BY DANI JOY
Welcome to Chord by Chord, a beginner’s guide for the ukulele. In the last lesson, you explored a handful of chord progressions in the key of G major. This time, you’ll do the same, but moving to the key of F.
Here you’ll find a chord, Bb, that generally gives people trouble when they first start, but I promise that you’ll get the hang of it before you know it. To play a Bb—the sunshine chord in the key of F—you’re going to do your first barre, where you’ll press down multiple strings with just one finger laying flat. This chord requires just a mini barre, playing the top two strings with the first finger positioned nice and flat on fret 1, supported by the thumb on the back of the uke’s neck. From there, arch your second finger over to string 3, fret 2 and your third to string 4, fret 3.
If you’ve never made a shape like this before, it might seem impossible, but the truth is, most players struggle a bit when they first learn it. As you’ve done with the other chords in these lessons, strum Bb for two measures at a nice and easy tempo and then a little bit faster (Example 1).
Once you’ve got the hang of the Bb chord, try Example 2, a chord progression that we’ve played in several keys so far—the I–IV–V–I (in the key of F, F–Bb–C7–F). Then strum through another common progression, the I–vi–IV–V (F–Dm–Bb–C7), the second time coming to rest on a single strum of the home chord, F (Example 3).
Now let’s revisit “Home on the Range” again, this time in the key of F, as notated in Example 4. In bar 10, play F7 before going into the sunshine chord (Bb) in the following measure—remember, the F7 chord cues the ear to expect the Bb, and it’s pretty nice for your audience to know what’s coming up. In the next lesson, you will learn a little more about how you can borrow chords from other keys to add a little bit of electricity to your music.
We’ll be releasing a new lesson in this series each month. Can’t wait? Support Ukulele on Patreon and you’ll get access to all twelve video lessons right now!