Learning the ukulele when you don't like most music written for it?

I don’t know anything about metal.

How is this?



In the comments someone said that it sounded like flamenco. Flamenco is a genre you might want to explore. It is not “nice” music. Passionate, technical, sometimes dark.

Enjoy your journey!
 
^ Is it really metal if it's not heavy?

I listen mostly to progressive metal. This is the music that inspired me to play bass. The routine around playing bass or any electric instrument involves plugging in more cables into sockets than I like. Nothing too big but when you're short on motivation, it often makes the difference between playing and not playing. It sucks because playing music is such good therapy. I always feel invigorated after a session but it's hard to pick up the instrument when video games get in the way. Path of least resistance and all that. Ukulele seems perfect, being small, portable, easy to pick up and play, not too hard to grasp the basics, especially when you have some experience with another stringed instrument.

Sooooo, I have tons of pedals and cables, but my board is mostly set. I don't understand how plugging in gets in the way of playing music you love.

I literally leave everything plugged in except the instrument. It's one socket unless I want to change in a few pedals. That's not even counting the cables I have going to my synth to my multitrack recorder nor my midi cables going into my Waldorf Streichfett.

In response to Tim's post of the uke version. Some parts of this is possible...But a lot of it would be quite difficult on a ukulele (not that it's much easier on a guitar lol). The ballads like Silent Man & The Spirit Carries On are quite doable though, I'd argue they're hardly metal.

 
Otoh, knowing the source material Tim. Those are a far cry. It's like building a Fiero Ferrari. Which is cool but not the same.

Of course it's not the same. I know the source material for these songs , but it's not like my versions of ANYTHING I play are the same as the originals, whether it's Vivaldi's Spring, Glen Miller's In The Mood, The Beatles' She Loves You, Boston's More Than A Feeling, Madonna's Vogue, Radiohead's Paranoid Android, Underworld's Born Slippy.NUXX -- take your pick. Following your simile, I build the Fiero Ferrari because that's the one I CAN build.

All of the originals I mentioned feature large, multi-instrumental, often multivocal ensembles, often electrified and multilayered, boiled down to a single performer with four strings who may not even be singing. And yet they can all sound terrific on uke!

Here's the thing. Even if it's me and a uke trying to emulate Paul Simon's solo acoustic Sound of Silence, it's still a far far leap from the original because I can neither sing nor play as well as Paul, who was using 2 more strings in a different range anyway.

None of this is relevant. 🤣

The one and only point is that if you don't like what you hear other people playing on uke, do something else. Mr. Sandman and Enter Sandman work equally well on ukulele, and are about the same distance from the original recordings, from very different directions (Vaughan Monroe and His Orchestra and Metallica respectively 🙂). You're the boss. Do what you want.

Noting @riprock's approach, I'll observe that it's very similar to the approach taken by @4stringboy -- a formally educated prog metal bassist who doesn't play a lot of prog metal on uke, but who does play a lot of original music. He looked at the ukulele, thought it was adorable, and said, "It's obvious what it can't do, so what it CAN it do?"...as viewed through the lens of a multi-instrumentalist whose many musical interests include prog metal. As a result, I think he's done more than anyone this century to expand the range of how an ukulele can sound. (Yes, I rank him higher than Jake in that regard, although I think Jake has done more to expand the range of how an ukulele can be played.)

Sammy's question was, "What can I do with this little thing?", and my question for the OP is, what did you have in mind when you picked up an ukulele? What do you want to do? Play your favorite songs? It can be done! Explore what it can do that you haven't heard anyone else attempt yet? That can be done too!

For me, I don't want to REPLACE any of the songs I listed above. I want to EVOKE them in ME. That is, me playing the trumpet solo in Penny Lane on my uke will not arouse in YOU the feelings that hearing the original arouses (to say the very least 🤣), but it DOES arouse something very close to it in ME. THAT's why I play anything on the ukulele -- to enjoy getting as close as I can to what I feel when I hear the original, whether or not I get especially close to how it sounds, as limited both my skills as a singer and a player of a small acoustic box with four strings.

