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Positional Chords 2

Posted by Ian on March 20, 2008

I don’t have much time for this today, so all I’ll have time for is a few more useful positional chords.

Positional 7th (demonstration chord: Bb7)


Using this pattern, the 7th chord is always the chord that corresponds with the fret on the A string.  

Positional Minor Chord (demonstration is Bb Minor)


Again, the chord corresponds with the fret on the A string: if using this pattern and placing your finger in the 5th fret (D) of the A string, you will be fingering a D Minor chord.

Positional  Minor 7th


Simply place one finger across all strings: the fret on the A string indicates the chord’s name.

And that’s all for now… I probably won’t be able to get much up tomorrow, but I’m hoping to get something on minor keys up on Saturday or Sunday at the latest.

Take Care! 

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Positional Chords

Posted by Ian on March 19, 2008

Positional chords…. that’s what I’ll call them until someone gives me a better name for them (if there is an official name, let me know)


All I have time for today is a quick mini-lesson on chord structure that is ukulele specific.

First off, I want you to pick up your ukulele and finger an ‘A’ chord. (A C# E)

A|-0 (A)
E|-0 (E)
C|-1 (C#)
G|-2 (A)

Now play a Bb chord. (Bb D F)

A|-1 (Bb)
E|-1 (F)
C|-2 (D)
G|-3 (Bb)

Now play a B chord. (B Eb F#)

A|-2 (B)
E|-2 (F#)
C|-3 (Eb)
G|-4 (B)

Do you see what I’m getting at?

If you take the pattern that you place our fingers in for the Bb and B chords and simply move up a fret (half step), you move the chord up by a half step. It works every time.

This, if you didn’t know about it already, opens up possibilities for different ways of playing other chords, such as this C chord:

A|-3 (C)
E|-3 (G)
C|-4 (E)
G|-5 (C)

The same applies to other chords: if you raise every note by a fret, the chord is raised by a half step.

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Theory 101 – Key Signatures 2

Posted by Ian on March 18, 2008

Today’s lesson is a continuation of the previous lesson over key signatures.

In the previous lesson, you learned how to figure out and construct each key signature’s basic triads. Today, I

shall continue with an explination of 7th Chords , and how they fit into key signatures. With this knowledge, you

should also be able to figure out other ‘Extended’ Chords.

Before I get into explaining where 7th chords fit into key signatures, it will benifit you to have a basic

understanding of the structure of 7th chords:

A major 7th consists of a 1st, a 3rd, a 5th, and a 7th.
A minor 7th consists of a 1st, a minor 3rd, a 5th, and a minor 7th.
A dominant 7th consists of a 1st, 3rd, 5th, and a minor 7th.

Now, back to the key of C

In the previous lesson, we decided that the chords for the key of C were…

Bdim the notes were C D E F G A B

Let us construct the Cmaj7 chord.

We know that it consists of C, E, G… but what note is the 7th?

Since it is a major chord, the 7th will be a major 7th.


The major 7th in the Cmaj7 chord is B, giving us the notes CEGB to make a C7 chord.

Let’s make the Dmin7 chord….

We already know that the notes in Dmin are D F and A.

Let’s find the 7th….

D E F# G A B C#

(note… a 7th is always one note below the root on a scale)

However, as noted before, the c# is not in the key of Cmajor. You must lower it a half step to make it a C,

allowing it to fit in the key of C, giving us a minor 7th.

You now have the notes DFAC to make a Dmin7 chord.

Now, things become a little confusing when constructing the 7th chord in a key.

Let’s take a look at the construction of a Bdim7 chord (which is actually called Bmin7(b5))

A B chord consists of B D# F#. Both the D# and the F# must be lowered a half step to D and F to fit in the key of

C, yeilding a Bdim chord.

The 7th of B in its own key (the key of B) is an A#. This note is not in the key of C, so it must be lowered to an

A to fit.

You therefore have a Bmin7(b5) chord which consists of BDFA.

