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fowl
12-28-2013, 09:25 AM
So last night I'm strummin my uke having a great time and then my old arthritic fingers start hurting. I do what I often do and turn the body of my Flea into a poor mans bongo set. I'm doing what I think is pretty good rhythm and my wife calls out, "You sound like a Beatnik coffeehouse". I came of age in the late 50's era so I take this as a compliment. Well she lets me know that it definitely is not and I get banished again to the room at the end of the hall.

bborzell
12-28-2013, 09:36 AM
I can't honestly say that I have ever heard your wife refer to me as sounding like a Beatnik coffeehouse. Then again, I often tune out extraneous noise.:D

PhilUSAFRet
12-28-2013, 09:57 AM
Haven't heard you play bongo's, but I have heard folks bang on them that were under the illusion they had rythym!!!! LOL :cool:

OldePhart
12-28-2013, 10:35 AM
I can't honestly say that I have ever heard your wife refer to me as sounding like a Beatnik coffeehouse. Then again, I often tune out extraneous noise.:D

I nominate this for post of the week!

Now, as to the original post: Let's lay aside for a moment the fact that many people think they can play percussion well than really can, and let's assume that you really are a rhythmic and percussive gift to mankind - there is still a common problem with many "improvised drums." Our brains have this habit of filling in the blanks and "hearing" what we intended to do rather than just faithfully interpreting signals from our ears. So, when we are beating on something improvised we may very well "hear" the intended "thump shtickity tap tap" but what people around us, who haven't the benefit of a direct connection to our brain, actually hear is something more like "thud thud thud thud".

John

fowl
12-28-2013, 01:13 PM
I think you are probably right John. Like with most things in my life I go "thud".

Booli
12-28-2013, 05:50 PM
... So, when we are beating on something improvised we may very well "hear" the intended "thump shtickity tap tap" but what people around us, who haven't the benefit of a direct connection to our brain, actually hear is something more like "thud thud thud thud".

John

Aye, as you've said it quite nicely, there's the rub:

The all too often frustrating difference between PERCEPTION and REALITY.

Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, I am often drawn close to this demarcation line between what I know in my soul to be true, and what everyone else around me believes to be true and if/when they are different, it can be a big challenge.

Maybe that's why I was always getting yelled at for making so much noise as a pre-teenager by tapping on everything around me incessantly, when to me, I was drumming out the songs in my head, which must have sounded like random and spastic knocking to everyone around me.

But on the topic - I find that if my hands get pain (I haven't yet been diagnosed with arthritis), and it feels like a tightness in the finger joints, it's often because my hands are cold(er).

I have found the best way for me to warm them up is by playing and strumming as vigorously as I can, for as long as I can, and try to push through the pain, and almost as if by centrifugal force, get more blood flowing, and therefore more oxygen flowing into my hands, which makes them warmer, and if I persist to this point, the pain has gone away. But then, I might actually have a different problem. Like edema or swelling due to poor circulation as per below.

I've recently tried these Dritz Crafter's Gloves I found on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002Y2GY7U/ref=oh_details_o01_s01_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1). They are compression gloves, in that they are brown-colored stretchy lycra cotton, fingerless gloves. By virtue of their composition, they seem to keep my hands warmer, as well as provide a light amount of squeeze support not unlike an ACE bandage. They cover the entire hand, up to the last joint before the finger tips.

It's a little weird to fret with gloves on, and barre chords sometimes buzz a little, but once you get used to them, and play for a while, it feels like your hands are actually getting a gentle massage.

Also, recently I 'found' in my junk drawer an 'egg' of Silly Putty, and while sitting at the computer or talking on the phone, I've taken to kneading it and shaping it over and over and over. Doing so, you can feel it get warm. I do this with both hands. Since doing this, it seems to have prevented the tightness feeling that I used to sometimes get in my hands from time to time.

Maybe try to get some Silly Putty or a softer rubber ball (like a Squash-ball, Raquet-ball or hand-ball) and when you are not playing the ukulele, squeeze it in different ways in order to exercise your fingers and get the blood flowing. Doing so might also increase your finger strength, speed and overall manual dexterity, which can only improve your ukulele playing. It's also a cheap way to test if you can benefit from direct physical therapy for your hands.

