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Mele Ho'ohiamoe Keiki

Probably my favourite translation, a lullaby, or literally child's sleep song. This etude started with less rigour, less logic, less intellect, than probably any other. I was mucking around. Just sitting, working with pull-offs, a technique any guitarist will know very well. Rather than playing the note with the right hand, the left-hand finger on the note pulls off sounding the note beneath, often an open string.

So, I began to move chord shapes up and down in the key of A. Why A? Well, there's an old rule amongst jazz musicians that you don't play two tunes in a row in the same key. It was becoming apparent to me that there was a lot of C major in the etudes. To be fair, there is simply a lot of C major in the world of ukulele music. A major is quite different, yet still can rely on two open strings being in key, the 1 & 2 string.


As the piece is a lullaby, it should sound relaxing. Pull-offs, done incorrectly, can sound inconsistent, twangy, or have a different tone. If you're not used to pull-offs, taking some time to just build your ring and little finger strength would be well spent. I perform all the 1st string pull-offs with my little finger, and all the 2nd string pull-offs with my ring finger. I had the privilege of studying guitar briefly with Miroslav Tadic years ago, and was amazed at his finger strength. He could perform pull-offs louder than my picked notes. So, off I went and tried, in vain, to recreate his tone. But the time sent focusing on that one technique did create a better tone than I had started with.

The second part of the etude adds a level of complexity by including double stops (playing 2 strings at once), in the midst of all the arpeggios. I always play it a bit slower than the first section, which should be good news for those who find it a bit trickier!