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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #71


    I played a lot today out on the porch with the kamaka. That thing really resonates and I guess it should for the price I paid for it!

    There isn't a lot going on in my blues workbook. We're done with the chords and now the focus is on riffs. It is kind of boring, to be honest. However once I get through this section I can start putting it together with chords to create some stop-time blues. Obviously I could get bogged down in riffs indefinitely since there are so many.

    I spent a lot more time practicing my blues scales modes. Since the ionian, dorian, and aeolian have roots on the first and third strings, I seamlessly moved between them. It almost sounds like I know what I'm doing. The only problem is that I am in essence improvising a blues solo that doesn't have a context. It all sounds good, and that's good enough for now, but I will eventually have to put this stuff into the context of a song. Maybe just playing over a progression will be enough.

  2. #72


    I have been doing more of the same. I heard a Beatles song and I looked up the chord progression. I played it a few times, then I just started playing the melody. I was impressed by that. However I played it in F#. When I consulted my Beatles book of complete scores I saw that the song had 3 sharps, which would put it in the key of A. So at this point I can't say I have a good ear but I do have some ability of knowing when to employ a step versus a half-step in going from note to note.

    I notice that I have been obsessed with double-stops lately. I like the sound; it is somewhat reminiscent of a European siren.

    I have also noticed that I have been getting sloppy and not using my straps. This is less than optimal because then I hunch over the ukulele. It also means that I am looking at the fretboard. I need to learn to play by touch and not by sight, so that I can use my eyes to do other read the music. Also the straps situate the ukulele differently on my body and I want to get used to that, in order to gain some muscle memory in my fingers and wrist.

  3. #73


    Either a car or a tree knocked down a utility pole on the north side of town (reports from passers-by were mixed). Regardless I took the opportunity to take my Cordoba on the porch and play in the dark. It was good because I couldn't see. I am really much too much dependent on looking at my hands. I feel I am getting too far afield with learning a bunch of fancy stuff. I am going to go back and firm up my knowledge of the major and minor triads along with their dom7 variants.

  4. #74


    with warmer weather, I've been practicing outside on the porch without any lights. It encourages playing by touch. As for substance, I've been practicing my triads and some of the blues modes that I don't usually play. There are three modes, which I call the lydian, mixolydian, and phyrgian, that have roots on the E string. I practiced those for a while. Then I started playing a progression of A-C-Csus4 and fell into a contemplative stupor.

  5. #75


    I had been playing my kamaka with re-entrant tuning exclusively. I got my Cordoba out today. All the strings were perfectly in tune and it was a joyous reunion. That thing just hangs off me better, I can play the notes better. Of course I also heavily favor the linear tuning so that I can play all four strings when practicing my blues scales. It is still my favorite. Perhaps it is the strings. The kamaka came with, I think, D'addario strings. They are nylon. I find nylon overly large and clumsy. I am too parsimonious to change the strings just because I want to. I will be glad when the time comes for re-stringing and I can try Worth strings on it. Nylon is also very bright; I am more of a warm string enthusiast. However I bought the kamaka to be bright with its spruce top. Re-entrant tunings have their place.

    Anyway, that's for the future. For tonight I just practiced my triads and for a long time I just fingerpicked a nice progression with Travis picking of C to Cmaj7 to Amin to Fmaj to G7 to C. It just sounds mellow and like I know what I'm doing. My neighbor was nearby and has different standards so I played the introduction to Stairway to Heaven in Amin for him to show that I knew how to play. The first measure doesn't sound as good as it does on a re-entrant tuning but I passed it off.

  6. #76


    I have been busy with ukulele stuff.

    First of all, I have been getting sloppy once again and just grabbing the ukulele to play it. When I do that I tend to tilt it upward and look at the fretboard while I'm playing. I simply must beat it into my head to use my straps. That forces me to play by touch. It also sounds better. The resonation is really amplified, especially with my kamaka which was resonant to begin with. That's what $2000 gets you: unparalleled resonance.

    So I've been practicing my bread and butter chords: major and minor triads as well as major and minor dom7s. There are only a few that elude my memory. As of this writing it is the gmin7.

