In this article we’ll learn the accompaniment to Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” for ukulele. I recently opened a concert for Corrine Bailey Rae at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and had a great time getting to know her and her wonderful band, which included guitar, drums, and keyboards.  Her music and voice is deeply soulful and the performance was very moving. 

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Put Your Records On

“Put Your Records On” is one of Rae’s biggest hits. Let’s have some fun and learn the accompaniment to the song.  Cue up the song if you have the album or follow along here.  YouTube allows you to slow the tempo down using the settings function at the bottom right of the screen, which can be a big help.  The vocals will sound strange at the slower speeds but you can work on your timing and technique at 75% or even half speed to start with. The song is in the key of A and uses A, B9, and E9 chords for the intro and chorus.  Study these shapes and use a full barre chord at the 2nd fret for the B9 and E9 chords.

Backbeat Pattern

The right pattern is essential to create the groove of the song, which is a blast to play.

The first thing to practice is playing a block chord (Thumb on 4, index on 3, middle on 2, and ring on 1st string).  Grab the A chord and try playing both quarter-note then 8th-note block chords counting 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.  This will get you comfortable repeating those four fingers.  Try planting the fingers on the strings before playing, which sets up the chord.  Make it a goal to land the same way each time on the strings.  

Review the backbeat technique we have worked on and warm up that technique.  Now try the rhythm of the pattern:  1 & X & (3) X.  You play the chord shape in each measure of this four bar phrase on beats 1, the & of 1, and the & of 2.  Try this without the backbeat at first very slowly, counting out loud as you play.  

Percussion on Ukulele

The Xs are percussive sounds made by planting the fingers on the strings on beats 2 and 4 (the backbeat).  I get most of the percussive sound to come from the thumb.  You can try a bit of right hand forearm rotation to give you more volume with the thumb.  Wind up before playing each percussive sound by rotation slightly to the right then use the forearm rotation to bring the thumb back down to the left as the hand moves to the strings.  This can give your back beat a good boost.  

This phrase is great fun to play so put the record on and go for it!  The rest of the song is there for you to explore, but be sure to follow along with the score:

Download the Sheet Music

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