You would be hard-pressed to find a more romantic song than ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ by Frank Sinatra. This classic song by the one and only ‘Chairman of the Board’ has become one of the most beloved songs ever recorded and performed, and has remained an extremely popular ballad for people of all ages.
Although it was originally written and titled ‘In Other Words’ by Bart Howard in 1954 and then recorded with Kaye Ballard that same year, Frank’s rendition 10 years later catapulted the song into the stratosphere, going on to sell several million copies worldwide.
‘Fly Me to the Moon’ is a classic song that has stood the test of time over the years, and one that stands far above most songs that are considered to be classics. Whether it’s being played with a full band in a more orchestral style, or simply being played more intimately on the ukulele, it’s a song that is always a crowd-pleasing favorite.
So, in this article, we’ll go through the chords, the timing, the strumming pattern, and also give you some useful tips on how to play the song. ‘Fly me to The Moon’ is a bit of a departure from many other uke songs due its jazzy style and structure, but if you take your time learning the song, you will find it to be a very enjoyable playing and learning experience.
Learning the Chords
As mentioned, some of these chords may seem a little new and unusual if you’re not used to playing jazzier songs. But, ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ was originally written in 4/4 time and can be played entirely with downward strums, which makes it all the more easy to learn.
The First Section
In the first four measures, the chords are A-minor 7 for four beats, D-minor 7 for four beats, G7 for four beats, C-major 7 for two beats, and finally C7 for two beats.
If you’re new to playing the A-minor 7 and D-minor 7 chords, you can choose to play standard A-minor and D-minor chords, which will still sound great. Also, when playing the G7 chord, don’t be tempted to play the simpler version that uses open strings. Instead, try playing the G7 chord where you place all four of your fingers slightly higher up on the fretboard while pressing down on all of the strings.
A variation of the G7 chord
The Second Section
Once you’re ready to move onto the second section, the chords are F-major 7 for four beats, B-minor 7 flat 5 (also known as a B half diminished) for four beats, E7 for four beats, A-minor for two beats, and lastly A7 for two beats.
There are several ways to play the F-major 7 chord, but for ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ playing the chord with your fingers towards end of the fretboard while simultaneously muting the C string really give the song a little extra character. It will still sound good if you play the C string in the open position, but muting the C string works extremely well with this song.
The muted F-major 7 chord
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The Third Section
The first eight bars of ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ contain almost all of the chords that you need to learn how to play. So, once you get comfortable with those chords, the second half of the song and the ending won’t be much of a challenge.
For the third section, the chords are D-minor 7 for four beats, G7 for four beats, C-major 7 for four beats, E-minor 7 for two beats, and then A7 for two beats. Again, start slowly when learning these chords until you move on to the next part of the song.
As for this D-minor 7 chord, there’s another way to play it that’s different from the first measure of the song. For this chord, use your index finger to bar all four strings on the fifth fret. After playing this variation of the D-minor 7, it’s easy to transition to the next set of chords.
The barred D-minor 7 chord
The Fourth Section
For the majority of this section of ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ the chords are the same as the third section. The only difference is with the final, four beats. The chords are D-minor 7 for four beats, G7 for four beats, and then C-major 7 for four beats. The last part of this section is B-minor 7 flat 5 for two beats, and then E7 for two beats.
However, instead of playing a standard D-minor 7 with the first four beats, play a barred D-minor 7 where you are barring the entire fifth fret, just like in the third section of the song. When you feel comfortable with these chord progressions, it’s time to move onto the ending.
The ending of the song is broken up into two, 16-measure bars, and the timing is no different than all of the other parts of the song. The chords for the first half of the ending are A-minor 7 for four beats, D-minor 7 for four beats, G7 for four beats, C-major 7 for two beats, and then C7 for two beats.
For the next part of the ending, the chords are F for four beats, B-minor 7 flat 5 for four beats, E7 for four beats, A-minor 7 for two beats, and then A7 for two beats.
The last eight bars for the ending are D-minor 7 for four beats, G7 for four beats, E-minor 7 for four beats, A7 for four beats, D-minor 7 barred for four beats, back to a G7 for four beats, and then end with the last eight beats playing a C6 chord. You can either play a barred version of the C6 chord, or simply play all four of your strings in the open position depending on how you want to finish the song.
The barred version of the C6 chord
Learning the Strumming
Since ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ is in 4/4 time, it’s a simpler song than you may think, despite the jazz chords and swing beat. Above all, when first learning it, start slowly with gentle, downward strums until you feel like you have memorized the song structure.
Once you get comfortable with the timing and the chord changes, you can start to add gentle, upstroke accents at the end of every second and fourth beat, as well as incorporating muted chords with the downstrokes. But, again, learn the chords and their progressions before you begin focusing on the strumming.
Practicing and Mastering the Song
‘Fly Me to the Moon’ is a classic among classics, but surprisingly easy to learn once you take your time to practice it. The chords may be a little unusual if you’re not familiar with jazz or big band music, but being rooted in 4/4 time make it a surprisingly easy and fun song to learn.
So, while you are learning how to play it, be sure to take your time, focus on your strumming and chord changes, and above all, make sure that you enjoy your learning experience.
Enjoy your playing!