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View Full Version : Reading sheet music with a Low G uke



manfromtexas
04-20-2018, 04:48 AM
Iím really interested in learning to read music and would love to approach it with my ukulele. However, I play Low G exclusively and from what Iíve gathered early on it seems like that might pose a problem. There are tons of classical ukulele books out there and other kinds of sheet music books out there for ukulele but it seems like nearly all of them are for high G. If a song has been arranged for high G ukulele then it seems to me that itís not going to even have any notes below middle C in it. Plus you have to figure out how to either substitute in that low G string for the high G notes or figure different ways of playing those high G notes on the top 3 strings. That might be a good brain teaser exercise, but also might be kind of a pain if youíre just starting out and just taking your first baby steps.

On the other hand if you take a piece of music thatís been arranged for guitar or piano itís likely going to include notes below even the Low G scale so thereís a similar problem there.

I play guitar too, so Iíve thought well maybe Iím better off just learning to read music on guitar, and then I can take that knowledge and apply it to the ukulele. Maybe I just need to get over my low G obsession, put a high G on one of my ukes and dive into some of those books that were written and arranged for it.

I donít know Ė do you all have any thoughts or suggestions?

johnnysmash
04-20-2018, 05:08 AM
Learn on piano - how to read music and study chords and there inversions and major and minor scales. Then you can fly all over the fretboard of a guitar. That is if you also learn the fretboard. If you do so you will be years ahead of most.

Pirate Jim
04-20-2018, 05:11 AM
It's actually pretty common for guitar sheet music to not venture all the way down to that low E - if you treat your low G as the lowest G possible on guitar then an awful lot of guitar music is accessible to you as you're only missing three notes (E, F, F#). I use guitar music all the time!

TobyDog
04-20-2018, 07:10 AM
Thank you for that information, Pirate Jim. I've been limiting my low g playing to that which specifies that what it's for (ie. Daniel Ho's music). But I can read music (from childhood piano study), so now I'll tackle some guitar music. You've expanded my world!



It's actually pretty common for guitar sheet music to not venture all the way down to that low E - if you treat your low G as the lowest G possible on guitar then an awful lot of guitar music is accessible to you as you're only missing three notes (E, F, F#). I use guitar music all the time!

Croaky Keith
04-20-2018, 09:33 AM
You can transpose any tune, or you can play it as you find it. :)

Stick with Low G, the uke has a limited range, the low G makes sense for anyone who isn't just strumming. ;)

Booksniffer
04-22-2018, 02:36 AM
James Hill's online course (which makes much use of reading music) has all the lessons in both a high and a low g version.

Rllink
04-22-2018, 02:56 AM
You can transpose any tune, or you can play it as you find it. :)

Stick with Low G, the uke has a limited range, the low G makes sense for anyone who isn't just strumming. ;)I'm going to have to have a friendly disagreement Keith. I don't agree that all you can do is strum a high G. There is a lot that you can do without those two or three lower notes in one wants to get creative, and that creativeness is what make high G so fun. As far as I'm concerned anyway.

Choirguy
04-22-2018, 05:55 AM
I haven’t studied enough of the history to know when low G emerged as an option—what I have read has shown reentrant tuning from the start—both as GCEA and ADF#B as tuning.

There are plenty of resources out there for reentrant and linear tuning—the challenge can be in determing which type of tuning a song is written for, if you are reading “tab only.” I found a lovely version of Ashokan Farewell some time ago that was written for low G and sounds “wrong” on high G; and John King’s Classical Ukulele Book is written for high G versus low G—and songs can sound “wrong” if played with the wrong tuning.

The high G is favored by Campanella players who want to let notes ring as long as possible when they are played. For strummers, you get used to what you hear as you strum—and if you switch things don’t necessarily sound right.

I have 3 low G instruments...one tenor, one concert, and my recent XS Soprano with a flat wound G string. It is nice to have—but does not represent the traditional “sound” of a reentrant ukulele—and I am quite happy to have both on hand and to be able to switch as necessary.

merlin666
04-23-2018, 04:53 AM
Maybe the OP should clarify what s/he means with "sheet music". If it's a tab then it clearly needs to indicate if it's for low-G or not as the bass lines with sound funny on re-entrant. If actual sheet music in musical notation is referred to then it does not matter, unless it includes the extra low notes that only the low-G provides. The limits at the high end are the same for both and provided by the A string.

stevepetergal
04-23-2018, 05:42 AM
First, do you mean sheet music or tabs? Sheet music is sheet music and, as far as I know, doesn't distinguish high or low G.
If you're looking for tabs, you're right. They are in rather short supply, but there are a few sources for classical material.

You can easily find Uke Jordy (Jordi Vives i Batlle). He has lots of beautiful transcriptions (some rather advanced).

Chief Noda has classical and Hawaiian tabs for low and high G, from very easy to intermediate.

Craig Brandau has a bunch of stuff, all low G, very playable, and musical. He has material for sale and is also pretty generous with the free transcriptions on the web.

Hal Leonard has a J.S. Bach book with very nice transcriptions, a few of which are low G. I strongly recommend these, because they are not only very lovely but most approachable. (This book may even inspire you to try some high G stuff.)

There are others out there. With some searching, you will likely find enough to keep you interested and progressing until you start creating your own.