Rhythm is essential for ukulele playing. This post will show you how to play different genres with the right rhythms. You will learn the blues, jazz, ragtime, bossa nova, rock, R&B/soul, country, reggae, mambo, salsa, ska and more. You will also learn the rhythms, strumming patterns and chord progressions for each genre.
We have searched the web for the best and most diverse examples for you. You can find them in the videos and links below. This post is closely related to our post about strumming and songs. Check it out!
Let’s get started! Here are some resources for you:
Better Rhythm – Ukulele Tutorial
The first and most important thing to learn is the rhythm. To practice the rhythm, you may need a metronome. A metronome is a device that produces regular beats to help you keep time. If you don’t have a metronome, you can download one to your phone. There are many free apps that you can use as a metronome.
Five tips to better rhythm.
Learn how to strum with confidence and master the art of rhythm in this comprehensive video. 🎸
To learn about apps that can help you practice changing chords and measure your speed, read the article about chords.
Then we start with the different genres and their rhythm:
Let’s begin with some facts about Blues:
Blues is a musical genre that originated in the Deep South of the United States in the 1860s. It draws from the African American traditions of spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and ballads. Blues has influenced many other genres, such as jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. Blues is known for its call-and-response pattern, the blues scale, and the twelve-bar blues chord progression. (Wikipedia)
If you want to learn how to play blues on your ukulele, you can find many helpful videos on YouTube. Here are some of our favorites.
Let’s start with a very easy one. 🎵
How to play the 12 Bar Blues.
Easy Blues Rhythm. Blues Shuffle.
This ukulele video is about an Easy Blues Rhythm Ukulele Tutorial in the key of A with on screen ukulele tabs and chords. This is the first of 3 lessons that will also cover the Intermediate Blues Ukulele Rhythm and the Advanced Blues Ukulele Rhythm.
Ukulele Blues In A – Am Pentatonic Solo Lesson Tutorial
Here you have a cool one that you have to learn if you like blues 🙂
This is a cool song that you should learn if you are a blues fan 🙂 (Ukulele Blues In A – Am Pentatonic Solo Lesson Tutorial from @EricBlackmonGuitar
Learn the COOLEST Ukulele Rhythm with this EASY Tutorial! (Rock and Blues.)
Jazz is a musical genre that emerged in New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It combines elements of blues, ragtime, European harmony and African rhythmic traditions.
Ukulele Jazz for Beginners (Tutorial)
Satin Doll – Ukulele Jazz Tutorial
Easy Jazz Ukulele Strum Pattern – Next Level Rhythm!
Jazz Ukulele Lesson How to Jazz Strum
What about Charleston? The popular dance from the 1920s.
Charleston – Ukulele solo lesson by “Ukulele Mike”
Ragtime is a genre from African American communities in the Southern and Midwestern United States, such as St. Louis, evolving from folk and minstrel styles and popular dances such as the cakewalk and combining with elements of classical and march music. It was developed long before it was printed into sheet musik. The musical form has had a major impact on the development of jazz. (Wikipedia)
Ragtime strum ukulele – uke in the rags.
The Flick – Ragtime Ukulele Strumming
Swing music is a style of jazz that developed in the United States during the late 1920s and early 1930s. It became nationally popular from the mid-1930s. The danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, known as the swing era. (Wikipedia)
Ukulele Lesson: Swing Like Casey MacGill
One more simple for beginners at this link: Swing Strum And Swing Beat Ukulele Tutorial
Perfecting the Swing Strum – Ragtime & Swing
The Pulse, Accents, Muting and Ghost Notes. And you have to have controll of the rythum of course.
Funk is a music genre that originated in African American communities in the mid-1960s. Musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mix of different music genres that were popular among African Americans in the mid-20th century. It focuses on a strong rhythmic groove and often at a slower tempo than other popular music. (Wikipedia)
The Funk Strum.
Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It evolved into a number of different styles in the mid-1960s and later, particularly in the United States and Great Britain. The style is based on the blues and rhythm and blues genres of African American music and from country music. Rock also drew heavily from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. (Wikipedia)
The easiest, and basic, strumming for rock is DDDD or DUDU with a constant rhythm.
Johnny B good. (Chuck Berry 1958)
3 Strumming Tricks to Instantly Add Energy to a ROCK SONG on Ukulele.
Rhythm and blues.
R&B or R’n’B is a popular music genre that originated from African American communities in the 1940s.
The term “rhythm and blues” has changed its meaning over time. It first referred to blues records in the early 1950s. Then it expanded to include music styles that were influenced by electric blues, gospel and soul music in the mid-1950s. This style of music helped shape rock and roll.
Some British bands and groups like the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Animals were called and marketed as R&B bands in the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1970s, the term “rhythm and blues” also covered soul and funk music. In the late 1980s, a new style of R&B emerged, called “contemporary R&B”. It blends rhythm and blues with pop, soul, funk, disco, hip hop, and electronic music.