Or, to push things in the riprock/4tringboy direction, you could forge a path based on pushing as far as possible to find sounds that one hasn't yet heard on ukulele to one's own satisfaction. The goal is as much the exploration as the result.

There are almost an infinite number of variations on all of these approaches, but they're all coming from the same place. "I don't care much for most of what I've come acrosss on YouTube." Fair enough, right? That's not a problem, though. It's the beginning of the solution! Don't play what you don't want to play, and you can save acres of time for all the things you'd rather play instead.
 
Of course it's not the same. I know the source material for these songs , but it's not like my versions of ANYTHING I play are the same as the originals, whether it's Vivaldi's Spring, Glen Miller's In The Mood, The Beatles' She Loves You, Boston's More Than A Feeling, Madonna's Vogue, Radiohead's Paranoid Android, Underworld's Born Slippy.NUXX -- take your pick. Following your simile, I build the Fiero Ferrari because that's the one I CAN build.

All of the originals I mentioned feature large, multi-instrumental, often multivocal ensembles, often electrified and multilayered, boiled down to a single performer with four strings who may not even be singing. And yet they can all sound terrific on uke!

Here's the thing. Even if it's me and a uke trying to emulate Paul Simon's solo acoustic Sound of Silence, it's still a far far leap from the original because I can neither sing nor play as well as Paul, who was using 2 more strings in a different range anyway.

None of this is relevant. 🤣

The one and only point is that if you don't like what you hear other people playing on uke, do something else. Mr. Sandman and Enter Sandman work equally well on ukulele, and are about the same distance from the original recordings, from very different directions (Vaughan Monroe and His Orchestra and Metallica respectively 🙂). You're the boss. Do what you want.

Noting @riprock's approach, I'll observe that it's very similar to the approach taken by @4stringboy -- a formally educated prog metal bassist who doesn't play a lot of prog metal on uke, but who does play a lot of original music. He looked at the ukulele, thought it was adorable, and said, "It's obvious what it can't do, so what it CAN it do?"...as viewed through the lens of a multi-instrumentalist whose many musical interests include prog metal. As a result, I think he's done more than anyone this century to expand the range of how an ukulele can sound. (Yes, I rank him higher than Jake in that regard, although I think Jake has done more to expand the range of how an ukulele can be played.)

Sammy's question was, "What can I do with this little thing?", and my question for the OP is, what did you have in mind when you picked up an ukulele? What do you want to do? Play your favorite songs? It can be done! Explore what it can do that you haven't heard anyone else attempt yet? That can be done too!

For me, I don't want to REPLACE any of the songs I listed above. I want to EVOKE them in ME. That is, me playing the trumpet solo in Penny Lane on my uke will not arouse in YOU the feelings that hearing the original arouses (to say the very least 🤣), but it DOES arouse something very close to it in ME. THAT's why I play anything on the ukulele -- to enjoy getting as close as I can to what I feel when I hear the original, whether or not I get especially close to how it sounds, as limited both my skills as a singer and a player of a small acoustic box with four strings.

Or, to push things in the riprock/4tringboy direction, you could forge a path based on pushing as far as possible to find sounds that one hasn't yet heard on ukulele to one's own satisfaction. The goal is as much the exploration as the result.

There are almost an infinite number of variations on all of these approaches, but they're all coming from the same place. "I don't care much for most of what I've come acrosss on YouTube." Fair enough, right? That's not a problem, though. It's the beginning of the solution! Don't play what you don't want to play, and you can save acres of time for all the things you'd rather play instead.
This is brilliant! I have already spent too much time not playing the things I want to play…. But I also want to play too many things! 🙂🙃
 
I initially took up ukulele 'cos I read one could play 'banjo-like' claw-hammer on it ... and you can!
It just seemed easier to use the guitar chord-shapes I was already familiar with rather than come to grips with banjo tuning!
Subsequent to that I have got to grips with a 5-string banjo and several of the many tunings so that excuse has become somewhat redundant.
I've also got a couple of ukuleles tuned in 5ths, a pineapple soprano at the same pitch as my mandolin and my baritone tuned an octave lower, like my 4-string banjo. Both of these often get utilised when their louder steel-strung counterparts might be considered unsociable!
Whichever way I go, I don't play what might be considered "ukulele music" on my ukuleles, but with a bit of practice, I can play most any melody written in one or two flats or sharps ... and there's plenty of that around :)
My suggestion ... learn to read "proper" musical notation, then you'll be able to play just about anything you fancy ;)
 
I didn't expect nearly as many replies as I got. You guys have no idea how motivating this is. I honestly don't intend on becoming a virtuoso but it feels really good jamming along to songs. I might even learn how to sing a little.

