Play "Aloha Oe" on the Uke
Queen Lili’uokalani, Hawaii’s last monarch, was also an accomplished musician, and one of her most popular works is the song “Aloha ‘Oe.” Written in the late 1870s, the song was reportedly inspired by a horseback ride to the windward side of Oahu. While there, the queen witnessed a couple embracing to say good-bye, and this encounter prompted her to begin writing the tune on her way back home. The song has since become one of Hawaii’s signature melodies and has been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
The following arrangement is written in the ukulele’s natural key of C major. You’ll only need four chords to play the song: C, F, G7, and C7 (below, left). Try the strumming pattern shown below, using your index finger, thumb, or both to strum through the strings. If you prefer to fingerpick the song, two options are shown. For the first (middle), use your thumb to alternate notes on the bottom two strings, filling in the notes on the top two strings with your index and middle fingers. The second fingerpicking pattern (right) assigns one finger to each string, with your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers playing the fourth, third, second, and first strings, respectively. This rolling pattern starts with your thumb, then your middle finger, and follows up with a double stop played by your middle and ring fingers, finishing with another index-finger pluck.
Excerpted from Ukulele issue 1
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