I’m sharing with you the first fingerpicking tune I ever learned (on the guitar) – my brother taught it to me and my sister, I taught it to my kids and now it’s your turn! When I learned it I was told that it was the theme to a kids TV program called Tales of the River Bank, but in fact only the first couple of bars have a slight resemblance to it, the rest is either made up or so simplified it doesn’t sound anything like it. But it’s a great exercise to get you started with fingerpicking on the uke and you can make it a lot more sophisticated should you wish.
Super Easy Fingerpicking Lesson for Ukulele - YouTube
Watch me play it through in the video and you’ll see that to begin with I just use my thumb on the open third string and my index finger for the melody which is played on the first and second strings. When you can do this easily you can use the same piece to practice your picking hand technique – classical guitarists alternate index and middle fingers when plucking a melody so why not try that? Or you could try playing it just with fingers, no thumb, and see what it’s like to assign one finger for each string.
I’ve also added a harmony which means plucking with your index and middle at the same time while alternating with your thumb. It gets a bit trickier at the end when you’ll need to play the first and fourth strings together (using your thumb and index, while alternating with your middle finger.
On the tabs the picking hand fingers are indicated by the letters P for thumb, I for index and M for middle (R is for ring but we’re not using it here).
I posted this to YouTube but never got around to doing the tabs for it. There are a lot of artificial harmonics which try to replicate the bells on Andrew Oldham’s orchestral version (of The Last Time by the Rolling Stones, from which Bittersweet Symphony gets its main riff). I was a bit spooked to learn that Jagger and Richards sued The Verve for stealing their song and that Ashcroft and the Verve never got a penny in royalties despite the fact that the two songs don’t sound anything like each other. So I’m taking the risk of publishing the tabs, get them while you can!
The second part, where I play an octave higher is a bit tricky. I wanted to play it on my tenor ukulele but couldn’t manage the big stretch (bar 40) so I had to play it on a concert with its smaller neck.
It’s runs to five pages – I probably could have cleaning it up a bit – but it’s pretty accurate even though I might not have includedthings like how many times a passage is to be repeated. I’ll leave it up to you to figure things out – if you can’t, drop me a line and I’ll try to help.
I learned this piece by ear a long time ago on the guitar and having watched a couple of versions for uke on YouTube I decided to have a go. It seems that most people play it Dm, which is logical, it fits nicely on the uke in that key. But I decided to keep it in Am like the guitar arrangement. Oh, and it’s also probably the least campanella arrangement I’ve ever done – it’s a piece that is strongly based on just four chords Am, E, G and C (with an Em in the second section) and those chords just have to be played to give the tune its classic 17th century feel.