“Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire” by Mel Torme & Bob Wells – Solo ukulele arrangement by Ukulele Mike Lynch
According to Wikipedia “The Christmas Song” (commonly subtitled “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” or, as it was originally subtitled, “Merry Christmas to You”) is a classic Christmas song written in 1944 by musician, composer, and vocalist Mel Tormé (aka The Velvet Fog), and Bob Wells. According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool”, the most-performed (according to BMI) Christmas song was born.
“I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil”, Tormé recalled. “They started, “Chestnuts roasting…, Jack Frost nipping…, Yuletide carols…, Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob (Wells, co-writer) didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. “I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.”
The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946. At Cole’s behest – and over the objections of his label, Capitol Records – a second recording was made the same year utilizing a small string section, this version becoming a massive hit on both the pop and R&B charts. Cole again recorded the song in 1953, using the same arrangement with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and once more in 1961, in a stereophonic version with orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael. Nat King Cole’s 1961 version is generally regarded as definitive, and in 2004 was the most loved seasonal song with women aged 30–49, while Cole’s original 1946 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974.
Below is a performance/tutorial of “CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE” by Mel Torme and arranged for solo ukulele by Ukulele Mike Lynch
I play my arrangement with just the right thumb. No fingerpicking is involved. The opening segment presented below is just a simple vamp with the thumb playing the 4th then the 3rd, 2nd and 1st string for each chord change. Notice the Ebdim7 and Gm7 chords. These are both what we call “jazz” chords. They have a delicious distinctive sound that sets them apart from normal major and minor chords. Adding that 7th to the chord is the secret ingredient. If these chord shapes are foreign to you, it will take no time to get use to them and you’ll treasure them forever in your playing. This song is a great introduction to some of these “jazz” chord voicings.
Another “jazz” chord is found in the example below . . . The Abmaj7 . . . I like to play it by barring the 3rd fret with my ring finger while my index finger plays the 1st fret of the 4th string. If you find another fingering that works better for you, go for it.
Below notice the first chord is Bb but it’s only played with 3 strings. Therefore, it eliminates the need to barre the first 2 strings as you typically would with a normal Bb chord. Makes it pretty easy.
The tablature notation for CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE is only available as a single tab. It’s not included in my rather large UKULELE CHRISTMAS eBook. It can be purchased for $5.39 by paying through the paypal donate button on my website: http://www.ukulelemikelynch.com
Once purchased it will be emailed to you within the day.
Below is a link to a recent blog I did detailing my COMPLETE ENTIRE CATALOG of Solo Ukulele instrumentals currently available:
“THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE UKULELE” Volume 1 DVD
PLUS “UKULELE MIKE’S FAVORITES FOR BEGINNING UKULELE make up
the Beginners combo pak. They can be purchased together or separately.
See the You Tube video below detailing the contents of the DVD
It is definitely a perfect compliment to the DVD. Singly it sells for $15.00 but purchased as part of a combo pak with the DVD, it is only an additional $10.00.
Below is a link to a former blog detailing the contents of the companion eBook.
I’ve had so many people showing a great interest in playing solo ukulele instrumentals lately. Sales of my SOLO INSTRUMENTALS eBook plus my CHRISTMAS UKULELE eBook not to speak of all of my individual tabs lets me know how popular solo instrumental playing is becoming among the global ukulele community. A couple of years ago I released a collection of Solo Christmas Melodies and below is a page from that collection that attempts to summarize the subject of TABLATURE notation.
What in the world is tablature anyway???
Well, it’s actually a form of notation that has been used since the days of the
Renaissance and Baroque eras when it was developed to notate music for fretted string
Instruments such as the lute, viheula and guitar.
There were also types of tablature for organs, harps and ocarina.
Often the term tablature is misused when referring to simple chord/lyric songsheets. There are numerous online sites claiming to be offering “tabs” for current pop tunes. They are wrong. . . They are misleading . . . and they do nothing but add to the confusion for ukulele players. Even after repeated chiding from me they will not relent. One site even admitted they knew they were using the term “tab” erroneously but blatantly said they will continue to do so since it helps keep their site “popular” argggghhhhhh
As a music educator for over 40 years that just makes me see red.
Nowadays the term tablature is often shortened to “Tab”.
Whereas “standard notation” indicates the notes on a musical staff, tablature indicates the actual physical placement of the fingers on the strings at their appropriate fret positions.
Although tablature does simplify fretted instrument notation, it is, after all, still a form of notation and requires steady practice and patience to understand and interpret.
The tablature lines indicate the strings of the ukulele and one needs to know which strings are which. The top line indicates string number one or the “A” string. One needs to understand that the first string is the string nearest your knee. The bottom line of the tablature is the 4th string known as the “G” string.
