UD#59 Chord Melody: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

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Chord Melody: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (UD#59)
from Ukulele in the Dark
with Guido Heistek

Happy New Year everyone! Thank you for all of your suggestions for a holiday chord melody. I’ve settled on a chord melody arrangement of a lovely tune by Frank Loesser: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

I thought we’d have a listen to the tune first, which gives me an opportunity to share something else with you!

For the past little while I have been doing “one mike recordings” of some of the students at my Vancouver studio. We gather around one mike and record a song that we have been working on. I think the results are immediate and fresh and a testament to the musicality of the students I am blessed to work with. Have a listen and then we’ll go on to learn the chord melody arrangement. Here is Lisa performing  What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Songwriter: Frank Loesser

Lisa Nakamura Nguyen (uke and voice)
G. Heistek (guitar and voice)

Nice eh? Lisa brought in this tune to work on. She learned the arrangement from the Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt version on youtube:

and this chart at ukulele-tabs.com:

Okay! Now for the chord melody arrangement. I chose to move the key of the song to F to make it easier to play chords and melody at the same time.

It is an absolute pleasure to sit down and work out an arrangement to a charming old standard like this tune. Here is the video:

And here is the music:

A Few Pointers:

The sheet music includes the chords, words with melody in standard notation and tablature, and the chord melody arrangement in tablature.

The chords and words are included so you can sing and strum the song to get comfortable with the tune before you try the chord melody arrangement. The melody is included so you can learn to pick the melody on its’ own. This can help you get to know the tune if it is unfamiliar to you. Also with the chords and melody provided you can see how the chords and melody combine to create the chord melody arrangement: Magic!

The Two Flourishes:

I have tried to make the chord melody arrangement as simple as possible but have added some flourishes that may intrigue the more advanced player:

In bar 8, I have added a “turnaround” of 4 chords in quick succession. Please note that I use an F69 chord to start the turnaround. The last chord in the turnaround is a C9(#5)! I love how it transitions from the Gm7 chord! Take some time working on bar 8 of the arrangement on its’ own. It’s a useful piece of vocabulary that can be applied to many different tunes and situations down the road. More on this later!

The second flourish comes at the ending where we employ a device that allows us to create a melodic idea out of a chord. The idea is to take a piece of a chord and slide into it from below creating a really cool affect. The ending is based on two shapes: an F6 on the 5th fret and an F6 on the 10th fret. It may take some time to get this part under your fingers. Work at it a little at a time.

Both these flourishes are not essential to the arrangement and can be left out if need be.

A Road Map:

It has occurred to me that some of you may not know how to read through the sheet music. There are some repeats, 1st and 2nd endings etc. so here is a little road map.

Step 1: play bars 1-8
Step 2: Go back and play bars 1-6 then skip to bar 9 (skip the 1st ending)
Step 3: Play bar 9-18 then jump back to bar 1 (D.C means go back to the beginning)
Step 4: Play bar 1-6 the skip to bar 19 (the Coda)
Step 5: Play bar 19-21

Phew! I used to find these types of charts very confusing when I was first learning. I found it helpful to follow the words. If I knew the song well, the words would tell me which part of the chart I should be in. More on chart reading another time!

I hope you enjoyed this newsletter.

All for now,

And to all a good night,




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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