Ukulele Video Lessons - Redemption Song

In this series of ukulele video lessons I'll be teaching you how to play Redemption Song. Redemption Song is one of Bob Marley's best-known and most beloved songs. A relatively complex melody, Marley's relaxed vocals make it easy to sing and, despite the fact that it has some complexity to it, it's a great song to learn on a ukulele for a beginning or intermediate player. The acoustic guitar technique use in the song translates well to the ukulele's range and it's easily played in the key of G, making it ideal for this instrument.

The Introduction

Redemption Song opens up with a very simple, single-string line. This is easily played on the ukulele, but remember to give it a softness when you're playing it. This is not an aggressive song, and the lilting, laid-back feel of the introduction provides the setup for the song itself.

The introduction can be played with a pick or the fingers effectively. It is played solely on the E and A strings of the ukulele, with all notes being 5th position or below.

Watch This Ukulele Video Lesson: Redemption Song

Redemption Song has a very characteristic reggae feel to it, so remember to emphasize the upstrokes at the appropriate times when you're playing the rhythm. This gives the song the feel of constantly moving forward, but doesn’t make it sound hard or heavy at all. Striking this balance takes some skill. Using your hand rather than a pick may be easier at first.

The chord progression is: G, E minor, C, B minor, E Minor, G, E minor, C, B minor, D for the verses. The chord progression for the Interludes is: E minor, C, D. For the chorus, the progression alternates between G, C, D, G and G, C, D, E minor, giving the song its exotic sound.

There are three verses and choruses in this song, plus the breakdowns, or interludes. The breakdown is usually played four times during the song and three times at the end. This is a fun an easy song to learn on the ukulele and helps to develop good technique.

By Ear

Armed with the chords, you can play along with YouTube videos of this song or with the original album. The YouTube videos can help you to learn by watching an experienced ukulele player and playing along with an album can help you learn how the music's intricate but subtle rhythmic structures are put together by Marley's band.

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