Add a boogie beat to your ukulele playing

This is a little like magic.

But first it’s a little like math.

Here’s what you need to know:

Every major chord (like C, F, G–you know, those chords you play all the time) has a counterpart chord called: the relative minor.

When you’re fooling around, writing songs like me and Bob Dylan do (not together…), it’s a nice trick to know about, because the major and its relative minor always sound nice together.

Today, I’m going to show how to use this knowledge of the relative minor chord to create a groovy boogie shuffle sort of thing.

It’s the sound of

  • blues
  • Beach Boys songs
  • early rock-n-roll

and can often be thrown into songs of other ilks for some seasoning and variety.

It’s pure math.

Your major chord is 1. Let’s use C major for our example.


The relative minor is found by starting at 1 and counting up the musical to 6.

1 2 3 4 5 6

So the relative minor of C is…A minor.

Strum C then strum A minor and hear how nice they sound together.

This works no matter where you start–just count up 6.

Don’t forget the scale only goes up to G (then you have to go back around to A).

Now, here’s how to create the boogie shuffle.

Instead of playing to completely separate chords–the major and the relative minor, you’re going to COMBINE them.

In most cases, you can change from the major to the minor by adding a single note–and this is the note that will stand out and sound shuffly.

Try F. Count up 6. Relative minor is D.


Rock back and forth between those chords: F, Dm, F, Dm and you’ll hear the sound of the blues.

(As blue as you can get on a ukulele).

And note that you’re not making a big dramatic chord change–you’re essentially ADDING and REMOVING a note, in rhythm, CONVERTING from major to relative minor on the fly.

A typical blues/rock song would go C to F to G, and home again to C.

Try adding in the shuffle note on each major chord, and you’ll be Blind Ukulele Johnson before you know it.

[highlight color=’#429db0′ fontcolor=’#f9f8f4′ bordercolor=’yellow’ style=’font-size:20px;padding:30px;’]This technique is covered in glorious video and is just one part of the Blues-kulele video course. [/highlight]


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About the Author

Founder of ”Play It Daily” Ukulele, co-founder of the Ukulele Union of Boston, and spreader of good cheer.

Danno Sullivan

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