I recently purchased a baritone uke because I wanted one with a deeper sound than my faithful concert ukulele. It’s a great alternative to a tenor ukulele, especially if you have played the guitar. The chords are very similar because the baritone is tuned to DGBE, which is the same as the top 4 strings of a guitar. There is also the advantage of four strings, rather than six, which makes it easier to play for those with RSI or arthritis who may be having problems with left hand fretting on guitar.
Some people are put off from playing this great instrument because it requires different chord shapes from GCEA tuned ukuleles to be in the same key (G chord is C chord shape while D chord is G chord shape). For guitar players this is less of a problem, but it still can be tricky if you a jumping between uke sizes and find yourself playing the wrong chord shape. This can do your head in at times. It does become easier with practice and this type of switching is good for the brain. In the beginning you need to work out the DGBE shapes where a song only gives the GCEA chords. Some songs are easier than others but with practice and a little forethought it will get better. Free Baritone chord charts can easily be found online.
I have played the guitar and I find that some songs just sound richer with the similar tuning of the baritone, particularly songs that I played or wrote on my guitar. Having a baritone in a group gives the overall sound more of a punch. On my instrument the D and G string are wound nickel over nylon, which are very resonant and add a lot of depth to a piece. The other two strings are nylon. I find that when I strum these metal strings with my nails it wears them down so I use a pick. This would not be such a problem for pickers who use the pads of their thumb and fingers or those with synthetic nails.
It is very satisfying to be able to play different sized ukuleles. For me it is the concert and baritone. Others may prefer the soprano and the tenor. If you want to try something different don’t be put off the baritone because the chords seem more difficult. You may have already played these shapes by another name in standard tuning.
Ukulele Mike gave a great explanation of the difference between baritone and GCEA tuned ukuleles with plenty of good advice in the following video.
Here is another baritone ukulele tutorial that packs in a lot of information for both beginners and more experienced players.
For those who want to develop their finger picking on the baritone this lesson takes you through simple to more complex picking patterns with clear instructions.
So give the baritone ukulele a try. Although it is similar to a small guitar, it’s still a ukulele and sounds great when played with other ukes of various sizes.
Well we did it, and what a fun time we had. It was a beautiful day, with a sea breeze from the nearby Port Phillip Bay. The beach road is directly behind the Stage, hence the rumbling noises in the background of our song videos.
We were really lucky with the fine weather and there was a large audience. They seemed to enjoy our performance for which we are very thankful.
Here are a couple of our videos.
More videos of this day can be viewed on the Bayside Ukes YouTube channel. Just click here.
Bayside Ukes Tuesday sessions are back on after a two-week break so hope to see everyone raring to go for the last term of 2018. We have some fun things in the pipeline.
Finally the weather is warming up after a long, cold, windy Melbourne winter and early spring. Hopefully everyone can rid themselves of the annoying coughs and colds that have plagued so many of us in the colder months and will enjoy playing their ukuleles in the sunshine.
I found this happy ukulele video that should get anyone in a good mood no matter what the weather. It’s called The Ukulele Girls and is by The Little Things who hail from South Florida. They performed their original and upbeat song at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information on this duo click on this link to their Facebook page.
Yes, I must say it is wonderful to be a ukulele girl!
There is nothing like a great rock anthem to make you feel energised. You know. The kind of songs that speak to a generation and stay in your head forever. There are many wonderful ukulele versions of rock anthems to be found on You Tube. Here are just a few.
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain recently performed AC-DC‘s Highway to Hell that was released in 1979 with the great Bon Scott on vocals. A terrific version with Dave Suich channeling Angus.
Their recent version of David Bowie‘s Heroes is also outstanding (click here).
Another ukulele orchestra, The Unique Komedy Ukulele Orchestra has done a ukulele version of Australian singer John Farnham‘s 1986 hit song, You’re The Voice, which has become a famous rock anthem in our country. It is wonderful to hear a ukulele interpretation that does it justice.
In the 1990s the US band Nirvana wrote some powerful songs that became rock anthems to a generation. That Scottish one man band, Pockets, performs Nirvana’s Lithium on ukulele with the help of a bass guitar and some drums.
Pockets also does a ukulele version of Green Day‘s 1994 Basket Case (click here)
Finally from the Ukulele Turin Orchestra is Muse‘s 2009 driving rock anthem, Uprising.
Playing the ukulele needn’t be sedate. If you love rock and roll there is plenty of inspiration to be found in favourite rock anthems.
Kat, Bayside Ukes member.
A fun ukulele band from the UK is the League of Ukulele Gentlemen. They recently played in Austria with a great audience response. Here is their lively The Reel.
Here in Melbourne it is late autumn and the temperature has plummeted after a relatively warm start to the season. When the weather turns cold it is fun to play songs on your ukulele that remind you of summer and generate some heat. There are many terrific songs in this category that sound wonderful on the ukulele and the following is a small selection to inspire other ukulele players.
The Doors song Light My Fire just requires a simple rhythm and some soulful singing to take away the cold. The following performance by Jesus Pinedo and Chyrisse Tabone is a good example.
Bring back the memories of those hot summer nights with a lively rendition of The Loving Spoonful’s Summer in the City like in the following video.
A classic song about the hot days of summer is Heat Wave made famous by Marilyn Monroe in the film There’s No Business Like Show Business. Ukester Brown demonstrates how it is done on the ukulele during a very cold winter.
Of course there is that other famous Heat Wave song. The Ukelites do a very cool version.
Another fantastic song to get rid of the wintry chills is Elvis Presley’s Burning Love, here played by the Ukulele Turin Orchestra in a beautiful location.
The cold months are a good time to stay cosy and to play your ukulele. And if it is coming up to summer where you are, play your ukulele outside and enjoy the warmth while it lasts.
Kat, Bayside Ukes member
In Australia and New Zealand it is Anzac Day on 25 April and in 2018 we will be remembering the final year of WWI, as well as later conflicts. This year it is the one hundredth anniversary of the battle at Villers-Bretonneux where the Australians had a major victory after so much loss and there will be commemorations at the Australian National Memorial on that site in France on April 25. At these times singing songs is an appropriate way to remember such events. The following songs about war sound great on the ukulele, whether they are about the sad or happier times.
One of the most powerful war songs is The Band played Waltzing Matilda written by Scottish Aussie, Eric Bogle in 1971. It’s about the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 but could be about the horror of any war and that is why it has become so popular in other countries. Silly Dave does a good version. And by the way, matilda is the swag or the bed roll carried by a swagman on his journeys and not a woman.
A song that was popular with the troops in France during WWI was Mademoiselle from Armentieres. It is probably one of those songs where soldiers kept making up humorous verses to suit the occasion. Some were quite risqué and many were in protest to the awful conditions or the behaviour of superior officers. Here is an amusing example.
By WWII the radio played an important part in keeping up the soldiers’ morale. One of the happiest songs was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy sung by the Andrews Sisters. The Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra Trio did a lively version with nice harmonies in 2013.
During the Vietnam War there were many great songs written about war. One that captures the mood of the 60s is Eve of Destruction, performed by Barry McGuire in 1965. Sadly the words are still relevant today. Ken Middleton did a terrific version at Martha’s Vineyard Uke Fest in 2015.
There are many war songs from different periods to choose from if you want to have a sing-along on Anzac Day and this is just a selection.
Happy Anzac Day!
Kat, Bayside Ukes Member