With Fourth of July just around the corner, we present a ukulele tutorial for “Yankee Doodle.” “Yankee Doodle” is an easy ukulele song that may sound nonsensical but actually has an interesting history as to how it became one of America’s favorite patriotic songs.
Ukulele Tutorial for “Yankee Doodle”
Let’s first proceed to the ukulele tutorial for “Yankee Doodle.” Jenny plays the song on the ukulele in two keys – key of G and key of C. With both keys – you only need three chords. For the key of G, you’ll need G, D7 and C. While for the key of C, you’ll need C, G7 and F. Jenny also illustrates fingerpicking for the melody on the last part of the tutorial.
(Added 21 October 2020)
How to Play Melody Tab for “Yankee Doodle”
We have received requests for Jenny to teach how to play the melody tab of “Yankee Doodle” so here’s a new video to grant these requests!
Sheet Music for “Yankee Doodle”
Don’t forget to download a lyrics and chords sheet of the song here so you can easily track the tutorial.
A melody tab sheet is also available here.
“Yankee Doodle” became famous during the American Revolution in 1775 to 1783. At that time, songs were already used not only for entertainment and worship but also as a medium for satire and parodies to tell funny or fascinating stories, to send a message to public figures or even to insult adversaries.
The opposing sides of the ongoing war traded insults through satirical songs. “Yankee Doodle” was one of these songs which British soldiers sang to get back at the American soldiers by calling them “Yankee Doodles.” Yankee was a disdainful word to describe a colonist and a doodle is fool or a simpleton. In addition, the song depicts the ‘Yankee Doodle’ as ridiculous, portrayed by a poorly dressed man riding a pony as opposed to a horse.
The American rebels though embraced the song and created other versions of it to return the insult to the British redcoats. With the Americans eventually winning the war, Yankee Doodle became their favorite anthem. Instead of being received as an insult, the “Yankee Doodle” label brought pride to the Americans. On the other hand, it was difficult for the British to hear the song while marching to their surrender.
What the American soldiers did – embrace what was meant as insulting or disparaging and claim as their own – would later be known during modern times as reappropriation or reclamation. Nevertheless, the song “Yankee Doodle” has lived on to become one of the most well-known patriotic songs in America.
Have fun learning the song and happy Fourth of July!
Yankee Doodle is one of the songs in the first book of our book series: 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way!
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Dear Ukelele Sisters,
With “yankee doodle”, could you please post a video on how to do it with the one-finger melody? its just that i need to know for an assignment, and practically nobody has done it!
from lucy xx.
Yes, I created a video this morning that shows how to play the melody tab of “Yankee Doodle.” It will be on YouTube. I will post the link when it is ready.
It’s a good idea to assign one finger per fret when you’re in the spot on the neck where you play most of our chords. So, finger 1 goes in the first fret, finger 2 in the second fret, and so on.
When songs go higher in pitch than the 5th fret, try putting your first finger in the third fret. Then put your second finger in the 5th fret and your pinky finger in the 7th fret. Use your first finger as an anchor on the third fret and find all your notes from there. The less you slide around, the more accurate you will be with your notes that are up high on the neck of the ukulele.
I call this technique “playing in the 3rd position.” I borrow it from the violin, viola, cello, and bass. Since these instruments are fretless, we have to have anchor notes to play in tune. I teach these instruments as well as the ukulele. I freely borrow techniques as I move from instrument to instrument.
Here’s a link to a tutorial showing how to play the melody of Yankee Doodle. https://youtu.be/Xqzysti971c