Category Archives: Ukulele Arrangements

Blue Skies Sing-along Video with Chords & Lyrics

“[Blue Skies] was composed in 1926 as a last-minute addition to the Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy… [It] was an instant success, with audiences on opening night demanding 24 encores of the piece…” ~Wikipedia

There are a boatload of chords in this song and some unusual progressions that come off as fresh but not weird (might be why it has stood the test of time so well – I particularly like the Cadd9 followed by the Daug). Here are the chords and their frettings:

[G 0232] [G7 0212] [C6 0000] [C7 0001] [Gsus4 0233] [Bm 4222] [F# 3121] [F#7 3424] [D7 2223] [B7 2322] [Em 0432] [Baug 0332] [C#m7b5 0102] [Cadd9 0005] [Daug 3225] [Bb7 1211] [Cm7 3333] [Cm 0333] [Eb7 3334]

Reading the above fret number chord diagrams for standard ukulele gCEA tuning:
1st digit = g string fret number
2nd digit = C string
3rd digit = E string fret number
4th digit = A string fret number

Blue Skies by Irving Berlin

 

[G]I was [G7]blue, just as
[C6]blue as [C7]I could [G]be [Gsus4] [G]
[G]Ev’ry [G7]day was a
[C6]cloudy [C7]day for [G]me [Gsus4] [G]
[Bm]Then good [F#]luck came a
[F#7]knocking at my [Bm]door [D7]
[G]Skies were [G7]gray, but they’re
[C6]not gray [C7]any[G]more [B7]

[Em]Blue skies [Baug] smiling at [G]me
[C#m7b5] Nothing but [G]blue skies [Cadd9]
[Daug]do I [G]see [B7]
[Em]Bluebirds [Baug] singing a [G]song
[C#m7b5] Nothing but [G]bluebirds [Cadd9]
[Daug] all day [G]long

[G]Never saw the [Bb7]sun
[Cm7]shining so [G]bright
[Cm]Never saw [G]things
[Eb7]going [D7]so [G]right
[G]Noticing the [Bb7]days
[Cm7]hurrying [G]by
[Cm]When your in [G]love
[Eb7]my how [D7]they [G]fly [B7]

[Em]Blue days [Baug] all of them [G]gone
[C#m7b5] Nothing but [G]blue skies [Cadd9]
[Daug] from now [G]on [Gsus4] [G]

For Educational Purposes Only

Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Fats Waller Cover) w/ Lyrics & Chords

AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (Fats Waller Cover)
Posted for educational purposes only.

Chords in this song: C 0003, C#dim7 0101, Dm 2210, G 0232, C7 0001, F 2010, Fm 1013, Am 2000, G7 0212, E7 1202, A7 0100 & D7 2223

Reading the above fret number chord diagrams for standard ukulele gCEA tuning:
1st digit = g string fret number
2nd digit = C string
3rd digit = E string fret number
4th digit = A string fret number

[C] No one to [C#dim7]walk with
[Dm] All by my[G]self
[C] No one to [C7]talk with
But [F]I’m happy [Fm]on the shelf
[C] Ain’t misbe[Am]havin’
[Dm]I’m savin’ [G7]my love for
[E7]you [A7] [D7] [G7]

[C] I know for [C#dim7]certain
[Dm] The one I [G]love
[C] I’m through with [C7]flirtin’
It’s [F]just you I’m [Fm]thinkin’ of
[C] Ain’t misbe[Am]havin’
[Dm]I’m savin’ [G7]my love for
[C]you [Fm] [C] [E7]

[Am] Like Jack Horner
[F] In the corner
[Am] Don’t go nowhere
[A7] What do I care?
[G] Your kisses [Am]are worth
[D7]waitin’ [G7]for
[A7]Be[D7]lieve [G7]me

[C] I don’t stay [C#dim7]out late
[Dm] Don’t care to [G]go
[C] I’m home a[C7]bout eight
Just [F]me and my [Fm]radio
[C] Ain’t mis[Am]behavin’
[Dm ]I’m savin’ [G7]my love for
[C]you [Fm] [C]

Cry Out, Cry Out : a new song

If you’ve been reading the blog lately, you’ll know I’ve been working on memorization. I started work on this song a couple weeks ago and wanted to get this out for Palm Sunday and just barely made it (lyrics and chords below the video – twitter me covers @mryantaylor – just 4 chords!). Hope you have a lovely Easter week. YouTube at https://youtu.be/SIOpUwD4xaI and audio at https://uke-n-me.bandcamp.com/track/cry-out-cry-out (for sharing). Hope you enjoy it!

Cry Out, Cry Out
Music & Lyrics by M. Ryan Taylor

{Verse 1}
I was [C]born to this [Am]world by blood and [F]water, [C]
Yet the [C7]world turned my [F]heart into a stone, [Am]
In the [C]darkness I [Am]called on my Re[F]deemer, [C]
Where the rock once op[Am]pressed me a new [F]heart has grown. [C]

{Chorus}
[C]Cry out, cry out, lift your [F]palms to the [C]sky,
Cry out, cry [C7]out, sing and [F]let your voice [C]fly!
The Kingdom is [Am]coming on the [F]wings of a [C]Dove,
Cry out, cry [C7]out, sing the [F]praise of His [C]love.

