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Rllink
12-12-2016, 03:19 AM
I am putting this here in beginners, because sometimes beginners look at a song and at the chord progression, and then give up on it. The holiday seasons has caught some new ukulele players that want to go along caroling with us, a bit over their heads. Often times we see carols with very intricate and intimidating progressions. That is especially true of the carols in the Daily Ukulele books. Not just that, but when accompanying a group out caroling, the singers often go off on their own, instead of going along with the accompaniment, and it turns into a race for the poor accompanists. You just have to adapt. It comes with the territory. Any shortcuts that you can come up with to keep up are life savers.

So a tip, half the chords in many of those songs are just flavor. You don't need them all to get through the song, especially when all you are doing is playing along. If one is having trouble keeping up, or if one wishes to memorize some of the songs so that they are free of having to hold a book in one hand and play with the other, they can slowly go through the song, find the chords that are not essential, then trim out a lot of the fat to simplify them. I do it all the time. And that isn't just the case for holiday music, it will work on a lot of songs. In fact, when I am trying to work up or memorize a song that has a rather complicated progression, I will most often trim it down to the essentials, then add the razzle dazzle later, after I've gotten the basics chord progression down.

So I thought that I would share that. I hope that beginner ukulele players will take advantage of every opportunity to play their ukes during the holiday season. It is the one season that affords us so many opportunities to go out and share our passion. I encourage everyone to get out of the basement or your living room, or your bedroom, or wherever you usually hide to play your ukulele, and let yourselves shine. You will be happy you did. And trim those songs down so that you can play them.

zztush
12-12-2016, 03:33 AM
Yes, identifing three chords might be the first step of trimming the fat.

jollyboy
12-12-2016, 03:38 AM
Yes, I agree. Less is sometimes definitely more. I think it's the best way to learn a song - concentrate on the basics first and then add in the fancy footwork later on.

Booli
12-12-2016, 04:11 AM
+1 for the OP.

Sometimes we need to get out of our own way, and for lack of a better phrase, 'dumb things down', just enough to smooth out the speed bumps and build confidence, with the music, or with anything.

There's no shame in striving for, and implementing simplicity, as it often leads to happiness.

Rllink
12-12-2016, 04:16 AM
I mentioned this in another thread, but I got started doing this with Tip Toe Through the Tulips. I was bound to learn to play that song, and another ukulele player told me that is wasn't that simple of a song, that there were some tricky chords in it. So I printed it out, and my friend was right, there were in the one that I had found. But then I realized that I could play it without some of the chords. So I played a simplified version for a long time, and then finally worked my way up to the gold edition after a while. But then I started doing that a lot more. So now I'm trying to get some friends out to play carols, and they were looking at songs like First Noel in the Daily Ukulele book and saying, no way. But then I took a pencil and crossed out the fluff, and they were amazed that they could play the song without those chords. They were saying. "why are those chords there", and I told them for razzle dazzle. I think that sometimes people are so literal that they think that because it is there, it has to be played. And of course, that is why I am writing this.

Booli
12-12-2016, 04:31 AM
I mentioned this in another thread, but I got started doing this with Tip Toe Through the Tulips. I was bound to learn to play that song, and another ukulele player told me that is wasn't that simple of a song, that there were some tricky chords in it. So I printed it out, and my friend was right, there were in the one that I had found. But then I realized that I could play it without some of the chords. So I played a simplified version for a long time, and then finally worked my way up to the gold edition after a while. But then I started doing that a lot more. So now I'm trying to get some friends out to play carols, and they were looking at songs like First Noel in the Daily Ukulele book and saying, no way. But then I took a pencil and crossed out the fluff, and they were amazed that they could play the song without those chords. They were saying. "why are those chords there", and I told them for razzle dazzle. I think that sometimes people are so literal that they think that because it is there, it has to be played. And of course, that is why I am writing this.

It is interesting to me that you mention this. I used to use the Daily Ukulele all the time to try and build up a repertoire, and found some of the songs had so many chord changes and being new songs to me to play, that I just skipped them, mostly due to impatience with myself.