    I am committed to finishing my ukulele blues book. Unfortunately I am already doing a lot of what the latter half of the book goes through: slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, scales, and improvising. However I am sure that going through it systematically will benefit me. Right now I am finishing up the section on riffs. Obviously the acquisition of riffs can last a lifetime, but the book gave 4 as a starting point. I was practicing the Stevie Ray Vaughn riff in a blues progression. The book played the C and F but for the G it played the chords since doing the riff would take it into the realm of the 11th fret which most ukuleles would struggle with. But I was "au contraire, mon frere"--I have a $2000 special ukulele that easily plays up to 19 frets. So I played the progression in G as well. That was a nice feeling.

    Speaking of feeling, I sure will be glad when one of the strings snaps so that I can replace it with fluorocarbon.

    I was listening to John Coltrane and he was using the "Spanish Scale." I started playing it and improvising with it on the ukulele. I noticed it has a lot in common with the 4th blues mode so I was just jamming around with those things for a while.

    Then I slowly practiced some standard modes: the ionian and aeolian. The problem I have with those is again of my own doing. I learned them using my horrible ergonomics of holding the fretboard up. Now that I am using a strap, the angle is a bit different so that my fingers often stray from their frets. Again I really have to be dogmatic about using my strap so that I can re-train the muscle memory to accommodate this new angle so I can play fast again.

  7. #77


    It was a peaceful morning, 3am, sitting on the porch. The moon was slipping behind a tree, someone in the distance someone was coughing as he smoked pot on his porch, and I was doing some stuff on the baritone.

    I've been working on a progression in g minor (g minor, g sus4, c sus4, cm7, gm7, c7sus4)

    I learned the nuts and bolts behind double stops. We all have heard Chuck Berry or Keith Richards play them and we know what they are, but I never actually knew which two notes to stop. I was shown to take a 7 chord like c7 (3433) and play the notes on the C and A strings. Keep the fingers in that position but move it up or down the fretboard. Fun stuff.

    I have always been into viol music and people like Marais and Sainte-Colombe. Today I was listening to the latter and I really like his phrasings. They are longish and have the rhythm of someone talking in their sleep: there is coherence which devolves into mere morphemes and mumblings, and then to silence. I am confident I could play some of it if I could get some sheet music. That recalls for me the importance of notation. With tabs the player is at the mercy of some smart person who converts the music to tabs. Fortunately I don't need such a middle man. I can go directly to the source. For me that is important because it means I don't have to play ukulele music like "somewhere over the rainbow"; I can play whatever I want.

  8. #78


    It was one of those days when I felt I was straying too far afield. So I practiced major and minor triads in vacuo, and then I played blues progressions in all twelve keys--in both the major and the minor.

    I, of course, am going to delve ahead in my Blues workbook which is about to start introductions, which shouldn't be a problem. Since I am, without a few lapses of memory, on fairly solid ground with my major and minor triads as well as the major and minor 7's, I am going to expand my core chords to include add6's. My Chord Wheel indicates that add6's are readily interchanged with the IV chord and minor add6's with the ii chord. I don't normally utilize the ii chord, but I could easily remedy that by doing that old jazz thing, the ii V I.

  9. #79


    Since I had alluded to it in a thread recently, I busted out my Oscar Schmidt. I know it is only a laminate but the spalted mango is actually very pretty. When I got my kamaka, I re-strung the Oscar with clear Worth strings. Those things sure are insubstantial. And not in a bad way. I mean it was like playing with cobwebs. I could easily bend those strings up a whole step. I plugged into my amp and played around. By turning the amp to the wall and not getting near it, I could turn the volume up to 4 without feedback--and that's with gain, overdrive, and distortion. It was gloriously loud. I had just started to use my brass slide when I got quite an evil eye from my wife (she has a migraine). I thought it would be better to go outside for a while.

    So I went outside with my kamaka and practiced major add6 chords and I just played slowly some ionic and aeolian modes just to burn the pattern into the muscles.
    Last edited by ripock; 06-18-2017 at 05:30 PM.

  10. #80
    Join Date
    Oct 2016


    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    I have always been into viol music and people like Marais and Sainte-Colombe.... I am confident I could play some of it if I could get some sheet music.
    My husband is a bass viol enthusiast and plays a lot of Marais and Sainte-Colombe. A lot is available free from Imslp, e.g. Sainte-C's Suite in G minor. Enjoy!
    Latecomer to uke but loving it! Baton Rouge U108S soprano, Kiwaya KS-5 soprano, Uluru II concert low G, Barnes & Mullins banjolele UBJ2.

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