{Verse 2}
Hear Him [C]calling these [Am]stones to be his [F]children, [C]
See the [C7]wonder of [F]what they will become, [Am]
Feel the [C]cool of the [Am]Fount of Living [F]Water [C]
As they shout and sing [Am]praises to the [F]Holy One. [C]

{Chorus}

{Verse 3}
Come and [C]lift up your [Am]praise, ye broken [F]hearted, [C]
Come and [C7]lift up your [F]sorrows to your King, [Am]
Ev’ry [C]sorrow He [Am]turns to hymns of [F]gladness, [C]
Lay them down at His [Am]feet and feel the [F]music ring. [C]

Copyright © 2017 M. Ryan Taylor | Vocal Works Publishing

#PRINCEofPEACE

More Music for Ukulele Ensembles! Blackbird, Over the Rainbow & More.

I just finished a round of arranging songs for UFO HUM‘s next concert; these 100% legal arrangements for ukulele ensembles (royalties make their way back to the copyright holders) are available through a special arrangement with Sheet Music Plus. Here are the new titles:

You can check out more titles released before Christmas on the For Ukulele Ensembles page of this site.

New Music for Ukulele Ensembles plus Freebies

I’ve created a new page, For Ukulele Ensembles, with music I’ve arranged for 3 or more ukulele players. The page currently contains a couple of BLACK FRIDAY FREEBIES (Canon in C, and I’ll Fly Away), as well as a number of popular Christmas songs (Feliz Navidad, It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy, Sleigh Ride, Silver Bells, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch).

I’ll be adding arrangements of Best Day of My Life : American Authors, Music of the Night : Andrew Lloyd Webber, Happy : Pharrell Williams and more in 2017!

Unlike a lot you find on the internet, these are 100% legal arrangements (royalties make their way back to the copyright holders) through an agreement with SMP Press who works with Hal Leornard music publishing.

I hope you enjoy these with your own ukulele trios, ensembles, bands and orchestras. Happy Holidays!

I <3 the Mountains - Whiteboard

Today my weekly Two Trees ukulele youth class went over the classic camp song, I Love the Mountains. The repeating chord pattern is a great one for beginners. We also talked about transposition and bringing the song up from the key of C (which is easy, but I find a little low for my voice) to the key of F. I took some shots of the white board and thought I’d pass them along.

Note that some versions of the song use the pattern C-C-Am-Am-Dm-Dm-G7-G7 instead of C-C-Am-Am-F-F-G7-G7. This would translate in the key of F to F-F-Dm-Dm-Gm-Gm-C7-C7 instead of F-F-Dm-Dm-Bb-Bb-C7-C7 and as Gm is easier than Bb for beginners it might be the way to go.

DSC06462 DSC06463 DSC06464 DSC06465 DSC06466

Happy Easter! : That Easter Morn Tab Arrangement

That Easter Morn

Hope you enjoy this arrangement of Robert Cundick’s lovely Easter hymn. You can find the original hymn tune and words here: That Easter Morn at LDS.org

Happy Easter!

Chord Melody Arranging Part 2 : Transposing

Where Can I Turn for Peace 2In the first part of this series I talked about some principles of chord melody arranging using the melody in the original vocal range with mostly ‘open position’ chords (the easy ones). This second part will talk about transposing the melody into standard ukulele range and using inversions of chords that are ‘up the neck.’ First you may want to print out a copy of the arrangement I’m using as an example:

Transposing

One of the problems of arranging vocal melodies for the ukulele is that they tend to dip below the middle C that is the bottom of standard ukulele range. This is one of the main reasons there are strong supporters of low-G tuning, like James Hill (except for the Canadians it is low-A tuning). We tackled this challenge in part 1 of this series by transposing a section of the melody up an octave. Another common method of dealing with this problem is to transpose the entire melody up into ukulele range. Here are some steps that may help you with this process, using the second page of “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” as an example:

