Author Archives: aquifer

Final Countdown Collaboration

Here it is folks! The first ever Adventurous Ukuleles Collaboration Video attempt. The Final Countdown…

Basic instructions:

Video yourself playing / singing / dancing along with one of the guide tracks – and send it to me using the dropbox link below.

Detailed instructions:

Film yourself in landscape, with the best audio quality you can. Play along with the backing track (in headphones). You can play the rhythm part, the lead part and/or the solo part, and you can also do a singing part as well if you’re up for it! Kazoos, bass and other instruments also welcome! I will try to use everything you send, but no guarantees. Please just send me ONE take (per person) of each part you attempt.

Send your finished videos to me using this link:

https://www.dropbox.com/request/hs1vRNmQvon4Kwk8PoF9

Tips for recording:

  • Clap or tap along with the clicks at the start of the track so I can sync your video to everyone else’s.
  • A smartphone camera and mic will work fine – but if you have any better mics/cameras feel free to use them – you can record and send separate video and audio files if you want to. Record audio and video at the same time if possible.
  • Use a tripod or stand to hold the camera steady.
  • Film in landscape please!
  • Try to have a neutral(ish) background behind you. Have the light source in front of you, not behind you (don’t play in front of a window, unless it’s dark!)
  • Try to make sure there are no other loud audio sources (baby crying, washing machine, etc) when you’re recording.
  • Use headphones so you can hear the backing track but the microphone can’t!
  • If you can’t hear yourself singing or playing with the headphones on, try taking one ear off/out.
  • Have a practice first!
  • It doesn’t have to be a perfect take! I can fix many things in post-production…
  • For a video, sometimes your attitude and visuals are more important than the perfect tuning or timing… send me the most fun take, even if it’s not the best!
  • Record one part at a time – e.g. one video for vocals, one for ukulele rhythm, one for lead and solo attempts – this makes it much easier to mix together and balance later.
  • Ditto, record one person at a time as far as possible.
  • Please just send me ONE take (per person) of each part you attempt – otherwise my dropbox will die and I won’t finish mixing till the end of 2021…
  • Lastly, enjoy it! It makes a better video, and you get to have fun…!

Sheet Music

Full Backing Tracks

Solo backing tracks

Livestream Tutorial (old!)

Starlight – Muse

At the very least you can clap along with this one. It’s Muse at perhaps their most radio-friendly, and another song that works surprisingly well on the uke (so long as someone has a bass) – a really strong riff, and great melody and not too many chords make this one a great uke choice.

You will need some sort of bass and rhythm section to make this sound convincing though, as several of the verses are really just drums, bass and melody. However, there are lots of parts to get involved with, including a catchy clapping rhythm, a cool riff, some simple chords (and some more adventurous options), and even a wailing backing vocal – so it can be fun for the whole family!

Top Gun Theme

In the middle of a hauntingly sad song about life and love, a distant voice is heard from the back of the festival tent – “PLAY TOP GUN!”. I used to get heckled by this during my fleeting festival gig career – well, here it is. On ukulele.

This is an instrumental piece, but there are 4 or five parts to choose from if you fancy getting a family ukulele orchestra going…

Here’s the performance
Here’s the livestream tutorial

Desperado – The Eagles

Desperado Performance

The wistful notes of this melancholic cry for a wanderer to come home work well on the uke, and we can even play it in the original key (harder to sing than play). Most of the chords should be familiar, and even the unfamiliar ones aren’t too hard – the Cm6 sounds scary, but is just two fingers, and the rhythms are fairly straightforward. The chords are mostly G, G7, C, Em, and D – and although they change a lot, it’s really not as hard as it might seem… You can skip out the B7 and the quick Ds if preferred.

I’ve even tabbed out the intro and outro as played on piano – they can really sound good on the uke. Keep it steady and not too fast, and even the quick chord changes at the end should prove doable. It’s often voted one of the finest songs of all time (494th in the All Time List according to Rolling Stone – I think it should be higher).

A gem of a song to play around a campfire when the mood is right.

I’ve added tab for the verse and chorus in case you fancy having a go at the fingerpicked twiddles I put in on the performance…

If you don’t want to sing – then Ukulele Hunt have an excellent instrumental arrangement (I borrowed the intro from here!) – it’ll stretch your fingers more than your vocal chords https://ukulelehunt.com/2020/09/29/eagles-desperado-tab/

Tutorial

The Bare Necessities – The Jungle Book

Everyone knows this song – even if you haven’t seen the film. It works well on the uke too. I’m struggling to think of another song that has 5 different major chords (7 if you count the 7ths!) in the chorus and no minor chords at all… it must be a happy song!

We do get a sneaky F->Fm in the verse, and some classic jazz ii V I progressions too, but it’s not too difficult to play. Make sure you get a good solid swing on the quavers/eighth notes to properly get the feel.

My old friend Chris got me to play this with him at his wedding – and he’s reprised the favour for the performance video – thanks Chris!

Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

A smooth love song from the star of the early 21st century singer/songwriter world, Ed Sheeran (and co-written by Amy Wadge), Thinking Out Loud is a romantic pop tune, played on electric guitar originally.

Actually, it’s perhaps not written entirely by Ed or Amy, as he was sued by the owners of Marvin Gaye’s classic – Let’s Get It On – which has an undoubtedly familiar bass line and groove to it – but what the heck – you can’t copyright a chord sequence! (can you?)

I’ve moved it down to our favourite key of C (from the original in D), and even tabbed out the solo for you – aren’t I nice? There aren’t too many challenges technically in this piece, although the last line of the chorus might give you a wobble when suddenly you get all 7 chords of the song in quick succession!

The key thing here is to get the 1 (and 2 ) AND (3 and 4 and) groove right, and to not over play it. The twiddle at the end of each line of the verse is optional but a good exercise in hammer-ons for the more adventurous.

Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams

It’s the feel-good hit of the previous century this time folks. It might seem easy peasy, with just four chords making up the bulk of the song – but there are a few subtleties in this one. That riff for a start… I’ve finally found a way to play it on the uke that I’m happy with. And then you have the bridge – whatever key you play this song in, either the verse or the bridge will use chords that you don’t like…

However, it’s a lot of fun to play!

Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

Keane’s nostalgic hit, from a piano based band, works actually pretty well on the uke. The original key of A might force you to learn a few chords that we don’t use all that often on the uke, and you’re gonna have to make peace with some barre chords to play this.

You can follow the chords in the chord chart if you want a slightly simplified chord progression, but if you listen to the piano in the original, almost none of these chords stay in one play for long, there are sus4s and maj7ths all over the shop. Check out the tab for the full progression details.

Here’s the tutorial
And here’s the full arrangement

Space Oddity – David Bowie

Well that was more work than I thought… This one was a lot of fun but took a long time to record. It’s definitely a challenge for a beginner uke player – with lots of chords, an unpredictable structure, and some little riffs and rhythms that take a bit of practice. Worth it though…

Here’s the chord chart and some tabs for the tricky bits:

Here’s the livestreamed tutorial
https://youtu.be/MPGXL0oxSwI