Ornamenting with triplets

Some of you were asking me how I play the triplets in the reels “Sweeney’s Buttermilk” and “Cooley’s Reel” and many other tunes. When the notes in the triplet are the same, I often use a kind of ‘chicken picking’ technique which kills each note after plucking making them more distinct than in campanella where I would play the same note on two strings. Watch the video and have a go. If you have any questions, please go to my Facebook page where I’m sure to see them.

Some Campanella Runs to Practice

This piece, which doesn’t have a name yet and probably never will, is a study in mixing straightforward fingerpicking patterns based on chords with Campanella runs. The central chord is a C5 and the second ukulele plays a C minor. I had a little trouble deciding what key it was in but thanks to Guitar Pro I was able to see that the least number of accidentals was B flat so that’s the key I’ve given it.  As it’s based on the second note of the B flat scale, that makes it C Dorian, but that’s neither here nor there. I’ll wait and see if anybody is interested in learning it before posting tabs, so in the meantime here are two of the campanella runs to practice. They are quite similar in sound and structure.


campanella run 1


campanella run 2

La Rotta (ukulele campanella)

La Rotta is a 14th century Italian dance (estampie). Very simple and repetitive, it makes a great campanella picking exercise.
I learned this piece a long time ago from John Renbourn’s book ‘Guitar Pieces’. It was arranged in DADGCD tuning and on the album ‘the Lady and the Unicorn’ he overdubs a glockenspiel (I think) where in the second part it plays two bars behind the guitar in a kind of round. On the video I added a delay to the uke in the second part to create a similar impression of one instrument being a little ‘late’.
I wanted to be able to play harmonics on both instruments, so the guitar part is a very simple arrangement in open G minor (DGDGBbD).

Get the tab for this here.

Fingerpicking Exercises for Ukulele (tabs to download)

These exercises are for players who want to learn to play fingerstyle ukulele. They are not for complete beginners, you have to be able to play a bit and be comfortable changing chords. The fourth and fifth exercises are quite tricky – they are techniques used by classical guitarists (and uke players!). I do find it hard to judge whether a piece or an exercise is easy, intermediate or advanced as I’m not really sure what my own level is! You will hear a few mistakes (fret buzzes, missed notes, hesitations)… sigh… well I’ll never be Jake or James but I hope that I can share something useful with you.

here are the links to the tabs:
exercise one (arpeggio up and down)
exercise two (pluck the third and fourth with your thumb and try using different fingers for the first and second)
exercise three (pluck the first string with ring, middle and index – you can do it always with the same finger, but alternating this way is good training for the next exercise, the tremolo)
exercise four (tremolo is rapid playing of the same string by quickly plucking with ring, middle then index)
exercise five (harmonics – pay attention to the last chord (E7) you need to use your index finger to touch the string on the fourteenth – because you are holding the note on the second fret – then pluck with your ring – watch carefully if you’ve never done this before)