UD#96 Chord Melody: Brahms’s Lullaby!

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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 best. I also included standard notation because some of you may have written down the melody that way:


Okay, now for some chord melody!

I did a lesson, some time ago, on how to build a chord melody. You can find that HERE. Today, I plan to start with a simple chord melody arrangement of Brahms’s Lullaby. Then, I’ll show you how to add filler notes which bridge the gaps between melody notes and create a lovely cascade effect. 

First of all, please take a look at the simple chord melody for Brahms’s Lullaby. Click the page to get a printable version. Give it a play!

Here is a recording of the simple chord melody:

If you find it quite challenging to get through the simple version, you may want to hold off on the rest of the lesson until you get it a little more under your fingers. But that is totally up to you. Onward!

Adding More…

As you might have noticed, the arrangement is quite sparse. If you’ve spent some time making chord melodies, you might have asked yourself how you can fill them in a little bit. That’s the topic of today’s lesson. 

I like to use a technique I call “eighth note filling.” This creates a beautiful harp like effect. Let me try to demonstrate how it works in a non-technical way. 

Where Do The Filler Notes Go?

First, let’s sing or speak the first couple of lines of the song. See if you can detect where the gaps are. 

Sleepyhead, close your eyes. Mother’s right here beside you. 

Here is a recording of me singing the first part of the song. I sing the notes really short so you can hear the gaps between melody notes. 

Did you notice where the gaps were?

Now we are going to fill the gaps with claps. This will show you where we will put the filler notes later.

Sleepyhead CLAP CLAP CLAP close your eyes CLAP CLAP CLAP

Mother’s right CLAP here CLAP be- CLAP -side CLAP you CLAP  

Here’s a recording of the exercise, just in case.

 Kind of wacky, yes, but this hopefully gives you a feel for where you are going to put the filler notes. Practice the exercise a few times until you get the feel of it. Or don’t, that’s also an option. 

Now let’s apply some filling to the chord melody. 

Here is the simple chord melody arrangement of the first part of the song. 

What Notes Do You Use for Filling?

The rule I usually follow is to start the filler notes on the G string, and proceed across the strings, one at a time. Mostly, I keep whatever shape is in my left hand at the moment. Maybe an example will be helpful. Here is the chord melody excerpt with filler notes added in red. You’ll notice the filler notes are in the same places as the CLAPS we added earlier, and I always start with the G string. You may also remark that sometimes I just play the G string between melody notes. That’s because I only have space for one filler note there. Please give this example a little play. 

Hope that makes some sense!

Some Fine Tuning

Sometimes the arrangement can sound a little too busy, so, it is possible to thin it out by getting rid of some of the chord notes from the simple chord melody version. Like this!

Pretty cool, eh? 

There are many different permutations of this style, but that is the gist of it. 

Here is a video where I demonstrate today’s arrangement with and without 8th note filling. Then, I talk through today’s lesson and play a few examples.

Here is the sheet music for Brahms’s Lullaby with filler notes. 

I hope you enjoyed today’s lesson. Let me know how it goes. It is always great to hear from you.

All the very best in your playing.


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!