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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #121
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    Feb 2017
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    I've been practicing the problematic strums: clawhammer and travis.

    I made a bit of a discovery. I can now play D minor in the regular fashion. I had always played it by playing an F but flattening my ring finger so that it spread over the G and C strings. The problem with this technique is that it is very tempermental. Depending on factors which I am not quite aware of, somedays it works and somedays it doesn't. Because of gaining competency in other areas, I now have, unbeknownst to me, the ability to play it with three fingers, which is an improvement because by playing it that way no string is ever muted. I never would have guessed at this kind of cross-over. Oh well. I wonder when the m7#5 chords will magically appear in my repetoire.

    There have been some fussy threads around here lately. Fussy sounds bad. Let's call it exacting. I haven't taken part in them because I don't really feel I have anything to add. They don't seem important to me. To wit, they are which A to tune to and at which fret do you tune. These topics do nothing for me but cause me to shrug. I can't even say that I am overly fastidious in my tuning. On my tuner, the pointer points straight up at 12 o'clock when it is pitch perfect. But to be honest I don't even fuss with the pegs as long as the pointer is somewhere between 11 o'clock and one o'clock. As for the 432 A...I think it is mainly psychological. If it floats your boat, go for it. We all do things that are negligible or even untrue because it makes us happy. I have some idiosyncratic views on strings that someone could probably scientifically disprove, but they organize my outlook and make me happy to follow them as precepts. Live and let live.

  2. #122
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    Feb 2017
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    In an old steno notebook I found some investment notes and chord progressions.

    There are two versions of what appears to be 12-bar blues in Bb. It also contains what I recognize as a Be-Bop version of the same. I scratched that out because it is too busy for my tastes.

    What follows is somewhat puzzling. The first thing, at least, appears to be a turnaround. It is an 8-chord progression which could be used in the final two bars of the blues if you gave each chord one beat. Here it is:

    I /\
    vi -7
    ii -7
    V 7
    iii -7
    VI 7
    ii -7
    V 7

    That seems a bit rococo, but I played a blues in C that I know and inserted that progression into the final bars and it works, especially since it has the ii-V-I built into it. It is a bit desultory but it does work.

    Don't ask me what's on the rest of the page because I couldn't say for sure. It is all nice in a listless jazzy kind of way but I don't know if they're turnarounds, intros, free-standing songs, or what. For example, at the bottom of the page there is a 10 chord progression:

    C/\, C7, F/\, F-7, E-7, A7, D-9, G13, C6/9, C/\

    Play it. It is nice. Admittedly I dislike the finger-spread of the F-7 and I actually had to consult my binder to refresh my memory regarding a D-9. Aside from that it is a pretty little progression. I don't know why I wrote it down but it was fun to find it and play it.

    Tomorrow I think I should have a right-hand day. I am feeling like pulling out the re-entrant Kamaka and practicing some clawhammer as well as some arpeggios.

  3. #123
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    Feb 2017
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    I've been getting lazy. I have just been sitting down and playing without a strap. For me that isn't too good because when I do that I tend to tilt the fretboard up so that I can see it. That, in turn, is bad because it then prevents me from playing by touch. There isn't anything inherently wrong with that, except that it is one of my goals not to do that. Therefore, for me it is bad. Plus, playing while standing is better. We sit down way too much--so much so, that our hip flexors and back muscles get contracted and cramped. And if you ever play in public, it will probably be whilst standing, so it is better just to get used to it. In fact, the custom ukulele I commissioned doesn't even have fret markers because I shouldn't be looking at them anyways. I could go on for an extended period of time about what I like about straps, but I will just end with saying that I also like the rhythm of moving and playing.

    Life derailed this, the penultimate day of my holiday weekend. Instead of practicing as I had hoped, I just squeezed in some wanking around with augmented chords and in narrowing down a list of turnarounds I found. Some of them were impractical, or too blase, or not to my taste. I kept four of them.

    1. iii7 VI7 ii7 V7 that's a good, solid turnaround
    2. I/\ bIII7 II7 bII7 this one is a bit goofy with that descending chromatic sound
    3. I/\ bII0 ii7 V7 this one's the same as #1 except the 11th bar has that nice diminished chord
    4. I/\ bII/\

  4. #124
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    Feb 2017
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    I just bought a brand new Blackstar amplifier and it is completely awesome! It is 75 watts and totally solid state. You pick from six tubes to get the head-room, sag, and bias of that tube. Of course, I stuck to the EL84 and 6L6 because they are so traditional to the blues. To be honest, there isn't a lot of difference in those settings. It is more of a tonal nuance. It also has built in distortion, overdrive, reverb, phase, flang, delays, and chorus. In fact, the only things I could possibly want that isn't in the amp is some fuzz and maybe some boost. For my purpose, being a bedroom-practicer--although I never play in the bedroom--this thing is excellent. Maybe if I were allowed to turn the volume above 2, to play a gig or something, then I would hear some flaws...but as it is, it is perfect.

    I played around with the amp for a spell, playing stuff I normally play but with obscene levels of gain, overdrive, and flange. I tuned my uke to an open C and practiced a ton of slide.

    That was the fun stuff, then I had to get back to basics: I did an hour of re-calibrating practice with standing practice. I need to re-train my muscles because the angles are different. So I just played four fret blocks trying to actually hit the strings. Once I nailed that, I practiced the phrygian mode. This is going to take a while.


    Now that I have an awesome amp, I need a totally electric instrument. I am about to order a 4 string cigar box guitar, tuned like a baritone ukulele. I have to special order the fret markers because this luthier is a guitar maker and they have that inexplicable perversity of putting a dot on the ninth fret! Have they no sense of history?

    The sequence of open, 3, 5, 7, 10 is the most essentially American sound that exists. It is the minor pentatonic. The sound the Africans brought with them and which captivated their captors. It is the backbone of the blues, jazz, R & B, and rock and roll. It is the sound that skiffle bands such as the beatles, rolling stones, and Jimmy Page all sought and which they used to invade the airwaves of the United States.

    And it is American, or at least something outside of the European experience. I remember many years ago reading a R.L. Stevenson novel--I think it was Black Arrow--and in it a character was described as a generally good person although when he whistled it was a bit too negroid. And what is negroid? It is having that good old flatted third and seventh that is so much a part of the pentatonic. I had a similar personal experience when I visited a friend for a PhD study group, he had a harpsichord. I sat down and improvised a bit and shocked my friend. Apparently, I use a lot more black keys than he does in his lessons, which undoubtably were along European lines.

    So we need to stand up for the ten-spot! Just play the dots using the 10 (flatted 7th) and then the 9 (sixth). That 9 is so meh. So mayonnaise.

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