Arranging Melody and Chord Solos for Ukulele

Tips and guidelines for crafting solo melody and chord arrangements for ukulele.

  • There doesn't have to be a chord for every melody note.
  • Chords can also played before or after the melody.

    Example from measure 2 of the Beatles classic Yesterday.

  • Play chords for dotted quarter notes and long duration notes and when there is a chord change.
  • Add melody notes if needed and wanted.
  • If melody is an arpeggio sustain notes to get chord.

    Reference: QuickStart Arpeggio Fingerings for Ukulele 3 volumes.
    "C", "G" and "D" tunings. (link)

  • If only one note is changing from one chord to the next only play changed note while sustaining the pervious chord.

    Example from first measure of Yesterday.

  • Change all diminished triads to dim 7 4-part chords.
  • Augmented triads can be 7#5.
  • Do not avoid the effectiveness of triads

    A Guide to Ukulele Chords (link)

    This book provides a guide to the common basic chords all ukulele players should know, an introduction to movable chord forms, and more advanced 4-part jazz chords. All presented in common ukulele keys. Building on what chords you might already know.

  • Use chord substitutions to fit the style. Fancy 7#11, b9, #5 or a 13th might not fit your basic frokc, country, folk and pop songs.

    Example from Autumn Leaves.

    The original chord for this measure is the I chord of the key (Bbmaj7). A III chord, a diatonic sub is substituted and its V chord added. Also creates a nice chromatic movement to the IV chord.

    A full melody and chord solo arrangement of Walk Don't Run is available.

    Reference: Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution (link)

  • Look for places for Contrapuntal motion: parallel, oblique, similar and contrary motion in your chord voicings. Contrapuntal motion is the general movement of two melodic lines with respect to each other.
  • Double stops, octaves, intervals, arpeggios, sequences and chord scales.

    Example from Walk Don't Run. A song written by jazz great Johnny Smith and made famous by the Ventures.

    A full melody and chord solo arrangement of Walk Don't Run is available.

  • Chromatic passing chords and fills.
  • Closed chord voicings. The re-entrant tuning of the ukulele gives you this automatically.
  • Incorporate open strings in to chord voicings
  • Non-traditional chords families.
  • Alterations, upper partials (chord extensions) and substitutions. Root to 9, b9, #9, third to 11, #11, fifth to 13, b5, #5.
  • Alterations should not change the chords existing harmonic function.

    Reference: Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution (link)

  • Embellishments
  • Idiomatic cliches
  • A melody of a ninth can be harmonized by raising the root of a chord 2 frets or lowering the third of a minor chord one fret and the third of a major seventh or seventh chord two frets.
  • A melody of an eleventh can be harmonized by raising the third of a minor chord two frets and the third of a major seventh or seventh chord one fret. Or, lowering the fifth of a seventh, minor seventh or major seventh chord two frets.

    The Advanced Guide to Ukulele Chords - Volume I (link)

    Commonly referred to as "jazz" chords. The Advanced Guide to Ukulele Chords Volume I provides detailed information on voicing 4-part chords.

  • Learn the critical notes of a chord such as the thirds and sevenths of major minor and sevenths chords. Without these notes in the chord you loose the essence of the chord.
  • The two most critical notes are the melody and the seventh of a chord.

    Leaving out the root and fifth of a chord implies 5, 6 and 7 part harmony.

  • Intros, Endings and Interludes equal an arrangement.
  • Theme variations
  • for more information on building ukulele chords see my books from my Advanced Guide to Chords and Progressions series.

    • A Guide to Blues Chord Progressions for Ukulele A to Z - AGCPB1UKE
    • A Guide to Ukulele Chords - BC1UKE
    • Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard - ULUNN
    • Advanced Guide to Ukulele Chords - Vol 1 - AGCUKE1
    • Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Ukulele - Vol 1 - AGCPUKE1

A Few of the many Fake Books I have

HAL00240221-cover

The Real Book
Volume I

The Real Books are the best-selling jazz books of all time. Since the 1970s, musicians have trusted these volumes to get them through every gig, night after night. The problem is that the books were illegally produced and distributed, without any regard to copyright law, or royalties paid to the composers who created these musical masterpieces.

Hal Leonard is very proud to present the first legitimate and legal editions of these books ever produced. You won't even notice the difference, other than that all of the notorious errors have been fixed: the covers and typeface look the same, the song list is nearly identical, and the price for our edition is even cheaper than the original! Every conscientious musician will appreciate that these books are now produced accurately and ethically, benefitting the songwriters that we owe for some of the greatest tunes of all time!

HAL00240018-cover

The Real Little Ultimate Jazz Fake Book

635 songs spanning nine decades of music! Includes music from all jazz genres: traditional, swing, bebop, Latin, modern, standards, and more! Songs: All the Things You Are • Bag's Groove • Basin Street Blues • Desafinado • Donna Lee • The Girl from Ipanema • I Concentrate On You • Little Boat • A Night in Tunisia • Ornithology • 'Round Midnight • Solar • Song for My Father • Take the “A” Train • Tuxedo Junction • Waltz for Debby • and many more!

HAL00240356-cover

The Daily Ukulele, 365 Songs for Better Living

Strum a different song every day with easy arrangements of 365 of your favorite songs in one big songbook! The Daily Ukulele features ukulele arrangements that feature melody, lyrics and uke chord grids and are in ukulele-friendly keys that are particularly suited for groups of one to one hundred to play and sing. Includes favorites by the Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan, folk songs, pop songs, kids' songs, Christmas carols and Broadway and Hollywood tunes, all with a spiral binding for ease of use. Also features a Tips & Techniques section, chord chart, and vintage ukulele-themed photos and art throughout. The Daily Ukulele offers ukulele fun all year long!

You'll need a copy of Adobe®: Acrobat® reader (version 3.0 or higher) to view or print the PDF file. If you don't already have a copy, or if you have an older version, you can get the latest reader for free from Adobe.

Lessons, TABS and Songs are intended FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY

Portions of copy regarding particular songs is from WidipediA, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!

Content is always being added and updated. So check-in often. Thanks, Curt

Over 500+ lessons, 54 songs and TABS, 240+ archtop luthiers, 200+ ukulele builders, festival information, ukulele links on the web. On the web since the early 90's and growing everyday. This site just never stops growing!!!

You'll need a copy of Adobe®: Acrobat® reader (version 3.0 or higher) to view or print the PDF file. If you don't already have a copy, or if you have an older version, you can get the latest reader for free from Adobe.

Lessons, TABS and Songs are intended FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY

Portions of copy regarding particular songs is from WidipediA, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

[ UL0 ] (songs) MELODY_AND_CHORD_TIPS.PHP | Updated: Friday, 11th April, 2014 @ 07:12pm • 20 Visitors On-line