Monday, 27 July 2015

Why record yourself at home?

Does this seem like a silly question?

One or two of my musical (and let's face it not-so musical) friends seem surprised that I bother to record myself singing and playing. Or there is a feeling that I am fooling myself about my abilities and why on earth should anybody want to hear my renditions of classic songs.

Well, I though about this question and decided that I record myself for one main reason. I want to get better!

By recording myself I can hear where my problems are. It is difficult to listen to yourself objectively whilst playing/singing and so I can get a better idea of my progress and make notes about where I specifically need to concentrate my practice time. And as for whether I am good enough to share my music - have you heard some of the stuff getting posted on the web?

I guess that when I first started recording myself it was an effective way of sharing my song-writing. I had written many songs over the early decades of my life but never shared them outside a very small circle of friends and then only a few of the songs. I give the reason I started recording my songs in this YouTube video:


And here is a second:

Still have only recorded a few but at least they exist where they can be heard. 
You can find half-a-dozen on You Tube associated with this playlist.

Well I think that I have good reasons for recording my poor efforts.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Another New Toy - A Capo

I have always made use of a choice to use a capo when playing guitar but fought shy of using one on my Ukulele. No particular reason, especially whether it is right or wrong, but it seemed to take up too much room and restrict the fretting hand - especially some chords which needed a very high position of the hand - D (2220) springs to mind.

However since I now play in a club with other ukulele players, I often find that the songs in our song books are often in a key which I find uncomfortable to sing along in. However, I did not want to play those songs at home in a different key so I looked once again into the idea of a capo. A quick look at Amazon came up with this model ...



This elasticated model seemed to offer a much better chance of being able to play those problematic chord shapes. No hinderance on the underside of the neck to positioning the left hand and low enough to be able to reach over with the LH fingers.

I soon found that even 2-3 semitones up the neck allowed me to be more comfortable with singing those songs which challenged my vocal range. One such song was "Something" from The Beatles catalogue. Singing it the key which was used in our song book, meant I had problems with most of the verse - I had to sing very low  but could not cope with raising my voice to the next  octave above. Raising the key just two semitones with the capo has made it so much easier to sing for me. And I don't have to learn new chord progressions. Still very low but now acceptable - just; what do you think?





The use of open strings is also crucial to this as I am obviously picking notes which are found in open chords. Just another reason why the opportunity to use a capo is useful.

Thanks for visiting, I have more recordings which I have been busy making, and look forward to sharing them in future posts

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Hold Back The River



A few posts ago I suggested that I had found a very modern rock song, Hold back the River by James Bay and suggested it would be interesting to see how it worked on a ukulele.

Well, since then I have started to hear the song on the radio. etc. You know - the way you always see models of the same car you have just bought. Anyway, I have managed to get a rough version together and have surprised myself by how well I think it could work with a little help from my friends.

Here is the version I have posted on SoundCloud




The intro still needs a little work to  make it acceptable but it will come I am sure. The biggest problem with this version is that I have not used a key which matches my voice, using the original key which is just a few semi-tones to low for that verse. Something to sort out for the next run through. Otherwise, not too bad for a first attempt.

If you listen to this, you will find that it runs on to more songs on a playlist, I like to think of these playlists as "albums", which I am building on SoundCloud.


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Hobs Moat United Reform Church gig and The Mother Ukers

Our latest gig went down a storm, all the ladies seemed to really enjoy the music and joined in the hand waving on Delilah, our encore. Would have been more but we simply ran out of time. Anyway they have booked another show for christmas and there looks like a possible further gig coming from this night's work.

Ukulele Central UK is becoming known around Solihull - fame at last!

But this week I have another ukulele group to share with you. Certainly not traditional but listen to what you can achieve with two ukes and a bass.


Love that bass, uas (ukulele aquisition sydrome) is rearing its ugly head ....

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

New Musical Instrument - A Kazoo

I am useless with a mouth organ / harmonica; really must put some effort into learning to play. However, for our ukulele jams, at the Rover Club twice a month, some brave souls do sometimes play our instrumental breaks; even if only a kazoo.

I have invested in a harmonica holder and kazoo to add another voice to those breaks:-


Great for blues especially, and singing thru it gives a great effect. Can't wait for tonight to show (it) off to the guys.

Don't worry, videos will be appearing asap ....

Monday, 27 April 2015

Ukulele Cover - Dedicated Follower of Fashion

Well I did say I would post asap. So here is this great classic by The Kinks, almost destroyed by yours truly, LOL.

I think I did say that I did this video because I was given a hat - yes, I am collecting hats at the moment for my videos and this song seemed to fit the chapeau just right. Why hats, I hear you say? Well, why not. I feel quite at home in a hat on video even though I rarely wear said accoutrements in real life. Only when the sun or rain dictates that it is a wise move.


Back with more of my crimes against music soon, enjoy!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Ukulele Tutorial: Brown-Eyed Girl from Ukulele Underground

Just found this tutorial on You Tube, hope the guys don't mind me posting it. Recently I have posted a couple of songs which I have been looking at to learn, well here is another.

I often find that ukulele strumming is so different to guitar work that it surprises me. I play my uke like a mini guitar, and I do not feel guilty about saying so. If I am going to play modern popular songs on the uke (well singing and accompanying myself really) then I shall play it to fit in with the versions of the song which  I know - which I may have known for decades. Can't do it any other way.

So here is the song/tutorial



Off for a little practice now, bye ...