Uke Rhythm

The uke is a rhythm instrument in old time music

  • The melody is amply covered by fiddle and banjo
  • There is already a lot of rhythm - bowing and syncopation.
  • Guitar and bass have the downbeat covered

Play the off-beat

  • Example from Winkin' Eye:
    V   V   V   V   V   V   V   V   <-- downbeat
    Oh   me   Oh   my   You better watch my winkin'   eye!    
      ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^   ^ <-- off-beat

Make the chop

  • You want the duration of your strum to be as short as possible for maximum rhythmic effect and to not mask the melody.
    • no open strings
    • pick noise contributes to the chopping sound
  • You can do a lot to affect the overal band sound by slight changes in where you put your chop.
    • It can drive people crazy if you do not sync up with the other instruments
    • I can be very satisfying when everybody is working together
  • The banjo uke can be loud - save this for special occasions.
  • Play uke so that you don't really notice it until it stops.

No skylarking

  • Play rhythm, not melody.
  • Play mostly a regular pulse, with a few little extra strokes occasionally.
  • Don't speed up or slow down - stick with the other instruments.
  • It's hard enough to do this simple thing.