Song sheets: the barebones to guide music making

On my first day of taking the intermediate ukulele course in Hawaii, I was surprised to witness the entire class playing and singing along. We were sight reading and sight singing, skills that take years to master for musicians.

That morning at Maui College in January 2016, all we had in front of us was a single sheet of paper that contained the lyrics, chord names, and chord diagrams. No music notation. No Italian words about tempo and dynamics in italic. No tablature. No abbreviations. No other music symbols. How could a single sheet of paper with minimal information guide music making?

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Love Me Do, another three chord song

After spending over an hour working on “Let It Be” and half an hour on “When I’m Sixty-Four” we spent comparatively less time on the remaining three from the 15 songs on the Beatles Carpool Karaoke. While we were familiar with most songs, playing them on the ukulele was another matter.

Our coach showed us how to make an illusively simple three-chord song like “Love Me Do” interesting. It’s sometimes the case that three-chord songs are not necessarily easy to sing or rhythmically easy to play. So far, I’ve compiled more than 60 songs that require only the three chords of C, F, and G. It will be another exercise to play them well.

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Corden & McCartney sing Beatles songs in Liverpool

What a great idea to travel down memory lane singing songs you wrote in the different locations of your home town! That’s exactly what Paul McCartney did in Liverpool recently. The 24-minute Youtube video moved me to tears as “Let It Be” did for James Corden, host of “The Late, Late Show” in London.

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Summer Solstice Sunset Singalong at Standish Village

It’s a mouthful, but every single word is significant. Today is the official summer solstice in 2018, otherwise known as the longest day of the year. Yesterday, being the Wednesday that my ukulele group meets each week, we gave our first public performance for the senior residents and staff members of a nearby building. Sunset is that magical time when you know the deadline of darkness is approaching, and everything must get done by then. To make it participative, we called our gig a singalong so the audience would be encouraged to join us in the singing. Standish Village is an award-winning assisted senior living residence, housed in a historic landmark building (no. 24 in this document), in Historic Lower Mills, just a short walk from Walter Baker Artists Lofts where we regularly meet to jam (or rehearse).

What’s noteworthy? One person had just learned how to play the ukulele three weeks ago in my crash course, four others had never performed on the ukulele before, and it was our first performance as a group.

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The Rose Concert

The Rose Concert is a one-hour performance of music, lyrics, poems, and movies to do with the flower — the rose, in celebration of the Rose Month at Roselani Place in Maui. The concert was free but not recorded on Friday 14th June 2013, given by Anne Ku.

If you read my earlier blog post about preparing for a concert of roses and flowers, you might be curious what happened on 14th June 2013, the day of the one-hour concert.

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Music introduced and shared: One Republic

When music is introduced and shared, something amazing happens. Here is how one listener develops a taste for the music of “One Republic” and a yearning to play it.

As much as I like to discover music through sightreading sheet music, it is more powerful when introduced by someone else and shared with me.

Today a friend put on the music of “One Republic,” a band I had never heard of. Although meant as background music while I read, I could hardly concentrate on the book I was reading. Instead, I found myself struck by the sticky melodies and catchy tunes of “One Republic.” As I reluctantly peeled my eyes away from my book to listen to the stereo, I stared into the distant Pacific Ocean landscape of Maui and felt myself being carried far, far away.

When “All This Time” came on, I disappeared into a yet to be written romantic novel. I was completely captivated by the music and the lyrics.

Such is the power of music — capable of transporting us away from the present into the past or the future.

I had to hear it again. I checked for the band’s official website and youtube channel. I googled for the lyrics to “All This Time,” and found several websites.

“All This Time” was one of many songs in the TV Series “Vampire Diaries.” One song led to another. Before long, my entire evening was spent listening to music used in that TV Series of adolescent vampire romance and the streaming myspace music player of One Republic.

If I listen to it enough times, I will want to play it.

My next task is to either find the sheet music to “All This Time” or write down the tune and chords by listening to the music. Such is the power of music. Songs develop a new context in the ears of the listener. Exposed enough times, the listener attributes meaning and develops a yearning. Good music is not only sticky but also viral.

Peter Cottontail sheet music piano, guitar, lyrics

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo’s own arrangement from Gene Autry’s version of Peter Cottontail song is now available.

In the quest for sheet music for “Here comes Peter Cottontail,” the song made famous by Gene Autry in 1950, I discovered I could not download the plug-in successfully to a computer attached to a printer. Thus I could not order the sheet music for the Easter Sunday lunch concert tomorrow.

That version is not the one I heard on youtube.

A Dutch oboeist friend commented on my Facebook status that a Dutch French horn player friend had the wind quintet version of “Peter Cottontail.” This led me to suspect that wind instruments were used in the original version.

Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers captured that in his transcription from the Gene Autry (1950) version of this popular song.

Click on the image below to get page 1 of the 3-page arrangement in PDF. This is a result of a cross-world collaboration through Facebook, phone, email, Sibelius notation software, Adobe PDF-maker, …. Utrecht — 12 hour time zone difference — Hawaii.

Peter Cottontail arranged by Robert Bekkers and Anne Ku (April 2011)
Peter Cottontail arranged by Robert Bekkers and Anne Ku (April 2011)

If you would like the remaining 2 pages of the above piano arrangement with guitar chords and lyrics, simply order a CD from us via CDBABY, and I will be happy to email you a copy of the PDF for free.