Getting the “Feel” of a Song.
We recently had a uke session based around the “C, Am, F and G chord progression and there were so
many songs that the session lasted for hours. The striking thing to come out of all this was the huge
range of different styles, rhythms, and feel from the same progression. Well sometimes we had to
change the key to suit the singers but the progression was the same; for example in the key of G it
becomes G, Em, C and G. Or as it is known by the chord numbering system 1,6minor, 4 and 5.
The songs ranged from the mildly drippy old hippie number “Where have all the Flowers Gone”, to the
mildly outrageous “Twist” by Chubby Checker”.
Here are a few more;
Young Love, First Love (They say for every boy and girl)
Why Must I be A Teenager in Love? (Dion)
Where Oh Where Can My Baby Be?
The Bristol Stomp
The Duke of Earl
Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp-Shi-Bomp-Shi-Bomp?
Santa Catalina (the Island of Romance, Romance, Romance, Romance)
The Three Fishes
A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation
Will You Love Me Tomorrow? (Tonight's the night - the Shirelles)
I Was a Fool (Poor little fool, oh yeah, I was a Fool ...)
Come Softly to Me
All I Have to Do is Dream
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Come Go With Me
Heart and Soul
In the Still of the Night
Poor Little Fool
Tears on My Pillow
What's Your Name
Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
You Send Me
So whats the point??
Each song has its own unique feel and rhythm. Whether it be funky Mowtown, calypso, reggae, waltz,
rock, ballad, country or whatever it can be expressed through your strumming technique. When playing
a song we need to find and express the rhythm, as nothing will kill a song quicker than the dreaded
repetitive strum mania.
The first thing to do is to relax and free up your strumming hand, allowing it to play along with the
song. Keep time with your foot and not your strumming hand.
Now, find the essence of the song. Put your uke aside and ecome a drummer, listen to the song and
play along to the rhythms with your hands. Develop a keen sense of what makes the song work. If you
are game then change the rhythmic structure of the song to something new. Play loose and fast with
both hands on your knees or table top. When you are happy with that pick up the uke and strum along
to the song with muted strings. That means loosely holding the strings with your fret hand so that you
play percussion. Because you have no chords to think about you can give your undivided attention to
You will need to develop your own strum technique that is varied and flexible and can be rearranged to
suit each song. Practice muted strumming at every opportunity, pick up the uke and play with the
commercials on the TV, the radio, or just play along with a tune in your head. Tap your fingers to
Tip; watch some Mowtown hits on YouTube, sing along and copy the dance moves, then play the song
You will look like a complete idiot but your music will be sensational.