my ukulele progress

ripock

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My cat knocked a nearly full jar of red chili sauce onto the floor. It was quite a clean up and I fancy that all the shards haven't been located; that will be a future joy to my bare feet.

Before that, however, I had a really good day with the ukulele. I was focusing on just playing my D# dim7 arpeggio from the 2nd to the 18th fret. It was just flowing today. I could move liqudly wherever I pleased.

One of the virtues of this chord is its symmetry. You can use that symmetry to arpeggiate through the chord or you can use it to move horizontally to go from one side of the fretboard to the other.

So I was just exulting in the pleasure of movement. Every so often I would stop as I was moving along the fretboard to play a modal shape or a chord. It was very liberating.
 

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I don't know if people need a pharmakos for the pandemic or what, but they're bagging on Terry Carter. I don't mind him aside from him calling a bamboo uke solid wood. I'm not stupid. That is just a laminate.

I'm still working on my D# dim7 arpeggio. I'm finding it a very good tool for learning the fret board because you have to be conscious of what note you're on and where the other three notes are, so that you can move horizontally or vertically. Also if you're going to deviate from the arpeggio, you need to know the note you're on, in order to know which shape to move to. And when you're in the shape, you need to know where the arpeggio notes are at, so you can move back to them.

As I said before, this has become a very nourishing exercise.

And speaking of nourishing, I am going to keep on practicing for another three hours while I pressure cook some habichuelas
 
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ripock

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My wife wanted some meat. I don't have any philosophical problem with meat, but I do find it rather inconvenient because flesh just takes a while to bake; it throws my timing off. So we had some trout, black beans, potatoes, and beet greens.

Then I sat down with some turkish coffee (de-caf of course), Japanese incense to cleanse the air, and I lit up my lamp. So I'm ready to do some studying.

As far the the ukulele, today I worked on gathering several of the threads that I had been working on. I had been working on using the C note as a pivot point between shapes. I wanted to work on the A Dorian #11 and the C Lydian #2, and I did a little bit. I am still working it out and finding different angles of departure from certain C notes.
 

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Finally, after two weeks (or so) of drying them out, my Oasis humidifiers were at last able to spit out their crystals. I bought some replacement crystals, but first you have to extract the previous crystals by letting them lose all their moisture. If you do not remove the older crystals, then there will be a surfeit of crystals and the humidifiers will not evaporate correctly.

I value my humidifiers. They keep my cases at 48% relative humidity while the surrounding air is, at best, 20%. However if I ever want to do this again, I will just buy new ones.
 

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This weekend has been a mixed bag--to say the least.

My mother died--but don't worry, I'm not going to talk about that. A ukulele blog is the least appropriate place for that kind of thing. Maybe if I was playing my flute still, or a viola, or some instrument capable of some bathos, then I could work that theme. But since we play sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, I'll keep it light.

I'm going back to work tomorrow. That sucks but it is at a pay raise of $8/hour. And working will get me away from myself, my worst enemy. I put on 20 pounds in the last two months. And that is mostly through beer. For example, last night for dinner I had roasted rutabagas, kale, rice, and black beans. Even if my portion sizes are too big, I'm not getting fat there. So i'm going to restrict myself to whisky because of the kcals. One bottle of beer is around 200 kcals whereas one evening of whisky is 200 kcals. So the numbers are a lot better with my Laphroaig. And there's no sugar.

To support that I will definitely need to engage in some exercise that doesn't spike my cortisol and insulin and thereby hinder the fat loss. Most probably some interval training and resistance training.

I wonder where my ukulele practice will be placed in this new schedule. Probably it will be shorter sessions.
 

ripock

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I haven't played much lately except for some dim7 arpeggios, but I promise: this weekend I am going to try to connect my C notes with those transitioning arpeggios. I'm entering into a corporate position and it doesn't allow for dilettante treatments of the subject matter. You have to commit and that leaves less time for leisure ukulele playing.

On the bright side, my wife is slowly migrating toward my food. I am a simple "greens, beans, grains, and roots" kind of guy and she just asked for some roasted roots for dinner. And I am not a man to refuse my woman anything. She wants roots and I say I got your roots right here baby. I have more turnips and parsnips than Picasso has paints.
 

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I filled out a blank fret board map with the notes of my D# dim7. Then I color-coded them for the octaves. My tenors have a little bit of the 3rd and the 6th octaves, and all of the 4th and 5th. It was an instructive exercise. It really cuts down my (perceived) options, and that's a good thing. It makes jumping to different positions much easier. It highlights equivalent notes so that when I run out of space as I move to the bass side, I can jump over to the same note on the treble side and continue further.
 

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I see there's a bit of talk on the forums about tone woods. I suppose my main reaction is a big shrug. I am not impressed. I know a bunch of people really obsess on this but I have never really thought it was all that big a deal. For me, tone woods are ornamental. I pick them for the looks. Is there a difference in sound? I suppose so. If I focus I can appreciate the nuance, but it is just a nuance. It is kind of like the difference between a speaker that is lying on the floor versus one that is suspended. Yeah, there is a difference but it doesn't really matter. However, I am conscious of my tone woods because of their concomitant cachet. I am aware of the value people place in them, so I pick my tone woods with that social aspect in mind. I try to get tone woods that will say something good about me and my individuality. But do I care about their actual timbre? Not at all. I am going to play what I'm going to play regardless. All I want from my wood is for people to look and say "damn, you do not play Kalas and your wood choices are unique. You must be special." Maybe that is too much to ask from a tone wood, but that's my hope.

I couldn't put too much effort into ukulele practice today. So I just focused on stuff above the 15th fret such as D# dim7 apreggio, B Phrygian minor, E Aiolian #7.
 

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I received my second covid vaccination. I don't see what all the fuss is about. Yes, I was feeling a bit run-down. Then I took a nap. So much for side-effects.

A theme that has popped up a few times in my life recently has been the struggle against what is natural. I bought this horrible cheese whose brand name was Cabot. It was rubbery and lactose-free. So it was a non-dairy dairy product. WTH is wrong with people? If you don't/cannot eat dairy, then don't eat dairy. You can't have it both ways. Of course, I also saw something along these lines on the forum. Someone wanted to take GCEA strings, loosen them to DGBE and have them as tight as they were in standard tuning. WTH? Loose strings have a timbre. If you don't want that, then don't loosen your strings. One of the many reasons to appreciate someone like Kimo Hussey is how he accepts a ukulele and understands the nature of that particular instrument and cooperates with it instead of fighting it and forcing it to do something it isn't meant to do. And I actually try to practice acceptance myself. I purposely shop at a little corner market because it doesn't have all the variety that a supermercado has. It has produce and it has meat and it has some dry staples like beans. Shopping there you don't get everything you want, but you get everything you need. It is good practice, especially in this age where the entire society curries to our sense of entitlement.

As I mentioned earlier. I have accepted a corporate job with a lot of responsibility. My purlieu will be all of California and I am in the midst of a three-week training session. So I'm not getting a lot of ukulele time. But I am still moving forward with my musical plans. I randomized and received the number 7. So I'm not focusing on the 7th degree of my scale as a pivot point. For me, that's the D#. Patently, there are a few clear advantages to D#, despite it being the leading tone of the scale. Firstly, it is part of the D# dim7 arpeggio, so that I can move around with it. And since it is the leading tone, it wants to resolve up to the E.

Just to re-iterate, the point isn't to go from the D# super lokrian bb7 down to the C Lydian #2; that's too easy and too obvious. In that case you're just uniting two shapes--which is important, but not what I am intending. My goal is to almost create a new shape by pivoting on the D# in the middle of a shape. For example, using the D# that's in the middle of the B phrygian dominant to jump down to the middle of the A Dorian #11. That creates a new sound. When you jump from the beginning/end of a shape, then it just sounds like you're playing two shapes back to back. When you jump from the middle, it seems somewhat random and more fluid.

So, as always, the set-up is the same. I have 14 shapes to work with. 7 from the G string (linear tuning) and 7 from the C sting (re-entrant). Every shape has a D#. The key is to be cognizant of that fact and use the D# as a spring-board.

Where, oh where are my D#'s? G8, C3, C15, E11, A6, A18. Okay. Now for the practice. The thing that makes this exercise so valuable is the discipline it forces on you--the discipline to always know where a certain note is regardless of the scale you're playing.
 

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I'm done with my training and tomorrow I start work. I'm going to be working from home, so I'll have time to play some ukulele on my breaks.

I've been having some successes in the kitchen. I roasted some radishes and boiled the greens. My wife ate it, and she even now requests turnips. So she's eating more like we were raised to eat in the 70's--whole foods and mostly plants. I do not think I can take credit; it is just one of those things that happens.

The big thread right now is a contentious bout about learning chords. To be honest I haven't followed the thread. I of course have my own take on it. And that take is theoretical, of course. In fact, if someone doesn't want to understand music, I don't think there is enough of a basis for a friendship to form.

That being said, my take on chords isn't all that theoretically complex. First of all I tend towards true triads versus the slash chords that almost everyone plays. The other thing I do is focus on roots. Take, for example, the minor triad. If the root is on the G string, where is the b3 and the 5. Same thing for the other strings. After you figure it out, you have four shapes for all the minor triads. That's easier than memorizing all those discrete first position minor chords.

That's my system, but I am not prepared to say that all beginners should eschew the typical instruction books and embrace my viewpoint from day one. After all, I came up with my system over time. What if time is the essential ingredient here? What if you need to mature and grow into the system?
 

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I have been very pre-occupied with the new job. I haven't had the gumption to make music lately, so I've been taking the coward's way out. I have some sheet music of the song "Sails of Charon" and I have been looking at the guitar solo. Since a lot of solos are played on the treble strings, I can play it on the ukulele although no where near the tempo. So I did that for a while, but it became tedious. I mean...anyone can take a measure of music and play the notes therein. And then add measure after measure 'til you have the song. The trick is to do it perfectly, if that kind of thing floats your boat. It doesn't do much for me. However, the change was instructive.
 

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I finally started to feel stress-free enough to play. I am essentially starting from scratch since I do not remember what I was doing.

I started things off with an idiosyncratic stir fry of eggs, barley, black beans, napa cabbage, and spaghetti squash.

Then I commenced to re-construct what I was doing. I remember I wanted to pivot off my leading tones.

With my favorite little progression I added a D#m7b5 right before my ii-V turnaround. To put it more plainly, here's what I was playing

Eadd9
A minor (shuffling with an Am add9)
B minor, walking down to an
A minor
D (very hum-drum chord but it stands out because it is the only normal chord and it is non-diatonic)
D#m7b5
F#m11
B7

I played around with the lowest (@fret 2) and highest (@ fret 18) D# dim7 arpeggios

Lastly I experimented around with the D# on the third and sixth frets.

I was basically just getting my bearings once again.
 

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I bought an album called Whisky Sipping Music and so I had to oblige it with some Laphroaig and bitters. I made some dinner: brussel sprouts and black beans with a very spicy curry, and sweet potatoes and rice.

Then I busted out my Kamaka, essentially because I needed to check on its humidifers. It is only a three-stringed instrument, but I thought I would play it nonetheless.

I felt like I had been painted into a corner tonight. Because when I think D#, I think leading tone scale degree. And when I think leading tone, I think Lokrian. So, I felt compelled to play the F# Lokrian 13 and D# Super Lokrian bb7.

I consciously moved away from those shapes. I centered on the A Dorian #11 because therein the D# and E are sitting on the E string. Those notes are at the top of the Dorian shape and at the bottom of the Phrygian Dominant.

Tonight I was playing the notes that are tight around the D#. Later I believe I will use bigger intervals for melodies.
 

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School is back in session, literally. As I drove to the corner market for my weekly duties as chief officer of my home's commissariat, I saw buses. It is good to be getting back to normal, but I am going to miss the pandemic days in terms of population density. It was nice to be able to drive without dealing with so much idiocy and aggression. Speaking of idiocy, I ran across a merchant at my corner store with a political shirt which said, among other things, don't mess with my religion. First of all, he shouldn't be wearing such a thing in a work environment. At work I wear a white shirt. Secondly, what a load of hypocrisy! So I am not allowed to mess with his religion, but his religion can hard code the opinions of his religion into law, so that we have to follow his religion in terms of things like abortion and social conventions. What a bunch of B.S. If I wasn't so dedicated to my project involving the modes of the harmonic minor, I would do a "voice-under"

A voice under is a term I coined for the practice of writing a little poem stating how unsatisfied I am with a situation. Then you recite the poem and listen to the intonation and pitch of your voice as you naturally recite the poem. Then use minor pentatonics to re-capture that lilt and cadence that you just noticed. And then--Bob's your uncle--you have a great blues instrumental.
 

