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Hi, Ben!

There's my producer, Ben, we need to get started, please.

How ukulele friends, that's your pal Danno coming to you live from Ukulele International Headquarters for ukulele practice time with Danno. Please do me a favor. I'm trying out some different technology today. If you can hear me, just give me a thumbs up.

I got a couple of those earlier, but I want to make sure that the technology is working OK. I tell you, I love the technology, but I hate these little ear things sticking out of my ears. Thanks. I'm getting some thumbs up, so that lets me know that we're doing OK.

My friend Claire is waiting in the guestroom. Don't worry, Claire, I'm not putting you on the spot yet. I just wanted to make sure that you could hear me. I have a couple of things to say and then I'll introduce Claire and tell you why she's here. Just check in real quick to see who is here. Oh, look, familiar faces and familiar names, it's always a treat to have you here. As I mentioned in the comments, we're going to be discussing a crucial element of ukulele playing that most people don't even bother to stop and think about. So I encourage you to share this link out to your ukulele friends. A couple of real quick things before we jump into actual music playing today. You may have heard me noodling way before Ben came on. I was playing Helter Skelter from this Beatles book, and it made me laugh because it jumped from Helter Skelter to that jazzy 1920s number, which is point to if you've tried to play along with that jazzy 1920s number that I used to start things off, you may have discovered what I've discovered, which is it's really hard to play along with, I think, test this tomorrow or the next day. If you if you tune in early, you'll hear the music that plays under those jazz dancers. I think that it starts in the key of C and then it shifts around from there. So just when you think you've got it, the music shifts and you've got to find it all over again. Did I wish you a happy, peaceful transition of power, if not? I do. And with that said, I want to tell you why I'm bothering with these ridiculous looking earbuds. I feel like it is it is the way of my people that this is something that people would wear as some sort of a marker of something. But all it is, is technology, because I'm bringing on one of you to come on and talk ukuleles with me for a few minutes. And because of that, I need to have the ear things. And so we don't get a bunch of weird echoing feedback.

Mike asked, what is the name of that song, and I don't know, I call it generic 1920s jazz song.

But it makes me think of a song from Sesame Street, la de de de de de de de la, what's the name of that song?

It goes, la de de de de de de de de la something something to long la di da di da. What's the name of that song?

So, Claire, I'm going to bring you on right now and show everybody why you're here. Hi, Claire.

We want the data. You can I can hear you. Can you hear me. And that's pretty cool.

Yeah. This is like magic. I love it when the technology works. So Claire's that someone that I know in real life, I just know it from these ukulele events you're aware of. Clear.

I am in Boulder, Colorado.

You're in Colorado. And this is not my friend Claire from California who we had on a couple of months ago to talk about her unique, her new invention, the bagpipe allele. But, Claire, you've been coming along to our our daily sessions, and you sent me an email a day or two ago, I guess just yesterday, because we started talking about this and decided just rather than me rehashing what you were asking me in the email, I thought it'd be fun to try out the technology and just let you ask the questions that you are asking me, because I think the answers can benefit one in all. So what are you working on, first of all?

Well, you know, I'm a beginner, but I really like minor chords and weird chords and jazz, a lot of different jazz songs. One of my favorite songs has been Dream A Little Dream of Me, which is so great song. I love it. And my brother, who was a guitarist, used to intersperse that with something else that I want to try a totally different song. But I started playing it yesterday and it starts in sea and then goes to be seven and then goes to G Sharp Rock and or a flat and my fingers just don't do that.

So OK, so that's question G sharp. Yeah. And then the second one, the second chord I was having trouble with was B minor. Mm. There's, and it's just that's, that's why I wrote you. That was my problem.

That makes me laugh. I actually went to check my own website yesterday when I got your note Claire, because I used to have a full page tutorial on B Minor. So you know how you can check the statistics of a website and see which page gets the most attention. And that was the one the single thing that people wanted to know the most about or to know about the most was how do I play the B minor chord? And I was sad to see that there's always something technologically going wrong with my website. And that's one of the things that's gone wrong, that pages disappeared and gone missing. I had a video and everything, so I'm not surprised at all to hear you say that that is a chord you hate. B minor E chord is another one that people hate. Yes, that's in the song too. OK, and a little further down the line is the D chord. People hate it, but not as much I think. And then you asking about G sharp. A flat is the first time that that's actually come up so. We're going to I'm going to answer that they all get answered with the same answer, which is why I thought it was a great question. So I'm going to give you an overview of a technique that will help you understand how to play all those hard chords. And then I'll just show you specifically how to play those exact chords. Does that sound all right? That sounds lovely. All right. So I'm going to let you not have to sit on camera while I talk about this, but I think clear that you're not going away. So if you have questions, you can ask with your voice and I'll hear you say, there's me, Claire. You're not on camera now, but I am. It's mine. All right. Yeah. And I can hear your voice. So chime in if you have questions and.

