A key skill for uke players is to be able to find the key of the song, and change the key of the song at will. Elvis, as always, will show the way

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Thank you very much. Ben got us off on the right foot today with all that fancy dancing and fancy sleeping. Hey, everybody, welcome to Ukulele Practice Time with Danno. You know, all the components are here. Ukulele, time, Danno. All we need now is the practice, and that's what we're going to do right now.

I was working on some Elvis Presley songs. I love Elvis. I don't I'm not embarrassed. I'm not ashamed. I love Elvis, the King. And do you remember all those years ago when the post office was debating they were going to make an Elvis Presley stamp and the debate was, sh,ould it be young, virile Elvis and his black leather jacket, rock and roll, Elvis?

Or older, let's say, more mature, let's say, hugely overweight, let's say, white jumpsuit, Las Vegas Elvis? And I'm pretty sure this is what they planned from the very beginning. But the end result was, I think, two Elvis stamps. You could buy your choice of young Elvis or old Elvis.

But that said, I'm a big fan of young Elvis. And one of the songs that I wanted to look at today is from his early times, but not not super rock and roll super early. Maureen grew up with Elvis. You know, I have a friend who literally grew up with Elvis in the apartment complex in Mississippi. She used to see him around and think that he was a snotty boy with bad skin was the way she described it. Pretty funny that he grew up to be the king of rock and roll, and she grew up to be the wife of one of my friends.

What does that say about us? What does that say about anyone?

So this is a great old Elvis song, I don't think this was originally an Elvis song, but this is — I know it from Elvis. I forgot to remember to forget. Isn't that a great title? So my hunch is that this was probably a country song before Elvis did it. He had a great overlap,You know, that was kind of the early days of rock and roll was country plus blues, plus a few other things thrown in.

So on the station on the expectation that you don't know this song, I'll play a little bit for you, OK? And then I'll tell you why I wanted to look at it specifically. All right.

Just like that. Now I'm going to come back to the page, but first I'm going to come back to me for a minute. Maureen, thanks for the nice comment. This is, in fact, one of the ones that I love to use for teaching in my beginner ukulele classes. And the reasons are simple. It's a three chord song. And so once we reach a certain point in the class, it's fun to be able to kind of pull up a big library of those three chord songs and show what a variety of song styles are available within those three chords, but also for the same thing that I wanted to use it for today to talk about key changes.

Now, in a beginner class, that's not wholly appropriate, but we've been talking about so many things for so long now at ukulele practice time, I think it's OK to reach a broach the subject. And we've actually talked about key changes fairly often in the past. But this is kind of a nice thing here, because the way it's laid out on the page, you can see as I scroll through, I've got it in one, two, three, four different keys.

Now, what does it mean when I say it's in a key? And why is it valuable to have it laid out on the page this way? The key is the family of chords. All right. That's a real simple explanation. You can go very deep into music terminology to explain to define terms. But a real simple explanation is that the key is a family of chords that sound good together and go are found together.

So when we play a song in the key of C, remember we've talked about those one four or five chords, one four and five or C F ing. And that's the way you heard me play this song with the C, F and G.

Oh, there you can see little poppy in the background ready to dove out the window here on the second floor. So I don't think she will. And there's a screen.

So you may have heard when I was singing, that part of that song was pretty good within my singing range, which is not a very wide singing range, but a little bit of it got a little bit high. And that's one reason that's for me, that's a big reason to want to change into different keys. All right. So remember, keys are a different family of chords. So we can shift from, let's say, see, let's make it real obvious, up one step to D, C goes up one step to D, that means all the other chords in the song have to have to go up the same one step. So you can do that in your head for a simple song like this, but for more complex songs, it starts to get complicated. So there are ways around that. That's not what we're talking about today. I'm just I'm keeping it real simple. I'm just giving you a little bit of background knowledge there.

The value of having it written out in different ways is to keep you from having to do that math and if you're learning, even a simple song can feel hard. So it's real nice to be able to look at this and see that the same song I forgot to remember here in the key of C up at the top of the page is shown in the key of A.. So here's how it sounded.

Just a couple of lines in C

Here's how it sounds in A

These are the changes that you have to start to think about as you think about changing keys, because I actually think that it sounds significantly different in the key of A and not just because it's up or down, I think that the tone of the ukulele is different in different keys. It may not sound wildly different to you, especially, you know, going out on a live stream over the Internet, little computer speakers and all that stuff. To me, the key of C sounds like a ukulele key.

It sounds bright, happy, cheerful to have a is also a nice ukulele key, but it seems moodier to me.

Does it make sense? It sounds more like a blues key in a way. It's closed off a little bit.

See as bright and open a feels a little more closed off now once you get the song going. The changes from one chord to the next sort of Even out the bends, the curves, a little bit

But to me, it still feels like it's got a different color to it than playing it in.

See, so those are two things to be on the lookout for. Does it match your singing voice? And what about that extra tone coloring? Do you like that? Not like that? These are choices for you to make.

Back on the page, you'll see that we have two different, two more variations.

Key of F when I say, Kev, how do I know Kev on that first one?

I know because it's the first chord of the song and it's the last chord of the song. And that's kind of a dead giveaway. So you can name the key safely that way. And then the last one on the page is the key of E! Key of E is not very common for ukulele players, but it's very common for guitar players. Let me try a little bit in the key E that's the bottom one on the page and see what we think about that.

For me, you see, it's making me jump up and down too much on the melody might be great for you. I also don't love playing in the Kivi on the ukulele kind of hard chord shapes, and it shifts us into some uncomfortable fingering territory.

But do you see, as we're going along here, how this is exactly the same song, each time you play it, it's got three different Chords in the song, but all that is, is shifting from one key to the next.

Now, let's try it in the key of F I'm not saying these are better than another or worse than another, I'm saying you want to explore the differences and you can do this on any song that you're working on, whether or not you like this song ,like Elvis, like the style. This is an across the board rule. A

ny song can be transposed into another key and any song is going to meet these same pluses and minuses as you experiment.

Let me try it in F, that's at the top of the page.

To me, F is another good ukulele key, which doesn't necessarily make it a good singing key and doesn't necessarily make it right for this song, but overall, I think F is a good go-to key for ukulele songs.

It goes up too high for me, so you see you're splitting the difference no matter where you go in the sun for me, because my range is limited and the sun goes up a lot when it gets to the chorus.

So I'm having to struggle and find I think for me I'm most comfortable in C

C, for me, is the way to go for this song. For another song, I would choose another key. And for you you might choose another key.

Len asks a smart question why is it labeled A sharp instead of B flat? And this this is called in harmonic notation. The reason, Lynn, is because a sharp and B flat are the same chord they have, that can be named two different ways, kind of depending on which way you're coming to it coming up or down the scale. So the easiest answers for you just believe me that they're the same chord named differently.

And the reason it's listed as sharp on this page instead of B flat is because computers I can tell by the layout here, this was an old computer program I was using to set this up. And the default in that computer program was to name the B flat chord as a sharp. But they are the same and. Most of the time, almost all the time, in fact, for ukulele stuff, we would prefer to call it B flat.

So that's what I wanted to share with you today. First of all, this is a fun, fun song to play. There's lots of little stuff that you can throw in.

will be back again Monday at 12 00 one for more ukulele practice time. And in the meantime, I'm glad you've got your little ukulele friend at your side as we continue to get through the world. I'll leave it at that.

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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.