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Posts Tagged ‘Chords’

Posted by Ian on March 22, 2008

I don’t have the lesson on minor chord ready yet, so, in the meantime, you can have fun amusing yourself with Chordie, which I consider to be the best source of song chords on the internet, for the ukulele or otherwise. It has a searchable database, a useful rating system, and countless songs. Best of all, to make things easier on you when you come across a chord you don’t know, it has a unique system that gives accurate chord charts for various instruments, including C and D tuned ukuleles.

It also has a songbook section (which I myself only recently discovered), which gives some attention to ukuleles, specifically. There are over 60 songbooks that people have put together for the ukulele, though I haven’t had time to look at but a few of them.

Ukulele Songbooks
My favorite uke book that I’ve come across so far

Enjoy…. and stay tuned for the minor keys lesson.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

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.

Posted in Lessons | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

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’!

Posted in Lessons | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Music Theory – Basic Triads (Chords)

Posted by Ian on March 4, 2008

One thing I have discovered about us Uke players is that, as a whole, we know very little about music

theory. Sure, we can play all sorts of fancy chords and whatnot right and left, but when asked why

something is a chord, many of us have no clue what the answer is. Over the next few days I am planning on

making a music theory 101 course so you all will understand enough basic music theory to not have to rely

on chord charts and the like to figure out chords when playing a song.

Today’s lesson will be covering the basic triad chords: Major Chords, Minor Chords, Augmented Chords, and

Diminished Chords.

I guess the easiest way to explain the basic major triad chord is this:

Pick a note, any note.

Let’s pick ‘G’

Now, you count up four half steps, or a major third, from this note.

G…. G#…. A… Bb… B

Then, you take three half steps up from the new note, which makes as a major fifth from the first note.
B…. C…. C#…. D (which is the same as G… G#… A… Bb… B… C… C#… D)

The resulting ‘G Major’ triad is GBD. Whenever you play these three notes, you are playing a G Major


Things become a little more fun when you start on a sharp.

Let’s start with a C#.

You get the major third….

C#…. D…. Eb…. E…. F

And the Major fifth…..

F…. F#…. G…. G#…

And you now have a C# major triad: C# F G#

For a Minor chord, you take the following….

The Root Note, a Minor 3rd, and a 5th

You already know how to get a 5th above the root, so let’s work with the Minor 3rd.

A minor third is simply the note three half steps above the root note.

To demonstrate, let’s construct an A Minor chord.

A is our root note.

To find the minor 3rd…..

A… Bb…. B…. C

And then we must be careful that when constructing the fifth, we base it off of the root note, not the

minor third, as that wold yield a minor 5th.

A…. Bb…. B…. C… C#… D….. D#… E

So an A minor chord is A C E

Now take a breath, because things are about to get a bit more interesting.

To take things a step further, We’ll construct an Augmented Chord (Aug.)

An augmented chord consists of the Root, a Major 3rd, and an Augmented 5th, which is the same as a Major

fifth except you go one half step higher (8 half steps from the root note, as opposed to 7)

An F Aug. chord would be constructed as follows…

F is our root note

The major third…

F… F#… G… G#… A

and an Augmented 5th

F… F#… G… G#… A… Bb… B… C… C#

The resulting triad of an Augmented F chord is F A C#

Now, to wrap things up, I’ll explain how to construct a diminished (Dim.) chord.

A diminished chord is constructed by taking the root note, its minor third, and a diminished 5th, which

is a major 5th lowered by one half step (6 half steps above the root note, as opposed to 7).

Let’s make a D diminished chord.

D is our root note.

We construct the minor third for the root.

D… Eb… E… F

And we construct the diminished 5th

D… Eb… E… F… F#… G… G#

The resulting triad is D F G#, D Diminished.

And that pretty much sums up the basics of chord construction.

With a little practice, you will no longer need to reference a chord chart every time you come across a

chord that you don’t know by heart. You will also be able to figure out different ways to play common

chords higher up on the fret board, using alternate fingerings, or duplicating different notes to put

emphasis on different parts of the chord.

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Songs that are ‘Made’ for the Ukulele

Posted by Ian on March 3, 2008

So, when listening to songs, I occasionally come across one that just feels like it’s made for the ukulele, and this probably happens to you all, too. Anyhow, here’s a list of some songs that the chord progressions and all fit beautifully on the uke. I’d recommend that, if you want to look one up, you go to ‘chordie’ at for the chords, unless you feel like picking them out on your own.

1)  Moths, by Jethro Tull. I will probably be putting up some form of tab or sheetmusic or something for this song.

2)  Les Champs Élysées, by Joe Dassin, if you can speak at least basic french.

3)  Let it Be, by the Beatles…. and most anything else by the Beatles, come to think of it.

4)  Holy Lamb, by Yes

5)  Wonderous Stories, by Yes

6)  Starman, by David Bowie. Space Oddity is also rather good.

7)  Hotel California, by the Eagles

8) Daniel, by Elton John

9)  Without Question, also by Elton John

10) Daydream Believer, by the Monkees

And that’s it for today. Happy ukein’

Posted in 'Literature' | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »