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View Full Version : Is there any song that *can't* be covered on the uke?



Ukulele JJ
09-05-2009, 07:14 AM
I don't think there is. Discuss.

:D

JJ

sweetie pie
09-05-2009, 07:17 AM
dragonforce. i think that's it.

that's okay, though, because nobody likes dragonforce.

noah_clinnson
09-05-2009, 07:26 AM
dragonforce. i think that's it.

that's okay, though, because nobody likes dragonforce.

My thoughts exactly.

I'm thinking you could create a pretty close rendition of any song on the uke, as far as exact covers... maybe on a low g

leftovermagic84
09-05-2009, 07:34 AM
there's a difference between cannot and should not.

sweetie pie
09-05-2009, 07:58 AM
there's a difference between cannot and should not.

indeed. i learned that the hard way when i got a harsh response for my cover of 'wait (the whisper song)' as performed by the ying yang twins. little too explicit.

Lanark
09-05-2009, 08:14 AM
It kind of depends.
I've found while picking out stuff for our Orchestra to do that not everything works. Some guitar riffs don't translate very well to four strings. Another thing I've also found is that songs that are a bit more bass-centric, where a large chunk of the hook is in the bassline don't work too well either.

Essentially though, any song that can be distilled into a voice and an instrument works.

the.ronin
09-05-2009, 08:39 AM
there's a difference between cannot and should not.

x2 kajillion

Zakulele
09-05-2009, 08:57 AM
dragonforce. i think that's it.

that's okay, though, because nobody likes dragonforce.

Here is a Dragonforce cover
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6K-B64OqEk

mrplatypus70
09-05-2009, 09:09 AM
Due to the limited range (I have never tried a low G, that would be too much like a guitar with a capo for me) there are a LOT of things you cannot play the same as the original. However I think with a bit of creative re-thinking you could do a version of just about anything. It is the limitations that make you be more creative, that is part of the fun of the uke! I have played guitar for a LOT longer and still play guitar but rethinking parts for 4 strings and less range is a challenge that makes you learn as you go.

thejumpingflea
09-05-2009, 11:04 AM
I'm Yours



.

therimidalv
09-05-2009, 11:24 AM
Here is a Dragonforce cover
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6K-B64OqEk

Wow thats real creative and pretty good! And yes I dont thinkI've ever heard an I'm Yours cover on uke. Someone should do one.

chrisg14mac
09-06-2009, 01:54 AM
Kung Fu Fighting. My kids have been asking me to learn it, but I am convinced it can't be done on the uke (keep in mind that I am very new to playing, so that could actually be the problem).

Wish someone could prove me wrong. My kids would thank you!

Honu
09-06-2009, 03:45 AM
Another thing I've also found is that songs that are a bit more bass-centric, where a large chunk of the hook is in the bassline don't work too well either.

I agree. I've been trying to figure out how to play "Everlong" by the foo fighters on the uke. Unless someone knows how to, I found it's impossible to imitate the bass note they use. It doesn't help that they drop down their base note to play it on the guitar.

Lanark
09-06-2009, 02:40 PM
I feel your pain.
I've had a few things brought up for the Orchestra that I just couldn't find a work around for because while the chords were easy enough, the bass had the hook and it just wouldn't work without it.

deach
09-06-2009, 02:51 PM
I agree. I've been trying to figure out how to play "Everlong" by the foo fighters on the uke. Unless someone knows how to, I found it's impossible to imitate the bass note they use. It doesn't help that they drop down their base note to play it on the guitar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2BChxE6jeY

Honu
09-06-2009, 03:13 PM
Lol... Don't worry Deach I still remember the video. :D

I've actually played it the way you did. For a couple of weeks I had my Fluke tuned down so that I can play your version just on that uke. I was kinda commenting on a Uke tuned GCEA.

By the way, still honored to have a video where you say my Nickname!!!:p

experimentjon
09-06-2009, 05:18 PM
I think you can cover basically anything you want on uke. But sometimes it just takes a bit more effort, especially when you're looking at guitar tabs, and you want it to sound just like the original. For example, Extreme's More Than Words. Yes, you can play it on uke, and Aldrine does, but you just can't get that same steel string guitar vibe. And that's when I need to bring out one of the six string juggernauts.

kalmario
09-06-2009, 05:44 PM
anything in drop D

if anyone can do my own prison by creed i would be mightly stoked.