Yes, I admit, sometimes I can be lazy. I sort of knew in my head that I could strip things down, much they way that they do for Jazz 'Fake Books' or 'Lead Sheets', but never really pursued it for whatever reason.

But now, Rollie, with your thread here, you've inspired me to have another look at some of the more 'complex' music sheets that I have and try again with this different approach. I am much better at learning music by ear than reading off a music sheet, and I memorize much faster by ear (I have always been an auditory learner more than a paper learner when it comes to music), but this is a new way to look at things, which I very much appreciate the timeliness of your post here.

Mahalo brother! :)

pluck
12-12-2016, 04:35 AM
Occasionally I'll see an arranger post a standard version of a song and a simple version of a song. Studying these two side by side is very instructive in this area. It wasn't until I did this that it occurred to me that very often an Am7 is just a fancy C.

I think it is Uke Hunt that has both versions of I'll See You In My Dreams and it's worth comparing the two.

Rllink
12-12-2016, 06:10 AM
It is interesting to me that you mention this. I used to use the Daily Ukulele all the time to try and build up a repertoire, and found some of the songs had so many chord changes and being new songs to me to play, that I just skipped them, mostly due to impatience with myself.

Yes, I admit, sometimes I can be lazy. I sort of knew in my head that I could strip things down, much they way that they do for Jazz 'Fake Books' or 'Lead Sheets', but never really pursued it for whatever reason.

But now, Rollie, with your thread here, you've inspired me to have another look at some of the more 'complex' music sheets that I have and try again with this different approach. I am much better at learning music by ear than reading off a music sheet, and I memorize much faster by ear (I have always been an auditory learner more than a paper learner when it comes to music), but this is a new way to look at things, which I very much appreciate the timeliness of your post here.

Mahalo brother! :)Thank you for the kind words. I was hoping to encourage some beginners to go forth and share their music, but inspiring an experienced player is more than I could ask for. One thing for the less experienced as well, when one trims down the chords in a song, if they are playing with someone who might have a better handle on it and who wants to spice it up a little, they can do that. It doesn't change the song. They don't miss a beat. That is something I like about it, and in fact, a beginning player playing the trimmed down version often times compliments the player who is a little more advanced and wants to put all those chords back into it. That is something I think beginners don't realize as well.

Down Up Dick
12-12-2016, 06:23 AM
Funny, I was gonna write a post to ask if other UUers were omitting some of the many chords in songs, but I sorta thought people would think I was too stupid to learn more chords or perhaps too lazy. Now, I'm glad to see that others do it. I'm gonna start workin' on it with Christmas tunes.

Chords are the bane of my musician life. I've always been a one note at a time musician. I stopped studying piano because I couldn't handle chords and melody at the same time.

This post has made me very satisfied and happy--thanks UUers! :old:

HollyUke
12-12-2016, 06:45 AM
Thank you so much for posting this, Rllink. It's such great advice! My students' confidence always sky rockets when we discuss and practice this idea during lessons.

Nickie
12-12-2016, 07:19 AM
Good ideas, gang. When I lead a jam session, I pick the easiest songs I can find to start with, then they get progressively harder toward the end. I don't push my people hard. I show them how to make every new or hard chord, and then watch and listen to make sure they can all do it. I tell them that if they are flummoxed by it, to skip it. And we play most songs a little slower than they really go.
I found out that the Daily Ukulele was actually created for TBUS at 1st! I was honored!

bunnyf
12-12-2016, 07:43 AM
When you have many singers, complex chords aren't really needed. Even with a single vocalist a pared down arrangement usually works fine. This opens a beginner up to so many more songs to play.

Croaky Keith
12-12-2016, 08:26 AM
So, basically they are not needed, so why jazz it up at all. :confused: :wallbash::wtf:

(This, of course comes from someone who just picks melodies.) ;)

sukie
12-12-2016, 08:36 AM
Good info, Rollie. Christmas Carols for noobs can just be too intimidating. It needn't be that way. It's for fun!