The ukulele was an impulsive purchase fueled by Rob Scallon fooling around with a balalaika. I didn't like the guitar for how many strings it had so I wanted to try the ukulele. The thing I regret the most is not being more consistent.

Also I found that my favourite Mastodon songs are easily translated to ukulele. There are songs that haven't been uploaded yet. It won't sound metal but it's going to be fun. I know being able to make my own arrangements is at least months from now but it's a goal to strive for.

I also really admire people who listen to a wide range of music. It's enriching and inspiring. I want to expand my horizons so to say. As diverse as it is, metal isn't all that's out there.
 
Ah, Rob Scallon. That guy has inspired me to pick up all sorts of instruments. Him & Andrew Huang are huge inspirations of mine.

If the number of strings are the main motivation for the uke (as it was for me when I sliced my finger), electric baritone ukes & electric tenor guitars exist and are viable options.

As much as I enjoyed learning the uke, I have been on a quest to get the deeper range not available to the a standard uke.

Of course it's not the same. I know the source material for these songs , but it's not like my versions of ANYTHING I play are the same as the originals, whether it's Vivaldi's Spring, Glen Miller's In The Mood, The Beatles' She Loves You, Boston's More Than A Feeling, Madonna's Vogue, Radiohead's Paranoid Android, Underworld's Born Slippy.NUXX -- take your pick. Following your simile, I build the Fiero Ferrari because that's the one I CAN build.

All of the originals I mentioned feature large, multi-instrumental, often multivocal ensembles, often electrified and multilayered, boiled down to a single performer with four strings who may not even be singing. And yet they can all sound terrific on uke!

Here's the thing. Even if it's me and a uke trying to emulate Paul Simon's solo acoustic Sound of Silence, it's still a far far leap from the original because I can neither sing nor play as well as Paul, who was using 2 more strings in a different range anyway.

None of this is relevant. 🤣

The one and only point is that if you don't like what you hear other people playing on uke, do something else. Mr. Sandman and Enter Sandman work equally well on ukulele, and are about the same distance from the original recordings, from very different directions (Vaughan Monroe and His Orchestra and Metallica respectively 🙂). You're the boss. Do what you want.

Noting @riprock's approach, I'll observe that it's very similar to the approach taken by @4stringboy -- a formally educated prog metal bassist who doesn't play a lot of prog metal on uke, but who does play a lot of original music. He looked at the ukulele, thought it was adorable, and said, "It's obvious what it can't do, so what it CAN it do?"...as viewed through the lens of a multi-instrumentalist whose many musical interests include prog metal. As a result, I think he's done more than anyone this century to expand the range of how an ukulele can sound. (Yes, I rank him higher than Jake in that regard, although I think Jake has done more to expand the range of how an ukulele can be played.)

Sammy's question was, "What can I do with this little thing?", and my question for the OP is, what did you have in mind when you picked up an ukulele? What do you want to do? Play your favorite songs? It can be done! Explore what it can do that you haven't heard anyone else attempt yet? That can be done too!

For me, I don't want to REPLACE any of the songs I listed above. I want to EVOKE them in ME. That is, me playing the trumpet solo in Penny Lane on my uke will not arouse in YOU the feelings that hearing the original arouses (to say the very least 🤣), but it DOES arouse something very close to it in ME. THAT's why I play anything on the ukulele -- to enjoy getting as close as I can to what I feel when I hear the original, whether or not I get especially close to how it sounds, as limited both my skills as a singer and a player of a small acoustic box with four strings.

Or, to push things in the riprock/4tringboy direction, you could forge a path based on pushing as far as possible to find sounds that one hasn't yet heard on ukulele to one's own satisfaction. The goal is as much the exploration as the result.

