Arts & Entertainment, Music

Arranging “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Jake Shimabukuro

Lesson time 11:16 min

To help you learn how to arrange your favorite songs, Jake walks you through his arrangement of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

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Topics include: Arranging “Bohemian Rhapsody”


[00:00:16.73] INSTRUCTOR: Arranging a song for a solo 'ukulele. I don't know. It's so much fun for me. It's almost like a jigsaw puzzle, right? Because you have all the pieces, and then you just got to figure out how to put them together and the best way to put them together. [00:00:36.09] And it's one of those things. It's like, you know, sometimes, yeah, pieces look like they should fit, and you can kind of try to jam it in. But it doesn't quite work, and you can force it all you want. But you keep working at it, and then eventually, you find the right piece for the part. [00:00:51.99] When I was arranging Bohemian Rhapsody, I had a lot of those pieces that I thought should fit, but did not quite fit. When you take a song like that, there are a lot of harmonies that are implied. There are a lot of parts that are implied, because you can't possibly cover everything on just the four strings. [00:01:20.81] So it's like pruning, right? You take the most essential parts that you can, trusting that the listener will fill in all those extra parts for you and will be able to make sense of it. When I was arranging the piano part for Bohemian Rhapsody on the 'ukulele, I just have this image of Freddie Mercury playing the piano. [00:01:45.22] He's like, doo, doo, doo, and his hand reaches over, right? Then he crossed over. I always felt like, you know that? For me, that note is special. It had to be something. And that's why I use the harmonic on that when I play to give that note, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, making it work on the 'ukulele. [00:02:28.20] I try not to get too far away from the original by adding by adding things. For example, when I get to the main verse, when I get to mama, I add that. Now that's not in the song. But to me, I continue that line. See, but then it does this. [00:03:09.95] Now that's in the song, so here we are. Let's keep going. Then the walk down to E minor with an I. I love that and minor major seven. Again, minor major seven. See that from the A walking down to the G sharp, right? [00:03:48.14] So we're here. That's right, and then here. To me, that's a moment in a song where it's almost like this, where everything kind of drops in. Again, that same movement there, right? Again, minor major seven. [00:04:44.61] All right, so walking through all that for me is like I'm really trying to capture the feeling, the essence. The spirit of the song is so important. Now the fun part was that little opera section in the middle. I love that. You know, it's so playful, so it's almost like you kind of have to go from-- that moment there, you really have to kind of get out of-- then you drop into this. [00:05:25.01] It's just very-- you know, it's that part of the song. This is the part of the song where it becomes fun, so you have to get out of that mode. To me, this is like wiping the slate. It's like wipe it clean, you know? [00:05:44.96] All right, now, here we go. OK, now, we're going to have some fun, right? So ...

About the Instructor

Called the “Jimi Hendrix of the ʻukulele,” Jake Shimabukuro won worldwide acclaim for his fresh and fearless musical interpretations. Now he’s sharing his approach so anyone can experience the joys of the ʻukulele, from the simple chords that make up hundreds of songs to more complex fingerings and compositions. Learn how to adapt songs you love for ʻukulele or write your own. Stop worrying and start strumming.

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Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro teaches you how to take your ʻukulele from the shelf to center stage, with techniques for beginners and seasoned players alike.

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