Archive | October, 2016

The Original Ukulele Songs, an oasis in an ocean of cover versions?

I recently culled another video and poster from the OUS FB platform for posting a Doors cover on the page!

Don’t get me wrong I love the Doors, but the page has a clear description that its for ORIGINAL UKULELE SONGS only and the poster even had “Doors cover” in the description! Inevitably the same video is posted on countless other FB ukulele pages! Original Ukulele Songs is an oasis in an ocean of cover versions online. I have no issue with great cover versions, BUT imagine if the only movies that were ever released were remakes of “old classics?” Creating original songs in my view is the mark of a true artist. I am fully aware that this is a minority view and such a viewpoint will provoke all manner of responses. OUS unashamedly takes the position of bringing together artists wanting to create something new. At the superb GNUF festival this year one seasoned artist talked about throwing in some cover versions to maintain audience interest. I fully appreciate that for many audiences familiarity is welcome, BUT in my view the real joy of being in an audience is hearing something entirely original. Yes it can be more challenging, but what a great challenge to take up as an artist!

Predictions and trends in the ukulele world

My prediction is that in forthcoming years there will be a polarization of views and there will be a growing (and in my view welcome) trend of artists focusing on creating original material. The new collaborations element on this site has sparked some really excellent and fascinating end results. Original Ukulele Songs is not about creating the best song ever in first draft or becoming the next Joni Mitchell, but rather engaging in the process of musical creation. I totally appreciate that may not be an easy process for many folks, but if we are to move beyond the dreadful prepackaged pouty X Factor style “entertainment” there needs to be a different dynamic. When I set up OUS a year ago and approached a number of seasoned artists they all made the same observation that with a few notable exceptions, the ukulele scene needed a new injection of creative energy. This of course is a personal view and many will disagree. This may even be a minority view. There’s always a place for a mass strum of “Wagon Wheel” but OUS will always be the small but growing oasis in an ocean of cover versions. How else will future classic songs appear without such creative activity?

Special thanks

In 2017 we’ll be unveiling Phase 3 OUS and its going to be great…

Special thanks to longstanding OUS folks who have maintained the energy of this project, including Alan Thornton. Bianca Brochet, Matt Hicks, Shirley Cranstoun, Sean Hunt, Liz Panton, Kristy Worden, Paul Cameron and many others.

Warm Regards


nick cody



Alan Thornton & Graham Smith

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Graham offered to send Alan an idea for a song, and he agreed happily. It was about a 12 second sound file that had a few notes and a few words and a rhythmic structure all wrapped up into one package. Alan listened to it twice and immediately wrote two verses, waited until morning and listened to them with a fresh set of ears and a mug of coffee. He sent it to Graham and waited …

Graham wrote back that it was worth working on  and, as he sent along an idea for the middle. Alan made some changes and sent it and  sent the third verse back thinking it might be enough to call the effort a song. What he sent was sort of dark, though and after discussion Graham sent a closing verse with a bit more optimism, and we agreed to wrap it up there.

All of this took a few days, but most of that was waiting for responses since we live in different time zones and both have jobs to do


Nick Cody & Alan Thornton

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Out With The Old – possibly not the finished version but a song that young Nick Cody and I’ve (Alan Thornton) been working on.

It’s about a Uke player who retires one old instrument after falling in lust with a new one. So…science fiction I guess.


Iain Glencross & Mia Lotus

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Iain Glencross (aka Hawaiian shirt racer) wanted to experiment with adding video in the video I made. He usually plays ukulele he is in the OUS group too. But the truth is that he is really is my garden gnome jamming with me.


Zacq & Mari

Nam Nam:

Website & Social Media:


About Zacq & Mari:

Both are both: teachers and students, musicians and fans alike.

Zacquine, a classically trained pianist, choir singer and painter/illustrator, is the main voice of the duo.

