Moveable generic chord shapes for ukulele This will be probably my most anachronistic post – charts of generic chord shapes suitable for the music of the mid 20th century. They are not exactly Renaissance, I know, but I wanted to publish them somewhere.
If you’re interested:
- preview pdf here
- download pdf here.
“Why do we need yet another chord table? ” I hear you cry. “Aren’t there enough out there already?”
Well, I hadn’t found any laid out in the way I preferred, and they didn’t always have the chords I wanted.
It all started when I was working my way through Glen Rose’s excellent Jazzy Ukulele Work Books. For the first time I had some understanding of extended chords and chord substitutions, as used by the beboppers and others. But, when I tried to modify or extend his approach, either the available charts were too elementary, or I had to flick through pages of the very useful Hal Leonard Ukulele Chord Finder (which is restricted to rooted chords). Also, it took time to work out each voicing by hand. I just wanted a few sheets of generic chord shapes that I could glance at and find the most suitable and comfortable fingerings. So, I decided to write my own reference charts, and hence this blog.
◦ The chord sheets are organised thus:
1. Major chords and extensions.
2. Suspended chords.
3. Unresolved chords: +5, dim 7, and dominant chords and their extensions and alterations.
4. Minor chords, extensions and alterations.
◦ On each sheet, simpler chords are generally shown first, followed by more complex ones.
◦ Each row on a sheet contains various voicings of a type of chord.
◦ Within rows, chord voicings with roots on the fourth string are shown first, followed by those rooted on the third, second and first strings. If you have a uke with a low fourth string, this can help one develop an interesting bass line.
◦ Triads (3-note chords) have 1 note duplicated an octave apart.
◦ 4-note chords usually have all notes included, but with the occasional omission and duplication.
◦ Chords of 5 notes and more obviously don’t fit on a 4-stringed instrument such as the ukulele, so we have to omit one or more notes. Usually the 5th is the first to go as it provides less information than the 3rd which discriminates between major and minor keys. Following Glen Rose, some voicings are shown without their root notes, which can make them easier to play, especially the 9th and 13th chords which often require an awkward stretch. This means, for example, that a 9th chord without a root is equivalent to a 7th chord of some kind formed on the third above the root: e.g. CM9 (C E G B D) becomes Em7, and C9 (C E G B♭ D) becomes Em7♭5, and Cm9 becomes EbM7. There are plenty more aliases to search out. Happy hunting.
How to use the charts
Decide where on the fingerboard (string and fret) the chord root lies.
Look at the charts to find a chord voicing where the root note lies on that string. Root notes are shown by a red square ■ in rooted chords, and by a red diamond ◇ in chords where the root is not voiced. Other notes are shown by blue dots ● .
In general, it seems a good idea when accompanying a lead to select adjacent voicings, which don’t involve big jumps up and down the finger board. When playing choral melodies (with the tune on the 1st or 2nd string), however, that may be just what you want to do. These charts should help with either application.
I hope you have fun using the charts! If you find any errors I’d like to hear from you.
Thanks to “LimuHead” on the Ukulele Underground Forum who spotted a mistake in m6-chord no 2, which I have corrected. [20 Jan 2019]
PS I have just noticed that Spencer Gay has published a very neat one-page chord shape summary at the end of his Ukulele Melody Song Book, available here. It is attributed to ukuke.co.uk, which seems to have disappeared.
Tags: #chord #generic #moveable #shapes #ukulele