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SONATA PATHETIQUE by Ludwig van Beethoven – Ukulele interpretation by Ukulele Mike Lynch . . . . A Fingerpicking arrangement by Ukulele Mike Lynch . . . . Included in the Ukulele Solo Instrumentals eBook Fingerpicking collection Enlarged edition 2013 . . . Now reduced to just $20.00

July 25, 2013

SONATA PATHETIQUE by Ludwig van Beethoven – A Ukulele interpretation by Ukulele Mike Lynch

Ludwig van Beethoven 1770 – 1827


In 1798 Ludwig van Beethoven composed his Piano Sonata No 8 in C minor, Opus 13. It is commonly known as the Sonata Pathetique. Beethoven was only 27 years old when he wrote this classic piece and dedicated it to his friend Prince Karl von Lichnowsky. The Sonata form is typically written in what are called “movements” each movement being a distinctive piece with a distinctive character. The 2nd movement of the Sonata Pathetique is marked “Adagio cantabile” which indicates it is to be played slowly and spaciously. It is the melody of the Adagio movement that has come down to us over time to be a much loved piece of music that has been repeatedly performed, arranged and recorded by literally thousands of musicians. It has even been interpreted in a pop music form and disco. “This Night” is a modern song derivative by Billy Joel. Mr. Holland in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus uses the modern interpretations of this piece to teach music appreciation to his high school students.

While on holiday at the ocean I was casually experimenting on my ukulele with some chord changes and before my very ears the melody combined with chords of the Adagio movement appeared. I was totally surprised at how easily it came. I was also surprised to find how very simple the chord progression was. It seems the greatest composition are deceptively simple. Such classic melodies as JOY TO THE WORLD by Handel is nothing more then a descending major scale.

I quickly came up with the CHORD/MELODY version of the Adagio movement and in no time I was off to composing the remaining 2 sections of my arrangement.

I’m always attempting to find what new things the ukulele can do and who would ever equate ukulele with Beethoven when for so many years the ukulele has been looked upon as just a toy or novelty instrument.

Here is my You Tube video tutorial of my arrangement:

Below is a short snippet of the CHORD/MELODY section of my arrangement.


Pathetique Music 111

Wherever you see fret numbers stacked on top of each other those are to be barred. I can’t over state the need to develop barring technique in your playing. It is essential especially if you wish to play solo instrumental pieces. The thumb is used exclusively throughout the CHORD/MELODY section and the chords are to be rolled as in a harp-like fashion. Rolling the chords gives the illusion of more strings or notes . . . giving the ukulele a fuller feel. In addition, rolling the notes compensates for the general lack of sustain in the ukulele by spreading out the sound over time. I usually like to play somewhat up on the neck to achieve a full, warm, sweet sound. By playing nearer the soundhole or bridge lends a brittle harder sound.

There are 2 more distinct sections to my arrangement of the Adagio movement from the Sonata Pathetique. The second section which is briefly shown below is in 8th notes and fingerpicked. Note below the snippet the indication of fingering for this section.


8th nte section

The third and final section of my arrangement for ukulele is in triplets. It is also fingerpicked and the fingering is the same as in the 2nd section.


triplet section

My arrangement of the Beethoven Sonata Pathetique Adagio movement is included in my SOLO UKULELE INSTRUMENTALS 2013 Enlarged edition. It can be purchased for $28.95 by paying through the paypal donate button on my website:

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