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modern day ukuleleist
09-28-2011, 01:43 PM
I've been trying to read up on ukulele music theory. This is the first instrument I've ever played (as you will probably be able to tell from my lack of knowledge).

I listen to some more obscure music, which in some cases can't even be found on guitar tab websites. So how do you (and how should I) go about figuring out how to play it on the ukulele?

Do you just listen to the song and try to judge the notes and chords (I imagine that takes a considerable amount of talent and a trained ear)?

Do you try to find guitar tabs and translate them in terms of ukulele notes?

Are there any tips or tricks for this?

For example, if I wanted to find out how to play this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9hjTZFeSW4

Sweeper
09-28-2011, 03:16 PM
If you have the desire and/or means to subscribe to UU+ , Aldrine has a three part seminar " How To Figure Out Songs On The Ukulele". He teaches how to listen to a song and then figure out how to play it. I highly recommend UU+ as a excellent source for learning to play the Ukulele.

cjensen91910
09-28-2011, 03:21 PM
Not a very good tab but here it is. Gives you a starting point any way. An E chord is the same just fingered for the Uke.. Same with all chords, just different shapes on the fretboard. As Sweeper said, good lessons on UU.

http://www.911tabs.com/link/?7192552

danoismyname
09-28-2011, 04:10 PM
I've been trying to read up on ukulele music theory. This is the first instrument I've ever played (as you will probably be able to tell from my lack of knowledge).

I listen to some more obscure music, which in some cases can't even be found on guitar tab websites. So how do you (and how should I) go about figuring out how to play it on the ukulele?

Do you just listen to the song and try to judge the notes and chords (I imagine that takes a considerable amount of talent and a trained ear)?

Do you try to find guitar tabs and translate them in terms of ukulele notes?

Are there any tips or tricks for this?

For example, if I wanted to find out how to play this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9hjTZFeSW4

What I usually do is listen for the base note that the chord is built on and then determine whether it's major, minor, suspended, etc. But if you can figure out a bassline, it really helps in figuring out the chords. Just one note at a time to figure out the bassline, and then figure out the chords using that progression. I'm not sure if that makes total sense, buuuut I hope it helps. :)

Shastastan
09-28-2011, 05:14 PM
What I do is to first determine the key. This is usually the last note in a song. I play the last part of a song over and over until I get the last note which is usually the key. To help do this and also determine other notes, I invested in an Alesis 25 key keyboard for $59 via amazon. There are others out there or use a piano if you have one. Many chord progressions follow the 1,4,5 pattern. Or, you can try other patterns such as 1,6,4,2, etc.. Many leadsheets can be downloaded from winfonia.org. However if the chords are too complex, you might want to consider another key. All that being said, you might want to consider songs from sites such as Dr. Uke. There are many many songs there with the chord diagrams as part of the song. Great for learning, IMO>

olgoat52
09-28-2011, 05:22 PM
The temptation is to try and follow the melody line and that works a lot of the time. But what I find useful is to find a harmony line that is moving through the melody and then to pick chord inversions that pick up that harmonic line. I sing so I don't need to reinforce the melody. The harmony is King to me. Easier said than done, but if you train yourself to listen and hear it, you can play it and find it.

Good Luck.

RawrGazzawrs
09-28-2011, 05:38 PM
if its a guitar song and if its high enough, then i start out trying to figure out the note the chords on the uke by starting with the A string.
so for example I try to listen to the chord progression over and over, then start with the the first chord. If a second fret A string note is in tune with the chord then I want the chord played on the uke to have the second fret A string note in the uke chord. then i would just try different chords with the notes in them. thats one way you could start it.

Ukulele JJ
09-29-2011, 03:30 AM
I
Do you just listen to the song and try to judge the notes and chords (I imagine that takes a considerable amount of talent and a trained ear)?

Yes, and it does take a somewhat-trained ear. The good news is that anyone willing to put in the effort can train their ears. "Talent" only controls how quickly that happens.

It's really just about actively listening to the song. This starts at the most broad level: What's the tempo? Fast? Slow? What's the time signature? 4/4? A waltz? Is it swung or shuffled? What's the form of the song? Is there an intro? Does the verse lead right to the chorus? Is there a bridge? These are things you'd need to be able to "hear" even if someone gave you the chords and/or tabs.

For chords, I find that in addition to the melody and harmony bits, I tend to focus on the bass part. It's often playing the root of the chord, so if you can pick that out you're halfway home.

Really it just takes experience doing it. Start today and keep at it. You'll be glad you did. :-)

JJ

gtrk
09-29-2011, 04:29 AM
Try these 2 books. They come with a CD too so don't order them as e-books. The Complete Idiots guide to Music Theory, and The Complete Idiots guide to Music Composistion. These are both a very good music theory guide, but as you get into the second book, it will help you not only figure out the music for songs you like, but help you with writing your own as well. They should both be in any musicians library.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
09-29-2011, 05:26 AM
A good way to start training your ear is to tune your uke without an electic tuner. My favorite way to using a 440 Hz tuning fork for A, then tuning the other three strings to the A. Other options are pitch pipes and online tuners (http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php).

Getting used to pulling your strings into tune by ear will help you find the notes on your ukulele that are in a song you're learning. You use the frets instead of the tuners to "tune" your ukulele to a song. There's lots more to it, of course, to figure out chords and stuff like that. Looks like there are already plenty of ideas for that in this thread.

Great thread, modern day!

Dougf
09-29-2011, 05:48 AM
You might want to check out Jim D'Ville's "ukulele by ear" stuff.

http://playukulelebyear.blogspot.com/

nickie_66
10-01-2011, 11:28 AM
my technique :

1/ learn most common chords, as much as possible,

2/ use audacity to make loops on the song you're trying to figure (unless it's a slow song, but i found the loop technique quite useful the other day, when i tried to play "lover boy" from Mika wich has one chord per second :D ) and play some chords over the music until you get THE right one :)

chord lists can be useful for fine-tuning :)
and a chord namer (http://ukebuddy.com/chord-namer) can be useful if you try a chord without knowing it's name too :D

modern day ukuleleist
10-01-2011, 08:19 PM
Thanks for the help everyone. I really appreciate the tips, and I'm going to look into some of the suggested readings.

Shastastan
10-03-2011, 07:51 AM
Try these 2 books. They come with a CD too so don't order them as e-books. The Complete Idiots guide to Music Theory, and The Complete Idiots guide to Music Composistion. These are both a very good music theory guide, but as you get into the second book, it will help you not only figure out the music for songs you like, but help you with writing your own as well. They should both be in any musicians library.

I already have the "theory" book (which is an excellent resource), but not the "composition" one. I'm going to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.