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004_Play It Daily Ukulele on 2020-03-17 at OBRIEN HAWAIIAN.mp4 transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your video to text with Sonix.

004_Play It Daily Ukulele on 2020-03-17 at OBRIEN HAWAIIAN.mp4 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best video automated transcription service in 2021. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular video file formats.


Hi, friends, this is Danno.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my last name is Sullivan, and you can imagine that by and large, we like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

So this song that I have to share with you today, remember, this is not a lesson for me to teach you. This is a lesson for you to just sort of observe me going through this process.

Quick history of the uke

This is a song that I haven’t looked at in a year since last St. Patrick’s Day. So what you’re seeing here is a piece of funny old sheet music. This is real early. This is, I think, 19, 15. And of course, that’s not early in terms of music, but it’s early in terms of ukulele music because the ukulele was just getting popular right around. Then there was a big world expo, I think, in San Francisco and a band, Hawaiian instrumental players came to the United States because I don’t think Hawaii was part of the United States at that time. And they brought their ukuleles and it caused a bit of a sensation. So that was the first ukulele craze. There have been at least a couple more since then. The 1920s was huge. You know, you might count that as part of the same wave. But by the 1920s, it was being played by non Hawaiian non-traditional players.

It was being used for jazz so far out, man. And then kind of in the 50s and there was the TV craze. And then in the 60s, there was a little bit of a craze with Tiny Tim and rock and roll and all that.

Not a craze?

And I feel like what’s happening now is this wonderful thing where it doesn’t really feel like a craze. It feels like genuine interest in just another instrument that people can pick up and play. It hasn’t got any of that joke feel to it that it often had in the past.

Cultural appropriation

So on an old song like this. I love to dig up these old pieces of sheet music. This one is kind of fun because it’s a little bit of cultural appropriation, which we’re not supposed to do anymore. But you could with fervor back in the olden days. So what’s enjoyable to me about it is that we’re actually appropriating from Hawaii and we’re appropriating from Ireland. And it’s done with kind of this lighthearted joviality. So it’s not quite appropriating. It’s almost just sort of making fun of which is also something else we’re not supposed to do, but it’s not done in any offensive way.

Story of the song

The basic story of the lyrics is Pat O’Brien. Let’s see.

O’Brien after buying a ticket for the sandwich isles, so that was Hawaii. His face was full of smiles. Pat O’Brien is an Irishman who goes to Hawaii. And while he’s in Hawaii, he falls in love with a maiden of Hawaii and wants to communicate with her.

So she speaks the Hawaiian language. He speaks English, but with an Irish accent, as is demonstrated in the song, and so. They’re trying to communicate basically with music and the ukulele, and as we learn in verse two, Pat O’Brien, Irishman, has a life back home. So if she finds out about his dalliance in Hawaii with the ukulele and the maiden there, there’s bound to be trouble afoot.

There we go. There’s me back again, so I’m playing my Martin ukulele tune and standard tuning GCA. And one of the interesting things about this old sheet music — two things of note — one is that this has no ukulele chords for us. It has no concession to the fact that there might be non-piano players trying to work it out just a few years later in history.

As the ukulele gained more and more popularity, all of a sudden there’s this mad rush of the publishers putting out ukulele centric sheet music, and it’s fantastic because then you start getting these collections, you know, and the songs have and that’s not a good example because it doesn’t have. The songs have the ukulele chords written in both the chord name and the chord diagram in many cases. So what I’ve done is. I’ve created…

My own version of the O’Brien song.

With just the lyrics and just the chords, so I’m going to work off that for a second so you can hear a little bit of how it goes.

I’m not a great reader. My main instrument is ukulele. So I’ve taught myself to read music so I can pick up the very basics. And I’m reading that first line.

Pat O’Brien after Brian.

So I can work out the melody that’s great for a song that you don’t know and for a song that’s obscure like this. And then I say to myself, well, if I can play that little melody, let me show you what I’m doing on the screen here.

And playing way up here on string one.

A lot of uke players are very uncomfortable playing up the neck and a lot of your players.

