Saturday, 30 July 2016

Desperado - An acoustic cover of this great song on the ukulele

I came across this great number quite recently and thought to myself that it would be an ideal song to include in my list of numbers which are not often converted to a ukulele version. Probably the key should come down a little for my comfort but for this trial run I was more concerned with how I would play the backing on the uke. I am still learning but trying to stretch myself a little more with each new song I learn. BTW, sorry for the poor video - but as I said it was only a trial of the song.

The mike stand also intrudes but hey, what are you expecting, perfection? Again, I was concerned that I was only using the built in mike and wanted to try out another; to try and improve the ratio of volume between my voice and the uke. My set-up is very basic and anything to improve it should be trialed. Cash is not something I have a lot to spare for this hobby. Maybe if I ever get to a position where I am more than enjoying myself, I will invest a little cash, but in the meantime enjoy if you can forgive the quality.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

And Then There Were Three...

Well it had to happen, I saw this (Octopus soprano model uke - on the right, below) advertised on Ebay as a shop demo model. It had a very good review as a beginner instrument and so I decided to buy it. It cost me around £14 GBP with postage, I guess about half the RRP.

It was well set up, and gave me a chance to find out if my fingers could manage to form the chords without any problems or issues. I found it quite manageable; and so will be on the lookout for a decent instrument to be number four in my collection.

PS I am also looking for a half-decent electro-acoustic tenor to try and add more interest to my playing/recording. Watch this space ...

Monday, 11 July 2016

Why record yourself at home - part 2

Wow, twelve months since my last post. When you are my age time seems to fairly whiz along. Actually I have been concentrating on Facebook and badly neglecting my various blogs - so much to do in real life that blogs are taking a very poor second place.

But I posted a video on FB today which made me think about a similar post on here - my last post which I have now found was in July last year, 12 months ago. so I am now taking time to follow-up on the last post.

If you recall (did you read it?) I was answering a question about why I was posting videos and sound recordings of my self on line. I did not (and do not!) do this to show off, I have no pretensions to be either a good musician or singer. I record myself purely to be able to listen to where I need to improve my performance. The video I am going to upload today, I hope will make this obvious.

I attended a ukulele festival this past weekend and was still buzzing with excitement and found myself singing (and playing) some of the numbers performed by the artists there. One of them, a Bob Dylan number, had a little bit of harmonica in it; an intro and the same piece repeated for a short break. I had access to a harmonica belonging to my son and tried to emulate the performer I had seen at the festival. 

Now, the harmonica was in the key of "C" which meant I had to play and sing in a key which I was unused to, for this number. I had to transpose from "G" to "C" as I was playing. Fine, no problem normally; but of course playing the harmonica, I was concentrating on one too many tricks. The performance I had heard was also sang with a mistake in the lyrics of the chorus which I did not want to repeat; so that was something else I tried to watch out for.

All in all, I wanted to know how well I coped with these multiple issues. So what did I do? I recorded a short video to be able to listen to myself.

I also added a few comments at the beginning (mentioning my problems as above) since I decided to post it on a FB group which is private to the club I play at regularly.

But it is also about enjoying myself and even tho' I made a mess of it, I certainly enjoyed myself. Maybe you will too?


PS, Although I do not often pick up the harmonica (and you cen see why) I will be practising this and may even come back and post a new video if I can get that damn melody out in one piece.

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 ....