Sunday, December 26, 2010

Une jeune fillette

The film Tous les matins du monde (1991) made me discover simultaneously Jordi Savall, the viol and the music of Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais. I later purchased the CD of the movie soundtrack and that is when I really heard Une jeune fillette, which left an indelible impression on me.
The melody was very popular in the Renaissance but probably dates back to an earlier time. In France, it first appeared in the collection of songs "en forme de voix de ville" published by Jehan Chardavoine in 1576, but it was also known in Italy as Madre mia non mi far monaca: both the French and Italian lyrics tell the story of a young girl forced into a nunnery.
It is a prime example of an "evergreen tune", not only because it has spread geographically under various guises (our previous Huron carol is no accident since there is at least one French carol in the Lorraine region -- Une jeune baisselle, in the local dialect -- which is based on that melody), but also because it has inpired many musicians and composers up to the present day. I hope to post a few ukulele adaptations of Renaissance compositions, but for now, here is the bare bone traditional melody for re-entrant tuning in TablEdit tabs and the PDF file.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Huron carol

Known as the first Canadian carol, "Jesous Ahatonhia" was written in the huron language, presumably by the French missionary Jean de Brébeuf around 1641. The tune is an adaptation of an ancient melody known in France as "Une jeune fillette" and "La Monica" in Italy (I will come back to the fascinating story of that song after the festivities). The carol was apparently first sung in Sainte-Marie-au-pays-des-Hurons near Georgian Bay.
How is that for a bit of Canadiana during this jolly holly season?
It was later translated into English as "Twas in the moon of winter-time".
Here is the melody: TablEdited tabs for re-entrant ukulele and the PDF file. The lyrics in several languages, including the original, can be found on Wikipedia and other sites.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Henry VIII - Pastime in good company

Jolly old Henry VIII to the rescue, so you can provide some royal entertainment over the holidays.
A TablEdited adaptation for re-entrant tuning.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

V. Haussmann - Dance

A late 16th century German musician and composer, Haussmann was blessed with "Valentin" as a first name, which, when coupled with dance, immediately conjures up (for the impenitent anachronist) the glorious boneless or "de-boned" wonder immortalized by Toulouse-Lautrec.
TablEdited adaptation for low 4th ukulele (but the tabs seem to work fine for re-entrant as well) and PDF file.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Anonymous - Kemp's jig (re-entrant)

A traditional tune (and interesting historical anecdote) first recorded in Playford's Dancing master in the sixteenth century.
This adaptation is for re-entrant tuning in TabEdit format
and PDF.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rung - Tyrolienne (second version)

Here are tabs with an easier fingering: you can thank Jeff for making me work harder :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rung - Tyrolienne

Henrik Rung was a 19th century Danish composer.

George Orwell:
In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wolkenstein - Wach auff, mein Hort

Going back in time, this wake-up call is by Oswald von Wolkenstein (late 14th, early 15th century), who wore several (remarkable) hats, including those of a poet and composer.
the PDF file.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bach - Wachtet auf

Wake up!

Bach's wonderful cantata (but what isn't wonderful in Bach?) very humbly set in tablature for low 4th tuning:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Anonymous - Tranquillo

Something we all need.

A gift from Bertrand Russell:

"The most savage controversies are about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Third degree Mudarra

This piece "Fantasía que contrahaza la harpa en la manera de Ludovico" was intended for the vihuela.
Using only four strings, be careful of your fingers!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Couperin - Les barricades (Re-entrant uke)

Practice, practice... I watched the movie Music of the heart (with Meryl Streep) last night: a very inspiring film. One of the commentators was talking about research into music and the brain and the role of the amygdala: something else to be reading about...

These TablEdited tabs are an adaptation for re-entrant uke tuning.
PDF file as well.

The picture is of the twin soprano ukes I made this year.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Couperin - Les barricades mystérieuses (Low 4th)

Something to sink your teeth into.
I've been working on those tabs on an off for quite a while and it's still a work in progress: let me know what you think.

Tabs for low fourth tuning in TablEdit version.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Juan de la Encina - Soy contento y vos servido

Poet, playwright and composer of the Spanish Renaissance.
This is one of his songs adapted for low fourth tuning:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Binchois - Les très doux yeux

Gilles Binchois' mother apparently was from Binche, famous for its carnival and its "gilles" with their ostrich feathers headgears and orange baskets.
An adaptation of this medieval rondel for low 4th uke in TablEdit format.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Il estoit une fillette - High G

For re-entrant uke.
The two previous versions were in C. This is in the key of F.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Il estoit une fillette - Baritone tabs

A tab version for the baritone uke .
Naturally, it can also be played on a uke with a low G tuning and vice-versa for the previous version. So why a second low 4th version? Just to celebrate my the new baritones I've been building and playing!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Janequin - Il estoit une fillette (Low G)

A charmingly bawdy song by Clément Janequin, here adapted for low G tuning:

I'll post the re-entrant and baritone tabs later as I'm still working on the easiest fingering for those.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Volta for low 4th tuning

Slightly different version.
TablEdit tabs and

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Anonymous - Volta

Here is an adaptation for re-entrant uke of an anonymous version of this Renaissance dance tune:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Logy - Sarabande

Lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon: what better time to play this piece by Anton Logy (or Losy)?
Adapted for low fourth ukulele: TablEdit and PDF.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Giuliani - Tyrolienne

Lively little tune adapted for re-entrant ukulele.
Tabs in TablEdit format and the corresponding PDF file.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Besard - Branle (Baritone)