There are almost an infinite number of variations on all of these approaches, but they're all coming from the same place. "I don't care much for most of what I've come acrosss on YouTube." Fair enough, right? That's not a problem, though. It's the beginning of the solution! Don't play what you don't want to play, and you can save acres of time for all the things you'd rather play instead.

I'm not saying you CAN'T play them on a uke, I'm just saying that the instrument does have its limitations, electrified or not. Hell, I'm playing the sax solo for Hungry Eyes on my uke and it's fine. It's a fair approximation.

I somewhat agree that notes are notes and songs are playable to a certain extent. OP will have to make some alterations, but that's the same even if you're going the other way taking a guitar song and adapting it to the violin.

FWIW, I myself have been on that same journey of exploration and it led me back to the guitar, even if I'm now splitting up the parts.
 
Part of the problem would be solved if I learn to play by ear. Not relying on charts is a good skill to have, I understand. Has anyone ever felt like this?
It absolutely is possible to learn to play by ear. And maybe exploring music you don't find interesting (yet) would be something that would be worthwhile, because all the music you learn gets added to everything you learn afterwards. The bit that is you comes out of copying other people's stuff for thousands of hours.

It strikes me that what you're looking for is something that is easier to do than playing computer games, and honestly nothing is going to be easier.

If you want to learn a musical instrument for all the benefits it brings, have you got a friend who would look after your gaming PC at night? Having to take the extra step to go to a friend's house would make it much more appealing to play. But even then, if you actively dislike the ukulele why are you going to spend all that time on it?
 
Perhaps not relevant, but I don’t clearly understand your skill level from your posts… so remember that learning and playing are two different things. Most learning books rely on copyright-free (old) songs. We play those to learn, then we move on. If you’re an advanced player just ignore this paragraph.

Second, I ‘get’ the not wanting to mess with lots of cables, pedals, and power supplies. A well-meaning friend steered me toward a tube amp and pedals, but I’ve decided to have less clutter in my life. My friend wouldn’t approve, but I’m exploring amps that feature virtual amps and pedals. There are several available, some controllable from your phone.

Third, if the sound itself is a barrier to your enthusiasm, research Impulse Response (IR) devices that allow you to mix the sound of your ‘ukulele with the sampled sound of some other instrument. See; https://forum.ukuleleunderground.co...ponses-irs-to-improve-plugged-in-tone.140967/

Fourth, there are steel-string ‘ukuleles available. Try one to see if that gets you closer to where you want to be.

Enjoy the journey!
 
It strikes me that what you're looking for is something that is easier to do than playing computer games, and honestly nothing is going to be easier.
I'm not and I realise it's not. I'm just coming out of the gaming addiction hole. I already have another well established hobby that I've commited to over the past year. It's been a long road, I've made progress.
But even then, if you actively dislike the ukulele why are you going to spend all that time on it?
I never said I dislike it. On the contrary, I love it! I dislike 99% of what YouTube has to offer giving me the impression that it's either 4 chords to a song I hate, or someone like Danny Yau playing GOAT and Playing God on a soprano almost as a joke (which is impressive and amazing, don't get me wrong). I see that I've been wrong. My mindset was different back when I ditched it.

Speaking of mindset, it's a bit off-topic but I started playing bass because of Rocksmith. That game hurt me in so many ways as a beginner it's not even funny. I played it for about 1000 hours going from zero to almost decent...at the game. I couldn't for the life of me play anything that didn't have the notes popping up. That's also partly why I lost my interest in the uke. No colourful blips and blops to tell me what to do. Yes, I played the bass for a thousand hours, I learned how to hold it and make sounds with it, I can probably go and join a local band right now and back with some root notes but I have nothing to show.

It's after I took a year long break, slowly quitting gaming, getting into new hobbies, was when I found a way to find satisfaction in playing music. Probably the way most people did in the first place. I grabbed the bass, played an easy song I enjoyed and tried to figure it out myself using (wrong) tabs as a training wheels without downtuning my already 5-stringed bass.

