Merry Christmas!! I’ve been working on a few new Christmas songs… for educational purposes only … of course! I also did a little organizing and put all the Christmas songs under one grouping.
Peace on Earth!
Mark Spanky Gutierrez
Is there anything sweeter than having somebody sing you a song? Did you ever have a child sing you a song, a song especially for you? What about a sweetheart? Did you ever have a sweet heart sing you a special song? Has anyone ever crafted a song with you in mind?
Being the recipient of a special song is one of the most wonderful experiences ever. I know many people find it awkward to be sung to, to be the focal point of somebody else’s full attention but if you can put the blush and awkwardness aside and see that somebody else on this planet is trying to reach you on a whole different level… well it’s just pretty amazing.
So, with this in mind my ukulele friends, learn or write a song for your sweetheart, family, or best friend and sing it to them. Let
them know you hold them is such high esteem that you would dedicate some hard work, thought and time to only that one person. That you are willing to be totally focused on them.
Give the gift of music …
Mark “Spanky” Gutierrez
There are at least twelve frets on your ukulele but most people only use the first three or four! My good friend Byron Yasui says “you paid for all those frets you might as well use them!”, and who could disagree with logic like that.
This topic quickly gets us into the discussion of chord inversions or different chord shapes. Let’s take the C chord for example you could play it:
In the first position as 0003
But why, why would I play those chords up the neck? Well… If I was trying to match the melody the other chords might give me the melody note as the highest note in the chord. Any time that you bring out the melody line in your chord playing the song starts to peek through the chords. People will say your playing “Silent Night” not just a set of chords.
Lets examine the notes of the C major chord. The notes for the C chord are C E G.
In the first position as 0003 = G C E C
or the second position as 3345 = C E G C
or the third position as 9787 = E G C E
So there would be to opportunities to play the C chord with either a C as the highest note or the C chord with the E has the highest note in the chord. I am sure that we if worked at it hard enough we could even come up with a C chord with G as the highest note.
If the melody of the song calls for then notes C and then E but the chord doesn’t change, you could follow the melody by choosing either the first position C or second position and then when the melody gets to E play the C chord in the third position.
The only trick here is we are following the melody with chord shapes that have the melody note as the highest note.
But there are times when you just can’t… Say a song has a range that just won’t fit. Well then transposing the song to another key is a good idea but there are songs that have more than an octave range. In which case it’s time for you to make some creative decisions. Maybe move in the direction of the melody. Meaning that if the melody goes down in pitch then we can go pick a lower pitched C chord.
This is the basis to creating chord melody transcriptions. I hope that this helps you to understand why all those shapes for the same chord are important and I really encourage you to try making your own arrangements.
Now let’s just make one technical music theory correction. I called these inversions and technically that is not right, just ask Dr, Bales. C E G is the first inversion, the second would be E G C, and the third G C E. Notice on the ukulele we are just taking the next set of C E G notes and calling it the next inversion. It’s actually just the next position in which C E G pops up as a playable form. It’s Just That Easy!
Good luck my friends!!
Mark “Spanky” Gutierrez
Time’s fun when you’re having flies! Wow, I am amazed at how quickly time seems to pass. Life has been great for me and my family. We have a beautiful little addition this year and it makes Christmas feel so special. I love the fall, Thanks Giving and Christmas it seems to bring out the best in everybody.
In celebration of Christmas and the Holiday season, I decided to put up two new Christmas Ukulele Transcriptions. White Christmas and Christmas Island, are two great songs for the season. White Christmas is such a classic Christmas song and Christmas Island is just perfect on the ukulele. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed putting them together.
Peace to all and to all a good night!
Mark “Spanky” Gutierrez
It’s always crazy at my house. We just shot a silly video of us doing the Harlem Shake.
No, I am not kidding! and NO I it won’t ever get posted!!
But this leads into a great point, its important to let it all hang out!!
So, apply this to your playing. You know let the HAM out!! It needs to see the light of day from time to time. This kind of activity can release the performer in you in such a way that it not only is fun for you but its also entertaining for your audience.
Let a little ham out at home, by yourself and either record or better yet film yourself. This will allow you to temper the performance or it will give you the okay to let MORE OUT. When you are mostly comfortable with what you have come up with, then spring it on a live audience. I would suggest that it NOT be family. It might be way too much for people that are that close to you to make that leap with you. If you break it out at the next open mic then you are going to get responses from folks that are not biased. Chances are that if you like the performance many many others will too!
BE BOLD, PLAY BOLD, and BE FREE!!
Mark Spanky Gutierrez
Lesson: C6 – A minor 7
So, C6 and A minor 7 … same shape different name. WHY? Context my friend it’s all about the context.
If you move from G7 to C6 it seems like its kind of final. There is a “resolution” about it. Try it, play C6 then G7 then go to C6 again. Play 4 counts each. Did you hear it? It’s like all is well with the world and you can go to sleep now.
Now for contrast play E minor and change to Amin7, B7 and then go back to E minor. Give each 4 counts each. Hear a difference? Now the Amin7 (or C6) sounds very minor and if you stop on Amin7 it doesn’t seem to be the end at all, not in a strong sense anyway or you might say less “resolution”.
In the first example we are playing squarely in the key of C. The connection between C6 and G7 is very strong. If you play those two chords and end on G7… some one is likely to scream “finish the damn song!”.
In the second example we are in the key of E minor. The A minor 7 is the “fourth” and its relationship is not as strong as the B7 and E minor connection but still has some “resolution” power.
So playing in context is very import to hear the intent of chord. Is it a minor chord? or is it major? If your lucky enough to play with a bass player, he or she will determine the intent of the chord. If they play A you will hear A minor, C then you will hear it as C major 6.
So, for this lesson please be ready to identify the chords by either name A minor 7 (red notes) or C6 (blue notes).
Follow the C7 Lesson instructions to get to the point that your ready to use this shape in any song.
Drop on out to Village Point’s Art Fair this weekend 9/18 or 9/19.
I will be giving ‘ukulele lessons:
Saturday 9/18 at High Noon
Sunday 9/19 at 2PM
You don’t even have to have a ukulele, I will bring some loaners!! Hope to see ya there!!
Mark ‘Spanky’ Gutierrez