November 28, 2023 at 3:02 am #59544
Hi Everyone. Started playing the uke during COVID and while working from home I found my great grandma’s uke in the closet, having forgotten that I even had it. 3 years later I have a several more ukes in the collection and I’ve enjoyed playing a wide variety of songs. Love the lessons and tabs on this site.
My favorite uke and style so far is playing claw hammer, on the banjolele. It was a steep learning curve at first, but it’s been a lot of fun.
Pic is a cigar box uke I picked up at a street fair in Astoria, OR.November 29, 2023 at 12:35 am #59574AndrewKeymaster
Welcome Tim! I really enjoyed listening to your performance in this month’s challenge. Glad to have you here 🙂November 29, 2023 at 9:29 am #59584
@firebladetim, hello and welcome! Nice to have you here! I think you’ll find that the community here is crazy encouraging and helpful and I look forward to hearing more of your playing! Agreed with Andrew that your performance in this month’s challenge was fantastic! 😊
So, I am also mildly obsessed with clawhammer uke. 😅 What kind of songs do you like to play? I think I only know one actual song originally written as clawhammer, Cripple Creek, and a lot of the other songs I play are beginner arrangements from Rock Class that I turned into clawhammer, or my own simple arrangements that I turned into clawhammer. That said, Rock Class 101 has some amazing arrangements in that style. They’re just harder for me to play because they’re “real clawhammer.” 😅
At some point you should share some of your clawhammer playing here! That would be awesome to hear, especially if you have a banjolele.
Sorry I rambled about that. I have that problem. Again welcome! 😊November 29, 2023 at 12:32 pm #59585
Thanks for the welcome. I started with claw hammer when I discovered some videos from a gentleman named Richard Hefner, and then found the RC101 videos and down the rabbit hole I went. I picked up a few books of tabs from Aaron Keim that I enjoy playing as well. My goal is to make my own arrangements in clawhammer style for some Pete Seeger tunes, but so far I’ve just been noodling around with a few of them. Might need to use a different tuning than GCEA to get them to work on the uke.
I’ll try to record some videos when I get the chance.November 29, 2023 at 1:43 pm #59589
@firebladetim, uh, I also learned clawhammer initially from Richard Hefner! Then found Rock Class 101. That’s a bit uncanny, but I guess if you’re interested in clawhammer ukulele, that’s a common path one might take. 😅 I never played a stringed instrument before playing ukulele, only piano, so when I first saw Richard Hefner playing clawhammer uke, my mind was blown. I never knew the uke or any instrument could be played that way. Then the arrangements from Rock Class blew my mind even more. It was like seeing a magic trick, but then learning how to do it yourself (on occasion–there are still many uke feats beyond my skill that I find magical). 😅
What are some of specific tunes you’re trying to arrange from Peter Seeger, just out of curiosity?
Haven’t heard of Aaron Keim. I’ll have to look him up.
Thank you for sharing your story! I look forward to hearing you play some clawhammer!!November 29, 2023 at 4:16 pm #59594
That’s a funny coincidence. From Richard Hefner’s videos I can play Mountain Dew and Cripple Creek pretty well. One of my favorites is Big Rock Candy Mountain. That’s probably the one I’d be ready to record first.
From Pete Seeger’s library, I’ve been playing Rye Whiskey passably well (though I’d have to drink some before I’d record vocals with that tune haha), and next I’d like to work on Battle of New Orleans because it’s a fun and lively narrative, and then Strawberry Roan.November 29, 2023 at 7:13 pm #59605
@firebladetim, that’s a respectable list of songs! I love the sound of songs that are specifically written as clawhammer by people who know what they’re doing. So much fun. I’ve heard of most of those; they’re all really good ones. This makes me want to learn more traditional clawhammer tunes. Like I said, RC101 has some lovely ones that I started to learn and I started the course here, but I’m incredibly bad at finishing things. That’s why I like the challenges here because they help me have a focused goal to learn a song each month. A whole song. 😂
If you don’t mind me asking, how do you go about arranging songs as clawhammer? For me, I basically just learn a “regular song,” then turn it into clawhammer by just kinda guessing. But I’m curious how you approach it.November 29, 2023 at 7:57 pm #59618
By “arranging”, I don’t really do anything formal yet. Some songs just have the right rhythm to go with the Bum-Ditty of clawhammer. I’ve pretty much done it by ear so far. I first figure out what the basic chords of the song are and see if there’s a note that works on the G string as the drone note within each chord and melody notes on the other strings. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to transpose the song to a different key to get chords more suited for the uke, but then you lose the ability to play along with the original unless it’s within a few half-steps up and a capo can be used.November 29, 2023 at 10:37 pm #59626
That’s very true! I’ve noticed that, as well, that some songs fall naturally into the clawhammer pattern more than others. Others you have to modify more to fit. I’m sure there’s a technical reason for that. Or reasons. 😅 It’s interesting that you’ve been having to transpose to different keys. It’s true there are definitely some keys that work more naturally on uke. Maybe I’ll have to go listen to the songs you mentioned, just out of curiosity of what you’re working on. 😅 Oh last thing I was going to say, is that I arrange songs the same way you do, by ear, but I am learning to write them down with the help of some of the instructors here and by learning the arrangements here. RC101 has helped me so much with learning uke overall. Anyway thank you for sharing all of that!
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