There are two approaches to learning chords, the song based approach and learning the fundamentals approach. I'm a big advocate of building a solid base of the fundamentals. A lot of players new to the ukulele like to jump right in and learn songs.
The SONG Approach
For the SONG APPROACH you pick a song and learn the chords you need to learn know for that particular song. A song is like a recipe, the chords are one of the ingredients. Look them up, ask a friend or take a lesson or two. Then learn at least one version of each of the chords in the song. Repeat the process for the next song and additional songs. This is like learning to paint by numbers – you can't really a take much from one song to the next, Only what you have learned in the context of that one particular song. You actually don't learn much about chords with this song approach.
Another approach is to learn the most common chords that show up in common keys and songs. This is especially helpful for occasions where you might have never played a particular song before or are reading the chords as you go. This happens a lot at jam sessions and club play-a-longs. You never know what songs are going to be played and would like to participate in every song. No time to look up chords - you really need to know chords.
For Folk, Rock, Pop, Country and and Bluegrass songs the most common keys are the major keys of C, G, D, A, and E.
For most simple songs the chords will all be from the main key and stay in that key. There're a lot of songs with just two or three chords.
The FUNDAMENTALS Approach
The FUNDAMENTALS APPROACH, which is almost required with movable form and “jazz” chords is to have a core set of chords and a system for deriving additional chords from those known chords. And, knowing where and how chords are created and used. The skills that really help with this is knowing the names of the notes of the ukulele fingerboard and you can use that information to locate the root or letterman of the chord for your already known chords and transpose those chords along to fingerboard to additional keys.
End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!
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A core set of basic ukulele chords that ALL Ukulele players should know - at least - in the five common keys of C, G, D, A and E.
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Basic Ukulele Chord Chart
A chart of the most common ukulele chords in the most common keys of C, G, D, A, and E.
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Types of Chords Available on Ukulele
The types of chords possible on ukulele include open position chords, movable form chords, 4-part chords, a.k.a. jazz chords and free from chords.
Open Position Chords
These are the basic first chords most players learn. There're the chords in the first one, two, three and fours frets of the ukulele and include at least one open string.
Basic Movable Form Chords
Sometimes called "barre" chords, these chords are the basic open position chords that venture beyond the third fret and do not include open strings.
4-part Contemporary Chords, a.k.a. Jazz Chords
Beyond basic open position chords and basic movable form chords these are the core set of 4-part chords that are used to build ALL your contemporary, more advanced chords. Commonly called "Jazz" chords these are the chords where the knowing how principles of how chords are constructed and your knowledge of the names of the notes of the ukulele fingerboard offer the most benefit to using and expanding your chord vocabulary. From these core chords you can create all those crazy named chords such as: 9#11, 7#5-9, 13b5, 7+9 - and on the fly as needed.
Free Form Chords
Free Form chords are those chords that do not fall into one of the above categories. They typically don't show up in chord dictionaries or software programs. You can create these chords when you know the notes of the ukulele fingerboard, know how chords are constructed and know the names of the notes the chord and the intervals that make up the chord.
Traditional and Contemporary Triads
Somewhere in the mix of the above four chord categories, triads should be explored. Triads are the foundation of most chords. They are amazing versatile chords that can be used harmonically as chords or melodically in solos. The student and the type of music determines
A triad is a three note chord. In traditional chord theory there are four traditional triad chord types: major, minor, diminished and augmented. And four contemporary triad chord types: sus2, sus4, add2 and add9.
Triads can be used harmonically, as chords and melodically, as single notes. Triads are a great way to get started with creating melodic solos and improvising.
In my personal and teaching experience triads are the first real challenging chords after the basic open position chords and movable basic chords. I personally found them even harder that the 4-part "jazz" chords.
Basic Ukulele Chords Charts
Not so much a series - but the basic chords ALL ukulele players should know.
Basic Ukulele Chords Charts - As much as I preach the need to not have to rely on chords charts. When you're first learning the ukulele and chords these charts are a real help - just not long a term alternative to actually knowng your chords, where they come from and how to create them when needed.
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