-Booli

Papa Tom
12-28-2013, 06:02 PM
Back in my days as a studio drummer, I once recorded an entire drum track tapping the front, back, and sides of an acoustic guitar. If you stay conscious of what Oldefart pointed out about your ears sometimes tricking you into hearing sounds that aren't there, you can actually get A LOT of different percussion sounds out of an acoustic instrument like a uke.

I often experiment with tapping percussion on the face of my uke while also playing chords and I must say I've achieved some cool effects that sound like two people playing at once. And yes, my fingers and hands do get tired these days, so having that makeshift percussion to fall back on when I'm entertaining family and friends on the uke can be a real lifesaver!

Wagster
12-28-2013, 09:09 PM
Well, if it were me.... I'd go to the room at the end of the hall and THEN go all beatnik. Then I'd be like, "Well NOW what'chu got to say, baaaaaaaaaaaby". (That's my Jake Blues imitation. )

However, maybe you just need to brush up on your routine a tad. You whip out this James Hill number on her and she will be swooning with admiration!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RylxBtEM0sI

mds725
12-28-2013, 09:16 PM
You should get real bongo drums. Preferably the bongo drum equivalent of a high-end production ukulele. It's improve your bongo playing immeasurably.

rem50
12-29-2013, 03:34 AM
You can listen to eugene ukulele vids. He incorporates that into a bunch of his songs. I think it sounds very good.
Back in my days as a studio drummer, I once recorded an entire drum track tapping the front, back, and sides of an acoustic guitar. If you stay conscious of what Oldefart pointed out about your ears sometimes tricking you into hearing sounds that aren't there, you can actually get A LOT of different percussion sounds out of an acoustic instrument like a uke.

I often experiment with tapping percussion on the face of my uke while also playing chords and I must say I've achieved some cool effects that sound like two people playing at once. And yes, my fingers and hands do get tired these days, so having that makeshift percussion to fall back on when I'm entertaining family and friends on the uke can be a real lifesaver!

billypete
12-29-2013, 04:04 AM
Well, if it were me.... I'd go to the room at the end of the hall and THEN go all beatnik. Then I'd be like, "Well NOW what'chu got to say, baaaaaaaaaaaby". (That's my Jake Blues imitation. )

However, maybe you just need to brush up on your routine a tad. You whip out this James Hill number on her and she will be swooning with admiration!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RylxBtEM0sI
I was just about to tab out and post this very link. Glad you saved me the trouble, Wagster.

mm stan
12-29-2013, 04:34 AM
Many feel the same whem playing the ukulele with a great video, cd, radio or great player.....LOL and everyone cries foul..... :)

bborzell
12-29-2013, 04:49 AM
I nominate this for post of the week!

Now, as to the original post: Let's lay aside for a moment the fact that many people think they can play percussion well than really can, and let's assume that you really are a rhythmic and percussive gift to mankind - there is still a common problem with many "improvised drums." Our brains have this habit of filling in the blanks and "hearing" what we intended to do rather than just faithfully interpreting signals from our ears. So, when we are beating on something improvised we may very well "hear" the intended "thump shtickity tap tap" but what people around us, who haven't the benefit of a direct connection to our brain, actually hear is something more like "thud thud thud thud".

John

Thanks for the nomination. Any seconds?

As for the brain filling in the blanks dynamic, it is even more apparent when the subject is singing along with ear buds plugged into an mp3 player. Certain local jurisdictions in the midwest have ordinances against public flogging of an otherwise respectable song.

Wagster
12-29-2013, 04:55 AM
I was just about to tab out and post this very link. Glad you saved me the trouble, Wagster.

You bet. Let me know if there's anything else I can do for ya! :)

Ya know, my wife has never complained about the noise I make via the ukulele, but she did let me know once that if she EVER heard the ukulized version of Bohemian Rhapsody ever again that "I'd be missing some Koa". Mind you, I've never played the song myself. Ever! But you better believe I removed those notes from my fretboard anyway so Bohemian Rhapsody wouldn't accidently fall out my uke. (I also called Jake and told him it would be a good idea to play that "buttercup" tune for awhile instead of BR. He nodded vigorously. He values Koa.)

OldePhart
12-29-2013, 08:17 AM
...Also, recently I 'found' in my junk drawer an 'egg' of Silly Putty, and while sitting at the computer or talking on the phone, I've taken to kneading it and shaping it over and over and over. Doing so, you can feel it get warm. I do this with both hands. Since doing this, it seems to have prevented the tightness feeling that I used to sometimes get in my hands from time to time.