Cliff

Vindelanda
09-06-2009, 08:46 PM
I would say most music sounds good on a uke, and some even better than with a guitar, but there are some that just don't fit as well.
Like I think more subdued/sad songs tend to be a bit, well, odd. Ukuleles tend to have a bright, happy sound so it may not fit so well. That said, it could work, I'm still a noob at this. :D

deach
09-07-2009, 04:10 AM
anything in drop D
...

If you have a low g uke, tune it to F A F C.

hoosierhiver
09-07-2009, 04:35 AM
Kung Fu Fighting. My kids have been asking me to learn it, but I am convinced it can't be done on the uke (keep in mind that I am very new to playing, so that could actually be the problem).

Wish someone could prove me wrong. My kids would thank you!

I've seen at least two covers of Kung Fu fighting on the uke.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLZAW8E73-E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEsiTKHoJ7A

I've been wondering this morning about what a uke cover of "Stayin' Alive" would sound like? Any takers?

ukulelearp
09-07-2009, 10:17 AM
The lack of bass notes makes it almost impossible to play "While my guitar gently weeps" with simple strummed chords. I haven't found a way.

Et3rnalbattl3
09-07-2009, 01:54 PM
Technically, any song can be covered on the uke. The question is, how good will it sound in comparison to using a guitar or piano?

Rick
09-07-2009, 09:33 PM
Technically, any song can be covered on the uke. The question is, how good will it sound in comparison to using a guitar or piano?

i agree. i wanna see someone cover coheed and cambria songs

gioconbrio
09-08-2009, 07:42 AM
Any song that can't be played on uke? Technically, no. There are some that work better better than others, though.

In any case, it sounds like a great idea for a contest: "Songs That Can't/Shouldn't be Played on Ukulele."

MissMacadamia
09-08-2009, 08:05 AM
I hope no one has ever tried death metal on a uke??
Please say no one has.

Ukulele JJ
09-08-2009, 12:49 PM
In any case, it sounds like a great idea for a contest: "Songs That Can't/Shouldn't be Played on Ukulele."

And instead of the winner getting a ukulele, the winner gets his or her ukulele taken away...

:p

Anyhoo, I started this thread without answering the question myself, but I honestly think the answer is "no".

Of course, some songs will need to have more artistic liberties taken with them than others. Maybe you can't play a particular bass line, but you can convert it to a different line altogether, or leave it out entirely*. Maybe you can't play it as fast as the original, but you can play it half-time, or put it in a completely different time signature altogether. Or change it from thrash metal to bossa nova.

Bascially, assuming you don't mean "exact copy" by the word "cover", then yeah, I think any song can be done on a uke.

JJ

* Or even resort to singing it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rewhReymelc). :p

franulele
09-08-2009, 04:23 PM
After hearing players like UOGB do selections as varied as "Ride of the Walkyries" and "Anarchy in the UK", I don't think there is anything that can't be done by a group of ukulelists, though there is music that doesn't easily lend itself to a solo uke.

Kmetzger
09-08-2009, 05:15 PM
I don't think there is. Discuss.

:D

JJ

Most certainly there is. And it is "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly.

UkeCan1
10-24-2013, 02:07 AM
LOVE this thread. It deserves a revival. Would be an amazing Seasons theme (if you don't know about the Seasons, you must go there immediately: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?47-Seasons-of-the-Ukulele). We could have members post specific challenges they think can't be done, or can't figure out how to do, and others could rise to the challenge! Some day I'm going to host this one.

Any takers? I'm a bit dismayed no one has responded to this thread with an actual video of a song someone else has said can't be done. Seasonistas, especially Misfits, where are you?!

- Wendy of Uke Can 2!

Jon Moody
10-24-2013, 02:20 AM
Seeso had a GREAT class at Mufest this past weekend that covered pop songs, performed effortlessly on the uke.

Everything can be arranged onto ukulele, no problem. It really comes down to the creativity of the player.

UkeCan1
10-24-2013, 02:29 AM
Everything can be arranged onto ukulele, no problem. It really comes down to the creativity of the player.

Well said, Monkey! To me, of course the answer to the original question is "no". To me, the more interesting question is:
"What songs might others say can't be covered on the uke?" or
"What songs pose a seemingly impossible challenge for playing on uke?", or
"What songs do you have no idea how to cover on uke?"

I'd love to see folks post their answers to one or another of those questions, and see who can respond by rising to the challenge (on video, if you can) by actually doing that song on uke!

Any takers? For either posting a challenge to your fellows, or rising to a challenge already posted?

