If you haven’t seen the music video Four Chords, watch it! It is hilarious.
In this video, the Australian Band, Axis of Awesome, creates a parody of 36 pop hits from the 1960’s until today, all using the same chord progression. This progression is called the Pop-Rock Chord Progression and it uses the following chords: I, vi, IV, V. On the ukulele these four chords are: C, A Minor, F and G. For fun, I’ve arranged my own version of Four Chords using the following songs:
- Heart and Soul
- Let It Be
- Take My Home Country Roads
- Blowin’ in the Wind
- Don’t Stop Believin’
- Hey Soul Sister
- I’m Yours
This chords progression has been used in many songs. Wikipedia lists over 250 pop hits that have used this progression! Melody, rhythm, voices, instrumentation are all musical elements that make a song sound unique to us. The four chords theme is so funny, because such different songs from different eras can be sung next to each other without changing the chords.
For this parody, I keep the chords the same, but occasionally change the tempo and the strumming patterns to fit the songs. Here is my parody of 4 chords.
I start with Heart and Soul, which has more than four chords if you include the bridge of the song (middle part) This song is iconoclastic for me. As a child growing up in the 1960’s everyone I knew would play Heart and Soul on every piano they could find everywhere. It was a way for the kids who did not take piano lessons to still show off.
Nowadays children no longer know these two songs and are excited to learn them in a General Music keyboard class. They are still extremely surprised (as I was) to learn that Heart and Soul is a real song. The progression is iconoclastic and if you’ve ever played it on a keyboard, Heart and Soul will help you to get a handle on the I, vi, IV, V chord progression. For more about chord progressions check out What is a Chord Progression?
By the way, I also simplified a few of the songs, to make the 4 chords progression work. I wanted to choose songs I know and are likely to be familiar to you.
Enjoy my parody of 4 Chord Songs and happy strumming!
Here’s a video lesson on one of the all time great American spiritual songs.
Amazing Grace uses these five chords.
Click to download ukulele tab for the melody of Amazing Grace : Amazing Grace
If you love this song, check out Easy Ukulele Songs: Five with Five Chords.
You’ll learn “Amazing Grace” plus four other great ukulele standards.
Q: How do you convert guitar chords into ukulele chords?
The easiest way to play ukulele chords on a guitar is to put a capo on the fifth fret of the guitar and then play the ukulele chords on the first four strings of the guitar. Those four strings are tuned in the same intervals as the ukulele. You can think of the ukulele as a smaller and higher pitched younger cousin to the guitar.
A G chord on the guitar is a C chord on ukulele; a D7 on guitar is a G7 on ukulele and so on. Lots of guitar songs are in G Major and use the four chords G, Em, C and D7. These songs go over to ukulele really easily as a C, Am, F, G7 progression. The pitch of the ukulele fits my voice better, so I just use the same chord shapes on ukulele that I would use on guitar and I am ready to go.
If you are going the other way and are playing ukulele with guitar players, go online to get the ukulele tab for that song. You can download a lot of free ukulele tabs from our site on this page. After awhile, you’ll learn all the basic chords on ukulele, and be able to play with anyone.
My students are adept at four chords: C, F, G7 and A Minor. With these four chords, they can sight-read and jam songs like: The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Y.M.C.A., and Good Riddance: the Time of Your Life. They like singing songs from their own century and like jamming over a Band In a Box beat. Band and orchestra students join in, playing by ear. Students are learning life-long music skills and enjoying themselves at the same time
I’ve been busy learning new software to get ready to release our new ukulele book. We are thinking of including 20 or so more songs, that are slightly more difficult than in our first book. We will include lesson videos, song accompaniments and lead sheets to aid in learning the songs. Here are some links to examples of this material. Let us know what you think; thanks in advance!
I’m also thinking of possible songs to include in Book 2. Here is a potential list. Please let us know what you think.
- Aloha Oe
- Amazing Grace
- Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home
- E Huli Makou
- Heart and Soul
- La Bamba
- Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,
- The Drunken Sailor
- Oh Susanna
- Home on the Range
- Happy Birthday
- You are My Sunshine
- Let It Snow
- Lonely Blues
Our new book 21 Songs in 6 Days:Learn Ukulele the Easy Way gives the learner several practical tips in learning new skills. One such skill is changing chords. And one of the most important changes to learn is from G7 to C 0
The video shows Jenny teaching how to move the left hand fingers from the easy shape of the C chord to the more difficult shape of the G7 chord. Practice along with the video, so you can become skilled at this progression.