Today we are once again visited by one of the ‘ukulele’s greatest arrangers. Gordon Mark has humbly marked the ‘ukulele world through years of not only masterful playing but also through years of teaching. His distinct style of solo ‘ukulele playing and a wealth of musical knowledge can create the sound of a symphony with his own two hands. Mark has been teaching at the KoAloha Ukulele factory, where he shares his sought after sheet music and vast musical repertoire.
Demoing a new KoAloha Opio Tenor Spruce model, Mark treats us to his rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Full of subtly and nuance, this inspired arrangement follows the natural progression of the classic yet breathes new life into it. Mark is a master of tone as he constantly makes adjustments with his right hand to independently control the low strings with his thumb and control the high strings with his index (0:05, 0:09, etc). He also primarily switches between the light touch of the pinch of his index and thumb and the pronounced and well defined downward plucks with his thumb (0:17, 0:26, etc). He carefully blends chords together by brushing the strings with his index finger and thumb emulating what sounds like a soft string section (0:22, 0:25, etc). I love his variations on both the second verse (0:34) and third verse (1:19) including the embellishment on the melody (0:33), the light change in dynamic (0:36), and that beautifully placed C+ (1:22). Speaking of beautifully placed things, he only uses that bright downstroke with his nails twice in the song (1:17 & 1:59), yet again showing us that genius is timing.
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.