Sunday, March 30, 2008

Round 2 at the urban dictionary

So earlier this year, I lost my chance to take credit for introducing a word or phrase into the American lexicon. I don't begrudge (American Hero) Ken Tremendous over at FJM, since he was after all the man who popularized the phrase, but did the guy who wrote this urban dictionary entry really need to throw in that Ken Tremendous noticed it first? It was ME, DAMMITIT IT WASM EMEE!!!!! (under the pseudonym "Lazarus")

Anyhoo, now that I've pathetically taken credit for something nobody cares about and moved on, I am going to push for my own, uncontested new word in the urban dictionary. As I hinted a few posts ago, I bring to this world:

"chorder", meaning "chord order". Please click and rate that word UP! (or down, whatever)

Will it spread across the "blogosphere" as fast and furiously as it would if Ken Tremendous had introduced it to his millions of loyal, borderline obsessive readers (like myself)? I, for one, am going to guess "yes". But only time will tell.


Friday, March 28, 2008

How to play Postcards From Italy by Beirut

This will be my last Beirut song for a while... I don't want to give the impression all I ever listen to is Beirut this and Beirut that, no matter how true it may be right now. He plays the energetic and rhythmic style of uke I want to learn, so right now it's a good match.

With that in mind, my most recent tutorial is on Postcards From Italy (chords, tabs, and lyrics can be found here, thanks to the good people over at Here is my instructional video:

0:00 - Intro (am I shaking my leg?!)
0:12 - Tuning (standard GCEA)

=====> 0:21 - Part 1
0:29 - Chords (F and A)
0:58 - Hammer-on (top string, second fret)
1:30 - Strumming pattern (hammer-on, pause, up, down, down, repeat)
2:25 - Timing (3 loops of hammer-on)
2:40 - top string melody (3rd fret, 2nd fret, open, 2nd fret)
3:21 - Demo of F chord strumming and melody
3:33 - Description of A chord (same as F, index finger moves up one string)
4:10 - Advice on practicing Part 1
5:30 - Part 1 Review (and, of course, some encouragement!)

=====> 5:48 - Part 2
5:48 - Chords (Bb add 9, F, Dm, C)
6:55 - Chorder (chord order--those four chords loop)
7:17 - Strumming pattern (up, miss, up, down, pause, up-down, up, down)

8:23 - Demonstration of each part (please excuse voice)

The video goes over the tuning, chords, hammer-ons, strumming, and timing. The song has two very distinct parts, and it switches from one part to the next in about the middle of the song.

As usual, it's a tutorial for beginners, but it is a somewhat advanced song that will take a beginner (like myself) a long time to learn and requires a lot of practice. Of course, the song is awesome and was originally played on a uke, so it's a FUN kind of practice where the better you get the more it sounds exactly like the Beirut version.

This is also my second entry for the Play It Forward ukulele video contest at This time I totally forgot to pronounce the word ukulele the correct way: "oo-kuhlaylay". Instead, I pronounced it the obviously gringo way, "You-kuhlaylee". I hope it won't sway the judges too much. Oh well, the truth is I'm not Hawaiian and I have to accept that.

For now.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

How to play More Than This by the 10000 Maniacs

Who in the fuck doesn't love the 10,000 Maniacs? (sorry for the swearing, I can't stop quoting that guy from off-camera on Trailer Park Boys)

Until I learn how to play "What's the Matter Here?" or "Like the Weather", I have to represent them here somehow. So my first entry for them is More Than This, which isn't actually their song originally but they do the version I know best.

The lyrics and chords page I used can be found here.

Here's my tutorial on the basic way to play it on the uke:

0:00 - Boring, Long-winded Intro
0:38 - Tuning
1:07 - Chords
2:09 - Chord Order (The "Chorder", if you will. Currently under review at
2:48 - Strumming pattern (not quite right) and chord timing review
4:48 - Demonstration of first verse (voice added for timing purposes ONLY!)