As I am in the process of completing a fresh batch of baritone ukuleles (see my other blog), I find myself spending more time playing music on baritones than on concert or tenor ukes which are my usual instruments. So, to celebrate those new baritones, I'm providing tabs for this short piece by Jean-Baptiste Bésard, for a baritone tuning.
Of course, the exact same tabs may be used on another ukulele with a low G string: it just means switching key (this piece is in D for the baritone, and in G for a low G ukulele) and the corresponding music notation. In other words, if you're playing solo, you may use baritone tabs or low G tabs interchangeably)
Instead of using "high G" and "low G" (sets of strings) when it comes to tabs, it would be more convenient to use some other contrasting pair: "re-entrant" as opposed to... what? Can you help me out and suggest something?
This being said, I am really enjoying playing those baritones. Perhaps the baritone uke suffers from being regarded as a half-breed, and thus with some suspicion by both guitar and ukulele players. As usual, it's better to reserve judgment until one tries something oneself: pleasant surprises may be in store.
One last thing: Jeff, the "humble uker" and wonderful herald of all things ukulele has a new blog dedicated to the baritone at

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hans Neusiedler - Tanzlein (re-entrant)

The full title is "Ein gut Hofftantzlein für ein Schüler", or "a nice little dance tune for a student".

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ein bisschen Amadeus

A delectable morsel.
TablEdit tabs for low G tuning and the PDF file.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Machaut - Douce dame jolie Redux

A slightly more sophisticated version than the one I put up on this blog last year.
TablEdit tabs for re-entrant uke.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Robert de Visée - Passacaille

Beauty... the world stops, if ever so briefly.

TablEdit tabs for low G tuning,
Just the Midi file for my friends who don't play but will want to learn after hearing this.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Que ne suis-je la fougère ? - Redux

Slightly different, for low G tuning.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Que ne suis-je la fougère ?

This a very poetic French song that dates back to the 18th century. The original music is sometimes attributed to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. The words are those of a poem by Charles Henri Ribouté entitled "Tendres souhaits", but it is the first verse that makes up the title of the song.
Carulli and Sor composed variations on it for the guitar.

Here is the traditional tune in a TablEdit version for re-entrant ukulele and the PDF file.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hans Neusiedler - I rue the day

"I rue the day..." Whatever melancholy musings this phrase could lead to, it will never apply to the first day you picked up a ukulele. Now, that's a cheerful thought: pleasure, comfort and joy and no downside: how many things could that apply to, I wonder?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marais - Le basque

This piece (just the melody) is one of five based on "old French dances". The first few measures are probably familiar to you. After that, it's good fun for practicing your speed.
The painting is by Henri Lebasque, another of my imaginary friends, and neither it nor him have anything to do with the music, or do they?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Marin Marais - Branle de village

An adaptation for re-entrant tuning:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Negri - Bianca fiore

This blog is one year old today! Thank you to all visitors and especially those who took the time to leave a comment or send a word of much appreciated encouragement.

TablEdited adaptation and PDF file for low G tuning of this lute piece by 16th c. dance master and choreographer Cesare Megri.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mudarra - Romanesca

Yet another tune from Mudarra's Tres libros de musica, intabulated for the Renaissance four-course guitar and perfect for low G tuning. Of all such pieces by Mudarra, this one is my personal favorite. The full title is "Romanesca - O guardame las vacas": Keep the cows for me, which seems to be the name of a musical genre, a kind of pastoral, I suppose. Of course, the most famous one was by Nervaez... perhaps later.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thomas Robinson - Robinson's May

The first crocuses had made an early appearance... too early since the cold weather came back and exacted its revenge. So, obviously it is not May yet, but let's have a May tune anyway so as to keep the faith.
Tabs for low G tuning in PDF format and the Midi file.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Walther von der Vogelweide - Unter der Linden

A towering figure among medieval minnesingers.
The melody of this classic poem of world literature is haunting.
I've arranged three sets of tabs in PDF format for:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Anon - Incomparable

An easy little tune in low G tuning.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Anon - Fandanguillo (Low G)

A sure-fire way to win fame and fortune (don't forget your humble servant!) or at least to dazzle and shine.

TablEdit tabs for low G tuning and the PDF file.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Küffner - Étude

Perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon: no strain, all gain. Watching the light with the trees as companions.
The painting is by Signac.
TablEdit file and PDF for re-entrant tuning.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mudarra - Fantasia del primer tono (1)

Yet another of Mudarra's tablatures for the four-course guitar. There are two with the same title, this is the first one (low G tuning, as usual).

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kapsberger - Canario

Imagine playing one of those! The chitaronne or theorbo had up to fourteen courses of strings: just tuning those must have been quite a job!
At any rate, Kapsberger composed for the chitaronne and the lute. But it so happens that this delightful piece lends itself to being played on our less cumbersome but just as enchanting instrument of choice.
So, here are (for low G tuning) the TablEdit and the PDF files.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mudarra - Fantasia del quinto tono

Another of Mudarra's tablatures for the four-course Renaissance guitar. I'm just reproducing the original tabs in mirror image, but the music notation provided here corresponds to low G tuning on the uke. Experts debate as to whether the fourth course strings were tuned in unison low G or high G or a mix of the two: I'm no expert at all, so perhaps you can enlighten me... meanwhile, it's all up to your choice!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Anonymous- English dance

Seriously, where would we be without our friend Anonymous or indeed what would we be?

PDF tabs for Low G tuning.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Calvi - Canario

This little tune was published by Carlo Calvi in his Intavolatura di chitarra e chitarriglia (1646). The original tabs were intended for the baroque guitar, a five-course instrument. I think it loses none of its charm when played on a low G ukulele: PDF file.