- Wendy of Uke Can 2!

Jon Moody
10-24-2013, 02:41 AM
Well said, Monkey! To me, of course the answer to the original question is "no". To me, the more interesting question is:
"What songs might others say can't be covered on the uke?" or
"What songs pose a seemingly impossible challenge for playing on uke?", or
"What songs do you have no idea how to cover on uke?"

I'd love to see folks post their answers to one or another of those questions, and see who can respond by rising to the challenge (on video, if you can) by actually doing that song on uke!

Any takers? For either posting a challenge to your fellows, or rising to a challenge already posted?

- Wendy of Uke Can 2!

That's a good reminder that I need to make a quick video of me doing "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel, because some people requested to hear it. There's one that poses two challenges: it has a very distinct melody in the guitar, and the song is in 7/4 (with exception of a couple of 4/4 bars in the bridge).

Tristan Castro
10-24-2013, 02:47 AM
dubstep or techno music

UkeCan1
10-24-2013, 03:25 AM
dubstep or techno music

With dancing!

UkeCan1
10-24-2013, 03:26 AM
That's a good reminder that I need to make a quick video of me doing "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel, because some people requested to hear it. There's one that poses two challenges: it has a very distinct melody in the guitar, and the song is in 7/4 (with exception of a couple of 4/4 bars in the bridge).

You are one great monkey. I look forward to the vid! 7/4 - I'm eager to see what that strum looks like.

Pundabaya
10-24-2013, 06:11 AM
You'd struggle with Drum'n'Bass on just ukes, being that they lack the two most important ingredients.

prooftheory
10-24-2013, 06:15 AM
The standard ukulele would be inappropriate for a lot of microtonal music, such as indian ragas. If you played it with a slide it might be doable.

UkeCan1
10-24-2013, 06:19 AM
You'd struggle with Drum'n'Bass on just ukes, being that they lack the two most important ingredients.

Aah, you can totally drum on a uke. Ask James Hill if you need pointers. Bass you just need to move up a couple octaves.


Anything that has chords and words can be covered on a uke, maybe not perfectly, but that does not matter if you sing loudly enough.
Stuff that can't be covered would be instrumental and would be using too many notes for the ukulele fretboard, like needing a low A or four octaves.

I don't even think those are necessary. You can play notes without chords on a uke. I've heard plenty of instrumentals on ukes. There are probably plenty of great ukers out there who don't sing at all. If a song uses notes we don't have, we just have to bring them up an octave or three, or find some other clever substitute.

Get creative, y'all! I'm pretty sure you can do anything. I challenge you!

UkeCan1
10-24-2013, 06:21 AM
The standard ukulele would be inappropriate for a lot of microtonal music, such as indian ragas. If you played it with a slide it might be doable.

Feel free to slide all you want! I'm loving these challenges. Now, who will try them for us?

PeteyHoudini
10-24-2013, 12:39 PM
4′33″

LOL! hehe ;-)

Petey

SailQwest
10-24-2013, 12:56 PM
At the request of one of my playmates, I just started working on an arrangement of The Wizard by Black Sabbath. Time to work on using my harp rack, too. ;)

Tootler
10-24-2013, 12:56 PM
4′33″

LOL! hehe ;-)

Petey

It's been done: http://youtu.be/RelOAiSnLHQ :nana:

Tootler
10-24-2013, 01:06 PM
Depends what you mean by "cover".

If you use the original meaning of recreating the original arrangement, then there are a great many songs that can't effectively be covered using a ukulele.

If however, you simply mean "performed" with a ukulele then, with a little thought, any song can be performed with a ukulele.

When you perform a song, I don't think you should try to recreate the original arrangement even if it is possible. The aim should always be to make the song your own. That shouldn't stop you using ideas from the original arrangement but never a straight copy.

PeteyHoudini
10-24-2013, 01:07 PM
It's been done: http://youtu.be/RelOAiSnLHQ :nana:

Hehe! I'm on the train right now and the Wi-Fi blocks YouTube... will have to check it out later. Petey

prooftheory
10-24-2013, 01:09 PM
There's actually lots of post-modern classical music that falls into this category, with compositions that are to be played by only ghosts or on an instrument that is simultaneously located in two different places or played by a schroedinger's cat. There are likewise plenty of compositions that include intervals that are outside of the range of any ukuleles. Now you could claim that these things aren't an essential part of the composition, but unless you set up clear conditions of falsifiability it renders the claim vacuous. "Any song can be played on a pumpkin" would be just as valid a claim.