If you know a physical therapist or just have a good medical supply house in town get one of the "worry bags" they sell. It is basically something like silly putty inside of a slick fabric bag. The bag keeps your fingers from picking up smell from the putty and also holds the putty inside in a firmer shape instead of letting it mash out into thin strips the way putty alone tends to. These are excellent for building hand strength and with much less chance of injury than with tennis balls or spring devices because the putty bag doesn't push back.

John

OldePhart
12-29-2013, 08:28 AM
Just this morning at rehearsal something happened that reminded me of something else that is applicable to this discussion. In addition to your brain fooling you into thinking you're getting different sounds from an improvised "drum" when you really aren't - there is also the simple case that even drums need to be tuned. So, even if you are getting different sounds if they are not at meaningful intervals they will still sound like just noise to anyone who isn't privy to your brain's magic.

This morning our drummer (who is very good, BTW) was warming up. He has five toms and he was doing running rolls across them when I pointed to the next to largest and said, "that one's not right." He sighed and looked at me for a moment and finally said something like, "yeah, it's a bit flat but nobody but you would notice" and pulled out his drum key to tighten it up.

So, I would say that unless you have a good enough ear for intervals to tune a drum set (or at least to tell when one drum out of a set is not "on") then it would probably be best to avoid attempting "pickup" percussion on improvised "drums." Otherwise, we're back to that thing where even if your rhythm is spot on your efforts stand a very good chance of just being noise to others.

(BTW - James was right in that most people really wouldn't have noticed the flat drum and two or three years ago I really wouldn't have noticed it myself. But, a few years of playing instruments that intonate very nearly perfectly has vastly improved my ear when the previous twenty years of playing instruments with poorer intonation did nothing for it. So, at the risk of yet again beating a dead horse - if you want your ear to improve then play often and play only instruments that intonate correctly!)

John

Wagster
12-29-2013, 12:17 PM
So, I would say that unless you have a good enough ear for intervals to tune a drum set (or at least to tell when one drum out of a set is not "on") then it would probably be best to avoid attempting "pickup" percussion on improvised "drums." Otherwise, we're back to that thing where even if your rhythm is spot on your efforts stand a very good chance of just being noise to others.

Your last line is the kicker. ANY drumming can be "just noise" to some people. Tuning, Intervals nor dynamic rhythm would change that. Lets ignore those folks for the moment.

A rhythmic drumbeat is likely mans first ever means of musical expression and is deeply ingrained in our souls. Certainly, drummers were laying down powerful backbeats long before anyone ever coined the term "middle c".

It's all about context. A drum kit is an evolved instrument and being in tune is a necessary part of that evolution. But a rhythm can stand on it's own and doesn't need a melody to make it musical.

This video is a perfect example of that. If you cannot connect with it's rhythm, then I refer you to paragraph one.

Bottom line: Do not deny your natural urges to go "beatnik" on your ukulele. It's who we are.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDgRGutjc7Y&




BTW - In an effort to stay on topic. I do hope you find some relief for your hands and wish I could offer some useful advice. I have suffered through hand cramps many, many times in the past and feel your pain, literally. Until then, give your "beatnik" a voice no matter which room it may be in!

Wagster
12-29-2013, 12:52 PM
BTW v2.0 - I just had to toss this clip in the mix too. It soothes my soul and cracks me up. (The beatnik inside me thinks I should be watching Dr. Phil videos instead, but good grief. He has NO rhythm whatsoever.)



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EULpbJQLzSg&list=PLBFEF5BA39010FAE8

Booli
12-29-2013, 01:17 PM
If you know a physical therapist or just have a good medical supply house in town get one of the "worry bags" they sell. ...

Hi John,

That sounds like a good idea. Thanks for the info. I'll have to check that out - maybe Amazon has them?

-Booli

bborzell
12-29-2013, 01:20 PM
My wife has arthritis in her fingers. She designs and constructs high zoot women's clothes and frequently hand stitches certain elements of her projects. That detailed work sometimes exacerbates the arthritis. She gets significant relief in her fingers by alternating the application of Traumeel gel and Arnicare gel. Both have slightly different anti inflammatory properties and rotating between the two seems to offer real and continous relief.

OldePhart
12-29-2013, 01:50 PM
@Wagner - if you notice those guys aren't just taking random things and banging on them - where objects create sounds with a similar character they are in fact pretty well in "tune" in recognizable intervals (the pots in the kitchen, for example). Where things do not make similar sounds they needn't be in tune to intervals and for things that make very wide-spectrum sounds you often can't tune them to intervals.