Here's Mike showing off and solving both with Berkowitz and Mike, I'm going to give another solution and then I want to roll back around to that. So actually, let me bring up my close up. Ben is my producer Bitz doing very well in season two. Have you noticed, Ben, I need to switch over to the close up camp there. Ben is actually showing off with both me and my hands in the camera. So Ben is my producer who's had a bit of a drinking problem. And that's not to say specifically an alcohol problem, although that's part of it. But that's in season one. I would ask Ben to switch cameras and almost never would he get me to the right place. All right.

So B Minor is A markward, as Mike pointed out. Let's see if I get my hand in there. So if you don't know about bar codes, let me see how I want to think about explaining this.

Give me just a second, because what I really wanted to talk about is what I call the dead string technique. I'm going to talk about that first and then roll back around to mark words. I call it Danno sted string technique because I haven't seen it taught anywhere else. It's not that I, I see people do it all the time, whether they know what they're doing or if they're just sort of doing it instinctually, I don't know.

I think guitar players are trained are more likely to be taught this technique. But you could players it's left out of all the instructions. So the basic idea is this. I think that ukulele players worry that we've got four strings, so we need to strum all four strings.

Right. The truth of the matter is, at any given time, you can strum any subset of those strings, you might strum three strings like that, you might string strum just two strings.

You're more likely to only strum two strings if you're doing well, I do it and Chuck Berry style stuff that I love.

So there I'm just in the middle, too, and there I'm just hitting the top two.

And I know you can't see the full neck to see where I am.

But does that make sense? Give me a yes or a thumbs up or something, if you understand what I'm saying. You don't have to play all the strings all the time. In fact, for guitar players, Mike, I think you're a guitar player, right? I think the exception, what I'm calling the exception is probably more true for guitar players than the other way around that most of the time on a six string guitar, you don't need to be playing all six strings. You might play a bass note and then strum on the treble strings. We don't have bass notes on the ukulele, so we're much more inclined just to strum all four strings. But step one of Danno dead string system is that you don't need to play all four strings. Step two is to recognize which strings do you not need to play to simplify a chord. And this is where I'm getting closer to answering Claire's questions. So let's use the court as an example.

So D is three fingers across at fret to let me see if I can go all the way to close up. You don't need to see my big mug, Ben. Get me out of this picture. There we go. Thanks, Ben. So you can see here, d'Harcourt is one.

Three, and then the top string is open.

Top string closest to the floor, that's I know it feels backwards, but that is the top string, so that's a deep thought.

Now, I know that's not the chord you're asking about, Claire, but we're using it as a stepping stone to get there. So listen to this. People don't like chord. You're squeezing a lot of fingers into one small space.

You'll see me play it most of the time with the BA.

But here's where the dead string system falls into place. Listen to the four strings, the four notes. OK, I'm going to go from ceiling to floor ceiling. What do you notice anything peculiar about those four notes?

Notice that string for closest to the ceiling has the same sound, the same pitch as string, one closest to the floor. Jane, you nailed it, you beat me to it, ha ha. Who's a smarty pants now? So since it's The Sims, as Jane pointed out, we're duplicating that sound on the bottom string and the top string. We don't need to play them both.

We can simplify and leave one of the strings out. Give me just a second here.

So just making some technical adjustments on the bottle in the back there, which is why I'm having to stop and fuss with these things. All right. So which one do we leave out? Trust me, I could give you a whole explanation about it, but I'm just going to say leave out the one closest to the floor in this case. Now, this is for the court, not the ones Claire was asking about. This is our explanation. So you only need to strum those three strings to get this full sound of the décor.

You don't need that one. So when you're if you're doing precise strumming, you would just strum over those three strings.

But most of the time, you don't have that precision. Most of the time you're flailing away a little wailin away. So what's the secret Danno dead string?

Bury's here and is excited about a dead string system.

