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Easy Songs For Ukulele: "Haola Hula"

easy songs for ukulele

Practicing scales and chords is crucial to learning how to play ukulele, but something that can make this process even more exciting is learning to play full songs. One of the most easy songs for ukulele is "Haole Hula” — a classic Hapa-haole song written and composed by Robert Alexander Anderson in 1927. 

The poetic lyrics speak to the natural beauty of the Hawaiian landscape and culture. Hapa-haole is a genre of music in which the lyrics are partly, mostly or entirely English, but the music is rooted in a traditional Hawaiian style. “Hapa” is the Hawaiian word for “half,” commonly meaning a person of mixed ethnicity- European and Hawaiian.

Learn the Chords

As fascinating as the history of this piece is, what’s really going to help you learn it is understanding its components. Let’s start with the chords you need to play the song in F-major: F, C7, F7, Bb, D7 and G7.

easy songs for ukulele

You’ve probably played major chords, but you may be unfamiliar with chords like C7 and F7. In music theory, a seventh chord is a chord consisting of a triad (first, third, and fifth notes in a major scale) plus a note forming an interval of a seventh above the chord's root.

When not otherwise specified, a "seventh chord" usually means a dominant seventh chord: a major triad together with a minor seventh.

To make any chord into a dominant seventh, all you need to do is take the major chord and add that minor seventh (one whole step below the root of the chord). Applying this simple change to the major versions of each chord will give you access to every chord you need to play "Haole Hula.”

Get the Rhythm Down Pat

Strumming is a very important part of playing ukulele. You can strum up, meaning you begin on the A string, working up to the G, or you can strum down (perhaps the more natural response) which goes from top to bottom, hitting the strings in this order G-C-E-A (assuming you’re in standard tuning).Listen for the pattern in the song. The up strokes sound a bit brighter.

If the strumming is difficult at first, start slow and steady, and you will get faster over time.

easy ukulele songs

Find the Right Key for Your Voice

Perhaps you’d like to sing this song, but the key isn’t right for your voice. No problem! Musicians often change the key of a song to better suit their voices. If you’d like to change the key of the song, first find what key you’d like to transpose the song to. There are 7 main chords in any given major scale.

Using this rule, we can assign roman numerals to each chord in the song to represent the formula for finding our new chords. For example, the notes in F-major are F, G, A, Bb, C, D, and E. The corresponding roman numerals are: I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii.

If you want to play the song in C, you simply need to swap out each chord for the chord that corresponds to the same numeral in that key. You can swap out the tonic (F) for the new tonic (C), the fifth (Bb) for the new fifth (G) and so on. You can do this for every chord, major, minor, seventh, or otherwise.

Once you find the right key for you, you’ll be able to sing along to "Haole Hula” in no time! 

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