Ok, So now you got your chord charts, and you just found the sheet music to your favorite hit song. You whip out your Ukulele and play, but something is wrong. It just doesn't sound, well, right. What could be wrong? Well, Maybe you need to play it in a different Key
What? that's crazy talk! chords is chords and notes is notes and if we just have another couple Martinis, it will all sound fine!
Well, while it is true that another Martini would be good about now, as far as notes is notes and chords is chords? well, kind of, but actually, not always.
Obviously, a "C" is a "C". You may look at a song written for guitar, and think, I know all those chords, I'll just play it as it is written. But, the chords you play for a song written for guitar may not sound right played on the Ukulele.
But how could that be?
Well, it's like this. Different instruments are often in different tunings. some are higher, some are lower. more strings, different harmonics going on...So in order to have it sound good on the Ukulele, it may need to be played in a different key, and you do this by transposing
How does one transpose you ask?
An easy way is with a transposing wheel.
Yeah, sure, you say, as if those are just available for free anywhere.
But that is the good news, there is one available right here, right now, and yes, it is free. All you need to do is download it, print it, use it, (some assembly required)
oh, and say "Tiki King Rules!" whenever you are in a crowd.
Or, if you want to use the online version, (no printing or cutting involved), click here
Transposing is also how you can take a song written in a key that is just not right for your vocal range, and change it to suit your voice. So here is how you use this wonderful tool. It is based on what is called the circle of fifths, (see the picture below) because each successive note (going clockwise) is a fifth above the last. So what you do on the transposing disk is on the outer wheel, find the key that the song is in. Then line up the key you wish to transpose to on the inner wheel with that note. So if you're trying to transpose a song in the key of G to the key of C, the outer wheel would have the G at the top, and the inner wheel would have the C at the top just below the G. Now you simply rename all the chords in your song from whatever their root name is on the outer wheel to whatever is lined up with them on the inner wheel. You don't change the rest of the chord name (e.g. the "7", "minor", etc.). In our example, if the song in G uses G, C7 and D7 you'd now play C, F7 and G7 (print it out and try it, you'll see!).
Rock and roll!
Circle of fifths
Here is what the Circle of fifths looks like...
The circle of fifths can be used for many things. To help with chord progressions, to determine the Key that a song is in, to determine the scale for that Key.
What is a "Key" you ask? well, the "Key" a song is in determines what chords are in it. On a very basic level, say you have a song with three chords, C, F and G. that means the song is in C Why? well keep reading cause it is explained below...
The "circle of fifths" is a term coined by German musician Johann David Heinichen in 1728, and is basically a chart showing all 12 pitches which are arranged in such a way that as you go clockwise, you go up a fifth. However, due to the nature of how scales work, when you go counter clockwise you go down a fourth. For example, the fifth note of the G major scale (G A B C D E F#) is D (going clockwise) but the G is the fourth note in the key of D (D E F# G A B C#)
So, if you pick a key, Say "C" for example, That is your I Chord. The adjacent chord counter-clockwise (left) is the IVchord. The chord clockwise (right) is the V chord. So, in the key of C major, C is the IChord, F is the IVchord, and G is the V chord. It has been said that nearly half the western worlds songs are based on the I, IV ,V progression.
So there you go...
Oh and Hey! If YOU find something here that is wrong, please let me know so I can change it. If you just post on your blog or one of the bulletin boards about how wrong I am, I guess that makes you feel powerful and important and all, but to the rest of us, it's just kinda lame.
I know what yer thinkin'... It's great that all this information is free, but I wish I could say thanks somehow... Well, you could toss a tip in the case...