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In the FINGERPICKING Solo Instrumental eBook from Ukulele Mike – – – -THE KEYPORT RAG (Travis Picking Tune) – Original Ukulele composition and performance by Ukulele Mike Lynch

July 14, 2013

THE KEYPORT RAG by Ukulele Mike Lynch
Keyport Cover Slide

YOU TUBE performance and tutorial for The Keyport Rag


Keyport Map

Upon a generous invitation of dear friends several years ago, my wife and I spent a relaxing week on Liberty Bay in the tiny town of Keyport, Washington. While there I was inspired to compose this lazy little ragtime tune and it became a constant soundtrack to our musings on the porch of the bay side cottage we were living in. Taking walks around the town, I had the melody of this little tune running through my head and I would frequently head back to the cottage to pick up my ukulele and try out new ideas that would pop into my brain. KEYPORT RAG is largely played in a swinging, bouncy travis picking style and below is a small example of the tablature arrangement of this song.


Keyport 111

Throughout the piece the thumb plays the 4th and 3rd strings. The index finger plays the 2nd string and the middle finger plays the 1st string. The cool thing about travis picking is that the thumb carries a consistent rhythm while the 2 top strings carry the melody. This allows the player to split the uke into 2 parts: The bass or thumb strokes and the melody parts. This is a great way to play solo instrumental pieces.

Among many songs that work well with travis that include melody are BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND, PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON, THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND and many many more tunes from the 60’s folk era.

Take a look again at the example above and note that in the 3rd measure you will see a letter “H” above the first two notes. The letter “H” stands for the phrase “HAMMER ON” which is a technique that allows you to change the melody with out striking it twice with the right hand. Instead, you strike the first note then let the second note sound by striking it forcefully with the left hand. This technique is prevalent in not only folk music but also in jazz and classical. In fact, concert violinists use it all the time to create SLURS between notes. One can go in the opposite direction and rather then hitting the string but plucking it with the left hand. This is called a “PULL OFF” and indicated with a letter “P”. The first person to use these names was the celebrated folk singer and songwriter Pete Seeger.


Keyport 2222

In the above example notice the last 2 measures. They are both TRAVIS picking style but one is a “STRAIGHT FEEL” while the second one is a “SWING STYLE”. Yes, TRAVIS can be played both ways and each way is distinctly different. When using travis in a song remember it has to be in 4/4 time and keep that bouncy thumb beat. To determine whether to use the “STRAIGHT FEEL” or “SWING FEEL” comes with practice and experimentation. Use your own ear and sensitivity to determine which one to use. One other thing to keep in mind is to keep a good balance in volume between the bass notes and the melody notes. Don’t let the bass notes overtake the melody or the melody will be lost in the mix so to speak. Practice to make the melody be predominant otherwise it will sound all mushed together and the melody will be hidden. Keep in mind that to get TRAVIS pick to work you need to be slow at first then speed up but don’t get impatient or frustrated. Give it time and you’ll get it. When I was in college and first learned to do TRAVIS on the guitar it took me a good couple of weeks to really get it smooth and sounding like I heard it on recordings. It’s an amazing picking pattern to learn and well worth the time and practice. HAPPY STRUMMING!

THE KEYPORT RAG is contained in my UKULELE SOLO INSTRUMENTAL eBook 2013 Enlarged edition: $28.95 and can be purchased by paying directly through the paypal donate button on the Ukulele Mike website:
Once purchased it will be emailed to you within the day.

Don’t forget, I also have a whole Chord/Melody series Library.  Each eBook can be purchased separately or together as a tri pak at a discount


Questions regarding any Ukulele resource, please email

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 29, 2016 2:54 p01

    Reblogged this on UKULELE MIKE LYNCH – All things UKULELE and commented:

    Included in the Fingerpicking Solo Instrumental eBook in tablature format

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