Thursday, January 14, 2010

Uke Video Surfing || One of the Best MUSIC Lessons on YouTube :: BAJAN PIED PIPER

EcoDougie has incredible internet surfing and researching skills. He came across this Bajan Pied Piper video that has music advice that all of us musical newbies need to know to become better MUSICIANS. Here's a 10 minute video and then I have reprinted his thoughtful lengthy YouTube side bar notes repeated in RED below so that you don't miss them. This is his video #117 so I looking forward to checking out many more. Thanks to EcoDougie!!!

MUSIC LESSON 117 - Here is a work that will propel your skills by leaps and bounds. I do hope you will treat yourself to this gift ~ it will swiftly sky rocket your talent ... all you have to do is DO IT!

Using a tape recorder, or recording on your computer

1. MAKE A LONG BACKING TRACK OF THE C CHORD at about 90 BPM. (It can be any chord of your choice, what follows is given in C - you can transpose to any key.) The easiest thing would be to use Band-in-a-Box software! then all you'd have to do is type one letter - C - and hit play and you're off and running in less than one second!

2. Start your backing track and begin to solo with the Major Pentatonic Scale. (C D E G A) ~ C is at the 1st string. 7th fret on your guitar. Use the box shape! Memorize the sound of the scale ~ it only has 5 notes! Get to know in your head what the note you are about to play sounds like, before you play it. If you don't think before you play you're just carrying out a mechanical exercise ~ you're not improvising.

Play the Scale using random notes i.e. notes out of sequence.

3, Now compose a phrase in your mind - SING IT - SCAT IT - and play it while you sing (wordlessly or audibly.) Use repetition of notes and phrases, syncopation (rhythm changes,) chromaticism, silences, call & response, etc

4. After you have mastered this (it may take a few weeks to be fluent) learn ONE of the Scales from the following list (play the scales and select one you like) and work with it as you did above.

5. Finally - be able to do this ~ start your backing track ~ begin with the Major Pentatonic Scale, improvise for a while then segue into the new scale you learned in 4, work with it for a while, then go back to the Major Pentatonic Scale, play with it for a bit and close.

After you have mastered this exercise redo the backing track to include another chord (say F) Record the C chord for 4 bars, then the F chord for 4 bars, repeating; let the track be quite long and practice the above routine using this new chord progression.

Working this exercise will quickly develop your ear and your dexterity to an extraordinary degree and you'll be able to say "I've gotten over the hump." And now the whole world of music awaits you!


You can transpose these scales to whatever key you prefer ~

Major Pentatonic C D E G A C
Minor Pentatonic C Eb F G Bb C
Ritusen - C D F G A C
Egyptian - C D F G Bb C
Chinese - C D F# G B C
Indian - C E F G Bb C
Kumoi - C D Eb G A C
Lydian - C E F# A B C This scale is often used in Jazz. It has a free floating, non-obtrusive feel and is excellent for creating a pleasant non-resolving effect. Sometimes its given as C E F# G A C - - you can try it both ways and see which version you prefer.
Japanese - C D Eb G G# C
Man Gong - C Eb F Ab Bb C
In Sen - C C# F G Bb C
Scriabin C C# E G A C
Iwato C C# F F# Bb C
Hirajoshi C C# F G G# C

While it may not be mandatory when improvising with the Pentatonic Scales, it is good to play the scale that matches the chord ~

When on the C chord, you can play the C major pentatonic scale notes: C, D, E, G, A.
When on the F chord, you can play the F major pentatonic scale notes: F, G, A, C, D.
When on the G chord, you can play the G major pentatonic scale notes: G, A, B, D, E.
When on the Am chord, you can play the A minor pentatonic scale notes: A, C, D, E, G.
When on the Dm chord, you can play the D minor pentatonic scale notes: D, F, G, A, C.
When on the Em chord, you can play the E minor pentatonic scale notes: E, G, A, B, D.
When on the B° chord, you can play the B diminished pentatonic scale notes: B,C,D,F,G.

Oh! By the way ~ some time ago I did a workshop with Ali Lexa in Chicago. The instrument was a ukulele. HOWEVER you play the music, not the instrument! Ali has a splendid article where he has summarized a lot of improvisational techniques Take a look ~

Please, please, please read this article by Tom Kolb. Click here...

(HU: Takes a while to load, and will automatically shift to the B.B. King page.)

[Notice ~ this page will take about 30 seconds to come in! You will get so much good information from this article you'll nod your head. There are audio examples there as well.Also visit this site and learn more! -]

I can only point the way! It's up to you to take the leads and run with them! PLEASE BE SURE TO VISIT THESE LINKS AND LEARN FROM THEM

I have run out of space here and I've had to continue these notes at MUSIC LESSON 113 please go there and carry on ~

So Bajan Pied Piper has just set up your musical life's work for the next 4 years. What a wealth of information! Hope you enjoy this and leave a comment if you wish and please indicate what city or country you live in. HU


  1. P.S. What do you mean by "MAKE A LONG BACKING TRACK OF THE C CHORD"? Do you mean, record yourself playing the C chord, so that you can play over it while listening?


    Jean (formerly Okir)

  2. Hello Jean:

    I have checked out Okir in the past and just recently Local Nomad. I am honored to have your links to my Humble blog. Since I have enjoyed so many trips to Santa Cruz and met many good new friends I wonder if we have crossed paths?

    I played at one Garden Song event back in September '09 (I think) with the Uklectics. I have also kayaked down in the Elkhorn Slough with Jay Holiday.

    To Answer your question about Bajan Pied Piper's comment, yes you are exactly correct. Get your recording device out and perhaps a real quiet, but "evil" metro-gnome and strum for five minutes or so. You will be creating your own backing track.

    I went to Bob Brozman's workshops and he suggested the very same thing in regards to developing an ear for double stops (harmonic 3rd's). But I think it works in general. It helps develop the feel for being musical with others and allows an experimental workplace for you to play in.

    Jeff / HU

  3. Jeff

    We probably HAVE crossed paths, perhaps at SC Uke club, or at Garden Song, although I think I missed the Uklectics performance. Well hey, there's always spring!

    Thanks for all your wonderful uke posts. I can't wait to try these scale exercises -- as it's something I never quite got before, but this looks like it might work.