Folk Ukulele: Wild Mountain Thyme (Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go) - YouTube
So I’ve been putting off tabbing this one for a long time but finally here it is. For me there are two ways to approach arranging a tune for fingerstyle ukulele. The first is to learn the melody, get it down in Guitar Pro, then start figuring out what chords or harmonies could be added to it. This is good for classical, baroque, early music and some Celtic stuff that wouldn’t have had a chordal accompaniment originally. The second way, is to start with the chord structure and try to figure out how to play the melody within those chords. This is the way to approach songs that I already know and probably have sung myself at some point to chords on the guitar. And this is what I did here for Wild Mountain Thyme, a singalong favourite that everyone knows. The problem is when you’re not that good at music notation this make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is really hard to get down on paper (or on screen in the case of GP7). Hence the long wait – a few people have been asking for the tab but I just couldn’t get around to doing it, whereas the campanella pieces usually start life on GP7 while I work on the best voicings for that style, so the tabs are already done before I record and upload them.
You might feel that rhythmically the tabs aren’t that accurate and you’d be right. The alternating thumb pattern that I learned as a guitarist sometimes has a syncopated feel to it that I just can’t notate (part ignorance, part laziness), so just listen to my playing and see if you can copy the feel of it – and add your own personal touches. I’ve added the lyrics to the first verse and the chorus to help you with the melody. It’s also a bit too fast, try playing it at a more relaxed pace. Download the tabs for my fingerstule ukulele arrangement of Wild Mountain Thyme here
Here is my arrangement of the intro to Anastasia, which has a nice Baroque feel to it. I’ve done it as a fingerstyle arrangement (campanella). I always pluck the first note of each sequence with my index and use my thumb for the fourth string only.
It goes right up to the 14th fret so a uke with a cutaway would be better but I managed more or less on my standard shaped tenor ukulele. Download the tab for this here
Here’s my take on Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner. I was a big fan in the eighties after buying her album Solitude Standing but at first I thought the lyrics to this song were pointless. It was only when I read that Vega was trying to express how lonely and anonymous one can be in a big city that I realise how brilliant it was. I always preferred the acapella version on the album to later remixes.
Although it’s a simple tune, it wasn’t easy to get it down on paper – Guitar Pro doesn’t allow me to have bars with no time signature – the intro that I made really has another feel to the main ‘riff’ and the bridge has extra beats so I had to write it with two bars of 5/4.
The tab is here: Tom’s Diner ukulele tab
Get the tabs for this here. They’re not 100% accurate but you should be able to work out anything that’s missing and add your own personal touches. It didn’t take me long to come up with the arrangement (only 3 chords, Gm Eb C) and have never played it twice the same way!
This is a study for classical guitar that I have arranged for re-entrant tuning. I had to change key and omit several of the bass notes of course, as the ukulele doesn’t have anywhere near the same range as a guitar (about 2 octaves compared to 3.5).
The Riddle - Nik Kershaw Ukulele fingerstyle - YouTube
I really liked this song when I was a teenager, there was something about Nik Kershaw’s songwriting that was special. And working on this arrangement made me realise just how carefully he crafted his songs. This was a pop star whose pretty face was all over magazine covers and girls’ bedroom walls – but I find it hard to imagine that many stars today could produce something like this song. The melody in the verse and the chorus is quite simple – I heard him say in an interview that it was inspired by some of the Celtic music he had been listening to at the time. But the arrangement is anything but simple, I’ve rarely seen a song with so many chords!
How to Play Harmonics on your Ukulele (natural and artificial) - YouTube
The limited range of the ukulele (especially with high-G tuning) sometimes makes it difficult to make satisfying fingerstyle arrangements. There just aren’t enough octaves to have a melody and an accompaniment. I often use harmonics to play high notes that would be too much of a stretch to play while keeping a chord or bass note in the first position. I’ve made this tutorial to help you see how it’s done. In standard music notation, harmonics are shown as little diamonds instead of the normal oval notes and in Guitar Pro you’ll see the fretted note and the diamond. If the fretted note is D (2nd string 2nd fret) you’ll see the diamond showing another D an octave higher. So that means you hold the note on the 2nd fret with your fretting hand and touch the string above the 14th fret to sound the harmonic. Hopefully the video will make it clearer.