Ukulele song sheets: prolong & add variety to a song


How do you make a song last longer and sound more interesting? I call it the three-minute rule. A song needs to last at least three minutes for it to register in the listener’s ears. That’s my rule, after testing my audiences in a variety of settings. A short piece simply doesn’t register. How to you prolong and add variety to a song? This happens often in our ukulele jam sessions, in which we prepare for our gigs. Here are some ideas for all songs, whether you accompany with ukulele, guitar, or piano.

kew_gig

Repetition is the mother of time. You can repeat verbatim or with variation. There are many ways to vary second time you do it. You can vary the tempo by giving it a higher speed or slowing it down. You can vary the volume, also known as dynamics, by playing and singing it softly the first time and loudly the second or vice versa.

Make sure your introduction is long enough to get the group and the audience ready. The easiest way is to play the starting chord over and over again. Obviously, the topic of introductions (how you begin a song) is worthy of a separate blogpost.

You can repeat the song in a different tempo. Such is how Ukulele Wednesdays in Central London interprets “Folsom Prison Blues” — you get a sense that the train speeds up the second time you sing it. At Balham Ukulele Society in South London, “Five Foot Two” is repeated three times, each time faster than the previous.

You can modulate to a different key when you repeat from the top the second time around. Typically you modulate up a pitch or two.

To give it a finality, you can repeat the chorus several times, the second time a cappella, i.e. without instrumental accompaniment. You can repeat the last line of the chorus several times. There are other ways to do endings besides repetition.

The Hanwell Ukulele Group in West London gives “Got My Mojo” a false ending, getting all performers to act as if it’s the end.

Got my [B7] mojo working,
[A7 stop]
but it just won’t work on you. [E7] big finish false end

After a very brief pause just when the audience is starting to clap, the group starts again, with the usual call (leader) and response (group) of the chorus.

Got my [E7] mojo working   Got my mojo working
Got my [E7] mojo working   Got my mojo working
Got my [A7] mojo working   Got my mojo working
Got my [E7] mojo working    Got my mojo working
Got my [B7] mojo working,
[A7 stop]
but it just won’t work on you. [E7] big finish 

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Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

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