When the 3rd, 5th, and 7th of a chord are all forced to be lowered by a half step, it is called a min7(b5) chord

(as it has a minor 3rd and 7th, the components of a minor7th, but also has a minor 5th in it, hence the (b5) in the

chord’s name)

Like the triad construction in a key, 7th chords follow a pattern…

1- maj7
2- min7
3- min7
4- maj7
5- dom7
6- min7
7- min7(b5)

So all 7th chords in the key of C major are…


Hopefully this lesson has given you a better understanding of extended chords (specifically 7ths) and where they

fit in key signatures.

I plan on tackling minor keys in upcoming lessons, so stay tuned!

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Theory 101 – Key Signatures 1

Posted by Ian on March 16, 2008

I’m about to be gone to San Diego for a few days with my family, and am likely to not be able to update this blog.

So, before I go, I think I’ll give you all a good sized theory lesson to chew on a bit…

Today’s theory lesson will try to give you a basic understanding of major key signatures and the chords and scales

associated with them. I will go into minor key signatures at a later date, but for now will stick to the

straightforward major keys.

Each key has a corresponding set of seven notes, and seven basic triads (which I have discussed earlier): one for

each note.

First let’s take a look at the key of C. The notes in the key of C are as follows:


There are no flats or sharps: every note is natural.

The 7 basic triads are:


The pattern of chords applies to all all major keys: the first chord will be major, second and third will be minor,

fourth and fifth major, sixth minor, and seventh diminished.

To show why this happens, I will construct a C major chord and a D minor chord in the key of C

Root: C

The third and fifth scale degrees of the key of C (since the root note is C) are…


Leaving you with the root of C, Third of E, and Fifth of G… making a Cmaj chord.

Things become trickier with the D chord in the key of C.

Root: D

The third and fifth scale degrees in the key of D (we use the key of D because D is the root note) are

D E F# G A B C#

Leaving us with the triad of D, F#, and A, or the D Major Chord

However, this chord is not in the key of c, as it has a note that is not in the key of C in it, F#.

To fix this, we need to lower the F# one half step to make it an ‘F’.

This leaves us with D, F, and A, which form a D Minor chord.

You see, the chords that are in a key are always modified in this same pattern to fit the specific key.

Therefore, you should be able to figure out all chords in any given key, assuming you know the notes in the key.

Let’s take the key of Eb major.

The notes in the key are:

Eb F G Ab Bb C D

The basic triad chords in the key will be

Eb Major
F Minor
G Minor
Ab Major
Bb Major
C Minor
D Diminished

It is as simple as plugging the notes of the key into the pattern.

An understanding of the basics of key signatures is a great advantage when coming up with chord progressions.

A basic chord progression that can be derived from any key is the key’s ‘Cadence’

It consists of the 1st (tonic), 4th (subdominant), and 5th (dominant) chords of each key.

Let’s construct the Cadence for the key of A

The notes in the key of A are

A B C# D E F# G#

The basic triads are:

A Major (1st, and Tonic)
B Minor
C# Minor
D Major (4th, and Subdominant)
E Major  (5th and Dominant)
F# Minor
G# Diminished

The tonic chord is A, the subdominant chord is D, and the dominant chord is E.

The Chords A, D, and E form the key of A’s Cadence.

Looking back, the key of Eb Major’s Cadence is Eb, Ab, Bb.

You can use your understanding of key signatures and their chords to write music the flows, or merely understand

why the songs you’re playing have certain chords in them.

I am going to try to put out a followup to this lesson within the next few days that will explain 7th chords and

how they fit into different keys, however, for now, I believe I have given you enough information for one day.

Happy ukein’!

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Review – ‘Tension’ Brand Ukulele

Posted by Ian on March 14, 2008

So, yesterday was my birthday… and I ended up with a late present from my dad today. Some strange off brand ‘Tension Brand’ Soprano…. he came across it in some store that he wouldn’t tell me about… so I”ll work on that. I know that it cost him less than $40, and it is well worth the price.