Soul music is a popular music genre that emerged in the African American community in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African American gospel music and rhythm and blues. Soul music was popular for dancing and listening, and it was influenced by U.S. record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax during the Civil Rights Movement. It also influenced rock music and the music of Africa around the world.
Soul music features catchy rhythms, handclaps and body movements, as well as a call and response between the lead singer and the chorus. The vocal sound is also tense and expressive.
Soul music was the dominant R&B genre in the 1960s, and many songs crossed over to the pop charts. By 1968, soul music had diversified into different styles. Some soul artists created funk music, while others developed more sophisticated, polished, or politically aware forms of soul music.
2 CHORD ~ EASY SLOW JAM UKULELE LESSON – R&B / SOUL
Country (or country and western) is a music genre that originated in the southern and southwestern United States in the 1920s. The music reflects the lives and experiences of working-class Americans.
Country music features ballads and dance tunes (also known as “honky-tonk music”) with simple structures, folk lyrics and harmonies. The music is played with stringed instruments such as electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars, banjos, fiddles and harmonicas. Country music draws from various sources of American folk music and other traditions, such as African American, Mexican, Irish, and Hawaiian music, which have influenced the genre. Blues modes are also widely used in country music.
We start with a easy one.
Ukulele Country Strum Lesson
The Country Strum for Beginners
Johnny Cash’s Favorite Ukulele Strum! (“Boom Dit-ty”)
From Basic Ukuleles post Popular Ukulele Songs we have copied in the link to a lot of country songs:
Classic country lyrics
If you love country you will find almost all lyrics and chords at this link to Classic Country Lyrics.
Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. It combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods and with many skinheads.
Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three periods:
- The original Jamaican scene of the 1960s.
- The 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s in Britain, which fused Jamaican ska rhythms and melodies with the faster tempos and harder edge of punk rock forming ska-punk.
- And the third wave ska, which involved bands from a wide range of countries around the world, in the late 1980s and 1990s. (Wikipedia)
Ska is a percussive music form with a constant rhythm. It is absolutely best to play it without open strings, so the chords should be barred. It is of course possible to play ska by muting with your high hand, or a few extra fingers on your left, but it might not be the best. The videos below give you examples of this.
Ska Ukulele – Monkey Man.
Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, “Do the Reggay”, was the first popular song to use the word “reggae”, effectively naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience. The style was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues.
Reggae is deeply linked to Rastafari, an Afrocentric religion which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, aiming at promoting pan-Africanism. Soon after the Rastafarian movement appeared, the international popularity of reggae music became associated with and increased the visibility of Rastafari and spread its gospel throughout the world. (Wikipedia)
Reggae Ukulele Strumming – Beginner friendly.
How to play Reggae rhythm: “Three Little Birds” (Bob Marley)
Reggae Strumming on the Ukulele
Samba is a Brazilian musical genre that originated among slaves of black people in the 17th century in the region of Recôncavo Baiano in the state of Bahia in the northeastern region of Brazil. It was brought to the city of Rio de Janeiro after the abolition of slavery, in 1888, and the institution of the Republic in 1889, where many blacks went to the then capital of the Republic in search of work.
With its roots in Brazilian folk traditions, it is considered one of the most important cultural phenomena in Brazil and one of the country’s symbols. The word “samba” was originally used to denote a “popular dance”. Over time, its meaning has expanded to a “batuque-like circle dance”, a dance style, and also to a “musical genre”. This process of establishing itself as a musical genre began in the 1910s.
Samba Ole! Ukulele Tutorial.
The Formby Samba – Cavaquinho Rhythms on Ukulele
One Note Samba chord melody lesson – Glen Rose ukulele
Bossa nova is a style of samba developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is mainly characterized by a “different beat” that altered the harmonies with the introduction of unconventional chords and an innovative syncopation of traditional samba from a single rhythmic division. The “bossa nova beat” is characteristic of a samba style and not of an autonomous genre. (Wikipedia)
Bossa Nova is a slightly more difficult genre, and the rhythm is obviously important. Bossa Nova means The New Way.
Play this Style! Bossa Nova ukulele tutorial part1
Bossa Nova – Ukulele Strumming Tutorial.
This one may be a little bit easier to learn.
Bossa Nova Ukulele Strumming Tutorial.
The term rumba refers to a number of unrelated musical styles. Originally “rumba” was used as a synonym for “party” in northern Cuba, and in the late 19th century it was used to denote the complex of secular music styles known as Cuban rumba. Since the early 20th century, the term has been used in various countries to refer to distinct music and dance styles, most of which are only loosely related to the original Cuban rumba, if at all. In addition, “rumba” was the primary marketing term for Cuban music in North America, as well as West and Central Africa, during much of the 20th century, before the rise of mambo, pachanga, and salsa.
