As usual in our jam sessions, we get bolder and bolder the later it gets. By 9 pm, the ten chords in “Hey Jude” don’t look formidable anymore. How can we sing “Let It Be” and exclude “Hey Jude” the last number in the Beatles Carpool Karaoke? Besides, Paul McCarney sings it in the same key as the song sheet from San Jose Ukulele Club.
It’s a different experience altogether to approach Beatles songs on the ukulele, as opposed to the piano, my first instrument. Growing up, I learned “Let It Be”, “Hey Jude”, and “Imagine” from reading the notes for the piano, not from listening to recordings or the radio. It’s the definitive version, so-to-speak, to learn from the score.
To accompany yourself on the ukulele, you have to make many assumptions. If you don’t know the song by heart, you’d have to guess at tempo, strumming pattern, and singing the syllable on the correct beat. Very little is written on the song sheet to give you certainty.
Moving from the piano to the ukulele, the notated sheet music to the one-page song sheet, I make assumptions in face of greater constraints. When in doubt, I go back to the original score by the composers (artists).
Chief Noda, the multi-instrumentalist, who played the bass in the first half of our jam-turned-rehearsal session, referred to his Beatles fakebook whenever we were uncertain about melodies and chords. This helped us get back on track, faster than listening to Youtube and Spotify clips.