Our new to the idea of playing the melody, so mostly for this song, I’m going to want to strum it, but it’s kind of neat to at least have that basic idea of how the melody goes.

Pat, Pat O’Brien, after buying a ticket to this end with Giles.

And then I start to ask myself, well, what can I do to make that sound a little more interesting?

A real simple trick is to play the melody, which is mostly on string one closest to the floor, and just add in something with the thumb to counter it.

So I’m playing plucking up to get the melody note and then down to get a counter note.

So just a nice little touch, I’m always asking myself as I go through learning a new song.

What can I do to take what might be boring and make it a little more interesting? One of the things that we run up against all the time as ukulele players is that we’re limited to four strings and a very short neck. That’s what makes the ukulele sound charming, is that there’s that tinkly quality to it that comes from restricted high notes. But it also narrows down what we’re capable of achieving, not what we’re capable of, what we what we can actually get out of it because we’re just so restricted. So what can you do to make it more interesting? And that’s part of what I’m going through in this practice process today. So back to this, I’m going to go over to.

Just the lyrics page.

So now I’m just going to strum through the song I’ve worked out enough of the melody that I can sort of fake my way through singing it.

So I’m looking at the lyric sheet. Which I think you can see OK there.

And I’ve added in chords and you might ask, well, where did I get the chords?

And the answer is, earlier, I did find a recording of this song on YouTube from about a real early on, it’s like one of those Edison discs and not even a disc, but around what do you call that? A cylinder that plays on an old fashioned wind-up machine. And I thought it was kind of a catchy song in addition to being a funny song.

So I’ll play a couple of lines

So I’m singing it way out of my pitch.

Hard to learn, hard to learn to read those notes, but, yeah, it’s such a nice skill just to read the basics and like you saw me doing to work out a little bit of the melody, even if you’re not doing complicated stuff. So I start to ask myself the same questions, what can I do to make this a little bit interesting? I’ve got the basic chords. I’m starting at the very top, although it would probably be more interesting to start in the chorus.

Pat O’Brien once decided to go to the end with Giles.

Strum pattern

So one thing I see ukulele players do a lot is get locked into a strum pattern. In fact, in classes, I get that all the time. What’s the strum pattern for this song and for a beginner class? I’ll tell them what the strum pattern is because I know that’s what they want to hear. But once you start feeling comfortable with this stuff, you know, you’ll realize. You don’t really want to be locked into a strum pattern, you want to be able to go with the flow and provide variety and interest by making this strum pattern match what the song is asking for. And that’s sort of your artistic decision to determine what is the song asking for —

— so that’s the answer I would give to a beginner. That’s your strum pattern —

I doubled it up on the sandwich isles wide because the lyrics are doubled up there too. I wouldn’t always make that choice. Another thought might be at. Let’s see what I’m trying to get a bagpipe sound at that.

I sort of emulate a bagpipe with the drone. Well, so, you know, the idea is mess around with it.

What can you do to make it interesting to you, to your listener? And that is appropriate for the song or sometimes inappropriate. You know, sometimes to play a song in a wildly different style is the very thing that will make it sound unique and interesting on the ukulele. So I’m going to skip ahead to the chorus


You hear me doing a start and stop there

So, again, I did the start and stop and then I’m doing a continuous line. Their last line. Again, part of this is comic instinct. You want to hit the comedy lines a little differently so people realize that there’s a little bit of comedy intended in their mind. You, this is 1915 comedy, which is a lot different. Last line of the chorus.

So, again, I’m not doing anything too complicated here, I’m just toying around with the strum pattern more than anything, and I guess that would be …

Big take-away

My big takeaway from this little lesson as I’m working through it myself, that I would want to try to share with you that you’re never locked into a single strum pattern.

What can you do to add a little bit of interest? So I’m not going to go into a whole lot more detail today, I just thought I would share a few bits of my thought process as I walk through a song like that and on St. Patrick’s Day, share a funny little song that you may not have heard otherwise.

And we’re back on tomorrow.

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