BY VICTORIA VOX | FROM THE SUMMER 2021 ISSUE OF UKULELE
I first met Casey MacGill in June 2009 at the Portland Ukulele Festival. He led the band for “Swing Night,” and, in addition to taking swing dance classes with the campers, each performer/instructor presented two songs to play with the band. I was struck by Casey’s kindness and interest in learning my original songs, and also his openness and patience in teaching me songs I didn’t know. Over the years we kept in touch, as we continued to share stages at ukulele festivals, so it was a no-brainer to ask him to play cornet on my 2015 album, When the Night Unravels.
On September 22, 2016, I sang a little ditty into my iPhone voice memos: “Daytime Moon, bah, duh, bah duh, bah..” Yes, that’s how most of my songs start—with a title or hook and some light scatting or complete gibberish. A week later I was again at the Port Townsend Uke Fest with Casey and others. I had already planted the seed to write with Casey for my upcoming album. The plan was for me to crash at his place for an extra day after the festival before heading back to Baltimore. When he asked me the next day if I had any ideas for a song, I took out my phone and played back what little I had for “Daytime Moon.” He straddled the piano bench as I sat in a chair next to the piano with my ukulele. I came up with the chord progression, and then the lyrics just started coming once we established the melody and lyric refrain.
About a year later, I was recording my Colorful Heart album and brought “Daytime Moon” to the table. I wanted to do something different with the song, so Hal Ratliff (my co-producer) started playing the changes through MIDI with different instruments, until we came across a music box sound that I loved. The recording ended up having more of a Disney-esque vibe, with strings, backing vocals, and a faintly plucked ukulele in the background. But when I play it live, it takes on a jazzy swing vibe similar to how Casey and I wrote it. I love both versions.
“Daytime Moon” might sound—and look—complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple. The song uses the classic 32-bar AABA song structure, so once you’ve learned the eight-bar A section, you’ll know 75 percent of the song! For an arrangement suggestion, I’d recommend doing a full pass through the first A section (bars 1–8) before the lyrics start.
Take things slowly, and don’t be intimidated by all those fancy chord names. The A section’s progression actually makes a really nice loop of shapes, moving up the neck to the fifth fret and then back down. You’ll notice that the Eb6 is identical to the Cm7. Also, Bdim7 and Fdim7 share both the same notes and fingering, but are played at different frets —diminished chords are so fun in their symmetry!
Take your time getting all of the chords under your fingers, as each one flows nicely into the next, and look for the most efficient fingerings throughout. For instance, you can maintain a first-finger barre to keep things smooth when switching between the chords in bars 11–13.
As for strumming, any common-time pattern could work, but I’d recommend a simple quarter-note jazz strum, for a nice, easy vibe. I hope you enjoy playing “Daytime Moon”!