Also, if you separate the audio track from the interesting visuals I think you'll find that listening to the audio will get quite tedious in short order. Unlike most musicals I don't think you can even buy an official CD of "Stomp." :)

John

Booli
12-29-2013, 03:28 PM
My wife has arthritis in her fingers. ... She gets significant relief in her fingers by alternating the application of Traumeel gel and Arnicare gel. Both have slightly different anti inflammatory properties and rotating between the two seems to offer real and continous relief.

I can attest to the effectiveness of the Traumeel cream. While lots of homeopathic remedies might not truly be effective, in fact, Traumeel really works.

In my family, in each household (sisters, aunts, uncles, etc), there are at least two tubes of the Traumeel cream at any one time. Bonus points because it absorbs quickly and fully without leaving a greasy residue on your hands, and also has little to no scent. Just make sure you rub it in all the way.

<DISCLAIMER>
*I* am NOT a Doctor, the following info is for sharing & educational purposes only, I am not responsible for your use of this information. Proceed with caution, and at your own risk.
</DISCLAIMER>

Another item I have used that might be of interest for those that prefer a pharma-narcotic topical pain cream is LANACAINE cream. It's available over-the-counter, without prescription last time I noticed.

Lanacaine has the ingredient Bezocaine 20%, which is a 'numbing agent', which is also found in Sucrets and Chloraseptic cough drops (at around 5-10%).

Be careful though because it seems to be habit forming as you get older.

When she was alive, my 90 yr old Grandmother would buy it by the case, and cover her arms and legs with the stuff. I think she got high off it. 'Dope Cream' for the elderly! Ha ha!

Anyway, if used sparingly, the Lanacaine cream can also reduce pain in the hands, I've used it a few times, but found the numbness made it harder to feel the strings and play effectively, and maybe the Lanacaine should be used AFTER you practice playing.

Just be careful not to bathe in the stuff, otherwise you might have to explain yourself the next morning...

-Booli

Wagster
12-29-2013, 03:29 PM
@OldFart - Bingo! I think we are on the same page. Yes, they are creating a melody of sorts, aren't they? That's what they mean by "being musical". Sure, they could bang the same object over and over. It would still have the rhythm but by varying objects, and thus, the pitch, it becomes more pleasing to the ear. More entertaining. More musical. It would be like you plucking the same note on the same string over and over on your uke. Sure, it's music, technically, but it's nowhere near as stimulating or as passionate as a varied melody.



Also, if you separate the audio track from the interesting visuals I think you'll find that listening to the audio will get quite tedious in short order. Unlike most musicals I don't think you can even buy an official CD of "Stomp." :)

John

Really? I don't know. I don't find John Bohnam tedious after Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones exit the stage. Well, if his solo lasted, say 3 hours, yea. That would get on my nerves. But 20 minutes of Bonzo is 20 minutes of pure entertainment in my eyes.
But, with your critical ear for drums I can see where they could get tedious for you in a hurry. I just hope you aren't edging too close to paragraph number one. It's a lonely place to be.

Well, this is not a debate. I'm only trying to encourage folks to embrace their passion for music, be it tearing up the fretboard playing Jakes version of Bohemian Rhapsody (it wasn't me honey, honest) or tearing up the soundboard playing Wipe Out. I just don't see the point of discouraging folks from expressing any "musical whim" because the intonation might offend an ear. Hell, if that were a UU rule a whole bunch of us woulda been banned long ago!


(PS - I had no clue you couldn't find a Stomp CD anywhere. I'll call Jake back and see if he might be able to pull a few strings and get one for you. Hey, it might even be autographed!)

Booli
12-29-2013, 03:56 PM
@Wagner ...Also, if you separate the audio track from the interesting visuals I think you'll find that listening to the audio will get quite tedious in short order. Unlike most musicals I don't think you can even buy an official CD of "Stomp."...

Sorry this is another off-topic post...

@John & @Wagner:

Many yrs ago we took my mother to see STOMP in NYC. I have to agree that SEEING the performers is a huge part of the entertainment.

Many other musicals I've seen in the past had me wanting to buy the soundtrack as we left the theatre, but for STOMP I probably would not have wanted to, except that I had almost wished that I was still in college with 'that evil roommate', just so I could use the clackety-boom-boom-BASH sounds at high volume to torture (er, I mean MOTIVATE) him to move out.