For ukulele players who have generally thought of the ukulele as an instrument to accompany singing, it’s often a challenge to see it as an instrumental solo instrument. In other words, full strummed chords are no longer always the case. There are many times when just 2 or 3 strings are plucked or strummed. Sometimes but one string is played to denote a melody line. So now with solo playing one can no longer just apply the fingers of the left hand to the fingerboard for a chord and strum up and down with the right hand. There is much more detail involved here. So, for example in the music clip shown above of CAROL OF THE BELLS. . . The tablature only indicates a melody which is played on the first string (1st line as indicated by the tab) If you want to play a chord along with that melody then you need a 2nd instrument to play the chord listed above the standard notation on the upper staff line. Hope this makes some sense. As I laid out the arrangements in my MELODIES OF CHRISTMAS book, I made it possible for 2 ukuleles or 2 groups of ukuleles can play together and compliment each other with one group playing melody, the other playing chords with standard down up down up strumming patterns.
Typically, tablature notation doesn’t do a really great job in clearly indicating note values. For that reason, in most of my more recent arrangements I’m now including standard treble clef notation on the top which does clearly indicate note values etc.
All of the pieces in my SOLO UKULELE INSTRUMENTALS and UKULELE CHRISTMAS collection are in tablature format. Some are fingerpicked. . . . Others are chord/melody pieces where one brushes the chord and the melody rings out as the prominent note on top. EDELWEISS and TILL THERE WAS YOU are perfect examples of chord/melody pieces.
I’ve made a conscious effort to make these pieces accessible to the majority of ukulele players with moderate skills. It’s been my experience that many publications of solo instrumental pieces are daunting and would cause many to be turned off to getting into the world of solo instrumental ukulele playing.
As a teacher, I’ve found that many people are not comfortable with accompanying themselves while singing so playing instrumentals is a great way to enjoy the capabilities of your ukulele. Many of these pieces are standard classical pieces such as Beethoven’s Pathetique Sontata while many others are my own original compositions such as BELLA TOSCANA, BABY’S BREATH and my “DREAMSCAPE TRILOGY”.
PRACTICE METHOD for TABLATURE playing:I recommend not biting off more than one can chew. Look at the piece and choose one measure or two to learn. Don’t attempt to sit down and plod through and entire piece at a glacial tempo. It’s best to study one measure . . . determine the left hand fingerings . . . determine what fingers are employed in the right hand . . . slowly play through the measure . . . begin to memorize . . . try playing it without looking at the music . . . go back to double check . . . then play again until it’s firmly memorized and played with ease . . . then proceed on to the next measure and repeat that sequence of events. Taking on just one or 2 measures a day will have you playing the entire piece within a week. Trying to play the entire piece from front to end only ends up with frustrations and feeling incompetent. You CAN do this. . . it just take TIME and PATIENCE. You’ll discover after a period of time that your comfort zone with reading tablature will increase a thousand fold. After a time you WILL develop the ability to simply look at the measure and start to SIGHT READ. It’s analogous to learning to read. As a child we read one word at a time slowly and progressively. In time we are reading faster and comprehending. The same goes for reading any form of notation, be it standard treble clef or tablature notation. We learn from one beat to the next. Memorization is essential. Get that chord memorized . . . get that fingering memorized . . . in time the skill of sight reading does happen but only after a period of practice and time.
Final word . . . always have your “playing” time really be “PLAYING”. History tells us that when Mozart was a little child and he spent countless hours playing the keyboard or the violin, he really WAS playing. . . just as a child plays with toys. To Mozart music was joy . . . fun . . . and true playing. Always let your ukulele time be that. Never let it be drudgery. When your fingers get tired or your brain. . . for me, it’s usually my brain ha ha ha. . . Then go to something a bit easier or familiar and come back to the more difficult work later. And always rememember . . . . “HAPPY STRUMMING”
P.S.Let me refer you to a blog I did a few months ago
Here’s the link: http://allthingsukulele.com/2013/09/10/the-everyman-ukulele-arranger-ukulele-mike-lynch/?relatedposts_exclude=1849
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” a beloved World War II Christmas song, dedicated to “The Greatest Generation”
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent & Buck Ram
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is a Christmas song recorded in 1943 by Bing Crosby who scored a top ten hit with the song. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” has since gone on to become a Christmas standard.
The song is sung from the point of view of an overseas soldier during WWII, writing a letter to his family. In the message, he tells the family that he will be coming home, and to prepare the holiday for him including requests for “snow”, “mistletoe”, and “presents by the tree”. The song ends on a melancholy note, with the soldier saying “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”
The song was written by the lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent. Buck Ram, who previously wrote a poem and song with the same title, was credited as a co-writer of the song following a lawsuit. The original 1943 release of the song by Bing Crosby on Decca Records listed only Walter Kent and Kim Gannon as the songwriters on the record label. Later pressings added the name of Buck Ram to the songwriting credit.
The song touched the hearts of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, who were in the midst of World War II, and it earned Crosby his fifth gold record. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” became the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows. Yank, the GI magazine, said Crosby “accomplished more for military morale than anyone else of that era”.
