Ukulele for geeks: secrets of the pentatonic scales

· Musicology, ukulele stories

My Ignite Sydney talk last night was fun (for me, at least). Here are my slides:

Ukulele For Geeks: Secrets of the Pentatonic Scales

Here are a few audience shots. The first is from a warmup:


This one is from the actual talk:


Dag, my chrome dome has almost completely breached the pate-fringe!

Helena immortalized

· ukulele stories

In New Orleans, thanks to syrup, I was reunited with my tenor ukulele, Helena, last seen in an Austin, TX motel.

Our hosts there, S and E, run d-fly designs using photography and digital image manipulation and high quality printing with pigments to decorate linen pillow and handbags and other craft objects. The results are stunning.
Long story short, Steve snapped a photo of the uke, and sent me this photo of a pillow decorated with my ukulele’s classic look a few weeks ago (I’ve been on deadline looking forward to posting it here but seeing it every day on the homepad of my voodoopad):


My tenor uke needs a name

· ukulele stories

My grandfather had a ukulele. I loved it as a little boy. When he died, I was nine and I inherited the uke. I never learned to play it but I bashed it up pretty good. They even got me a new ukulele because I really wanted on. I loved the way the both looked. They were made with blond wood, probably soprano ukes. I don’t know what happened to the second one.

It turns out, someone in everybody’s family played the ukulele. I bought my new tenor ukulele on Tuesday and it gets warm looks everywhere I go. When I take it out and practice people come up to me and say “My aunt played the ukulele,” or “I just bought a ukulele for my son,” and so on. They look happy and they want to talk. It’s a happy instrument.

So far I’ve fallen into this habit of learning a new song on the uke every day. On Wednesday I got the hang of Yellow Submarine, a song I remember my kindergarten teacher playing on guitar and illustrated with large construction-paper collages on an easel. Yesterday I looked up the tab for Effervescing Elephant on the web, wrote out the ukulele chords, and then figured it out. My fingers are really starting to hurt now.

Today, I hit looked up Uncle John’s band and I’ve been playing that all day. Not the weird bridge stuff in seven, just the verse chorus verse chorus variations. Almost all the chords in those parts of the song (G C D Amin Emin) are easy to play on the ukulele. It’s such a revelation to hear the song start taking shape in the changes and to start to get a feel for the inevitable sound of the instrument. I never realized how easy music is if you don’t try so hard to be good.