Skip to content

JAMAICA FAREWELL – Exploring a strum with a latin flavor by “UKULELE MIKE”

July 21, 2011

PLEASE NOTE:  My “UKULELE BASICS” DVD is currently  available for purchase. . . For more information email me at


“Jamaica Farewell” is a calypso song about the beauties of the West Indies Islands. The lyrics for the song were written by Lord Burgess who was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926.  His mother was from Barbados.  It is believed that he actually pulled together from many folk sources to compose the song.  The song first appeared on Harry Belafonte’s phemonally successful album Calypso. Soon it reached number 14 on Billboard’s Pop chart.  It has been recorded by hundreds of artist but without a doubt it was Belafonte’s recording that made it a folk music classic.

CALYPSO is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots.  The CALYPSO strum is noted for it’s light but syncopated nature.  As you look at the strum pattern below you will see that is has 2 up strums one right after the other.  It is this up filling that helps give it it’s distinctive feel. . . Accentuated by the fact that the first up is held which creates a syncopation at that point.  Although it’s called the CALYPSO strum and obviously works perfectly with songs such as JAMAICA FAREWELL, but its is by no means relgated to only used in Caribbean music.  The CALYPSO strum is a unique strum in that it works very very well in any 4/4 ballad and gives so many songs a light syncopated feel.  Consider songs such as Day Is Done by Peter Paul & Mary or Four Strong Winds by Ian & Sylvia. . . Or even Leavin’ On A Jet Plane by John Denver.  They all work beautiful with the CALYPSO strum pattern.  It’s a pattern you want to definitely have in your arsenal of strums. . . It takes some time and patience to achieve. . . Practice right hand only with just a stable held chord before trying to introduce it into a song.  You REALLY have to have this pattern “memorized” by your right hand. . . I call that “Muscle Memory”  Listen to my You Tube video of Jamaica Farewell then play along with it to achieve a smooth feel for this strum. . . . “HAPPY STRUMMING” . . . UKULELE MIKE

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: