Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to play Lua by Bright Eyes

I hope you've heard this song, Lua by Bright Eyes. Thanks to Jessibee for the heads up on it.

Anyway, it is a nice case study on simplicity with acoustics and excellent song-writing. What can I say but the guy writes a good song. I suspect this one is about being, and being with, a druggie. The mellow mood makes it pretty perfect for the ukulele, although I think a uke and a bass would really do this song right.

The tricky part of this song is just a little bit of fingering on the G chord. It's not too bad, you just have to practice when to press and release one of the strings in the chord. The good news is, once you get that part, the rest will be easy.

So here's my video on it:

Video Timing:
0:00 - Intro and Tuning (GCEA), capo (2nd fret)
1:15 - Chords (D, G, Em, A, A7, Bm)
2:05 - Strumming pattern (loops in 8 beats, see above)
3:19 - Strumming example
3:30 - Intro (Dx2, Gx2 with some detailed fingering) THIS PART IS IMPORTANT!
5:07 - Intro Example
5:35 - Verse 1
Dx2, Gx2, Dx2, Gx2, Emx2, Ax2, (Em,G), (Em,A), Dx2
(Other verses have the same chord pattern)
8:01 - Verse 1 Example
8:43 - Chorus
Gx2, Dx2, Gx2, D, (A, A7), G, Bm, (D, A), (Em,G), (Em,A), Dx2
9:05 - Chorus Example
The uke itself is tuned to standard GCEA, but there is a capo on the 2nd fret, which shifts all the chords up one full note.


Once the capo is on, putting your fingers in the standard C chord position now makes a D chord. I will refer to the chords with the actual chord followed by the non-capo equivalent chord position in parentheses, i.e. D(C). The chords are:
D(C), G(F), Em(Dm), Bm(Am), A(G), A7(G7)

Strumming Pattern
The strumming pattern loops in 8 beats, where each beat could be considered one up or down strum at a regular rhythm. Strumming pattern:
1- down (emphasis on top string)
2- miss up
3- down (hit all strings, emphasize this beat)
4- miss up
5- miss down
6- up (emphasis on bottom strings)
7- down (emphasis on bottom strings)
8- up (emphasis on bottom strings)
(repeat, switching chords if necessary)

I don't have my handy-dandy table-maker right now, so I can't make the full table with lyrics yet. In the meantime, I'll break it down by loops of the strumming pattern. The chords in parentheses means each is played for 1/2 of one loop, so everything in the parentheses makes for one loop.

Keep in mind, this is just a guide for now, full description with lyrics coming soon.

Intro: Dx2, Gx2
Verse 1: Dx2, Gx2, Dx2, Gx2, Emx2, Ax2, (Em,G), (Em,A), Dx2
Verse 2: same as verse 1
Chorus 1:
Gx2, Dx2, Gx2, D, (A, A7), G, Bm, (D, A), (Em,G), (Em,A), Dx2
Verse 3: same as verse 1
Verse 4: same as verse 1
Chorus 2: Gx2, Dx2, Gx2, D, (A, A7), G, Bm, (D, A), Gx2
Ending: (Em,G), (Em,A), Dx2, (Em,G), (Em,A), Bmx2, (Em,G), (Em,A), (Em,G), (Em,A), D


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Single uke band seeks drummer or percussionist for long-distance recording relationship (contest!)

CONTEST DEADLINE: March 12, 2009 @ Midnight

Two beginning ukulele players (one male, one female) working on songwriting, with basic recording and mixing capability. We are realizing that drums are an essential part of our music and something we currently have neither the equipment nor the basic skills to include in our tracks.

You: Like the music I've mentioned on this blog, and you play the drums or some version of them. You have a way to record drums or percussion along with music from an mp3 track and then send files (of the two together AND eventually of just the drums) over the internets. And you like contests and long walks on the beach.


More detail: Right now Ukulala is a long-distance band. My sister Flora and I live on opposite ends of the country and email music we work on back and forth and mix it around and occasionally have random other people record with us. We basically are looking for somebody out there who wants to have their drums be a part of our music without doing any live shows or actually recording together in the same place. Any percussionist is welcome, although we would prefer that electronic drummers try to sound as natural as possible.

Contest: Since everything on television nowadays is weird reality dating show contests, that's how I'm going to run this. I have put three mp3 files (with links to download) at the bottom of this post. If you think you could add quality drums to ANY ONE (or more) of these, then DO IT and send your completed recording (the original mp3 mixed with the drums) in mp3 format along to me at Please include just a few sentences about your drumming setup and history.

Only the third song (Taken Over) was recorded on a steady beat with a metronome. The others are just freestyle, so if you are using a computer-based system that would be the one to go with.

Feel free to send along more than one option, or drums for both tracks if you would like. Each track will be judged blindly and individually, but versatility is always a virtue and multiple entries in the pool can't hurt your chances.

