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Ukulele Tab: Learn To Play Oh, Susanna

Mar 17, 2008
Oh! Susanna is a song written by Stephen Foster in 1847. In this ukulele lesson you will learn to play the melody on your ukulele with the help of ukulele tablature. I will show you how to place your fingers in order to play the melody.

What is tablature?

First of all we will take a look at sheet music notation. The notes in traditional sheet music notation tells you which note to play like a C for example. This notation is the same for all instruments. You will have to figure out how to find the notes on your instrument.

Tablature notation on the other hand tells you how to place your fingers on your particular instrument in order to play a melody or something else.

Tabs are very common on guitar and on ukulele. In ukulele tab notation you will find four lines representing the four strings on your ukulele. The top line indicates the first string with the highest pitch. It will be the bottom string when you play.

In this ukulele lesson we will use another form of tablature with only numbers representing the frets and strings to play.

We will start with the first part of the melody. First I will show you the lyrics. Below the lyrics you will find the ukulele tablature notation and a description of how to interpret the tabs.

Here you have the first line of lyrics with ukulele tab notation:

Oh I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee

03 23 02 32 32 01 32 02 03 23 02 02 23 03 23

The numbers tells you which frets to press down and which strings to play. Each note you are to play are represented by two numbers. The first number tells you which fret to play and the following number indicates the string.

23 means that you play the second fret on the third string. 03 is the third open string. This means that you play the third string witout pressing down a fret. Remember that the first string is the bottom string when you play.

Let us take a look at the first ukulele tab numbers and what you learn from them:

03 23 02 32

These numbers tells you:

Play the third open string, that is, without pressing down a fret and then the second fret third string, the second open string and finally the third fret second string.

Let us continue with the melody:

I'm going to Louisiana, my true love for to see

03 23 02 32 32 01 32 02 03 23 02 02 23 23 03

It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry

03 23 02 32 32 01 32 02 03 23 02 02 23 03 23

The sun so hot I froze to death; Susanna, don't you cry

03 23 02 32 32 01 32 02 03 23 02 02 23 23 03

Oh, Susanna, don't you cry for me

12 12 01 01 32 32 02 03 23

For I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee

03 23 02 32 32 01 32 02 03 23 02 02 23 23 03

Just two final thoughts:

1. Try to use your left hand index to play the notes on the first fret, your middle finger to play the notes on the second fret and your ring finger to play on the third fret. Even if it is a bit awkward at first you will soon feel the benefits from playing this professional way.

2. Learn the melody by heart as fast as possible. Try to learn one line at a time and you will have a song to play for your friends whenever you will find an ukulele around!
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson invites you to download your free ukulele tabs at http://www.capotastomusic.com
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