'The Nation's Ukulele Orchestra'
BBC News, Radio 4, 23rd September 2014
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  • Arranging for Orchestras

    Ukes are tuned g' c' e' a' for soprano, and d g b e' for baritone.

    The easiest thing is to write for soprano (or concert or tenor: they all usually have the same tuning) in treble clef (assuming 12 frets on the instrument this gives a range from middle c upwards to a, an 8va and a 6th above).

    For baritone, write as though its a classical guitar with the two lowest strings removed (so that means assuming 12 frets, a range from d below middle c, up to e on the top space of the treble clef). Your players might have more frets available and if so could go higher.

    This means the baritone is a transposing instrument, for example, you write a "d" below the bottom line of the treble clef, and when the baritone reads and plays this, it sounds an octave lower than notated. As with guitar.

    "Normal" ukes are tuned in re-entrant fashion (g' c' e' a', rather than g c' e' a'). This enables "between the strings" melodic work (campanile), sustaining adjacently pitched notes on different strings, for a bell like effect. Its a bit idiomatic for some tastes so you might persuade your players to use a low g string (g below middle c, instead of g above middle c) which will give you a wider range on the soprano uke. Baritones are rarely tuned in re-entrant style.

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