Judging: The way we judge depends on how many people enter the contest. If there is one person, judging will be easy. If there are more than that, we will probably choose our favorite. If it is close, we MAY put it up online as an internet poll and let THE PEOPLE (that's you!) decide by voting. I am somewhat wary of that because in such a small sample size, someone could skew the vote in their favor just by having lots of loser friends with nothing better to do.

Obviously judging will be very subjective to our tastes and what we want our music to sound like, but I think we will be looking for quality, simplicity, variety, and appropriateness to the musical style. We aren't looking to be a drum-heavy band that drowns the ukulele out with the incessant smashing of loud rock drums. But hey, maybe that would sound awesome..... we won't judge 'til we hear it.

Deadline: I think one month should be more than enough time to get the word out, listen to and download the sample, record something, and send it back in. So the deadline is Thursday, March 12th at midnight.

Prize: Your prize will be to work with us in creating at least our first song to be posted online and possibly in a youtube video. Now, we are just beginners and we do NOT have an audience of "fans", so there is NO notoriety (ZERO, NADA, NONE) involved, but you will be mentioned and linked to at every opportunity for whatever small audience will listen. Make no mistake: this is not a huge prize. You will have to be independently excited for the prospect of making music.

All entries will be posted for everyone to hear once the contest ends, along with your name unless you would like to stay anonymous. If there are lots of entries, I will come up with another more traditional gift or prize for the top 3.


And if you do not play the drums but know someone who does, please send this along! We will judge every entry on merit alone because we want to make awesome music. Children, old people and grotesquely unattractive drummers are all welcome.

Thank you in advance to anyone out there who participates or even thinks real hard about it. Have fun!

1: Save the Day
(Right-click here and 'save as' to download):

2: F6
(Right-click here and 'save as' to download):

3: Taken Over
This is the only song of the three recorded on a steady metronome beat, in case anyone is planning on using an electronic setup.
(Right-click here and 'save as' to download):


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie

Uh oh, looks like Sarah Palin is calling us out.

CNN Headline: Palin slams 'bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie'

I know what you're thinking: OMG, how did she know?!

Well anyway, I got nothing to do but head home for another infomercial maratho--I, I mean, I mean to go out drinking with my four hot roommates (hi girls!) and party with my rockstar friends. Ladies, I probably won't be back at the mansion until tomorrow so don't worry about locking the gate.

This is NOT a political blog, and it never will be. I just want to remind the world of bloggers and blogger-readers that we are now all officially on notice.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

YouTube? More like... SCREW..y...Tube. Yeah.

So after a few heads-up emails and comments, I realized my first video ever (as seen in the post How to play Elephant Gun by Beirut on the ukulele) was "no longer available" on YouTube. Everything about it seemed fine, it was "Live!" but I couldn't make it work and YouTube has no customer service. What the hell am I paying them for!?? Fucking Slackers.

Anyway, I reposted the video after deleting the old one. I didn't like doing it, I guess because of some weird nostalgia about posting my first video and all the positive feedback I got from it. It was somewhat inspiring.

Unfortunately, those user comments are erased forever from YouTube. After I deleted the video I went back to see if I could retrieve them but they are all gone except for one page (9 of 31 comments) that I just happened to still have open. I think I'll honor their memory by pasting them here, for a few reasons:

1) It's comments like these that make people like me want to make more videos. I know most people on YouTube just use the comment section as an anonymous outlet to call people fags, but some of you out there actually say nice things and it is appreciated.

2) People took the time to write them. I wish I had saved them all, but it's a real shame YouTube screwed up the video and wouldn't let me upload it to the same place and preserve the comments and video responses.

3) It's been too long since I posted. This is a good reminder of why I started......

Good vid.
Beirut throw in loads of triplits as well to mix it up.

First song i learn on capo! First time i learn to play beirut! First time i see a monkey! And first time i am so happyyyy today!!

dude u rock, this song is ammence but one question. how do you no if its like g sharp or c sharp or soemthin like that???


Great Lesson.
and great taste in music.

I was thinking the same thing (about your nails)! This is a brilliant song. I want to learn how to play the uke now (:

hells yeah, i say get one. they are cheap and fun.... kinda like a.... water gun.

Heh heh heh.
Nice rhyme.

Great vid. subscribed!
I used standard tuning with an electric guitar capo.

why is no longer available?

One exchange I wish I had saved had something to do with my fingernails (alluded to above). Someone said I had 'exquisitely manicured nails'. I'm just glad someone finally noticed.

Also, my favorite comments go something like "OMG I have never played music before and now I can play yadda yadda yadda!" because I think that moment of discovery and seeing how easy it can be leads to a real breakthrough in people's confidence about their musical ability. At least, I know it did for me.

UPDATED: Also, just wanted to throw in a shout-out and thanks to the two members of the SNZ who commented on the SNZ post to let me know what the most important part of the night was and to suggest a few corrections. That is all.