Let’s try an experiment together. When I ask you what you think of when you hear the term “Ukulele Music” what first comes to mind? If you are first drawn to a beach with palms and the calm sounds of the sea on a sunny day, you would not be wrong.
The uke is an instrument that was brought to us from Hawaii, and a lot of its traditional music is played on this instrument. But that only scratches the surface of the ukulele’s potential in our hands. The only limit to what styles of music that can be played on the uke is the limit of our imagination. In this article I will describe to you the different techniques involved in playing different styles of music on the uke as well as the notable examples of people playing other genres of music on the instrument.
If you are looking for a fun and easy instrument to learn, the ukulele may be perfect for you!
This small, portable instrument can be played in a variety of styles and with a wide range of sounds. In this blog post, we will take a look at some different styles of ukulele music that you can play.
So grab your uke and get ready to start strumming!
What Kind of Music is Played on the Ukulele?
The ukulele is a versatile instrument that can be used for a wide range of genres. While it is often associated with Hawaiian music, you can also find plenty of ukulele music like:
These are all popular genres that sound great on the ukulele. The instrument’s small size also makes it ideal for playing intimate acoustic sets.
No matter what your taste in music is, there’s a good chance you can find a ukulele version that you’ll enjoy. So why not give the ukulele a try? You might just be surprised by how much you like it.
Your first step? Sign up for ukulele lessons. You’ll learn everything you need to know about how to play the ukulele in any genre, including what you see in the video below:
What Style of Music is Ukulele Most Known For?
There are many different types of ukulele music, from traditional Hawaiian songs to modern pop hits. In general, ukulele music tends to be fairly light and airy, with a lot of emphasis on strumming rather than complex chords. This makes the ukulele a great choice for acoustic backing or for playing solo.
That said, there are no hard and fast rules about what kinds of music can be played on the ukulele. With a little creativity, just about any genre can be adapted for this versatile instrument. So whether you’re a fan of country, rock, jazz, or anything in between, there’s undoubtedly a ukulele arrangement that’s perfect for you.
While all instruments have their own sound inherent to them they all, for the most part, are going to be playing with the same set of notes.
This means that while you may hear some distorted guitar and a full drum set on the song Thunderstruck by AC/DC, that doesn’t mean that you cannot recreate this sound on a ukulele with the right techniques at your disposal. You may also be surprised at what music was written on a uke in the first place that doesn’t even have a uke present in the final recording. Famous musicians such as George Harrison of the Beatles and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam have written some of their most classic songs on the instrument, and they are both within the classic rock genre.
The reason for this eclectic use of the uke for creating all styles of music comes from one of its most defining features: its size.
The uke is a great instrument to bring along with you on a road trip, to have in the back of the tour bus, or just to have near the bed for when an idea for a song hits you. It’s tuned the same way as the bottom four strings of a guitar, so a lot of the ideas transition directly (albeit in a different key) to all forms of guitar music. This means you can write rock, jazz, blues, folk, or even classical music on the instrument. And the techniques are what will make each of these genres sound distinct.
Rock Music for Ukulele
Rock music is guitar-driven, and the ukulele is a perfect complement to the guitar. It adds a different sound without being overwhelming or taking away from the guitar. Rock ukulele music is also great for sing-alongs. The ukulele is easy to carry around, so it’s perfect for impromptu jam sessions.
Plus, the ukulele is a relatively inexpensive instrument, so anyone can get started playing rock ukulele music without breaking the bank. So whether you’re a seasoned musician or a ukulele novice, rock ukulele music is a great way to get your groove on.
Let’s take a closer look.
So let’s go back to our first example, Thunderstruck by AC/DC. This song is defined most by its repeated melodic phrase where notes are cascading down the fretboard with a “drone” note being played in between each fretted note. This is a sound best articulated with a technique called “pull-offs”. One finger in the left hand is pressed down on a fret and then without re-picking the string with the right hand our left hand quite literally pulls down on the string in a downward motion and makes the string ring a new note.
Every other note in Thunderstruck will use a “pull off” to create its sound, and with that being its main defining feature, you can create this on a uke as well as a lead guitar. And even further than that, if you own a uke that has pick-ups built into it, a device that allows it to be plugged into an amplifier, you can even simulate the exact same humongous tones as Angus Young through an instrument a quarter of the size.
Jazz Ukulele Music
And this kind of thinking can be applied all over the place to give each style of music its distinct flair.
The ukulele is often thought of as a happy, carefree instrument, associated with Hawaiian music and ukulele players like Jake Shimabukuro. However, the ukulele is also a great choice for jazz musicians.
