Aug 24, 2017

Ukulele tips: Play Little Drummer Boy. Learn "D" or English Tuning


Little Drummer Boy; Behind the music

The words and music to the Christmas song Little Drummer Boy were composed by Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone in 1958. The lyrics of Little Drummer Boy consist of no less than 21 rum pum pum pum' - a major part of the song and therefore presenting an apparently easy task for the lyricist!


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Little Drummer Boy has been a huge hit for several artists. The most notable rendition was created by the most unlikely combination of Bing Crosby and David Bowie. This version of Little Drummer Boy was a massive hit for the artists and was in fact Bing Crosby's most successful recording since the legendary White Christmas.

Learn "English" or "D" tuning


If you've never tried English tuning you should! It really brings out the sound in some soprano ukuleles, you might like it and use it often.


Here's how to do it


Tune to A, D, F#, B rather than G, C, E, A, it's just one step higher.

Here are how the chords will look after you tune to D


You'll notice these look like chords you already know!

(After you tune to D) you'll use the following chords as indicated below:


  • Use a C chord for D
  • Use a G7 chord for A7
  • Use an F for the G

Substituting a a Major chord for a 7 Chord


If you like you can substitute a Major cord for the 7 chord, if you did that the chords would look like this; 

Advanced tip:
You can always substitute a major chord for a 7 chord like this, using a 7 chord in the 5th position or for the IV chord like we see here will have a more dynamic sound and helps lead back to the chord in the 1st position or the I chord.


numbers are strums between the verses to help you count and start to sing each verse at the correct time

(D) Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4) 
(1) A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4) 
(A7) (1) Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4) 
(1) To lay before the king, pa rum pum pum (G) pum, rum pum pum (A7) pum, rump pa pum pum (2, 3, 4) 

(D) So to honor him pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4) 
(A7) When we (D) come (2. 3. 4) 

(D*) Little baby, pa rum pump um pum (3, 4) 
(1) I am a poor boy too pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4) 
(A7) (1) I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4) 
(1) That’s fit to give the king pa rum pum pum (G) pum, rum pum pum (D) pum, rump um pum (A7) pum (2, 3, 4)

(D) Shall I play for him pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4)
(A7) On my (D) drum (2. 3. 4) 

(D*) Mary nodded, pa rum pump um pum (3, 4)
(1) The ox and lamb kept time pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4)
(A7) (1) I played my drum for him, pa rum pum pum pum (3,4)
(1) I played my best for him pa rum Pum pum (G) pum, rum pum pum (D) pum, rump pum pum (A7) pum (2, 3, 4)

(D) Then he smiled at me pa rum pum pum pum (3, 4)
(A7) Me and my (D) drum (2. 3. 4)



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