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Mel Bay Famous Solos & Duets for the Ukulele Paperback – May, 2004

17 customer reviews

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"King has done the ukulele a valuable service by restoring these tunes to the modern repertoire." -- Michael Simmons, Acoustic Guitar, June 2005

About the Author

John King began playing the ukulele in 1960 while living in Hawai'i, receiving his first instruction from his mother, an accomplished amateur. After many years of studying the technique and history of the classical guitar, he returned to his first love, the ukulele, with new understanding and insight. His technique has been described by critics as flawless, effortless and sublime. King's CD of Bach compositions, arranged for the unaccompanied ukulele and performed in the campanella style of the Baroque era, has been featured on National Public Radio and praised by the Honolulu Star Bulletin for its "harplike sound." Deeply interested in the history of Hawai'i and Hawaiian music, the ukulele, and guitar, he has devoted much of his time to research, both in Hawai'i and on the Mainland. His book The Hawaiian ukulele and Guitar Makers: 1884 1930 (NALU music, 2001) was called "the most scholarly work on ukulele history in Hawai'i" by the Journal of the Ukulele Hall of ! Fame Museum. He is a contributor to the Hawaiian Journal of History and Soundboard, and his musical compositions and arrangements for guitar have been published by Tuscany and Editions Orphée. Mr. King teaches guitar at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Mel Bay Publictions, Inc.; Pap/Com edition (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786669152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786669158
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Max on April 23, 2010
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I was disappointed with this book and CD given the good reviews on Amazon. Before saying anything else let me warn you that the sheet music and the CD are not in the same key. The music on the CD is a whole step higher than the book so you will only be able to play along with the CD if you use a capo or are able to instantly transpose (in which case you are probably too good a musician to need this book). More than half of the songs are Hawaiian which is what attracted me to it but the arrangements and the performances on the CD are not in the Hawaiian style. Unlike the other reviewers, I am not a fan of King's recording. Nahenahe in Hawaiian means soft, sweet and melodious and is the hallmark of Hawaiian music. This does not describe King's playing which I can only describe as harsh and mechanical. Partly because of the frequent use of tremolo, his sound reminds me more of a banjo than an uke. The songs are just about all marches and waltzes mostly played loudly and without much feeling. The book is well enough designed having both standard musical notation and tablature for those who don't read music. I am not crazy about the arrangements but I'll probably play them just for practice.

On a more positive note, I continue to enjoy three other books: Hawaiian Style Ukulele volumes 1 & 2 and Learn to Play Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele (Nelson). Both HSU books have chord diagrams and volume 2 has tablature and notation for most songs. They also have suggested strum patterns and a bit of instruction. The Nelson book has both notation and tablature for all of the songs. Both come with CDs and the music is well played by a band in the HSU books and mostly solo by Nelson on his CD. Unlike King's, the books and CDs are in the same key so you can play along.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Japutie on September 9, 2008
I got this as a christmas present with my first ukulele a few years ago and it has been my favorite ukulele book since then. I have bought quite a few other books but most are too simple or much too advanced, there are few intermediate books. Many are simply strumming books where the uke player would play back up for other instruments but the problem is that most uke players don't know other people with other Hawaiian instruments.

This book, as it says in the title, is for solos, and has a few duets 3 or 4 in the back of the book to do with other ukuleles or an acoustic guitar. The songs are beautiful and are demonstrated (without commentary thank goodness) on the cd that comes with the book. Most songs are medium difficulty but can be adapted to the new learner who is dedicated. I sat for 4 hours or so trying to learn the spanish fandango and it was difficult but i was able to do this within the first few weeks of playing. this is partly due to the fact that all songs are written with tabs which helps out most of us who never learned to read music, although musical notation is also there.

The beginning of the book has a good history of ukes and a description of strumming techniques.

Bottom line, the songs are beautiful, can be learned by a dedicated beginner, and expose the uke player to the idea that they can play beautiful music with the uke rather than just strumming chords to play oh susanna or marines hymn as seen in other books.

Every Uke player should own this book because in my opinion, it is the best one out there.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John O'Connor on October 28, 2006
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John King is arguably THE master ukulele player today. His arrangements of Bach for ukulele are wonderful. This collection is also great. It's primarily Hawaiian music arranged for either solo ukulele, two ukuleles or ukulele and guitar. The music is lovely and the arrangements are challenging but very playable. This is a great book/cd for the aspiring ukulele player. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Mathews on April 8, 2010
This is a marvelous book for the advanced ukulele player who is ready to embark upon the road to performing instrumentals. The book has conventional notation as well as tablature. This, in combination with an enclosed CD which features John King playing all the selections, makes learning the material easier (not easy!). The book also has a concise history of the ukulele and a primer on strumming styles. John King employs a Baroque classical guitar technique known as campanella style (playing individual notes that ring into each other)for a most unique sound. The results are hauntingly beautiful and attainable with moderate effort. Most selections are Hawaiian waltzes and melodies by Ernest Ka'ai and Henry Kailimai (early composers for the uke). After pursuing a successful career as a classical guitarist, both as a performer and a teacher, Mr King applied his knowledge to the ukulele with magnificent results! John King passed away on April 3, 2009, but this book and his other book "Classical Ukulele" will be sufficient to warrant his place in the Ukulele Hall of Fame. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Wagstaff on June 3, 2009
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I've been playing for a little more than a year and find these songs very accessible. When I begin one I almost always think it is too hard, but practice practice practice..eventually and surprisingly, i seem to be able to play the piece. I also learn very well with tabs..And the cd is great to listen to, for the songs I can't play (yet).. and face it, I don't sound like John King (RIP) ..
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