The thing is put together beautifully (it’s of German make… why wouldn’t it?) and sounds great… much better than I would have expected. It has 17 frets, joined at the 12th, and is a lot nicer on my concert-ukulele trained hands than other sopranos that I have played on before.

It has a nice, low action, and has surprisingly good intonation.

My only complaint is that the thing came with a plectrum… what sort of madman German would give me a plastic plectrum with a ukulele? Shame on them…

Anyhow, here’s a little recording of me goofing around on her…


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Coming up on Uke Thingy

Posted by Ian on March 10, 2008

This next week, I have plans for….

More Tabs

More Theory Lessons (chord structure 2 and phrasing in music)

Possibly some videos of me making a fool of myself, ukulele in hand, in front of my french class…

However, I must let you know: I have two orchestra competitions with my school and will be rather busy, so there may be days that I will not be able to make a post.

Stay tuned…

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Close to the Edge – Yes

Posted by Ian on March 9, 2008

Close to the Edge is a 20 minute epic made by the Prog Outfit Yes back in 1972. I consider it, and the album it is on, to be one of the best put together albums of all time.

The title track is full of amazing guitar parts, but one that stands out to most to me is the segment that starts at about 3 minutes into the song. I have attempted to tab it out, and have gotten a pretty good result.


After the point that I stopped tabbing, there are a few variations on the riff that are played. If you listen to the song, it is pretty easy to pick out how they are different and what you should play to correctly play them.

Also note that the tempo is not perfect: if you can, listen to the song while learning the riff so you can match tempos and style.

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Drifting (for lack of a better name)

Posted by Ian on March 8, 2008

I’ve pretty much finished the piece I was working on… it turned out to only run to about 40 seconds, but it seems pretty much finished. Maybe I could expand the different sections some more, but for now, I’m calling it finished.

I forgot to add a time marking, so just remember that it was written to be played at about 120, though it sounds fine if you play it faster.


I will record an audi example if I have time to do it at some point.


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Theory 101 – The Basics (reading music)

Posted by Ian on March 7, 2008

To continue my music theory series, I’m going to go back to basics to catch people who have little formal music background. If you already know how to read the treble clef, this lesson will be nothing by review for you, most likely.

Anyhow. Let’s take things from the top.

Most any uke player can read a tab and understand chord names, but not all can read a piece of music if put in front of them.

The basic parts of a piece of sheet music are the clef (in this case, treble), the key signature (I will get into this later), the staff (the five lines adn four spaces where all of this, and the notes, are placed), and the notes themselves.

I apologize if things seem a tad thrown together from this point: I”m rushing finishing this post, sacrificing some quality… sorry ’bout that.

Here is an example of the treble clef on a staff:

Notes are placed on the lines or in the spaces in between the lines on the staff. The bottom line corresponds with the note ‘E’, the space above that with ‘F’, then a line for ‘G’, then a space for ‘A’, a line for ‘B’, space for ‘C’, line for ‘D’, space for ‘E’ and a line for ‘F’.

To remember this, you can use the mnemonic devices such as ‘Every Good Boy Does Fine’ for the lines, and ‘FACE’ for the spaces. The first letter of each of these words correspond with the note name of the corresponding line or space from bottom to top.

Things called ‘ledger lines’ can be added above or below the staff to show notes that do not fit in the staff’s normal range. I do not have time to describe them, but, if you would like, you can look them up… simply google ‘ledger lines’ and you will most likely get an answer to your questions.

And I have run out of time to work on this. I guess it will be a two parter…. sorry that I didn’t get too far on this. Hope it helped someone….

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Posted by Ian on March 6, 2008

Musicguymic is having a GREAT sale at his ebay store on some of his bugsgear solidbody ‘Eleukes’

I am a proud owner of one, and will praise its durability, reliability, functionality, and practicality beyond ends.

Here’s a link, in case you’re interested.

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