my ukulele progress

ripock

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I am not actually hawking anything; I just want a space to annotate what I'm doing with my ukuleles for my future reference. In a sense I am self-promoting because I am putting forth a thread devoted only to me. That's why I chose this little corner for my thread to myself.

As of 2/27/17 here are my goals

long-term: develop a ukulele sound that only utilizes chords stacked four-high. I.e., I want to be able to play something jazzy with dom9, 11, or 13 chords or variations thereof. Long-term finger style goals are the clawhammer for my reentrant tuned ukulele and travis picking for my linear tuned ukulele

middle-term: I want to get a lot more fluid with chord changes and have a greater mastery of the fretboard. It bothers me to no end that I don't know what notes I am playing. I come from a lifetime of playing flute where you have to know what you're going to play before you play it...otherwise you cannot finger the note.

short-term: this week I am focusing on the key of c#, the mode of the week is Lokrian, and the voicing of the week is the sus4.

I will update my progress as I go.
 

MainlandGal510

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I am not actually hawking anything; I just want a space to annotate what I'm doing with my ukuleles for my future reference. In a sense I am self-promoting because I am putting forth a thread devoted only to me. That's why I chose this little corner for my thread to myself.

As of 2/27/17 here are my goals

long-term: develop a ukulele sound that only utilizes chords stacked four-high. I.e., I want to be able to play something jazzy with dom9, 11, or 13 chords or variations thereof. Long-term finger style goals are the clawhammer for my reentrant tuned ukulele and travis picking for my linear tuned ukulele

middle-term: I want to get a lot more fluid with chord changes and have a greater mastery of the fretboard. It bothers me to no end that I don't know what notes I am playing. I come from a lifetime of playing flute where you have to know what you're going to play before you play it...otherwise you cannot finger the note.

short-term: this week I am focusing on the key of c#, the mode of the week is Lokrian, and the voicing of the week is the sus4.

I will update my progress as I go.

Thank you for sharing. I also am trying to learn the fretboard to know which notes to play over the chord changes. BTW I think "Voicing of the Week is the sus4" should be made into a bumpersticker. :)
 
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ripock

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Thank you for sharing. I also am trying to learn the fretboard to know which notes to play over the chord changes. BTW I think "Voicing of the Week is the sus4" should be made into a bumpersticker. :)

Thanks for dropping by. I know what you mean about notes over chord changes. The biggest frustration since I've joined the ukulele community is the fact that relatively few people use standard notation and notes. It seems like there is a lot of "put your finger here" or "put your finger on the third fret," but I am the freak for wanting to know what I'm playing. It almost seems like people are saying "don't worry your little head about that; just put your finger here and shut up." And it isn't just ukuleles. Guitar videos do the same thing. Sometimes I watch a guitar video because I like the music and would like to learn to play it. If the video would say play an A, then play a F#, then go to G....I could do that. Our ukes have those things. But the video invariably says put your finger here, but I don't have a "here"; my uke's "here" isn't the same as a guitar's. I just wish people would go back to standardization and go away from specialized tabs. Then it wouldn't matter if the instrument was a tuba, a guitar, or a ukulele; I could play anything...with a little transposing, of course. Alright. Enough grousing.
 

ripock

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Oh, I just noticed in your sig line that you have an HF-3. I just bought a 100th anniversary HF-3 long neck tenor with spruce top. It has been sitting on the floor of my library and I haven't been able to play it because I bought it with a stipulation from my wife: I couldn't play it until I lost some weight. I have 10 more pounds to lose. Now I am going to not go eat and skip rope for twenty minutes.
 

Gammo

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If I had to lose 10 pounds before I could play that uke, I'd consider cutting a leg off.
 

ripock

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Addendum:

I forgot my other long-term goal. I have to reform my muscle memory thoroughly. I knew--I absolutely knew--what not to do, but I did it anyway. I started playing the uke with it turned slightly upwards to see what I was doing. Now that's the first thing they caution you when you're 12 and going to the Guitar Center to learn to play. It is bad for obvious reasons: it is ergonomically horrible.

I bought some really nice leather straps and my ukes now hang properly but the angles are now totally different. I have a lot of trouble playing with a slide or fretting scales because my fingers don't stay in the frets because the wrist is situated differently. I am re-learning everything. It isn't so bad because intellectually I know what to do. I merely need to get my fingers to do it automatically again.
 

MainlandGal510

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Thanks! I just got the Kamaka today! Check out my NUD post.
Good on you to have the discipline to not play it till you reach your goal!

My goal was to finish folding laundry & walk the dogs today before I played it... 1 out of 2 ain't bad. hehheh
 

ripock

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Feb. 28.