Rllink
12-12-2016, 08:50 AM
So, basically they are not needed, so why jazz it up at all. :confused: :wallbash::wtf:

(This, of course comes from someone who just picks melodies.) ;)

It gives accompaniment more pazazz. It adds some flavor. It allows the accompanist to show off a little, take it in an unexpected direction. Throwing in those extra chords turns a simpler song into a more complex and challenging song for those who are more advanced and want to push themselves to a higher level. It all depends on where you are at. I'm just saying that for a beginner there is a simpler version if they take it down to the basics and that they don't need to be intimidated by them at first sight. But also I think that it can depend on the circumstances for those who have some experience. If a person is sitting in a coffee shop playing for an audience, then maybe they want to dazzle the audience with some fancy chords. If a person is tromping around with a dozen people singing Christmas songs door to door, probably no one is going to notice the fancy fingerwork anyway, so why not just take it easy and enjoy the holiday moment? But then if one is by themselves recording their song and they get a do-over every time they miss a chord, then maybe go all out and post it on the internet. Lots of reasons.

Croaky Keith
12-12-2016, 09:33 AM
OK, I get your point there, but all those extras in the chord sheets would certainly put me off, & I wouldn't know which ones could be left out.
Likely most newbies wouldn't know either, therefore precluding some from enjoying what could be a simple song.

strumsilly
12-12-2016, 09:50 AM
So, basically they are not needed, so why jazz it up at all. :confused: :wallbash::wtf:

(This, of course comes from someone who just picks melodies.) ;)not necessarily "not needed ". But more spice is nice"most of the time"for example, in Melekalikimaka, those diminished chords sure sound nice.when left out, something seems missing.

Down Up Dick
12-12-2016, 11:04 AM
To me it's the melody and the words that are important. The accompaniment is nice too, and it keeps everyone together and hopefully in the same key.

I just can't get into learning all those chords especially if they're real fingertwisters. And, even though one is playing in C, he/she has to learn chords from other keys that also fit into the song. So one has to learn melody, the words and the chords too?

It's really enough to make an old man's head explode. Hooray for simple! :old:

Rllink
12-12-2016, 11:07 AM
OK, I get your point there, but all those extras in the chord sheets would certainly put me off, & I wouldn't know which ones could be left out.
Likely most newbies wouldn't know either, therefore precluding some from enjoying what could be a simple song.Yep, it won't work for everybody, and it won't work on every song either. But maybe the if newbies can't figure it out for themselves, they have a teacher or a more experienced friend that can take a pencil and slash a couple of chords for them.


not necessarily "not needed ". But more spice is nice"most of the time"for example, in Melekalikimaka, those diminished chords sure sound nice.when left out, something seems missing.Yep, you are right, you can't take them all out, especially the ones that make the song sound like something is missing when you do. Sometimes you need to leave a little flavor. But it isn't always an all or nothing exercise.

Choirguy
12-12-2016, 03:47 PM
Rollie,

You are 100% correct in your thinking. In general, simplified chord structure will work, and most songs can be limited to 3 or 4 chords. Yes, there are exceptions. That said, there is often a series of rabbit holes that can be followed with songs, or added to songs, to make more interesting accompaniment.

With beginners at uke jams with "el libro amarillo," beginning players play the chords they can play (C, Am, perhaps F, G, G7, D7, or C7) and roll with it. The Twin Cities Ukulele Club holds jams on Friday mornings (1st and 3rd) where Tony Anthonisen leads those sessions--and he is incredibly gifted in his leadership. It is a non-threatening environment where beginners are allowed and mistakes are welcomed (sometimes celebrated).

That doesn't mean that advanced jams shouldn't exist, and the TC Uke club has some of those, too.

I would also point people towards the many videos by "The Ukulele Teacher" on YouTube. He arranges songs (usually pop, although he is doing carols right now) that are generally pretty easy to play--and then teaches them. Some songs are more challenging than others (e.g. Here Comes the Sun has an solo riff included), but most of the songs follow a three or four chord structure.

Finally, the "advanced" chords often carry 2 of the 3 notes of the "simplified chord" in them, so if simplified is played with advanced...generally the end result doesn't sound too bad (ultimately a 7th or 9th chord is being formed).

And it is all about music, enjoying life, and having fun. So keep up the great work.

padlin
12-13-2016, 12:51 AM
Thanks for the idea Rllink, I'll give it a try.