UkePrints – Ryo Montgomery – Amazing Grace

Ryo Montgomery at ‘Ukulele Picnic of Japan

Today we are visited by ‘ukulele artist Ryo Montgomery hailing from Australia. Montgomery is a KoAloha artist and multi-instrumentalist who has accomplished a lot in his young career including playing for George Benson, touring with Australia’s Got Talent, and performing and teaching at multiple ‘ukulele festivals internationally. As a jazz/blues/country enthusiast, you can hear Montgomery’s influences from Tommy Emmanuel, Phil Emmanuel, Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, etc. Really excited to see what he has coming next!

Montgomery on guitar and Derek Sebastion

Today we have Montgomery playing a beautiful rendition of the classic hymn Amazing Grace. He takes what is typically a simple 3-4 chord song and creates a harmonically rich yet tasteful arrangement. He plays in the key of A, which lends itself well to the ‘ukulele. Montgomery uses the tonality of open bottom two strings through out the piece to make the chords sound cohesive and creates a nice pad for the background. He starts the song by playing the melody almost unobstructed by rhythm, taking his time and playing with dynamics (0:41) as he utilizes a well crafted line (0:23), substitutes tension building chords (0:16, 0:33, 0:49, etc), throws in a triplet roll (0:36), and some sliding and hammer-ons (0:16, 0:21, 0:51, 1:02, etc.) to create a platform to build variation. Falling into more of a strict rhythm (1:08) he takes the tune again with light variation, still mainly focusing on keeping the melody on top. Notice the positioning of his right hand: a designated finger on each string, as he makes sure the rhythm keeps moving by either filling in with a bass note or with the open bottom two strings (1:22, 1:29, etc). As Montgomery slowly brings down the song for the second 10453314_793519627339330_9083061962149295322_ntime, he utilizes a turnaround (2:05) and suddenly launches into a sustained triplet roll for the first few phrases of the final round (2:10). Sounding almost like a voice, Montgomery climbs up and down the neck with with chords including the jump up to a G9th chord to walk down to a transitional 5-chord or E7 (2:32). Like being thrown on a pile of feathers he continues the melody softly and delicately, a great contrast to the triumphant triplet roll (2:39). Finishing the melody he repeats the last line (3:11) and extends it with some palm muting and extra chords (3:14). As a final thought he explores some harmonically diverse chords and ascends the neck before resolving on a slowly decaying chord.

UkePrints is a curated playlist of some essential ukulele tracks that all ukulele player should listen to. These songs have left a legacy for future players and in essence, sound impressions of the ‘ukulele or what I like to call them: UkePrints.


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