This is, once again, a chord/melody solo instrumental. As in most of my chord/melody arrangements I suggest using only the thumb and no finger picking involved whatsoever.
I always stroke the strings up the neck a bit for the warmest, sweetest sound, using only the flesh of the thumb.
Below is a short example of the song showing the intro “vamp”. A “vamp” is a short (usually 4 bar) chord progression that can be repeated freely to introduce the song. Typically during a vamp the artist may even speak over it while introducing the song. At the end of the vamp you will notice a double line. Double lines in musical notation are usually used to indicate the end of a distinct phrase or section of the piece.
In this example you’ll also see the generous use of Jazz chords such as the min7 and dim7. These are terrific chords to add to your chord vocabulary.
The short excerpt below shows notation for a “double slur” that is more thoroughly described in the tutorial video above. Notice the use of the letter “H” for Hammer on and letter “P” for pull off. Achieving each of these skills takes time and patience to develop. Don’t give up on it. I would suggest practicing the part first without the effects then add them in later after your technique has more fully developed. It does take time . . .
Full standard notation and ukulele tablature is available for purchase: $5.39 and can be purchased by paying through the paypal donate button on the Ukulele Mike website: http://www.ukulelemikelynch.com
Once purchased I will email it to you within the day.
Don’t forget I also have a large “2 in 1″ UKULELE CHRISTMAS eBook . . .
Here is a blog detailing the contents of that collection:
UKULELE CHRISTMAS eBook arranged and compiled by UKULELE MIKE LYNCH
It's actually TWO TWO TWO BOOKS IN ONE!!!! ha ha ha
Truly it is, though. . . The first book "A UKULELE CHRISTMAS" contains my entire catalog of UKULELE SOLO INSTRUMENTALS in Tablature format. It also includes a full page tutorial on how to interpret and play in the tablature format.
“SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW” – Brand new Chord/Melody arrangement for solo ukulele by Ukulele Mike Lynch
“SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW” – Chord/Melody solo ukulele arrangement by Ukulele Mike Lynch
My arrangement of Somewhere Over The Rainbow is a Chord/Melody piece. That means you play a chord and the melody, for the most part, “rides” on the first string. I chose the Key of F since it worked well with this song. The key of F is one of the most popular solo instrumental keys for the Ukulele. As in most Chord/Melody pieces we play the entire piece with the right thumb. No fingerpicking is needed. Using the flesh of the thumb rather than the nail also gives a sweet warm sound to the uke. I also find that stroking the strings up close to the neck rather than the soundhole also provides for a better sound.
One of the significant aspects of this arrangement is my use of “jazz” chords. . . Principally m7 dim7 aug and maj7 . . . Check out the short clip below and try out these
delicious sounding chords.
Full standard notation and ukulele tablature available for purchase: $5.39 – Can be purchased by paying through the paypal button on the Ukulele Mike website: http://www.ukulelemikelynch.com
Included with the tablature is a note for note reproduction of the tablature in midi format rendered at a slow tempo for practice purposes. . .
If you’re interested in knowing about my other ukulele solo arrangements here is a link to a blog regarding THE COMPLETE UKULELE MIKE CATALOG OF SOLO UKULELE ARRANGEMENTS as of early November 2013
According to Wikipedia we learn:
Ar Hyd y Nos (English: All Through the Night) is a Welsh folksong sung to a tune that was first recorded in Edward Jones’ Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards (1784). The Welsh lyrics were written by John Ceiriog Hughes, and have been translated into several languages, including English (most famously by Harry Boulton) and Breton. One of the earliest English versions was by Thomas Oliphant in 1862.
The melody was used by John Gay in The Beggar’s Opera. It is also used in the hymn “Go My Children With My Blessing.”
The song is highly popular with traditional Welsh male voice choirs, and is sung by them at festivals in Wales and around the world.
The song is also sometimes considered a Christmas carol, and as such has been covered by numerous artists on Christmas albums, most recently including Olivia Newton-John and Michael McDonald who performed the song as a duet on Newton-John’s 2007 album Christmas Wish. Cerys Matthews has also sung the song on her 2010 album Tir.
Below is a YouTube performance of my arrangement of ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT
My arrangement uses exclusively a fingerpicking style. Thumb plays the 4th and 3rd string. Index finger plays the 2nd string and the Middle finger plays the 1st string. Throughout the A theme you need to merely get the chord denoted above the staff and for the most part the left hand fingers are already in place. The 3rd measure as noted in example below is the D chord which uses the index finger as a barre finger on the second fret.
In the example below note the Csus4 (Csuspended 4th) chord used just before the final chord. The suspended chords are used in folk music and generally in most hymn tunes. The suspended note is the “A” of “A-men” . . .
“All Through The Night” is available in tablature and standard notation format and can be purchased for $5.39 by paying through the paypal button
on my website: http://www.ukulelemikelynch.com