I am not pleased with my strumming pattern for this song yet, so I am actually a bit disappointed that it's going to be my entry into the Play It Forward Ukulele contest from Julie over at Oh well, maybe if I do another tutorial before that 4/1 deadline (10 days?) I'll have a better chance to win that sweet FLEA ukulele.

Anyway the song at hand has five chords: C#, C#7, F#, G#m, and B. Most of the lyrics are sung over the looping 4 of

By tuning the ukulele up one note on each string (or putting a capo on the first fret), you can play those chords in the more standard C, C7, F, Gm, and A# positions.

The strumming pattern I came up with is similar (EXACTLY similar) to the one I did for the Arcade Fire song last month, which is that each loop consists of 8 beats (where each beat is a strum up or down):
1) down
2) miss
3) down
4) up
5) miss
6) up
7) down
8) up
(switch chords and repeat)

I might just have that rhythm stuck in my head, which is why I'm not happy with this video overall. If anyone has a better suggestion of how to strum this song, I'd love to hear it (and I don't mean that sarcastically... I'd really love to hear it).


Monday, March 17, 2008

Needed: Percussionary Musicianist

I just found out my electronic drummer, Gorch, is moving to Japan (aGAIN). Now, that's all well and good for his life and what not, but it puts some of my Ukulala plans on hold. He has a great ear for drums and musical composition, and he was helping me plan out some interesting songs.

Although... he was all the way in Virginia before, so it doesn't actually change much. Hopefully once he gets settled he'll be back on the sequencer, and hard.

In the meantime, I want to try working with a real-life percussionist on a few videos. I replied to a craigslist poster (not THAT kind of craigslist poster--a percussionist!) earlier tonight, but... I gave him the link to this website so unfortunately he'll see what an amateur operation I got going right now. The plan is to do a Ukulala cover and video of every song I do a lesson for, and see from there if we get along well enough to "take it to the next level" (not THAT next level--the musical kind!).

So... anyone out there know a percussionist in the Boston area?


Monday, March 10, 2008

My fucked up fingernails

So I've been using a lot more fingernail strumming recently while I play to get that good sharp sound without a pick, but there do seem to be some minor side effects.

Will this end my two-year stint as an international ring and nail polish model? No way. It's a very open-minded industry.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

How to play Plenty More by the Squirrel Nut Zippers

Alright I decided to do a video on how to play one of my favorite songs from a while back, Plenty More by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Originally the song is played on banjo, but it's not such a stretch to play it on the ukulele.

Parts of the video:
0 - intro, tuning, chords
1:25 - timing of the chord switches
2:03 - strumming pattern
2:35 - first verse of chords with voice
3:40 - fingerpicking demonstration (slow motion and regular)

There are only 4 chords in the song: A#, F, A, and G. The version I do has a very simple strumming pattern (strum up then hit down, with a slow rhythm). The timing of the chord switches is a bit more complicated. If each loop is one up strum and a hit, this is how many loops each chord is played for:

A# - 4 ("they may walk hand...")
F - 4 ("like lovers through the...")
A# - 4 ("selecting leather goods..")
F - 4 ("pretending that they...")
A# - 1 ("All the")
A - 1 ("boys are")
F - 2 ("monsters")
A# - 1 ("All the")
A - 1 ("girls are")
G - 4 ("whores")
A# - 4 ("so when you lose...")
F - 4 ("there's always plenty more")

Plenty More Chords

I also included the fingerpicking part of the song. I play it through very slowly, hopefully it is possible to tell where my fingers are and which string is being plucked.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cotton-pickin' fingerpickin' fun!

Alright, I decided to start mixin' it up a bit more and add some original content on this blog, so it's not just all videos of tutorials for songs I've learned. I created a second youtube account for ukulala, called ukulalaFORFUN, where I will hold non-tutorial bits and pieces for the blog.

I didn't want to put everything on the ukulaladotcom youtube account just in case people that subscribed for tutorials unsubscribe when they start getting other types of videos.

So here's something I've been working on to practice fingerpicking, with drums added by my homeboy and electronic drummer Gorch:

1 Comment: