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Classic Henry Mancini song arranged for solo ukulele – “MOON RIVER” – Ukulele Mike Lynch arranger

September 25, 2013

mancini moon river for blog

Classic Henry Mancini song arranged for Solo Ukulele – “MOON RIVER” – Ukulele Mike Lynch arranger

According to Wikipedia, Enrico Nicola “Henry” Mancini (April 16, 1924 – June 14, 1994) was an American composer, conductor and arranger, who is best remembered for his film and television scores. He won a record number of Grammy Awards, plus a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.

His best-known works include the jazz-idiom theme to The Pink Panther film series (“The Pink Panther Theme”) and the theme to the Peter Gunn television series. Mancini had a long collaboration with the film director Blake Edwards and won numerous Academy Awards for the songs in Edwards films, including “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Days of Wine and Roses” and for the score to Victor Victoria.

“Moon River” is a song composed by Henry Mancini with lyrics written by Johnny Mercer. It received an Academy Award for Best Original Song for its first performance by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It also won Mancini the 1962 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Mercer the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. Since its original performance, the song has been covered by many other artists.

It became the theme song for Andy Williams, who first recorded it in 1961 and performed it at the Academy Awards ceremonies in 1962. He sang the first eight bars at the beginning of his eponymous television show and named his production company and venue in Branson, Missouri after it. Williams’ version never charted, except as an LP track, which he recorded for Columbia in a hit album of 1962. Cadence Records’ president Archie Bleyer disliked Williams’ version, as Bleyer believed it had little or no appeal to teenagers.

The song’s success was responsible for relaunching Mercer’s career as a songwriter, which had stalled in the mid-1950s because rock and roll replaced jazz standards as the popular music of the time. The song’s popularity is such that it has been used as a test sample in a study on people’s memories of popular songs.

Below is a VIMEO video performance of my chord/melody arrangement of “MOON RIVER”

Here is a short clip from my arrangement of MOON RIVER:

clip 1

Take note . . . . I arranged this piece as a chord/melody arrangement. That means the melody is embedded into the chords that are fingered by the left hand. This makes it fairly easy to play as all you need do is acquire the fingering for each chord and most of the notes are already in place to play. If you are new to playing instrumental ukulele it can be a bit of adjustment from doing standard rhythmic strumming patterns for accompanying singing. in this case, we are actually playing entire melodies along with chordal accompaniment. At times the melody is found on the 1st string. At other times the 2nd or 3rd string. In cases where the melody is on a lower string then you need to pay special attention to how many strings you actually strum. So, in looking at the clip above you will notice the melody note in the first measure is found on the third fret of the second string so strum down with the thumb but don’t go beyond the 2nd string. In the second measure the first melody note is on the 5th fret of the first string. This one is easy as you will be strumming down all 4 strings. So you can see that through the piece you will be playing only 2 or 3 strings and not all 4. This is a concept you need to understand very early in playing instrumental pieces on the ukulele. It’s a real different mind set from casually strumming all 4 strings throughout the piece. By the way, I use my right hand thumb on all the notes in this arrangement. I prefer the warm tone and consistency of the thumb rather than alternated with fingers and fingernails. I tend to play up on the neck as well for the best tone.

Full sheet music including standard treble clef and tablature notation is available for purchase $5.39 and can be purchased thru the paypal donate button on the Ukulele Mike website:

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 26, 2014 2:54 p02

    Reblogged this on UKULELE MIKE LYNCH – All things UKULELE.

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