Mad World Lesson

Mad World Ukulele Lesson

Today we’re going to learn how to play Mad World by Tears For Fears, or Gary Jules if you’re not a big 80s fan (shame on you).

Slight confession before we get started, I’m not sure that I’d ever heard the Tears For Fears version before Gary Jules covered it and topped the charts back in 2001. I still remember the TV advert for Gears Of War that used Gary’s version though, what an ad!

Anyway, enough reminiscing, we’ve got a song to learn.

Mad World Chords

There are just 4 chords in this one, and none of them are particularly difficult. We’ve got a G, a D, an A and an Em. Here’s the chord boxes if you don’t know those yet.

Mad World Ukulele Chords

When Gary plays this on an acoustic guitar (worth checking out the video where he plays alongside Curt Smith from tears For Fears), he uses a capo at fret 1 so be aware of that if you’re wanting to play along with the song.

Strumming Pattern

Realistically this is always going to sound better when fingerpicked, but let’s see if we can work out a pattern that will serve you well. Gary plays this with a fairly simple picking pattern on guitar, but we’re going to try and emulate the very simple chords from his piano version.

I’m going to run with a bit of a hybrid, part picking, part strumming. We’re going to pick the bass note and then strum after. This is a fairly good representation of the original (feels a bit wrong calling Gary’s version original).

So for those of you in re-entrant tuning (i.e. your top string is thinner than the next one down), that will mean picking the C string throughout.
That pattern will look something like this…

Mad World Strumming Pattern

So the T is my thumb plucking the C string on the first and third beat and my index and second finger are plucking the bottom 2 strings on the second and fourth beat

And sound something like this…

Song Structure

There’s a lot of repetition in this song and there are really only three parts to learn. The verse, the pre-chorus and the chorus. The verse has 4 chords, the pre-chorus has 3 and the chorus has 2. Very kind of Roland Orzabal to make it progressively easier as we play through it.

Mad World Song Structure

Mad World Intro

You can’t really play this song without playing the beautiful intro, it would be a bit of a crime. I’ve tabbed out a simple version that shouldn’t be too challenging for you to get to grips with. 

Mad World Ukulele Intro

That sounds something like this…

When you put all of that together you’ve got Mad World.

Now go and see if you can make people really sad by playing it near them.

Solo Version

If you like this song and would like to have a go at a more complicated, solo fingerstyle version then I would encourage you to check out my Patreon channel where Jonathan Lewis and I teach you to become a better player.
Here I am playing a more complicated version of Mad World which is part of the exclusive content on my Patreon channel.

It costs just $5/month and we produce two videos a month with two completely exclusive tabs. Head over to Patreon to find out more.

Grab my free Ukulele Go! beginners pack featuring tips, chords, worksheets and more!

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