I want to do something similar with the ukulele. I see the U-bass mentioned a lot. It's great and I considered it for a long time. But I don't want to buy yet another instrument that I'm not sure I'm going to play and trying it out demands that I travel for hours to the closest store that offers it. I'm also looking for a portable replacement for guitar with less strings essentially, not another bass. Something I can grab and go downstairs and play in my backyard. Can't do that with bass. The ukulele fits this criteria perfectly and I happen to have a perfectly good one lying around. It also sounds lovely and people around me would appreciate it. Or hate it.
 
To be honest, when I bought my first ukulele it never occurred to me that I was only supposed to play “ukulele music” on it. That would be like saying you can only play “piano music” on a piano, or ”guitar music” on a guitar. Music is music. The genre doesn’t necessarily dictate the instrument. For various reasons, some music genres may be better suited to one instrument than another, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to make it work on a less suitable instrument. That can be half the fun — playing music that people never expected to hear coming from a uke. :)
 
I'm not and I realise it's not. I'm just coming out of the gaming addiction hole. I already have another well established hobby that I've commited to over the past year. It's been a long road, I've made progress.
I feel this. Back in the day I was using all my time playing Unreal Tournament and Football games...and not completing my PhD. I had to just throw away the games and get rid of television. Once I did that, I found that there was a huge hole in my life and I had several hours to burn during the day. So I filled the time with music and reading. It is difficult but, once accomplished, it has benefits.
 
I'm not and I realise it's not. I'm just coming out of the gaming addiction hole. I already have another well established hobby that I've commited to over the past year. It's been a long road, I've made progress.
As a fellow addict, I see you. And please accept my apologies if I sounded dismissive.

I recommend doing some ear training. If it's ukulele you want to play, learn chords rather than notes - that's the opposite way round to most ear training courses. Then play along with songs you like until you're in tune.

www.playukulelebyear.com would have saved me a few years. Start with the ear tuning video on the top right.

Then, it's just playing and copying and seeing what comes out of that.
 
Don't know why this caught my attention this morning, but...
I think "groovy, yet melodic, with high energy" is a good way to describe the music I like.

Power-pop might be better suited to uke than metal and there are tabs-o-plenty.

Also, maybe a guitarlele (or variation on the name). Convenience of not needing cables and easy to play sitting on the couch, with six strings so you can use the music you already have for guitar.
 
Don't know why this caught my attention this morning, but...


Power-pop might be better suited to uke than metal and there are tabs-o-plenty.

Also, maybe a guitarlele (or variation on the name). Convenience of not needing cables and easy to play sitting on the couch, with six strings so you can use the music you already have for guitar.
A month later, I got some of the basics down and I decided to join a 2000s music challenge in a Discord i follow. Long story short, I found a song by Britney Spears, I kept fixating on the bass line so I picked up the bass to scratch the itch. It just didn’t sound good on the ukulele.

One week later I can’t stop playing 2000s pop on the bass and I have Dua Lipa on repeat. I’m leaning towards exploring hip-hop as well. The poor uke is back on the stand untouched. I kinda feel bad but I feel inspired again. The ukulele really helped. I guess I don’t mind the cables too much. Especially when I play without headphones.

Task failed… successfully?
 
My opinion on this subject jibes with another thread, “What do you like about the ukulele?”. First off, I completely agree with the opinion & guidance posted by @chris667, @Jan D and @ripock.

Though I’m only 2 years into my ukulele journey, it comes on the heels of 4 decades on bluegrass banjo. Playing uke has enab….no, forced, me to learn chords and progressions I never considered when playing banjo. On banjo, I seldom played tunes in the keys of C or D because both entailed down- tuning, even though with C it involved only the low-D. Likewise, House of The Rising Sun was the only tune I ever tried that was in a minor key. Thus I generally stayed put in the boring, capo- aided keys of G, A and B. I learned to play “Wildwood Flower” in C without downtuning but left the melody licks unchanged for 40 years. Are you sensing how stubbornly resistant my younger self was to change in any form? (a/k/a a stick in the mud)

Ukulele has changed all that. Not only that but the unfailingly polite, knowledgable, kind, friendly and helpful folk here at UUF have inspired me to make an extra effort to be far less abrasive in daily interactions, listening more and speaking less.

