Harmony – Playing Doubled Lead Lines On The Ukulele

Harmony is a really neat facet of music, it’s kind of a shame that there aren’t more harmonized ukulele parts.

Anytime you play a chord you are playing harmony. Anytime one or more people sing backup in a different interval they are singing harmony. But there is plenty of info out there about that kind of harmony. This lesson will focus on two ukuleles playing lead at the same time in different intervals. The Allman Brothers made this style famous with their simultaneous guitar licks.

I will use “E Ku’u Morning Dew” as an example for building a harmony part. It is in G. We start again with the lovely major scale.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8-1
G A B C D E F# G

The melody of “E Ku’u Morning Dew” goes like this:


The notes are: G D G A B C A.

There are several common ways of harmonizing notes – 3rds, 5ths, and 6ths. There are others that have a different sound, but they are not so widely used. Any can be used in an ukulele part, so you will have to listen to them and decide what sound you like best. You are probably going to want to record yourself playing the main melody so that you have something to build from. Or if you have a friend who plays, that works too.

I’ll start harmonizing with thirds. To find a harmony note, first locate the main melody note in the scale. Starting with the first G that appears in the melody.

G a b c d e f# G

Then count up a third, counting the start note and end note.

1 2 3
G A B C D E F# G

The third note is the harmony note – B. To figure out the rest of the harmony part, just start on the melody note and count up a third.

Main melody: G D  G A B C A
3rd harmony: B F# B C D E C

To figure out the 5th harmony just count up a fifth.

Main melody: G D G A B  C A
5th harmony: D A D E F# G E

To figure out 6th harmony just count up a sixth.

Main melody: G D G A  B C A
6th harmony: E B E F# G A F#

You can add harmony to any melody or solo. Experiment.

By Brad Bordessa

I’m an ‘ukulele artist from Honoka’a, Hawai’i, where I run this site from a little plantation house in the jungle. I’ve taught workshops internationally, made Herb Ohta Jr. laugh until he cried, and once borrowed a uke to jam with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me