Chap
10-24-2013, 01:44 PM
dubstep or techno music

Hmmm.... perhaps this is close enough? A little bit of Mr B...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT2iP5Si-Ho

KoaDependent
10-24-2013, 03:06 PM
4′33″

I get requests for that one all the time.

ohmless
10-24-2013, 06:45 PM
this one would take multitracking but I think it would be a challenge. One I would love to see someday!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvtwTi_oC78

Tootler
10-24-2013, 09:40 PM
There's actually lots of post-modern classical music that falls into this category, with compositions that are to be played by only ghosts or on an instrument that is simultaneously located in two different places or played by a schroedinger's cat. There are likewise plenty of compositions that include intervals that are outside of the range of any ukuleles. Now you could claim that these things aren't an essential part of the composition, but unless you set up clear conditions of falsifiability it renders the claim vacuous. "Any song can be played on a pumpkin" would be just as valid a claim.

I said "song" and a song means it is sung. Too many people use the word "song" wrongly when they are referring to a purely instrumental piece. If there is no vocal it is not a song.

I stand by what I said. If you like, it is possible to sing any song and accompany it with a ukulele, even operatic arias. Some might not work so well but that's a different matter

prooftheory
10-24-2013, 11:43 PM
I stand by what I said. If you like, it is possible to sing any song and accompany it with a ukulele, even operatic arias. Some might not work so well but that's a different matter

Likewise, it is possible to accompany any "song" in this sense by pounding on a pumpkin. This hasn't changed the argument much.

You can accompany gregorian chants or Tuvan throat singing or the polyphonic singing of the Aka pygmies but what on earth would it mean if you did that, especially if you couldn't actually play any notes that harmonized with them? Would those be the same "song"?

UkeCan1
10-25-2013, 02:37 AM
4′33″
LOL! hehe ;-)
Petey

We Tigers (uke / glockenspiel duo) did this for UU Season 86 (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?86742-Season-86-of-the-Ukulele-Third-Time-s-A-Charm!), two weeks back:


www.youtube.com/watch?v=RelOAiSnLHQ

It's pretty astounding. Worth a few minutes to watch all the way through. (It's even more amazing with the glock, but I'm pretty sure you could do it with just uke and it would sound just as good. :-))

- Wendy (who cannot sit still that long)

UkeCan1
10-25-2013, 03:00 AM
Depends what you mean by "cover".

If you use the original meaning of recreating the original arrangement, then there are a great many songs that can't effectively be covered using a ukulele.

If however, you simply mean "performed" with a ukulele then, with a little thought, any song can be performed with a ukulele.

When you perform a song, I don't think you should try to recreate the original arrangement even if it is possible. The aim should always be to make the song your own. That shouldn't stop you using ideas from the original arrangement but never a straight copy.

Did "cover" originally mean to recreate the original arrangement? If so I did not know that.

To me the best covers have always been the ones that add something new to a song. If you're just going to copy it, what's the point? Isn't that like those Renaissance artists whose job was simply to make copies of existing paintings? It's the ones who created new works, or expanded in some interesting way on older works, who are remembered and noted today, not the copyists.

That's what I love about this whole conversation, and about groups like UOGB, who find a way to do pretty much anything on ukes, and maintain some spirit of the original, while at the same time creating something entirely new, joyful, and really really fun with it.

To me, the point of this question, and this thread, is to find interesting, creative, and original ways to bring together the spirit of the ukulele with the spirit of totally non-ukulele-esque songs.

(And yes, instrumentals too - why leave them out? Just because the original question used the word "song" is no reason to limit our creativity and challenge. I hereby officially expand the question to include all music. And I love the idea of adding uke to crazy stuff like chant and Tuvan throat singing. Any throat singers out there?)

(I also hereby expand the question to multiple ukes. That will help with the "low notes" and "big interval" challenges that others have posted, without, I think, violating the spirit of the original question. For a vocal version of this idea, check out the Berrymans' "Double Yodel". Really fun, funny, and clever.)

Plenty of "impossible" music has already been done on uke, and on other "impossible" instruments. What shall we do next? :-)

Your go.

- Wendy

prooftheory
10-25-2013, 03:20 AM
I really feel like there are two questions here. One is a legitimate ontological question about the nature of music and I don't really feel like there is anything useful that can be said about it, i.e. "What makes a song? How much can you change about a song for it to still be the same song? Who dictates this?" etc. You could also add "What makes a ukulele? Would an instrument capable of sub-bass notes still count as a ukulele? Would an instument with six strings tuned to EADGBD still count as a ukulele?" etc.

