Ukulele Video Lesson - Ketchy Shuby

This ukulele video lesson covers Ketchy Shuby, by Peter Tosh. This is a rather complex piece rhythmically, and will likely be very demanding for beginning players. For those who want to expand their skills and learn a bit about how to play reggae properly, however, it offers a great deal.

Ketchy Shuby has a very mellow sound to it, but the rhythm is very strong. The vocal lines freely wander around the rhythm, giving it a somewhat improvised sound and a more relaxed feel.

The rhythm of the strumming is classic reggae, with the guitar alternating between being very soft and making staccato emphasis on the offbeat of the measure. The chords largely center on C, D and G, all easily within the range of a beginner player, but played in a way in the song that offers plenty of opportunities to learn.

The chorus –ketchy, ketchy, shuby, shuby – takes up a great deal of the song, being repeated over and over again. The lyrics are largely repetitive and the song should have a wandering, upbeat feel to it.

In most of the instances in the song where the refrain is played, the guitar improvises a bit between the stanzas. Provided you are advanced enough or, perhaps, just bold enough, you might want to try improvising a bit on the ukulele in these lulls between the singing.

This song is played at around 154 BPM, certainly a brisk pace, but the way the rhythm is structured and the way the vocals play out over it make it feel a bit more laconic than the BPM would indicate.

A Little History About This Ukulele Video Lesson

Ketchy Shuby originally appeared on the album Legalize It, released in 1976. The song is among the more lighthearted pieces that Peter Tosh recorded during his career, and the Legalize It album, despite its overt political message in the title and title track, does have several songs that aren’t particularly political and that are quite catchy.

Peter Tosh is one of the biggest names in reggae and, in fact, was one of the Wailers, the band who was fronted by Bob Marley. He decided to pursue his own career in the mid-1970s, after Bob Marley became such a recognizable front man. He went on to record with well-known musicians of the era and did perform with Bob Marley later in his career, as well.

The meaning of the song is not readily apparent from the lyrics, which seem almost purposefully vague at times. According to people who have done their research, it’s safe to say that the song may be taken as something of a come on or the song may be a reference to life in general and, on the whole, how it can be perceived as largely being nothing more than a game of soccer/football.

Either way, this may not be the most well-known reggae song out there, but it is a very good choice in songs to learn if you want to learn more about reggae music, how to play it and some of its most important artists, outside of Bob Marley.

The song, because of the quick, very agile strumming on the part of the guitar on the original recording might be a bit difficult for a beginning player to emulate. Learning this skill, however, is one that will serve any musician very well as they advance and this is a particularly fun song to learn it from. The casual and somewhat repetitive nature of the song makes it an excellent choice for jamming and trying out new types of improvisation and enjoying the experience of just playing music.

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