In the first third of the 20th century, “rumba” entered the Spanish flamenco world as a fast-paced palo (style) inspired by the Cuban guaracha, which gave rise to other forms of urban music now known as “rumba”. Throughout Latin America, “rumba” took on different meanings, mostly referring to Cuban, danceable, local styles, such as Colombian rumba criolla (Creole rumba). At the same time, “rumba” began to be used as an umbrella term for Afro-Cuban music in most African countries, which later gave rise to re-Africanized Cuban-based styles such as Congolese rumba. (Wikipedia)
Rhumba Style Strum tutorial on the ukulele
Flamenco in its strictest sense, is an art form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain, developed within the gitano subculture of the region of Andalusia, and also having historical presence in Extremadura and Murcia. In a wider sense, the term is used to refer to a variety of both contemporary and traditional musical styles typical of southern Spain. Flamenco is closely associated to the gitanos of the Romani ethnicity who have contributed significantly to its origination and professionalization. However, its style is uniquely Andalusian and flamenco artists have historically included Spaniards of both gitano and non-gitano heritage.
The oldest record of flamenco music dates to 1774 in the book Las Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso.
On 16 November 2010, UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. (Wikipedia)
Ukulele Lesson: Daniel Ward Teaches the Flamenco Rumba Strum
More Flamenco rhythm:
Flamenco Ukulele Strum!
Firt of all, Mambo is a genre of Cuban dance music that emerged in the late 1930s and was later popularized in the big band style of Pérez Prado.
By the late 1940s and early 1950s, mambo had become a “dance craze” in the United States as the associated dance took over the East Coast. In the mid-1950s, a slower ballroom style, also derived from the danzón, the cha-cha-cha, replaced the mambo as the most popular dance genre in North America. Nevertheless, mambo continued to enjoy a degree of popularity into the 1960s and new derivative styles emerged, such as dengue; by the 1970s it had largely been incorporated into salsa. (Wikipedia)
There are not many videos with Mambo at YouTube, but here you have one:
Mambo Italiano // How to Play Mambo Italiano on the Ukulele
Salsa music is a style of Latin American music. Most of the songs that are considered salsa are primarily based on son montuno, with elements of mambo, Latin jazz, bomba, plena and guaracha.
Originally, the name salsa was applied to several styles of Latin dance music, but today it is considered a musical style in its own right and part of Latin American culture.
Garage Salsa Ukulele Strum Practice
Afro Cuban/Salsa/Montuno Rhythms on Ukulele! – Ukulele Tutorial with tabs, backing track
A waltz (German: Walzer; French: Valse, Italian: Valzer, Spanish: Vals, Polish: Walc), probably deriving from German Ländler. It is dance music often written in 3/4 time. A waltz typically sounds one chord per measure, and the accompaniment style particularly associated with the waltz is to play the root of the chord on the first beat, the upper notes on the second and third beats.
The name “waltz” comes from the German verb walzen. Although French writers have attempted to connect the waltz to the 16th century volta.
Strum Patterns for Uke – Waltz Strum.
Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom. The terms popular music and pop music are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many disparate styles such as rock, urban, dance, Latin, and country. During the 1950s and 1960s, pop music encompassed rock and roll and the youth-oriented styles it influenced. Rock and pop music remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial and accessible. It is impotant that the rhythms and tempo can be easily danced to. (Wikipedia)
You will find many links to pop songs in our posts, where you learn about the rhythm, chords and progressions: Beginner Ukulele Songs, Easy Ukulele Songs, Popular Ukulele Songs and Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
10 Folk & Pop Strumming Patterns on the Ukulele.
A waltz (German: Walzer; French: Valse, Italian: Valzer, Spanish: Vals, Polish: Walc), probably deriving from German Ländler, is dance music in triple meter, often written in 3/4 time. (ONE – two – three.) A waltz typically sounds one chord per measure, and the accompaniment style particularly associated with the waltz is to play the root of the chord on the first beat, the upper notes on the second and third beats.
The name “waltz” comes from the German verb walzen. Although French writers have attempted to connect the waltz to the 16th century volta. (Wikipedia)
Ukulele Waltz Strum
Many more genres of music.
Yes, there are many more genres, but they are not included here yet. The world does not only consist of music from the countries around the Atlantic Ocean, and mainly the western side. This is clearly shown in the posts from the members of our Facbook group “Ukulele Lovers”. Unfortunately, it was a bit difficult to find good instructional videos on YouTube of genres from Africa, the East, and European folk dans genres (Hamob (Sweden), Mazurka (Polen), Reinlender (Germany), Pols (Norway), Polka (Czech republic), Springar (Norway), Halling (Norway) and so on.) If you have any suggestions please comment below the post on our Facebook page.
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