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Uke Spotlight: Great One-Chord Songs

Posted on: May 9th, 2011 by dville
What’s the best way to train the ear to hear and identify advanced chord progressions?  Start with songs that contain only one chord.

Most of the time, songs are going to start on the I (one) or home chord, go to some other chords (the chord progression) and then return home.  The tonal center of the song is what you want to establish in your ear. That’s the key to finding your way around the rest of the chords.

By playing along with one chord songs you have eliminated the problem of figuring out a chord progression which leaves you time to really listen to the one and only chord you have in the song.  This will give you time to play different inversions of your one chord, figure out the melody and practice soloing over the chord.

I’ve recently been collecting some great one chord songs which are posted below.  If you know of any others, please drop me a note and let me know the titles so I can add them to the list.
Note: To add a hint of tension and groove to the tunes below, try playing them using a Dominant 7th chord instead of a major chord, i.e. C7)

Chain of Fools-Aretha Franklin Key C



Coconut-Nilson Key C



Low Rider-War Key G



The Beat Goes On-Sonny & Cher Key F



Blackjack David-Warren SmiKey E

7 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Political World (Bob Dylan), Tomorrow Never Knows (Beatles) & Row, Row, Row Your Boat!

  2. Jules says:

    Frere JacquesKookaburra (watch out for being sued though! LOL!)Great idea, good luck!

  3. none says:

    Just wondering how to play along here – I like the idea of simple to start with and not just playing old religious type songs.. that's what turns me off.. but for the Aretha Franklin song.. do you just strum over and over the same note??

  4. Jim D'Ville says:

    Dear None, Yes you simply play a C7 chord over the entire song.

  5. Ed Dorosh says:

    Hi Jim,

    When someone says something about strumming one chord I wonder if they are seeing the beats and/or volume,that happen and the proper or audible strumming pattern that makes a one chord song unique.

    Obviously something has to be able to be made different within the song otherwise the song would be repetitively boring and no one would want to hear it. The above songs are all very popular songs for their times and even now for people who hear them for the first time.

    What other factors make a one chord song unique if you don’t mind me asking?

    Thanks Jim.

    Ed……:-)

  6. Richie says:

    I really have enjoyed playing along with the Aretha Franklyn ‘Chain Of Fools’ song, I can’t believe the depth that the song produces being only a 1 chord song, it would be great if you made this a regular feature, a great starting point for absolute beginners as well

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