  • Identify the lowest note in the melody you wish to arrange. In the example, the lowest note was an A below middle C with is a ‘minor third‘ (a whole-step plus a half-step) below the range of a standard-tuned uke. That means that in order to bring this into range we have to move all the notes up by at least a minor third.
  • Bringing this melody up by a minor third would take us from the key of C (no sharps or flats) to the key of Eb (three flats). There aren’t a ton of open chords in that key, so I chose to go up another step higher to the key of F, which is a ‘perfect fourth‘ (two whole-steps plus a half-step) higher than the key of C. This key only has one flat in the key signature with a number of ‘open’ chord options.
  • You’ll find the keys closest to C around the circle of fifths (learn more on wikipedia) are the easiest keys to play on the ukulele: F and G. These would be followed by D, A and Bb. These are generalizations; you might find the best key to transpose to is something odd, like Db (probably not).
  • Whatever key you move to, you must make sure you move all the notes by the same interval. In this piece I’ve transposed up by a perfect fourth, so C becomes F, F becomes Bb, D becomes G, and so on.
  • All of your chords need to be transposed up by the same interval; a C chord becomes an F chord, an F chord becomes a Bb chord, and so on.
  • Once you have your melody and chords transposed you can begin looking for chord inversions that highlight the melody notes. You’ll be looking for notes to land on the 1st/A-string (see the first chord of measure 17) or on the 4th/G-string (see the last chord in measure 20). If the note is below these on the middle strings you can always strum a partial chord (see the first chord in measure 24).
  • If you aren’t familiar with a ton of ‘up the neck’ chord inversions, cheat. Either use a ukulele chord dictionary or an online chord finder (ukebuddy.com). A reference makes it so much easier (I use one).
  • If a melody note doesn’t belong to a chord (which happens often), you’ll need to add it to the chord (see the Bb on top of an F chord in measure 17 and the E on top of the Bdim7 in measure 19).

That’s about all there is to it. One of the awesome things about chord melody solos of this kind are that they force you to learn all those wonderful ‘up the neck’ chord inversions, opening all kinds of options for your playing, both instrumental and accompanimental.

Notation/tablature software (I use Finale, but there are free options like MuseScore) can help with transposing and take some of the chore out of it (of course, these have a learning curve of their own). Whatever method you use and however long it takes you to get there, there is nothing like the satisfaction of playing your own arrangement of a song.

Source Files

Get the source files (pdf, finale and music xml for import into other music editors) for the above arrangement under the ‘Files’ tab of the Joyful Noise! LDS Ukulele group on FaceBook. Also, if you’re interested in sharing your arrangements of hymns and Christ-centered spiritual songs, this is a great place to do it.

The Welti Solution : Chord Melody Arranging Part 1

Where Can I Turn for PeaceA good friend / former student asked me for some suggestions on solutions to a chord melody version of “Where Can I Turn for Peace?,” a well-known LDS hymn. He was working from the version included on page 30 of Hymns Made Easy (which includes chord indications above the melody). It was easier for me to illustrate by arranging this song than try to explain in an email, so here is my solution:

Some questions that arise in looking at this tune . . .

What do you do when some of the melody notes do not belong to the chords indicated in the music? This is a common thing in music of all stripes. Melodic notes that do not belong to the chord sequence add tension and interest to the melody. When arranging a chord melody solo you’ll need to incorporate these notes into the fingering, which means you’ll need to be able to find the note on its own in the first place (learn your C-scale to start with). For example, this hymn calls for a B-note over a C-diminished chord on in the third measure. When you change the C to a B in that chord, you end up with a B7 chord instead. You can see this in the arrangement above.

What do you do when a melody note is buried in the middle or bottom of the chord instead of being the top note? Wilfried Welti is a fairly well-known and respected ukulele arranger. I’m borrowing ‘the Welti solution’ to make this arrangement work. His answer lies in how you arpeggiate the chord you are playing. This is indicated by arrows in the arrangement that stop on the melody note you wish to highlight. An up-arrow indicates a motion from string 4 towards string 1, while a down-arrow indicates the opposite direction. You’ll note that where a melody note takes place on one of the inner strings, you stop the arpeggio on that string (see the arrangement above). Using this solution you can highlight any note of a chord.

What do you do when a melody note goes below the range of the ukulele? Lots of vocal melodies go below the C that is the lowest note on the ukulele. A popular solution is to put a low-G string on your uke, but let’s pretend that option doesn’t exist and you don’t want to string your ukulele like a mini-guitar. If we’re not willing to transpose the entire melody up into ukulele range, then we must make do somehow. One solution is to leave those notes out and to the imagination of the listener. Another is to transpose just that phrase of music up an octave. This latter option is what I’ve done at the end of the second line of music in the arrangement above.

Using these three techniques, you can create a lovely and convincing chord-melody arrangement in the ukulele’s lower range without transposing up into the higher fret-range of the instrument. I’ll talk about transposing the melody up to a ‘ukulele-friendly’ key in a future ‘part 2’ article on ukulele chord melody arranging.

Update: Now you can read part 2 on transposing! with an updated version of the arrangement.

Source Files

Get the source files (pdf, finale and music xml for import into other music editors) for the above arrangement under the ‘Files’ tab of the Joyful Noise! LDS Ukulele group on FaceBook. Also, if you’re interested in sharing your arrangements of hymns and Christ-centered spiritual songs, this is a great place to do it.

Twenty One Pilots Ukulele cover of Can’t Help Falling in Love With You

I was wondering why many of my young students were coming in and wanting to sing this classic song (originally from before I was born), but this helps explain it. This is a pretty easy one to learn using ‘level 3’ chords. Dr. Uke offers a song sheet here: http://www.doctoruke.com/canthelpfallinginlove.pdf