Arts & Entertainment, Music

Melodic and Rhythmic Dimension

Jake Shimabukuro

Lesson time 10:51 min

Learn about melody, rhythm, and dynamics in ʻukulele playing.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Rhythm · Dynamics


[00:00:14.52] MALE SPEAKER: I love taking a melody and just being able to figure out a nice way to arrange the other strings to support whatever that note is. And the easiest way to approach it for me is just taking a melody of a song and just learning to play it on the first string. So let's take something as simple as like a Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Let's start on one, three, so here we are. [00:00:44.85] The next note is one, 10, then one, 12, then back to one, 10, right? Now there's a lot of different ways that I can support this melody. I could play a C chord with it, and then the next chord, I could play an E minor voicing. Then I could go to an F chord, and then I could go back to a C. [00:01:15.87] So there's so many different ways that you can support one note. What we're doing is we are playing chords and attaching some kind of chord voicing to every melodic movement. So now, instead of doing something like this, where I'm playing a chord and then single note, single note, now, I'm going to play a chord with the chord with a chord and then another chord with a chord, chord, and then chord, chord, chord, then back to chord. [00:02:09.34] See that? So now with every melodic note, I attach an actual chord voicing to it. So that's a very simple approach, just taking the melody, figuring out what key works best to allow it to lay on the first string, and then you just find the right voicings that allow you to play the chord that kind of fits the character of the song. And you're able to still play that top melodic note, OK? So here's the melody of Fly me to the Moon, one of my favorites. [00:02:55.20] Basically, I'm going to attach. So over this, fly me to the moon, that's all over E minor. Fly me to the moon, and then it changes there. So I'm going to hold a voicing of E minor. This is an E seven, and then now the next note is here. [00:03:19.32] So I'm going to hold an E minor, and that note is an F sharp. So this is a E minor with the added nine, and then I'm going to come down here. Now, I'm going to change to the A minor chord. Now, D7. See that? I'm figuring out chord voices or voicings and positions that I can play, so I can keep the melody intact. [00:04:15.37] When I was in high school, I played in a marching band, and I played drums. I remember after band practice, I would pick up my 'ukulele, and I would plug it into one of those bass amps. And I would just practice a lot of the different parts that we'd play on the drums. I'd play them on the 'ukulele, like things like that kind of thing. [00:04:40.87] And what that helped me to do was loosen up my wrist, and I realized that a lot of the drumming techniques or the way that my hand felt when I was drumming could be applied to my strumming, you know? So exercises that I would do was just like down up strokes, making them very even, maybe accenting certain beats, and then also internalizing that. So even when I'm not making contact with the strings, I'm still feeling that...

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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