Also, for me, a similar experience of needing to SEE the performers is Blue Man Group. It's not just their music, but also their comical facial expressions, as well as the video screens that they have that are timed to the music, without SEEING the performance, you are not able to receive the whole 'multi-media' experience.

But, I wanted to add that I see in some of your comments here you are not only talking about the perception of rhythm, but also the pitch (intervals as John said) and timbre (the sound of different surfaces getting hit) that combines together to form a complete and self-interactive (sort-of) 'poly-rhythm.

A single one of those pots or pans, tapped all by itself in dotted eighth notes in 4/4 time @ 120 BPM would become irritating to me after a short while, but if you added other sounds on different parts of the beat, then it becomes something more than just clacka-clacka or tish-tish-tish - sort of like the sum of the parts being greater and all.

(I apologize - this is way off the main topic, but related to multi-timbral rhythm)
I have often considered making one of those foot-stompers by putting a piezo inside a cigar box and using it as a beat-box, but without adding some other kind of sound beside the single 'thump' it seems like a little reward for the effort. Peter Sesselman (peterman.com.au) has these things called pucking-stompa that have multiple sounds from one foot and with one output jack...but back to ukulele related things now...

Lastly, that James Hill video was something on my mind after reading the first post of this thread, I am glad the someone else posted it, and it proves to me once again, that many of us here on UU are sort of 'drinking water from the same stream' if you know what I mean. I am glad for the opportunity to be able to participate here.

-Booli

OldePhart
12-29-2013, 04:16 PM
@OldFart - Bingo! I think we are on the same page. I agree, I think we're finding different ways of saying much the same thing.


Really? I don't know. I don't find John Bohnam tedious after Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones exit the stage. Well, if his solo lasted, say 3 hours, yea. That would get on my nerves. But 20 minutes of Bonzo is 20 minutes of pure entertainment in my eyes. Even most of Bonzo's solos are more on the order of 5 to 7 minutes and the longer ones do get a bit repetitious for me. Sandy Nelson was one guy I can think of who could actually hold my interest through a whole album of primarily drum work but he was a master at mixing in just enough instrumentation with his "solo drumming" that it really helped hold things together.



But, with your critical ear for drums I can see where they could get tedious for you in a hurry. I've never really thought of myself as having an ear for drums or having an ear at all and I think the last couple of years as my ear has started to develop it has in some ways reduced my ability to enjoy some music - but then it has also greatly improved my ability to appreciate stuff that really is exceptional.

I was always one of those guys that could never really sing harmony - if I heard the melody I'd always get pulled to it - I could sing an octave off, but always the melody notes. However, I've noticed that I am able to pick out the individual voices in vocal harmonies much more clearly now and I suspect that if I were to try I might be able to sing harmony, now. In the past, I could appreciate a good four part harmony but I basically just heard the blend - now, I can still hear and appreciate the blend but I can also pick out the individual vocals very clearly - this has come in really handy as we've lost our sound guy and I'm having to fill in on the soundboard as well as bang out the bottom end on the bass!


OH...and I don't actually want a Stomp CD - I was just pointing out that even the producers recognize how important the visual aspect is to the enjoyment of that show. :)

John

OldePhart
12-29-2013, 04:22 PM
BTW, back to the topic, here is another vote for the Arnica products. My youngest daughter is living with us now and she got very much into the whole holistic medicine thing. Some of the "cures" she recommends have done nothing for me but two that have been amazing are arnica gel and peppermint.

Arnica gel gives relief for muscle spasms amazingly quickly. I will occasionally get severe painful spasms in my feet and sometimes in my shins. These aren't the momentary stabbing cramps that you can walk off - well, actually, they feel just like those except that you can't walk them off in fact they get worse. Arnica gel usually completely calms even the worst spasms in a minute or two - I'm not exaggerating. Even when I could take muscle relaxers and NSAIDs (I can't now because of various heart medications) they were nowhere near as fast or as effective as the arnica gel.

I don't often get headaches any more since my blood pressure is under control - but on the rare occasions that I do just wiping a little peppermint extract on my forehead usually kills the headache almost instantly.

John

fowl
12-29-2013, 04:53 PM
John. when I retired from my office job a few years ago I got rid of all my headaches. And now when I feel a little stess, I go down the hall and strum the uke. Works wonders!

Steve