Learn to play "Nightbird" by Kalapana on Ukulele
"Nightbird" by Kalapana is regarded as one of the greatest songs of Hawaii and now, you can learn to play it too! Written by the late, great Mackey Feary and released on Kalapana's debut album in 1975, "Nightbird" would become one of the band's most popular songs. Here we break down the chords, strumming, and picking for this song so you can play one of Hawaii's greatest hits. Try it out by playing along with the Play-Along video above and if you need help learning this song, start with any of the steps below:
STEP 1 - Chords
Begin by learning these 10 simple chords:
It may seem like a lot of chords to memorize at first, but half of them are 1-finger chords! Try them out and practice switching between them. If you're an intermediate player or if you're feeling adventurous, you can also learn Dm7:
During the song, you can substitute Dm7 any time you see a Dm (you can also substitute Cmaj7 any time you see a C). Once you have these chords down, you can play along with the song! Head up to the top of the page and play along with the "Nightbird" Ukulele Play-Along to practice. When you're ready to add some rhythm to your chords, move on to Step 2:
STEP 2 - Rhythm / Strumming
Next, add some rhythm to your chords with a simple strum. Start by finding the basic tempo for the song and doing down strums where you feel each beat. After that, double up the strums and add up strums in between the downs. You can add or take away strums and add more advanced rhythm techniques from here. As long as you're keeping a steady rhythm and grooving along with the song, you should be golden. Check out the video above for Aldrine's strumming explanation.
When you find a rhythm that feels right to you, practice it by playing along with the "Nightbird" Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page. Nice job, you can play the entire song now! If you're up for the challenge, continue on to Step 3:
STEP 3 - Intro Picking
Finally, use the picking practice video above to learn and practice the picking for this song. This ukulele picking emulates the flute intro in the original recording. As a note, this picking features the campanella technique, which works best for High G ukulele setups. Feel free to refer to the "Nightbird" Ukulele Picking Intro TAB, if you need any additional help and use the gear icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video player to select a different playback speed. When you're ready, try it out using the "Nightbird" Ukulele Play-Along at the top of the page to play along with the entire song.
Awesome job! If you like this and want to explore more classic songs from Hawaii to learn and play, check out the Ukulele Tutorials - Hawaiian section on UU. And as always, if you have questions about playing this or any song on your ukulele, just send a message, we're here to help you out! Keep strummin'