You should be, sir. So the string that we're going to deaden is that one. Now, you've heard me talk about muting strings all the time to Muda string or to deadness string. All you do is lightly touch it. So I'm not pressing hard enough to make music.

I'm releasing that pressure just a little bit, and as I release that pressure, it eases from music to just plunky, plunky plunk.

There's a great old song from a Cab Calloway, I think, Mama, I wanna make rhythm, don't want to make music, just want to go to that job.

And that's what we're doing. We don't want to make music. We just want to go we want to get that rhythm on the the dead plastic sound on the strings. All right.

So when you make the D chord, you can play those three strings by doing a simple bar across and then lightly touching string one closest to the ground.

I do it all with the bar.

All right. Does that make sense? Give me a yes. Give me a thumbs up. Give me a something. Something.

Remember that episode of The Brady Bunch where Jan was receiving radio signals through her braces and she couldn't sing in the band because the radio signals were throwing her off?

I feel like I'm getting that with my weird little earbuds.

Good. I'm getting some.

Getting some yeses that helps me, I can stop explaining if I know that you understand it, Julie, this is a nice bonus. Yeah, that's a lot of times when I need strings. That's exactly what I'm focusing on, is that percussion today. It's really just removing the note from the court is what we're focusing on.

Checking the comments real quick.

All right, so how does this apply to courts? She was asking about a G sharp. All right, so Claire, you called it you had the musical understanding to call it a G sharp or in a flat. Am I? I'm remembering the right chord.

Right. Clear. That's correct. Yeah. OK.

All right, so first of all, that's an odd chord, it's not one that comes up a lot. And here's a quick little trick on how you find the sharps in the flats. If it's a G sharp, make a chord and sharp means up. If it's a flat, you make the chord name and move it down a fret. So that's that whole idea of movable chords. So here's G, you know, G we're looking for a G sharp.

So we're going to move that whole shape up one fret.

Now I know believe me, I know what your argument is. Well, that's not the full chord. That's.

Going to sound wrong if I play the shape, moved up and leave the fourth string open, and that's why in the books they'll show you a G flat, I mean, a G sharp like that, which is really hard or like that, which is a little easier, but still hard because look how stretched out your fingers are.

There's a lot going on there. But listen to the notes and bear in mind, Danno is dead string system.

Do you see what you do when you add that extra note that the books give you?

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you don't trust the books, I'm just telling you dig a little deeper and trust your pal Danno, because there's they're giving you more information than you need. You don't need all four of those notes.

So this is the shape moved up string for open, sounds good for a G, but when you move up a threat to G sharp, something has to happen to string for close to the ceiling.

So you can close it off here at four. At five, you can close it off here at fret one.

But now that note matches the note on string too.

So which ever way you form it using book information, you're duplicating a note and that means that you can rely on Danno dead string system. You can eliminate string four altogether, which makes it a nice, easy chord to do. I hope for clear sake. Here's how to eliminate it.

All right. So remember, we want a nice, familiar shape. Gee, we want to move it up. One fret to make it a G sharp G goes to G sharp and we want to get rid of string four wheel exactly like I was showing you with the D string.

You can just run a plate the wrong one, strum the three strings that are covered or you can use Danno sted string and muite string four.

That's a little harder than muting the one close to the ground. So here's a couple of ways to do it. One, reach over with your pinky and just touch the string. That's not really any better than muting the strings, so don't bother to.

I'm not going to give you two it's too weird, here's the way I would do it almost every time I would, I'm going to give you two ways that I would do it almost every time I would reach over with my thumb right here. See how that's just touching string for now, this this is quite controversial, this is the sort of thing that people say, oh, you shouldn't reach around with your thumb. It's cheating. You know what? If the cheat works, do it. And the other thing that you'll see me do much of the time is to achieve the mute with my other hand, with my strumming hand.

So remember, I said, if you strum those three strings, that's going to cause you trouble, because in wild flailing time, you're not going to be able to be that precise. But watch this touch.

I'm touching string for. And now that string is muted via this right hand thumb so I can strum the chord with the rest of my fingers with fairly wild abandon. And what my left hand is doing is no harder than playing a good old familiar chord, there's G up that's not G, that's G, that's G sharp.

Move the shape up with your thumb and play it.

What do you think about that? Does that feel doable, Claire?

Amazing with my mind. That's fantastic.

