Kmise and Aklot ukuleles

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I was somewhat skeptical when a representative from Kmise ukuleles contacted me recently, and offered to send me some of his company’s instruments to review. I had never heard of the company and never seen any of their instruments in music stores. A bit of online searching showed them as a Chinese maker of modestly-priced instruments. Not just ukuleles, however: they offer a wider range of instruments and accessories (many are listed on Amazon), including singing bowls, harmonicas, kalimbas, u-bass, … click below for more!

432 vs 440Hz: Science or Codswallop?

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Canadian band Walk Off the Earth posted excitedly on Facebook that they had just recorded a new song. Great. I like WOTE and look forward to their new song. What was really different about that notice was that they also said they had changed their instruments from the standard A440 to A432 tuning, and it made a huge difference to them: For all the music nerds out there, you might want to look into this. This has not been 100% … click below for more!

Why Do We Make Music?

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Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak. I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d, And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d, By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound. What then am I? Am I more senseless grown Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe! ‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs. Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night The silent Tomb receiv’d the good Old King; He … click below for more!

Musical Sources

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Trying learn a song from an old songbook or sheet music can be difficult unless you already know how the song goes. Many of our group are introduced to the music in our songbook only through my version when I play in at our meetings. And, I admit, my version may not always reflect the original accurately. It’s good to be able to hear the song so you can  appreciate how it is arranged and where the chord changes will be. Here … click below for more!

Reading Ukulele Tabs

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One of the things I want to discuss in my upcoming ukulele workshop is how to read tab sheet music. In this post I’ve give you some pointers so you can practice on your own. It’s worth learning to read tabs because it gives you the ability to play melodies and solo pieces without having to read music. Don’t be confused when you see a piece labelled “tab” but only showing the lyrics and chords. The name is often used … click below for more!

Revised Chord Wheel

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I have revised my transposing chord wheel/circle of fifths tool this week. It is now a three-ring version for use by all musicians (ukulele players who want to learn music theory or work on arranging songs especially). You can click on the image on the right to download the PDF. The outer ring shows the Roman numerals for the key. This lets you see the chords by number – uppercase is major; lowercase is minor. Turn this wheel to the … click below for more!

Ukulele Workshop Today

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I just returned from Orangeville where Broadway Music hosted a two-and-a-half hour musical workshop this Saturday by Manitoba Hal today (which will be followed by his concert tonight from 8-11 p.m. – try to attend, if you can: he’s very talented). Very informative and well worth attending. Interestingly, at least half the participants were my age, and I didn’t see anyone in the classroom under 40. Perhaps you have to be mature in order to really appreciate music this way, … click below for more!

A Few More Uke Arrangements

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Lately, I’ve been redoing all the arrangements of songs I put together for the Collingwood Public Library Ukulele Group (CPLUG) this year, as well as arranging some new pieces for the group. I’m working on a new layout for the tunes that makes them easier for beginners to follow and makes the songbook somewhat easier to manage. I’ve zipped a few of the most recent tunes (in PDF) here: Dec 2014.zip. As I often do, I offer some of the … click below for more!

WWHWWWH

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WWHWWWH is one of two formulae I need to keep in mind when working through my scales on the ukulele and guitar. The other is 2122122. I see the musicians among you already recognize what these mean. I still need to have these written on a sticky note so I will remember when I practice. WWHWWWH means: Whole step – whole step – half step – whole step – whole step – whole step – half step. It’s how you … click below for more!

Song arrangements for CPLUG

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I have arranged several songs for our local ukulele group (CPLUG – the Collingwood Public Library Ukulele Group) over the recent months, and put them online for our members and for any other ukulele aficionados. The most recent was prepared for our May 21 get-together. Links are below. Some of these are my own arrangements based mostly on my reading of the original song sheets or the music itself, others are based on those of other modern groups or players … click below for more!

Practice makes perfect

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Whenever I’m asked for advice from new ukulele players on how to get better, or what secret they need to know to play better, I tell them it’s simple: Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. … click below for more!

How many chords?

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How many chords does a musician need to know? How many does an amateur musician who plays mostly popular, folk and blues music, need to know? My first answer has always been, “all of them” because you never know when you need them. But that’s not realistic. After all, there are thousands of chords you can play on a guitar or piano and you simply can’t memorize every one. Well, at least I can’t. I know a lot of the basic … click below for more!

Oooh, shiny….

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Religious texts are full of admonitions about avoiding temptation. The Lord’s Prayer tells God to “lead us not into temptation.” Fat lot of good that does. We can find the way ourselves, thank you. Not only do we lead ourselves there, we go willingly and eagerly. Pushing and shoving aside those who stand in our way to reach temptation. Ever see the crowds in the mall on Boxing Day? Psychological texts, magazines and sites are full of secular advice on … click below for more!

Thinking about a new ukulele

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I’ve been thinking seriously of adding another ukulele to the herd. A tenor resonator, or resophonic, like the Kala shown above. That’s the re-designed 2014 model. I’ve played earlier models, including the 2013 version with the strings attached to a tailpiece (see photo below, left). The 2014 design (shown above) anchors the strings back into the cover plate, which I expect will be a better design; it looks cleaner, too. But I believe the biggest change is that the through-the-plate … click below for more!

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