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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Ukulele and Transposing Songs (Starting Out)

"Always" from the Daily Uke Book
with my scribbbles

So here's the deal.  I have tons of music and now two ukulele books.  Plus there are some great uke sites out there with tons of songs.  I think doctoruke is the best.

Great!  Fabulous!  Love it!

Tons of music but damnit, very very few pieces out of this massive collection are in MY key for singing.

I don't mind learning to play stuff in a "Not my key" key but being a singer first and foremost, I don't want to focus on memorizing ukulele stuff that ain't in my key.  Why the hell would I do that?

Here's the weird part.  I was taught Reverence For Books.  I drew in my books as a child and yes, my parents let me.  Which was, in retrospect, very nice of them.

I order two ukulele books. At first I was thinking, "Ooooh, it's a book.  I better not write in the book.  That would be BAD!"  Then I thought about that and I said to myself, "It's a darn music book; it's not a first edition of anybody's! Go ahead, write in the damn book,  It's yours!"

So my uke teacher gave me an assignment:

Three songs transposed by sight (mostly) in a week!  I chose these three:

"It Had To Be You" (from F to C)
"You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" (from F to C, that one was pretty easy) and
"Always" (from F to C and F to Bb).

"All Of Me" was one step off from the Daily Ukulele book, but I can sing it in that key.

Of course, I had to look up weird chords on the internet like Ebmin6!

Oh, yeah, I just have that one tucked away in my Ukulele Chord Memory Bank.

Uh, that would be, "Hell, No."

Reverend Mother, I confess that on "Always" I had to use the old, paper musical slide rule for 2 chords.  I couldn't make the transposition by counting, by ear or in my head, especially from F to Bb.

Now the trick is to PLAY them --- especially the upbeat songs!  Sheesh!  Singing this stuff is easy, easy, EASY!  I still suck at strumming.  My uke teacher says I'm doing just fine.

Learning to play: hard.  Playing AND singing together is REALLY HARD!

Me, Al, Leo and Dale
(photo by Paula McKenzie)
How does my friend and mentor Dale​ do it?  I'm in awe of people like him!  He was the guest artist for our show on August 29th.  He did "Dream A little Dream Of Me" with us and "Dream." He just watched Leo's hands on the piano and played along. Seriously?  Who the hell can do that shit? It's amazing!  I could only aspire to being that quick and that good!

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