The ukulele’s small size makes it very portable, and its mellow tone is perfect for both solo playing and accompaniment. In addition, the ukulele’s simple tuning means that it can be easily adapted to different keys and scales. As a result, the ukulele is a versatile instrument that can be used in a variety of genres, including jazz.
If you play jazzy chords like “major sevenths” and “diminished” chords with a little Freddie Green playing style, then you’ve got jazz. Perfect the percussive use of your fingers along with latin rhythms you can perform Flamenco music on the instrument. If you’re ever looking for inspiration on what can be performed on the uke look no further than one of the masters of the instrument: Jake Shimabukuro.
I got to see Jake Shimabukuro at the 2019 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The most memorable song of his set was his rendition of the rock classic Bohemian Rhapsody by the band Queen. He used techniques like fingerpicking, strumming, and individual melody playing to make all of these parts work on a uke. But most interestingly he used a distortion pedal, a device that makes guitars sound like they are breaking their amplifier thus creating a distorted sound, and played the lead guitar solo on the uke. He used all of the usual guitar tricks on his ukulele, and he sounded just like Brain May’s solo on the recorded track.
So in short, it’s all about how you use it.
Hawaiian Ukulele Music
Of course, Hawaiian ukulele music has been popular for over a century, and it shows no signs of losing its appeal. There are many reasons for its enduring popularity, including the fact that it is relatively easy to learn to play and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
The ukulele is also a very versatile instrument, capable of playing a wide range of styles, from traditional Hawaiian music to modern pop tunes. And of course, there’s something special about hearing the sound of the ukulele in its natural environment – the beautiful islands of Hawaii.
Whether you’re a lifelong fan or just looking to add a new genre to your musical repertoire, Hawaiian ukulele music is definitely worth checking out.
Classical Music for the Ukulele
Many people associate the ukulele with Hawaiian music, but this versatile instrument is capable of playing a wide range of styles. One popular genre for the ukulele is classical music.
While the ukulele may not be the first instrument that comes to mind when thinking of classical music, there are a number of well-known pieces that sound great on this four-stringed instrument.
For example, Bach’s “Minuet in G” and Beethoven’s “Für Elise” are both popular ukulele arrangements. In addition, many classical compositions have been adapted for the ukulele, giving players the opportunity to enjoy this type of music in a new way.
Whether you’re a fan of Bach or Brahms, you’ll be sure to find some classical ukulele music that you’ll enjoy.
Finding Ukulele Music to Suit Your Style
When it comes to ukulele music, there are nearly endless possibilities. Whether you’re looking for traditional Hawaiian songs or popular contemporary hits, there’s a ukulele arrangement out there to suit your taste. Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips for finding ukulele music that will fit your style.
If you’re a fan of pop music, you’ll be happy to know that nearly any Top 40 hit can be adapted for the ukulele. You can find versions of popular songs by artists like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Bruno Mars online or in ukulele songbooks. If you’re looking for something a little more folky, try searching for ukulele arrangements of traditional folk songs or modern folk-inspired tunes.
Artists like Bon Iver and The Lumineers have some great ukulele tracks that are perfect for beginners. And finally, if you want to try your hand at Hawaiian-style ukulele playing, there are plenty of resources available online and in print. With a little bit of searching, you’re sure to find the perfect ukulele music to suit your taste.
How to Read Ukulele Music for Beginners
If you’re new to the ukulele, you may be wondering how to read ukulele sheet music. While ukulele music can look daunting at first glance, it’s actually quite simple once you know the basics.
The first thing you need to know is that ukulele music is written in treble clef. This means that the notes are written on the lines and spaces of the treble clef, with the lowest note on the bottom line and the highest note on the top space.
You’ll also see numbers, symbols, and chord diagrams written above or below the notes. These indicate what chords to play and how to strum the ukulele.
Once you know how to read these elements, you’ll be able to play any ukulele song! Start looking for free ukulele music today to help you practice.
Ukulele Music for Beginners: It’s Not Just Island Music!
The ukulele is a small, four-stringed instrument that is often used in island music, but it can also be used for other genres of music such as rock, jazz, and blues. Ukulele music is relatively easy to learn, making it a great choice for beginners.
With using different techniques and different modes of plugging in an electric uke you can play any style of music. Don’t sell yourself short and believe that a uke can only play island music, it’s as versatile an instrument as any other out there.
Want to know how to find the right style of ukulele music for your preferences and personality? Sign up for ukulele lessons! You’ll learn everything there is to know about how to play this fun, lighthearted instrument.