If you’re a complete beginner to playing the ukulele, you’re probably wondering how many chords you need to know before you can accompany yourself to a song. Did you know, there are songs with one chord in it? You can play the one-fingered C major chord for “Frère Jacques” (same tune as “Are You Sleeping, Brother John”) and “Row, row, row your boat.”
Of course, knowing a second chord will expand your horizons.
Did you know there are lots of songs that use only two chords?
Most of them require a major key and its dominant, e.g. C and G. In the key of F, it would be F and C. In the key of G, it would be G and D.
You can substitute the second chord with its 7th chord. Instead of G, play G7.
Personally, I find it easier to switch between C and G7 and vice versa than C and G.
There are numerous nursery rhymes and children’s songs that use only two chords. You probably know the lyrics by heart. Try accompanying yourself to “Mary Had a Little Lam.” Start with the C chord. You can sense when you’d have to switch to G or G7.
The tune to “London Bridge is Falling Down” is the same as the Japanese song “Moshi, moshi, ano ne.”
Beyond nursery rhymes, there’s “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” and “My Darling Clementine” and “Jambalaya.”
For beginners, playing two chord songs gives the perfect opportunity to practice switching between two chords. More advanced players can focus on strumming techniques. Take a break from the monotony of down strokes or down-up, down-up, down-up. Have you ever tried the air stroke or the wham stroke? A little syncopation with muting?
Don’t miss the workshop and jam session this Wednesday 14th March 2018!