BY DANI JOY
Welcome to Chord by Chord, a beginner’s guide for the ukulele. In the previous installment, you learned some common chord progressions in the key of C major. For this lesson, I’ll show you some other useful progressions, this time in a new key, D major.
Each chord within a key has a function. Revisiting the key of C major, C is the I chord, which makes you feel very much at rest. F is the IV, which I call the sunshine chord on account of its bright feeling, and G, the V, adds a good amount of tension and playfulness. If we switch to the key of D major, D is the I chord, G the IV, and A the V. The V chord is often played as a dominant seventh chord, so in this lesson we’ll use A7.
Let’s start with the I chord, D, which is similar to the Dm you already learned, except all the notes on strings 2–4 are all played at the second fret. Start by placing your first finger on string 4, then your second on string 3 and third on string 2; leave the first string open. Now play Example 1, strumming the D chord for two bars, first slowly and then a bit faster.
If you’ve been following along with this series, then you already know how to play the sunshine chord, G. In the key of D, the V chord, A7, is nice and easy—just place your index finger on string 3, fret 1, and keep the other three strings open. Form the A7 and then strum through Example 2.
Now it’s time to switch between chords in a progression that includes D, G, and A7 (Example 3). As none of these chords share any common fingerings, try to visualize each subsequent shape before you play it. That will help you change chords in time. As before, remember to strum through the progression slowly until you get the hang of it.
We’ll end the lesson with a longer progression, as shown in Example 4, 16 bars of “Home on the Range.” Remember that this is a waltz, meaning there are three strums or quarter notes per bar rather than four. Play the progression on its own first, and then if you’d like, try singing it while strumming along. Next time I’ll teach you about the key of G major, and I’m pretty sure that you’ll recognize a few of the chords.
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