I am having some issues with my c# major chord. Specifically the E string gets muted. More specifically it seems to have something to do with the pinky on the A string. When I barre the first fret, everything is fine, but when I extend my pinky to the 4th fret, that's when I lose the E string note. I remember this sort of thing happening with E major and A-shaped chords. A bit of practice will iron out the wrinkles. Everything else was fine. The rehabilitation of my muscle memory is still ongoing. Tonight I will probably have to refill my kamaka's humidifier, which is always a melancholy enterprise. When I open the case and see that spruce top nestled in blue velvet I always think of dead Ophelia floating in her Danish river.

I fixed the C# problem the old fashioned way. I tuned my Oscar Schmidt mango tenor with a pre-amp to open C, and every time I hovered over that 1st fret with my slide a perfect C# came out! Then I fixed it like any 14 year boy would: turned up the gain, overdrive, and distortion and played blues progressions in c# and Ab. Sounded fine. Tomorrow I will approach the problem like an adult and fix it by repetitions.
 
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ripock

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March 1

I spent some time with my c# major and it kept on evading me. Towards the end of practice I came to a realization. I can play F minor perfectly well. I use the fingering of 1013 (sorry for not using the traditional backwards order of ukulele notation; native English speakers read left to right and the G string is on the left unless you hold the ukulele upside down). If I flatten my index finger 1013 becomes 1113. Then if I scoot the pinky down a tad 1113 becomes 1114, the C# major. This sort of thing isn't unprecedented. I usually play an E minor by playing a G major with my pinky swung around and fretting the C string. Similar transformation, at least in my mind.

Also, when I was practicing sus4 chords, I found the Esus4 to be very discordant. I am going to go online to a few resources and double-check that my chord book isn't misprinting the chord.

Well...that was time well spent. I was playing the chord on the wrong frets. However I went to ukuchords and found a chord I like better. It has two root notes and I like that sound better than what I had been playing...even when I was playing it correctly.
 
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ripock

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March 2

continued practicing the new, for me, c# major. It is still taking some getting acquainted with. As I watched 3 cop cars surrounding my neighbor's house for a probation check or something I was distracted and just played some easy blues progressions in c and g. Once that was over I started working on a finger-style version of Bach's 134th cantata. It is in G major so I decided on using the G on the 7th fret to give me plenty of room for notes below and above the 7th fret. Obviously the goal here is to get it down, then work on a chord melody and finally work on an electric slide version in open C.
 

ripock

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March 3

continued practicing and for some reason worked on the fan stroke and a triplet strum even though I don't really like the quick strums. I suppose it is a nice ornamentation, but I think it gets over-used a bit. I did notice and gain more of an appreciation for the setup of the ukulele, or stringed instruments in general. I noticed when playing some Bach how you can stay on the same fret but move laterally from string to string and get the right note. I had noticed this in the past when I was playing some Beatles. This may be a no-brainer for someone else, but I think I always thought a GCEA tuning was somewhat random. Now I'm beginning to see.
 

ripock

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March 5

a new week, a new set of variables to practice with. This week the ukulele gods were beneficent. The key of the week is D. Since all the chords are familiar to me, I will be able to bust out the metronome and work on speed rather than just fingerings. The mode of the week is Dorian, which is my least favorite because I don't like the way the mode sounds near the end of its run; there's something about the last few notes that doesn't set well with me. Lastly the voicing of the week is the sus2. I have to go find some resources with some ideas on how to use the suspended chords.
 

ripock

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March 5, cont.

The D worked out fine. A lot of the chords are very similar: viz., the G and the E minor, the A and the F# minor, the G and diminished C. The biggest challenge so far is the B minor.
 

ripock

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March 7

I played around with the sus2 voicing. With my lack of ability the sus2 is rather limited. I can see progressing from the sus2 and the major triad. That's a no-brainer. I liked going from Csus2 to a D minor. Since the sus2 is ambiguous I thought I could use it to transition between major and minor chords. It didn't sound as good as I had hoped. Obviously I was experimenting with stuff that sounds good. I didn't explore the other possibility of not sounding good. There are contexts when you might want something dissonant. I didn't really pair the sus2 with other dissonant elements to see if there was a palatable progression there.
 

ripock

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I missed a few days of practicing. My life just gets out of kilter and my sleep schedule is off which makes my feeding schedule off, and it kind of snowballs so that I am out of synch. I'm going to try to get more centered this week. It is a shame. Last week's practice topics had some promise.

For this week I will be practicing the key of C, the diminished mode (the whole/half variety), and the voicing shall be the augmented 7th.

The key of C will be another opportunity to practice my speed. I pretty much know this key. The only problem, potentially, is the Bdim7. That shape can be tricky transitioning to. I am happy about the Diminished mode. It can work with some of the bluesier things I might try.
 

ripock

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Some mixed results. The augmented 7th isn't new to me. I had been playing the A augmented 7th unbeknownst to me. I had been noodling around and stumbled upon the fingering that played a chord that fit in with what I was doing. Now I know the mystery chord is an augmented 7th. In that progression, it goes (A A7 A7+ A7 D minor). Perhaps that should be my clue: use this voicing around unaugmented 7's.