She hand-paints her signature designs on ukuleles, guitars and other musical instruments. Being involved in “Songs For The Sea: Ukulele Sirens” (Website:, it was Zacquine who took on the job of designing a mascot logo for this worldwide collaborative project of (foremost female) ukulele players/singers that was subsequently used on the Ukulele Sirens T-Shirt and might serve as the digital album art for the forthcoming sampler of the same name (estimated iTunes release: May 2017).

Another field she works in is Manga/Anime art and illustrations.

This can be seen in their video to the original ukulele song “Drawn To You” (video link in Point No. 3 above).


Not only as musicians, but as human beings in general, we all carry our own music within ourselves. This is innate. It is hard to say when we actually channeled that, sat down and “brought it to paper” or started recording it. It is a process, with its origin hard to pinpoint.

Our biggest influence was and still is: MUSIC! We wouldn’t even start to drop any artistes’ names here.

Tips that we’ve found useful are:

  • One way to get started is by consciously listening to songs (of all genres).
  • Analyze, internalize (structures), copy/cover, alter, “make them your own”, try around,
  • play (around with) music.
  • Learning by doing. Trial-and-error.
  • Record yourself, get others’ opinions.

But let’s face it: like with any other craft, if you want to go somewhere, you do need some sort of a background. So, the theory of harmony is not only helpful – at a certain point it becomes indispensable.

Like any (other) instrument, the ukulele has both: certain specific qualities/possibilities and limitations as well.

Go, explore – know these and find out how to use them to your advantage or where you have to work around that.

— — — — —

Book recommendation:

“Songwriters on Songwriting”, Paul Zollo, DaCapoPress


Mia Lotus & Sean Hunt

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Collaboration between Mia Lotus (Bianca Brochet) and Sean Hunt. This track is called Rain.


Paul Cameron & Sean Hunt

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This is take 2 for Paul Cameron’s melody to Sean Hunt’s ‘I Used To Be A Gambling Man’ lyrics.



The Power of Ukulele collaborations

We just launched the Collaborations page here on the site. This is a key part of the BIGGER OUS project, where artists work together to create original material. The OUS Platform on the FB page has already generated some great material which is now on the link above. My own experience of writing with other artists is that it can be a fascinating and inspirational experience. With my own band The Small Change Diaries many of the tracks are co written with Jessica Bowie. Often between us we’ll knock a song into shape from the initial concept and to date some of the best material has emerged through this process. We meet every week and have done so for almost three years. I have realised that developing a body of work requires ongoing time and energy.

With The Original Ukulele Songs project, collaborations allow us as ukulele artists to work in an entirely new way. I am literally blown away by what’s already appearing with collaborations across the globe. This is from what I know something very different and opens up a world of new possibilities. The “ukulele community” has been criticized for being very insular and this initiative in my view creates a very different dynamic. I have worked on a few songs with Alan Thornton and also am working with Percy Copley and Phil Dolemen.

Of course many of the great songs were done through songwriting partnerships. Think Jagger/Richards, Lennon/McCartney and Goffin/King. In all these instances terrific original songs appeared through two minds working in unison. Sometimes one would write the lyrics, the other the music or one would have the main idea and the other would act as editor. The Original Ukulele Songs project is unfolding in very specific stages and in 2017 I’ll be revealing stage three would is quite amazing. Until then the current phase 2.5 is proving to be quite extraordinary and I applaud all those who have taken the time to work in this way. In a world where often material is simply recycled and presented as cover versions, it’s a genuine joy to hear something truly new and original.



Mia Lotus & Lynne Craggs-Morris

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This collaboration – for Beach Song – was started by Bianca Brochet aka Mia Lotus……who requested music to go with lovely lyrics she had posted on the original site.  The lyrics had meaning for me so I had fun setting them to music and was happy when Bianca liked the end product.

I have sung for a long time but have only been playing the Uke for about 3 years and love how it can accompany a voice to give harmonies.  I started to write my own songs about a year ago (although I wrote poetry before that.) but did not have the confidence to show them to anyone but The Original Ukulele Song Platform has changed all that.

I have now been asked to play and sing for others and have started posting my Original Songs with some covers( sorry Nick Cody) on youtube @ Ukelyn.