Well, I'm not trying to blow your mind. I'm going to bring you back on camera for a second while we talk, OK? I'm not trying to blow your mind, although I'm glad that it does blow your mind.

But it really is just that idea of trying to understand what the information is that the books give you and then how to dissect it a little bit so that a lot of court diagrams will tell you the names of the notes. For example, you know this, I can't do it on the fly, but this is No. One. This is no too. This is No. Three. And this is not one again, let's say. So you can look at that diagram and you say, oh, one and one, I can start to eliminate that duplication. But by and large, ukulele players, in my experience, prefer to play by ear more than by book. And so understand that you can look for those duplicate notes, you know what I mean?

And where you find them, you can eliminate them. Now, there's always a time and a place where you'll want the full court. But if what you're trying to do is to play a song like the one you were talking about, I don't think that's the time or place to be complicated. That's where you want to simplify.

Plus, it's one strum, you know, it's one one strum on the G sharp and then going to G. So getting my fingers into that position was impossible for once. Oh, I.

So the court itself lasted for just one beat. Right. Is that what you hear. Yeah.

Oh there it goes. Does it slide up and then back down.

Well now it well before it was this horrible trying to get my fingers into that. Now that's exactly what it will do. It simplifies. Okay.

It's great. Yeah. Yeah. So bear that in mind. And you know what? I would love for you to report back because it's going to take you a little while. I'm simplifying it, but even the simplified version is hard until you get the knack for it, right? Yeah, so that's right. Go fool around with it and let us know how it works out. And anybody else I'd love to know because it's it's a technique. And instead of just learning by rote here, the chord shapes, you start to apply a little bit of strategy and it really smooth smooths things out for you.

Claire, thank you so much for being willing to come on. I told Claire this is me experimenting with the technology. Plus, it's just fun to have somebody to talk with. So thank you for being my guinea pig. You're not very good. All right. I'm going to let you go so I can finish off with everybody else here and any other questions. I want to wrap things up. I was trying to keep these 20, 25 minutes, and we're right at that mark right now. Lots of nice comments. I really appreciate it when you let me know that some of this stuff helps you. And don't be bashful, because in the same way that Claire came on today, you're welcome to join me at any time to come on and talk ukuleles and ask your questions, because we're doing this every weekday, whatever. What I want to let you know ahead of time, February 2nd is National Ukulele Day. Did you know that? I think we have a one or two people here from another country, so I don't believe it's world wide ukulele day. But for February 2nd, I have a show business legend coming on as a guest to talk ukuleles with us. We tried to have him out in season one, but he's coming back for season two travel. SD is his nom de plume.

And that you may remember because we tried to have him on twice and it failed both times. He promises we can make it work this time. He writes about the history of show business from the eighteen hundreds right up through the all the vaudeville days in the early 1980s, silent movies into movies. But he's going to come on and talk with us about the ukulele and its importance in pop culture. And he's a true expert in a funny, funny guy to boot. So he contacted me about coming on for National Ukulele Day, and that made me think, well, we need to celebrate the week. So, hey, Barry, I still need a guest on Monday that week.

But we've got Claire, Sarah coming back, very funny improviser who talked about a lot of funny stuff when she was on it was our highest watched episode. Most of these get viewed about 300 times. You know, we have people watching in lifetime and then people watch later on on their own time. So I can check the statistics. And people usually we get about 200 to 300 people watching one of these. And the day Claire was on got watched over a thousand times. So she was very popular. I am trying to talk with Ben, the my producer here at Ben. Can you say.

But I'm trying to get Ben to sober up for a day and come on and actually talk about what it's like to be behind the scenes on a big budget spectacular like this one. So he's once you get to know him, he's also a very funny person. And I think that will be a very enjoyable interview. So that's a national ukulele week by my standards, not just ukulele day.

Oh, and I have one more guest scheduled. A woman from South Africa is going to come on and talk about this amazing software called Band in a Box. I think you'll like that. So it's going to be a busy week and that's just a preview of things to come. And that said, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for taking the time to come and talk to ukuleles with me. Nothing special going on tomorrow. If you have questions, let me know. But otherwise, one, too. You know what to do. Stay healthy, wealthy and wise. And that's supposed to say I'm coming soon. See you soon. But it's just a mystery figure. So maybe that will be my guest tomorrow. So take care, everybody, and we'll be back again same time tomorrow.

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Danno Sullivan
Danno Sullivan

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