My point? Don’t worry that you don’t like music that was written for the uke. Truthfully, and I mean no offense to the OP, I’m not sure what that even means. ;)

Though My Guitar Gently Weeps certainly wasn’t written for the uke, Jake S has shown us all how it gets done. Just play what you want to play.

I’ll close with an example of two tunes NOT written for the uke (Georgia On My Mind and Mister Bojangles). IMHO, both sound fairly good on a reentrant soprano. YMMV.
View attachment Georgia (For Your Ears Only Contest).m4a
 
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I actually got a book gifted to me with my first Ukulele called "50 First Songs You Must Learn To Play On The Ukulele". It has a variety of music from the 50's onward that shows the music fretted. I came into Ukulele being able to read music: I took chorus all the way through high school and we were often tested on our sight reading abilities for competition. So, being able to read the vocals was a non-issue.

Now, chord placement was a different story. I never learned how to play an instrument and sing at the same time. I took some Uke classes online shortly after getting my Uke and learned how to read the frets and the fretting part of the sheet music.

I'd suggest looking at a place like Guitar Center that carries a wide variety of sheet music and see if they have anything fretted that you can purchase. Some locations will even offer classes, so you may want to look into that too.
 
Of course it's not the same. I know the source material for these songs , but it's not like my versions of ANYTHING I play are the same as the originals, whether it's Vivaldi's Spring, Glen Miller's In The Mood, The Beatles' She Loves You, Boston's More Than A Feeling, Madonna's Vogue, Radiohead's Paranoid Android, Underworld's Born Slippy.NUXX -- take your pick. Following your simile, I build the Fiero Ferrari because that's the one I CAN build.

All of the originals I mentioned feature large, multi-instrumental, often multivocal ensembles, often electrified and multilayered, boiled down to a single performer with four strings who may not even be singing. And yet they can all sound terrific on uke!

Here's the thing. Even if it's me and a uke trying to emulate Paul Simon's solo acoustic Sound of Silence, it's still a far far leap from the original because I can neither sing nor play as well as Paul, who was using 2 more strings in a different range anyway.

None of this is relevant. 🤣

The one and only point is that if you don't like what you hear other people playing on uke, do something else. Mr. Sandman and Enter Sandman work equally well on ukulele, and are about the same distance from the original recordings, from very different directions (Vaughan Monroe and His Orchestra and Metallica respectively 🙂). You're the boss. Do what you want.

Noting @riprock's approach, I'll observe that it's very similar to the approach taken by @4stringboy -- a formally educated prog metal bassist who doesn't play a lot of prog metal on uke, but who does play a lot of original music. He looked at the ukulele, thought it was adorable, and said, "It's obvious what it can't do, so what it CAN it do?"...as viewed through the lens of a multi-instrumentalist whose many musical interests include prog metal. As a result, I think he's done more than anyone this century to expand the range of how an ukulele can sound. (Yes, I rank him higher than Jake in that regard, although I think Jake has done more to expand the range of how an ukulele can be played.)

Sammy's question was, "What can I do with this little thing?", and my question for the OP is, what did you have in mind when you picked up an ukulele? What do you want to do? Play your favorite songs? It can be done! Explore what it can do that you haven't heard anyone else attempt yet? That can be done too!

For me, I don't want to REPLACE any of the songs I listed above. I want to EVOKE them in ME. That is, me playing the trumpet solo in Penny Lane on my uke will not arouse in YOU the feelings that hearing the original arouses (to say the very least 🤣), but it DOES arouse something very close to it in ME. THAT's why I play anything on the ukulele -- to enjoy getting as close as I can to what I feel when I hear the original, whether or not I get especially close to how it sounds, as limited both my skills as a singer and a player of a small acoustic box with four strings.

Or, to push things in the riprock/4tringboy direction, you could forge a path based on pushing as far as possible to find sounds that one hasn't yet heard on ukulele to one's own satisfaction. The goal is as much the exploration as the result.

There are almost an infinite number of variations on all of these approaches, but they're all coming from the same place. "I don't care much for most of what I've come acrosss on YouTube." Fair enough, right? That's not a problem, though. It's the beginning of the solution! Don't play what you don't want to play, and you can save acres of time for all the things you'd rather play instead.
I adore every word of this essay.
 
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