I think I've developed a quicker way to fret the dim7 chord, which is of course the 7th degree of any key. Nota bene: I realize the 7th degree is actually a dim chord, but I always play dim7's because diminished chords are difficult to play as they usually require muted strings. Also, the overall sound of the dim7 and dim are the same, except for some nuance. For example, I asked my wife how she liked this chord, but I actually trilled between the C#dim and the C#dim7 and she didn't even notice that I was playing two chords. I also like the dim7 because it only requires one moveable chord shape. And here's what I did last night to speed it up: I made the dom7 chord (index finger barreing a fret and the middle finger fretting the A string). Then I just swing my ring finger to the C string. This might be obvious to someone else, but these are the little victories that brighten the day when you find them. I had been trying this shape with a more intuitive pattern (index finger barreing the fret, the middle finger on the C string and ring finger on the A), but my hand just doesn't work that way.

Lastly I was quite disturbed in another area. I heard from a classical guitarist that I should practice my scales using different fingers. I always use the picado style that privileges my index and middle finger, but I said to myself: whatever! one finger is as good as the next. However, I couldn't do it. I found that odd. I figured the same brain powers all the fingers, so they all could do what the index finger does. Obviously not true. It was like plucking notes for the first time once again. During the descent of the scale, the other fingers wouldn't even let the pinky finish its run, but they took over without my permission.
 

ripock

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I have to say that I do not like scales in C, and not for the obvious reasons. Most people disparage C because it is so vanilla, so John Tesh, so many butter notes. I also have an aversion to C because it is the "trainer" key. So, when you play C, it seems remedial. However, the reason I don't like it is the fact that you have to play it (at least on re-entrant turning) with open notes. I don't like open notes because you cannot control them and because they change the way you play them. I like the uniformity of the shape from the first fret upward. Of course, with linear tunings you can always play the C scales on the fifth fret. And if I had access to my kamaka, I could play C scales on the twelfth fret.

Since I'm talking scales, I have noticed that about half the scales work better with a linear tuning and half with re-entrant. By 'better' I mean that you don't have to shift from home row. For example with the Phrygian mode in linear tuning you start on the same fret on the G C and E strings. However with re-entrant tuning you start on one fret on the C string, dip up a fret on the E string, and dip back down on the A. And it is the opposite for other modes, like the Ionian, where you have to dip with linear tuning and not with re-entrant. Of course this is all predicated on how I conceptualize the scales. I like to play three notes on the first string, three on the second, and two on the third.
 

ripock

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Had a strange concatenation of events during practice today.

I started off with some dom6 double-stops in E that I picked up by watching TenThumbs today. I seemed to noodle around with the key of C in three octaves. This somehow morphed into improvising in the key of E with several minor-ish modes: minor pentatonic, aelian, phrygian, and leading whole-half diminished scale. It is instructive to see that all the minor-ish modes are somewhat interchangable. I can start in one mode and then alter into another one without a jarring result.

I don't know if it is a guy thing, or a me thing, but I do not like my fingernails being messed with, and that includes picking. I've never had nails and I tried growing the nails on the picking hand out a tad, but I can't stand the feel of my nails getting caught on the strings to pluck. I work with freight and shipping, and if my fingernail gets snagged on something, it is a short prelude to that nail getting ripped off. I kind of get that feeling with plucking with nails. So none of that for me. Obviously that will impact my career as a flamenco player or a sponsored NAMM player...But such is life. My fingertips will have to suit my purposes.

I struggled again today with plucking with my lesser used fingers. It is quite a chore. One interesting note: using the pinky or ring finger to pluck somehow also adversely impacts my left hand. When I use accustomed plucking fingers, my left hand does its job. Throw the pinky into the equation, and the left hand is very clumsy. It is intellectually very interesting to see how everything is so connected and it is also pellucidly patent that overcoming this will benefit my playing.
 

ripock

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I somewhat deviated from my curriculum today for no particular reason. I was enjoying the key of E I was playing yesterday so I just followed that up with something somewhat akin to a stop-time blues pattern, but in this case I was playing E aeolian and stopping it with appropriate chord progressions. Standard stuff like VIIb, iv, i...or iv, v, i. I also played around with some typical gypsy swing jazz stuff with minor 6's and dom7's.
 

ripock

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March 17:

I have a book, How to Play Blues Ukulele, and I resumed working through it. I'm now on chapter seven at which place the blues riffs start. So I played around with that stuff as well as a blues in C minor. I wanted to dip into baritone ukuleles, so I bought a low end baritone. I got a Lanikai. It is supposedly koa, but the price is so low that I suspect that its laminate. As long as it plays I think I'll survive.