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BOOGIE WOOGIE “8 to the bar” for the UKULELE – Taught by UKULELE MIKE LYNCH

May 22, 2012


When I was about 4 years old my older brother, Dick, was serving in the U.S.Navy during  the Korean  war and was stationed at Sand Point  Naval Air Station in Seattle, Washington.  While there, he performed piano and clarinet in the Naval Base Swing Band that performed regularly at the officer’s club and elsewhere.

Often,when he would come to the house he would sit at the piano and play tunes that incorporated these intriguing set of notes that immediately caught my ear.  Upon asking what they were, he told me he was playing Boogie Woogie.  Of course being a 4 year old I immediately giggled at the very sound of those words BOOGIE WOOGIE!!!. . . So fun. . . I asked him if he would teach me how to play it on the piano.  He showed me the typical left hand figure in the bass  that we know of today as “8 To The Bar”  since it was made up of 8 swinging 8th notes to every measure. . . Above that he would lay down a hooky right hand riff that went right along with that constant repetitive riff. From a very early age I had an instant capacity for music. It didn’t take me long to play the Boogie Woogie riff and play it up to tempo.  When he would be away at the Navy Bass. . . I would sit at the piano alone with that left hand riff and play it endlessly until it became automatic.  I didn’t know it at the time but I was programming my “muscle memory” into my left hand fingers.  This is something I stress consistently with all of my ukulele and guitar students.  Once I had that riff automatic then I could begin adding the hooky tune above.  Quite often I’d just make it up. . . I had a good ear . . . . It was so fun. . . So here I have laid out in tablature form a simple Boogie Woogie riff in the Key of C major. . . . You can play this alone or . . . have another player do a swing shuffle with the chords to provide a nice accompaniment to your  playing.  Or, if you have an accomplished improviser they could improvise a catchy lead part above your “8 to the bar” riff. Hope you try this. . . it’s a lot of fun and it also builds your melody playing technique. I’ve scored this out in straight 8th note rhythms. . . Each note played equally the same length.  I’d recommend playing it that way first then when you feel accomplished at it you can “swing” it by playing a dotted 8th 16th note rhythm.  The video tutorial also explains how to most effectively use proper fingering regarding first, second, third, and  5th positions.

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