Chord sequences that sound like the song…

Ccreavy

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Hi all,
I like the sound of the ukulele when it’s used to strum chords, rather than picking individual notes, however, I can’t/don’t sing.

Can anyone recommend any simple songs that are recognisable from the chord sequence alone?

Thanks in advance.
 
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LorenFL

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I'm with you. I don't sing, either.

"Simple" can have different meanings, though. If you're trying to emulate a sung melody, I find that you usually have to play with your strumming patterns and do a little bit of chord modulation (slight chord variations) to attain the inflection that you're missing by just strumming the basic chord pattern that one might sing over. Most of what I (attempt to) play generally fits this bill to some degree.

Lately, I'm finding that some songs by The Who have really fun/easy chord progressions that are pretty recognizable as the song. I think Pete Townsend was a bit of a minimalist and used a lot of chord melody rather than traditional "lead guitar" picking.

Here are a few that work for me:

And some songs have such a recognizable and fun melody, that they just work, anyway:

Old Reggae and Blues songs are usually fun to play regardless:

Just gotta poke around and experiment and see what's fun for you.
 

TopDog

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I always play 'Ain't She Sweet' to check my tuning when I pick up a uke, and the chords I use for that are instantly recognisable as the tune!
 

John Colter

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The dr ukulele site has a version of "Moonglow" that I enjoy playing. The tune is very recognisable just from the chords. I wouldn't describe it as 'easy', but it ain't that difficult either. Give it a go!
 

Ccreavy

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Thanks for all the suggestions. It good to see people got what I meant. I’d like to be good enough to somehow mix chords with melody, but for now it’s strictly one or the other!
 

LukuleleStrings

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If you’re looking to mix chords and single melody notes, it’s certainly a process but I wouldn’t say it’s too difficult. It’s just more work on the front end, figuring out where you want the chords and where you want the single notes. I started with Christmas songs, but when my mom wanted to get into it, I bought her the 3-Chord Songbook from Hal Leonard so she would only need to know the same three chords and we could add the melody in an easier fashion.

Some songs are easier to work and fall more naturally into this process than others, too.

Here’s my take on Jingle Bells so you can see what I mean:


If that’s the kind of goal you have, I can lay out the process for you.

But if you’re talking making the melody out of nothing but chords. That’s way beyond me. Marcy Marxer has two courses covering it on True Fire that are well worth the money, but it hasn’t sunk in for me yet. I’ll get there one day, though. ;-)
 

donboody

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Hi all,
I like the sound of the ukulele when it’s used to strum chords, rather than picking individual notes, however, I can’t/don’t sing.

Can anyone recommend any simple songs that are recognisable from the chord sequence alone?

Thanks in advance.
Consider trying to play in the style of whats often called "chord melody" or "solo ukulele." There are lots and lots of resources. Spencer Gay has tons of free tabs. The "Ukulele Time" youtube channel has over 300 chord melody videos. James Hill has an entire method "The Ukulele Way" that is $9 a month at uketropolis.com which I currently pay for and have learned a ton from. If you want to be sure people will recognize what youre playing, Chord Melody is the way imo.

Also, listen to some Lyle Ritz, he's a Chord magician.

Also, if you youtube search "Ukulele Hotel California" there are like 12 chord changes in that song and pretty much everybody will recognize it.
 

Ccreavy

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Thanks all! Plenty to watch, read and try there! It makes sense that songs with more chord changes are more easily recognisable. Chord melody style sounds great but could be a bit beyond me!
 

Jim in Oregon

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I find "Blue Skies" and "It's Only a Paper Moon" to be recognizable by the chords alone in the Daily Ukulele song book.

If you don't have a copy check your library.

Also Lara Markowitz has some very simple chord melody stiff on YouTube.

Jim
 

ripock

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Tenthumbs on youtube has some chord melodies as well. If you want something that is immediately recognizable, there is always the shuffle to "Stray Cat Strut." It has been transposed to C on youtube. No one doesn't know that sound.
 

Junie Moon

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Reminds me of a humbling story. I do sing with gusto, but only when I'm alone. Once, at a family gathering, I sat quietly strumming a wide range of simple songs for my own entertainment, while the guests were socializing. Eventually someone asked, "Why do you keep playing the same song over and over?" I realized that most of the songs required only G, F and C. Though I heard the melodies clearly in my head and all the songs were different to me, it was just C, F, G to anyone who might have been listing. 😅

Anyway, I appreciated the OP's question and will be looking to learn the tunes mentioned in replies to that post.
 

LukuleleStrings

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Reminds me of a humbling story. I do sing with gusto, but only when I'm alone. Once, at a family gathering, I sat quietly strumming a wide range of simple songs for my own entertainment, while the guests were socializing. Eventually someone asked, "Why do you keep playing the same song over and over?" I realized that most of the songs required only G, F and C. Though I heard the melodies clearly in my head and all the songs were different to me, it was just C, F, G to anyone who might have been listing. 😅

Anyway, I appreciated the OP's question and will be looking to learn the tunes mentioned in replies to that post.
This is pretty much EXACTLY what happened to me and that was when I was like “I absolutely have to get the melody incorporated into this.” That was the pivot point.
 

Rllink

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There is an old time music technique where you take the melody and break it down taking out all notes except those that will carry the melody. Seriously, half the notes in a melody are filling space walking up or walking down and can be left out but the melody will still be recognizable. You strum chords or partial chords instead to fill the void. I'm not particularly good at explaining it but it is called the Carter style. The more you do it the easier it is. I don't know if you can do it on ukulele but I don't see why it wouldn't work. I do know that it works better on some songs than others and I would probably start out with three chord songs that stay in one octave.
 

BBegall

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Hi all,
I like the sound of the ukulele when it’s used to strum chords, rather than picking individual notes, however, I can’t/don’t sing.

Can anyone recommend any simple songs that are recognisable from the chord sequence alone?

Thanks in advance.
If you use a fixed pattern for the chords, incorporating the melody will be difficult without singing.

You could ditch the pattern and strum the chords following the melody, dynamics and rhythm as if you were singing or humming and make many songs recognizable without singing or melody notes.
 
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ckoppelman

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Some of my favorites:

Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley (originally Leonard Cohen, but you'd be playing something closer to Jeff Buckley's version)
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Unchained Melody
Charlie on the MTA
White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
Also here's good chords combining the previous two written for the uke by a master: https://ukutabs.com/i/israel-kamakawiwoole/somewhere-over-the-rainbow-what-a-wonderful-world/
The Garden Song
Puff the Magic Dragon (ish -- it's a very common chord progression, though, but easier to sing than most)
Crocodile Rock (ish)
Blowing in the Wind
Sweet Baby James by James Taylor
We're Gonna Be Friends by the White Stripes
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Sound of Silence (kind of -- you might have to pick the intro to get people to recognize it)

Oh! And anything blues though not recognizable as a song, is recognizable to all. Twelve-bar blues (e.g., D7/A7/E7 is easy and sounds great), and play with this (two beats on each chord): C/C6/C7/C6, F/F6/F7/F6, G/G6/G7/G6, C/C6/C7/C6.
 
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