

As a Jazz guitar student, I was happy to learn that it sounded good to play partial chord shapes.

On the uke, this means we leave out one or two strings when we play the chord. This makes it much easier and, as an added bonus, it sounds cool. 

Let’s practice leaving out the first string.

So instead of this…

…we can play this:

Try it! Make sure to not let the open string ring.

What do you think is the best way to prevent it from ringing?

Okay! Let’s leave out the 1st AND 2nd string

Instead of this… 

…we can play this:


Give it a go on other chords!

 Experiment with playing a partial  C7 and D7 using the chord shapes below. Practice leaving out the 1st string, and the 1st and 2nd strings. This will give you a three or two string version of each chord. 

You might notice something very interesting when you try the two string version of all three chord shapes: G7, C7 and D7.  What did you notice? More on this in the video below.

Also, you may notice that when you play a partial chord, it’s tough to keep the open strings from ringing. What did you do to prevent them from ringing? I talk about this as well in the video below, and I walk you through a swing strumming approach that gets the partial chords grooving in “Blue Monk.”

Here is the video!





Please note, that on the recording, I play the 2 string chords once through and then switch to 3 string chords the second time through. You can, of course, arrange it any way you like! Strum along with the “Audio Minus Strumming” track. 

All the best in your playing!

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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