The other is "What is the weirdest/most interesting music we can make that would somehow involve the ukulele and music not traditionally associated with the ukulele?"

I think the latter question is much more productive.

On the ontological question:

Composition for Non-ukuleles
prooftheory
Opus #1
Instructions: Get all the instruments you can find that are not ukuleles and find someone to play them at random in any way possible until they feel like stopping. If any ukulele is in any way involved with the performance it does not count as a performance of this composition but is instead a performance of something else.

UkeCan1
10-25-2013, 03:31 AM
I really feel like there are two questions here. One is a legitimate ontological question about the nature of music and I don't really feel like there is anything useful that can be said about it, i.e. "What makes a song? How much can you change about a song for it to still be the same song? Who dictates this?" etc. You could also add "What makes a ukulele? Would an instrument capable of sub-bass notes still count as a ukulele? Would an instument with six strings tuned to EADGBD still count as a ukulele?" etc.

The other is "What is the weirdest/most interesting music we can make that would somehow involve the ukulele and music not traditionally associated with the ukulele?"

I think the latter question is much more productive.

Agreed! But I'd expand the second question (the one we're hopefully playing with here) to at least include ...

What's something you think can't be done on uke?
Now how can we do it anyway?

- Wendy

UkeCan1
12-20-2013, 03:47 AM
Here's a seasonal one I just uncovered on YouTube, that surely belongs in this thread. I heard this song on the radio, and wondered, how on earth could you play it on uke? Well, these guys do it beautifully. Something to aspire to....


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCe9xHmu3WM

iamesperambient
12-20-2013, 07:37 AM
I said "song" and a song means it is sung. Too many people use the word "song" wrongly when they are referring to a purely instrumental piece. If there is no vocal it is not a song.

I stand by what I said. If you like, it is possible to sing any song and accompany it with a ukulele, even operatic arias. Some might not work so well but that's a different matter

as an instrumental musician i find this kind of ignorant. A song is a song the voice can be a lead on a string instrument or a human voice.
Anyway I would imagine there are some metal songs which just wouldn't work out but who knows.

hoosierhiver
12-20-2013, 07:40 AM
I want to hear a ukulele version on Tusk by Fleetwood Mac.

TJ Uke
12-20-2013, 07:55 AM
I think with some artistic license anything can be covered and sound good. Even purely instrumentally.


http://youtu.be/VO4iXjudO_E

PereBourik
12-20-2013, 07:56 AM
Here's a seasonal one I just uncovered on YouTube, that surely belongs in this thread. I heard this song on the radio, and wondered, how on earth could you play it on uke? Well, these guys do it beautifully. Something to aspire to....


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCe9xHmu3WM

Wonderful job! I'm a Vince Guaraldi fan from back in the day when Vince still walked the earth. He was a gifted musician.

bborzell
12-20-2013, 08:24 AM
I just played, "Your Mama Don't Dance and Your Daddy Don't Rock & Roll" in my head and had to stop after 5 bars.

Tootler
12-20-2013, 09:40 AM
as an instrumental musician i find this kind of ignorant. A song is a song the voice can be a lead on a string instrument or a human voice.
Anyway I would imagine there are some metal songs which just wouldn't work out but who knows.

No it is not ignorant. I checked the definition of a song before posting. The definition is "a composition for voices". As the thread title specifically mentioned songs, that's what I was talking about. Nevertheless, seems to me perfectly reasonable to extend the discussion to instrumental compositions. I happen to be an instrumental musician as well though I play other instruments for instrumental work

iamesperambient
12-20-2013, 09:44 AM
No it is not ignorant. I checked the definition of a song before posting. The definition is "a composition for voices". Of course the theme of the thread does apply equally to instrumental compositions but I was talking specifically about songs and using the ukulele to accompany them.

you can play any song in an instrumental style with out the use of voices.
i've seen ukulele bart do an amazing cover of yesterday instrumental
on a baritone uke which was originally written to accompany voices.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
12-20-2013, 10:03 AM
I've learned there are tons of songs that I personally can't figure out on uke. Heh.

iamesperambient
12-20-2013, 10:07 AM
I've learned there are tons of songs that I personally can't figure out on uke. Heh.

some songs just don't work on the uke, it can be done but never quite sounds 'right'.