- Open chords
- Strumming without a pick
Today we’ll be learning Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s (Hawaiian pronunciation: [kəˌmɐkəˌvivoˈʔole]) version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which was originally written for the 1939 move the Wizard of Oz, and was sung by Judy Garland.
The original was nice, but nothing beats Brudha IZ’s version, which we’ll be learning today. I truly think that this song, as performed by IZ, is one of the most enjoyable songs in the world. It has that feel-good, mellow vibe that’s hard to come by these days. No matter how many times I’ve listened to it across the years, I was always able to just relax and enjoy the moment with this song. It brings me great pleasure to teach this song to you, as I hope it will have the same effect on you as well.
IZ plays this song on the ukulele, but we’ll of course be playing it on the guitar. To be able to play it in the same key, we’ll need to place a capo onto the 5th fret. This is how I teach the song, but if you don’t have a capo handy right now, you can learn it without it as well. In this case, you should really get a capo though 🙂
We’ll, first of all, learn the chords to Somewhere Over The Rainbow. They are pretty easy beginner chord shapes in the key of G which you’ll be used to, but for theories sake, know that because of the capo on the 5th fret, you’ll actually be playing in the key of C (5 semitones up from G).
Once you are comfortable with the chords, it’s time to learn the strumming pattern. The strumming will seem a bit awkward at first, so it’s best to practice it on a single chord, or muted strings at first. Notice the swing rhythm, and the different sound effects you create by strumming the strings so many different ways:
- your thumb
- your index fingernail
- your index finger flesh
It’s the combination of these different sounds that give the strumming pattern a ukulele-like vibe.
We’ll be learning all of the parts to the song, starting with the intro, the humming part, the main part, and the chorus as well. Each part is pretty similar, so learn your chords well, they’ll take you far.
Somewhere Over The Rainbow song details
This cover of Somewhere Over The Rainbow was released in 1993 on Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's album called Facing Future. It has been used in numerous commercials, movies, and TV programs including Meet Joe Black, 50 First Dates, Son of the Mask, Snakes on a Plane, Charmed, Cold Case, ER, Life on Mars, and Scrubs.
This version of the song was recorded in 1988, in Honolulu in just one take.
Somewhere Over The Rainbow awards and rankings
The song was originally released in 1993, but it wasn’t till several years later, that it started gaining traction, after having been used in a TV commercial.
To this day, if it is used in a popular commercial or TV show, it starts being played on the radio as well. For example, in 2010, when it was used in an Axe deodorant commercial in Germany, it reached the top of the German singles chart.
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