A little late for St Patrick’s Day but here is a ukulele arrangement of Sounds Irish. Originally written for the guitar by John Whitworth and Peter Nuttall and published by Holley Music in Book 4 of The Guitarist’s Way this super fun piece works very nicely on the ukulele. As you can see in the video Josie loves playing the melody. And I get to strum…again! And yes, my nails are wrecked. And yes, I’m loving it! Now where did I put my felt pick…
It’s quite tricky to play. Note the pull-off and hammer-on effects. For example in bar 4: the curved line indicates a hammer-on. You can tell it is a hammer-on because it starts on the lower note: in this case C. What does it actually mean? Okay, pluck the first note (open 3rd string C) and then sound the next note (D on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string) by literally hammering the left hand finger down. I use the 2nd finger. You can practise this slowly. Play the C, then hammer the 2nd finger to sound the D. Make sure you land behind the fret and not on it as this will muffle the sound. It is also more about speed and accuracy than strength. You don’t need a huge swing. It’s not an anvil!
The opposite is true of the pull-off. In bar 9 the 1st finger holds the F (1st fret on the 2nd string) and this note is played by the right hand. Then the left hand finger pulls away from the string to sound the note. If you pull slightly down you will get a better response. It is as if the left hand finger is plucking the string. You can tell it is a pull-off because it starts on the higher note.
It is important to remember that the hammer-on and pull-off are both ornaments so they will never sound as crisp as a plucked strings. Nevertheless, they should still be clear. I think of them as musical sighs. They also sound better when played fast. Indeed much of their purpose is to allow the music to skip along.
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Please do share these tutorials with your ukulele groups and buddies. It is important we all keep busy and positive in these difficult times.
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