Notes on playing the banjo uke (and the regular ukulele), as well as some of my favorite songs and videos, but mostly, you'll find information here on my particular obsession - the many models of banjo ukulele offered by Stromberg-Voisinet in the 1920's to 1931.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Four Uke Bloggers on Creating Original Arrangements

For this entry, four ukulele bloggers are contributing original arrangements for you to try. For this installment of our "carnival blogging", I asked four of my fellow bloggers to take a melody they knew and build their own chords to create an original arrangement, supplying us with a video and a lyric and chord sheet. I think the result is really instructive and I hope that you enjoy it!


First up, me. I chose a tune that Bing Crosby recorded in 1932 called "I'll Follow You".

Bing Crosby

I started by figuring out the melody, then adding very basic chords. Once I got those first two steps down, I decided to add some interest to the arrangement by combining melody and chords in an introduction, adding turnarounds between verse and refrain and also between phrases, and creating "walking" patterns (where we change chords by literally descending one note in each chord by a half-step).

Here's the resulting video and here's the chord sheet if you want to play the tune and work up your own variations:

Fred E Ahlert (m) Roy Turk (l) 1931

(F) Life was as (Bbm) sad as could (F) be, dear,
(Dm) Till you came (Am) into my (Dm) heart.
(Edim7) Life now is (A7) heaven to (Dm) me, dear,
(Gm) No-(Gm[Maj7])-thing can (Gm7) keep (Bbm) us a-(C7)-part, (C+) so;

(F) Anywhere on earth you may (C#7) go,
(Dm6) (G7) I'll (Gm7) follow (C7) you.
(F) Through the rain or over the (C#7) snow,
(Dm6) (G7) I'll (Gm7) follow (C7) you.
(Gm) No sea could be too (Bbm) wide,
(F) I'd cross the great (C#7) di-(D7)-vide
(G7) Just to be at your side,
My (Gm7) dar-(C7)-ling.(G7) (C7)

(F) Distance cannot keep us a-(C#7)-part,
(Dm6) (G7) I'll (Gm7) follow (C7) you.
(F) Sheltered by the love in my (C#7) heart,
I'll (D7) see it through.
(Gm) Wherever you may (Bbm) be,
(F) You can depend (C#7) on (D7) me,
(Gm) Un-(Gm[Maj7])-til e-(Gm7)-tern-(Bbm)-i-(C7)-ty
I'll follow (F) you. (Bbm) (F)

Miles Ramsay of has contributed his arrangement and video of Randy Newman's "You've Got a Friend in Me":

Buzz and Woody

Here's the link to my video...

...and here's the chords.

(C) You've got a (G+5) friend in me (C) (C7)
(F) You've got a (Cdim) friend in me (C) (C7)
(F) When the (C) road looks (E7) rough a (Am) head
And you're (F) miles and (C) miles from your (E7) nice warm (Am) bed
(F) Just rem (C) ember what your (E7) ole pal (Am) said
Boy, (D7) you've got a (G7) friend in (C) me

(C) You've got a (G+5) friend in me (C) (C7)
(F) You've got a (Cdim) friend in me (C) (C7)
(F) You've got (C) troubles. (E7) I've got 'em (Am) too
(F) There isn't (C) anything I (E7) wouldn't (Am) do for you
(F) We stick to (C) gether, we can (E7) see it (Am) through
Cause (D7) you've got a (G7) friend in (C) me (C7)

(F) Some other folks might be a (B7) little smarter than I am
(C) Bigger and (G+5) stronger (C) too (C7)
(B7) But none of them will (A9) ever (Fdim) love you the (Em) way I (A7) do
It's (D7) me and (G7) you, boy
(C) And as the (G+5) years go by (C) (C7)
Our (F) friendship will (Cdim) never die (C) (C7)
(F) You're gonna (Cdim) see it's our (C) des (E7) tin (A7) y
(D7) You've got a (G7) friend in me (C) (A7)
(D7) You've got a (G7) friend in me (C) (A7)
(D7) You've got a (G7) friend in me (C) (A7)

And here's "Maybe" by Thom Pace, arranged and performed by FriendlyFred of

Dan Haggerty and Ben

Remember Ben the Bear?

Yes, that was the TV-series “The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams“. Here's my instrumental rendition of the theme song by Thom Pace.

Download lyrics and chords here.

It sounds better with low 4th than reentrant tuning.

I played it in dropped D tuning ( D G B D' ).
Just tune the first string of your baritone ukulele 2 tones down.
You find the chords for the song in this tuning here.

Cheers FriendlyFred (

And here's Daniel Hulbert's take and arrangement of "Spangle".

This song was written by The Wedding Present for the album "Watusi" (1994). I first heard this song from a cover on the album "Singles" (2000) by Jimmy Eat World.

Watch on YouTube or via this link

Chords Used

B♭ Gm B♭sus4 F Fadd9 Gsus2
3 3 3 2 0 0
2 2 3 0 0 2
1 3 1 1 1 3
1 1 1 0 0 0

B♭ --> Gm B♭ --> Gm (Use little finger to hammer-on the 3rd fret of the "E" string on the B♭ to Gm transition)

B♭ B♭sus4 B♭ (Use little finger to do three pull-offs on the "C" string on the B♭sus4 to B♭ transition)

B♭ F Fadd9 B♭
B♭ F Fadd9 B♭
B♭ F Gsus2 B♭
B♭ F Gsus2 B♭

B♭ Gm B♭

Daniel Hulbert -

That's it for this installment. Please follow Miles, Thom and Daniel - and our fifth partner, Ryan ukulele, who wasn't able to join in this time.

Until next time, keep on strummin'.