BY DANI JOY
Welcome to Chord by Chord, a beginner’s guide for the ukulele. I taught you how to strum through your first songs in the last lesson, and introduced you to the 12-bar blues progression as well. This time you’ll learn a few common chord progressions, all in the key of C major, which will set you up to learn a lot of songs.
First, a bit of music theory—but feel free to skip it if it seems intimidating. Chords are often labeled with Roman numerals that correspond to their location in the scale. Major chords take an uppercase numeral and minor are lowercase. So in the key of C major, C is the I chord, Dm the ii, Em, the iii, F the IV, G the V, Am the vi, and Bdim the viidim.
For Example 1, play a I–V–vi–IV (C–G–Am–F) progression. Remember to start off nice and easy, and then play it a bit faster, adding a C chord at the end. Repeat this process for all of the other figures, too. Example 2 reorders the chords for another common progression, I–vi–IV–V7 (C–Am–F–G7), this time adding the spice of a dominant seventh chord, or G7 instead of G.
Similar to Ex. 2, Example 3 swaps out the IV (F) chord for the ii (Dm). As you’ll recall, Dm (D F A) shares two of the same notes as F (F A C), so to form a Dm shape, just take the F shape and add your third finger to string 3, fret 2. For Example 4, we are going to go back to our basic major chords, except for one dominant seventh, in another very common progression, I–IV–I–V7 (C–F–C–G7).
Practice these examples until you can play them with ease, switching between the chords cleanly and in rhythm. In the next lesson, I’ll teach you some more chord progressions so that you can expand your musical repertoire.