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Thread: Is a repertoire of chords really necessary?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Question Is a repertoire of chords really necessary?

    Hi everyone!

    I've been playing the uke for about two weeks now with no musical background.
    One question I've been left with is 'why learn loads of chords?'

    Firstly I tried strumming some basic chords (C G Am F) and could appreciate that its fun to strum. But the song was unrecognizable as I can't sing.
    So I turned to tab and started finger picking. The end product was more rewarding, but felt that there should be another person playing the chords on top of my melody? Or can you do a bit of both? Is that called a solo piece?

    I noticed that some tabs had some strumming in them which included one strum of a chord, which made me think that I'll just play chords by reading tab rather than memorising them.

    But apart of me wants to get back to strumming again. I guess I'm just looking for some chords to strum that are pleasing to listen too, maybe I've underestimated what chords can do?

    (Also what's the difference when people say their uke is tuned Gcea or GCEA ect?

    Sorry if this is in cohesive, just wrote all my thoughts down!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukute View Post
    Hi everyone!

    I've been playing the uke for about two weeks now with no musical background.
    One question I've been left with is 'why learn loads of chords?'

    Firstly I tried strumming some basic chords (C G Am F) and could appreciate that its fun to strum. But the song was unrecognizable as I can't sing.
    So I turned to tab and started finger picking. The end product was more rewarding, but felt that there should be another person playing the chords on top of my melody? Or can you do a bit of both? Is that called a solo piece?

    I noticed that some tabs had some strumming in them which included one strum of a chord, which made me think that I'll just play chords by reading tab rather than memorising them.

    But apart of me wants to get back to strumming again. I guess I'm just looking for some chords to strum that are pleasing to listen too, maybe I've underestimated what chords can do?

    (Also what's the difference when people say their uke is tuned Gcea or GCEA ect?

    Sorry if this is in cohesive, just wrote all my thoughts down!
    For the bold....That is called chord melody. That's the phrase you'll need to google tutorials and whatnot. Petey Houdini has a good one on YouTube that explains the mechanics of chord melody.

    For your last question, it is whether they have a low g or high g strung on their Uke.
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  3. #3
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    Whether you are strumming or fingerpicking you will need to learn how to form and recognize chords. They are the foundation of making notes on a stringed instrument. If you are going to play baseball you must learn to catch and throw, basic fundimentals.

    You do not have to memorize a huge pile of chords, but that will happen naturally over time. As you found out C,F&G sound good together and are very common in a lot of songs. I started out googling "easy ukulele songs" found a few I liked and learned those. Then more and more with more chords, it is a process.
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 12-30-2015 at 03:28 AM.
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  4. #4
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    When interviewed on a tv show I was watching, BB King admitted to not learning chords until he was in his mid-40's (I think). He finally had to do so to facilitate playing with other musicians, but he rarely played them and didn't have a large repertoire of chords he was familiar with.
    Last edited by PhilUSAFRet; 12-30-2015 at 02:40 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re entrant tuning (high G) is gCEA, linear tuning (low G) is GCEA.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
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    For me, it is two things. I don't think you are going to recognize the melody of most songs that you've never heard before just from the chords, so you need to play the chords to songs you know. You say that you don't sing, but you do hear the songs in your head. The other thing is that I don't learn a lot of chords that I don't play. I certainly don't spend time trying to learn chords just for the sake of learning chords. I mostly pick them up as the come along. I've learned a lot of chords over time that way, and without a whole lot of effort
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

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  7. #7
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    I think what you are talking about is chord progression. Howlin Hobbit has a great primer on it

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...ogressions.pdf

    enjoy

  8. #8
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    Yes, you should expand your chord repertoire. I'd say the most important reason for learning chords is that it will help develop your music ear. Of course, there's music theory to explain why notes sound good together and how good-sounding chord progressions are constructed. But, expanding your chord repertoire will give you a general sense of what you should and shouldn't play a lot faster than learning theory.

    Personally, I was taught how to pick first. But the end goal is the same: develop your music ear. Learning chords is so much more applicable, though. Like a song will rarely call for the exact picking for Canon in D. However, say you're trying to learn a song and you're stuck. Once you realize it's in the key of D, you can be like, "hey, some chords that might work are D, A, Bm, F#m, and G because they worked for Canon in D."

    Don't underestimate chords. On an ukulele, playing a chord can express up to four times as much as picking a single note

    Oh, and here's a shortcut. Start by learning the major and minor chords. The rest are either "shifts" (sus4's, +'s), "add-ons" (6's, add9's), or both. The odd ones are the diminished chords, but they're all just one shape (1212, 2323, 3434, etc.) so easy fo' learn.
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  9. #9
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    Wait until you realise that even in fingerpicking you fret chord shapes. You pick IN the shapes -- if you get what I mean. That said, no, you don't need to learn every chord. Learn 'em as you need 'em.

  10. #10

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    Hi Greetings from Venice Fl , I just joined Ukulele Underground yesterday. I have been playing for only 6 months. You are right without lyrics or singing just strumming chords on the ukulele does not sound like much. I play chord melodies as well because I do not sing, learning chords helps me to play the chord melodies with greater fluidity as the melodies and are built around chords I don't have tons of chords memorized but I have learned many because from the different songs I want to learn, and memorizing them by repeatedly playing them has allowed me to see the relationship between the chords in the progression so I can minimize hand movements and play efficiently. I cant carry a tune by myself, but if there are any ukulele groups near you its fun to play at strum alongs, and I don't mind singing with a group. Ukulele Mike has tons songs youtube that utilizes the basic chords as well as chord melodies. He is fun to play to and I don't mind singing in front of my computer. Cynthia lin also has great videos for beginning ukulele players. If you signed up for UU on the ukulele underground site, there are fantastic beginner videos, I have been happily strumming and reviewing techniques. Happy Strumming.

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