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I of course played around with my latest fetish, the D#. I don't have anything to write about, because I really didn't do much today. Rather, I didn't do much thoughtfully. I did pivot on the D# and I did move around the fret board with some arpeggios...but nothing to write about.

For chords, I thought I would experiment with some simple progressions but different chord qualities. But after I played my first maj7 chord, I realized I don't really like that sound too much. I went back to what I like. I just grabbed a I-IV-V progression, decided to play it with the harmonic minor vibe (minor, minor, major) and then I spent some time playing Em6, Am7b5, Bsus2 add 6. Yeah, I know a sus2 isn't a major chord, but it is close enough. The m6 is one of my favorite chord qualities.
 

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I focused tonight on the D# on the 15th fret. I didn't do much with it. I made it the end-point for the D# dim7 arpeggio beginning on the 18th fret. I played around with it in the contexts of the G Ionian #5 and I frequently resolved it with the E on the 12th fret. In short, I was just getting my feet wet at this location. I'll see what can be done with it a little later.

I ended up by playing a little bit of blues in G with my ceramic slide.

A very low-key evening after having made some pinto beans with onions and blueberry chevre, some millet, some roasted yellow potatoes, and some collard greens flavored with coconut oil, mustard, lime juice, and gorgonzola.
 

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I saw a series of various posts for a fence which is no longer extant. They suggested to my mind intervals because of their varying heights. The sequence was 4321314. I am going to take some scales and see what those intervals sound like.
 

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Thanks for dropping by; I always appreciate it. Unfortunately I don't have time to do anything right now as I have to go to bed and get up tomorrow for work. I will just describe the posts:

The first four were orderly in the decrements of their height. "4" was the tallest, then "3" was a little less tall, then "2" was a little less, and "1" was the shortest. The 5th post shot back up to the height of the 2nd post. The 6th post went back to the height of the 4th and the last post was the height of the first.

If I took the first four notes of, for example, the G Ionian #5, then the melody of the posts would be C B A G B G C. So after work tomorrow, I'll see how that sounds.
 

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I finally had an evening when I didn't feel totally spent.

I made a nice meal of roasted potatoes and a stir fry of eggs (sauteed in shallots, garlic, and ginger) with brussel sprouts.


Then I sat down and was playing the melody of the posts that I mentioned in the last entry. It was okay, but rather vanilla. The only way I enjoyed playing it was as 7th interval double-stops.

I had been using the shape of the G Ionian #5 to play the melody of the posts. For some reason I gravitated to the G string and then off the A note I started playing a progression that really blended well with the vibe I had going on. It was

Am add9
G6
Bm
walk down to Am
mystery chord
B7
Em

The "mystery chord" was something I couldn't decide on. I tried a lot of chord qualities with F#, but I couldn't find something that fit the sound I was looking for. Either the pitch wasn't right or the timbre was amiss.

And I found yet one more argument in favor of straps. Due in part no doubt to the soporific influence of my meal, I dozed off while strumming in search of the mystery chord. If Morpheus had loosened the limbs of someone else, he would have dropped his instrument. With a strap there was no consequences.
 
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ripock

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I've swung around a bit. Maybe not the proverbial full-circle, but a bit. I've become a bit more interested in claw hammer.

I did study clam hammer a bit a year or so ago, but I gave it up as a one-trick-pony. And it is, if you use it as it is intended. However, I was thinking if you used it in moderation--in a hybrid style--then maybe it could add something to my style.

Here's my thinking: I've been working in E harmonic minor. The third interval of that scale is G. So the open G is always in key. That's one-third of clam hammer. Open C, E, and A are all in key, so I could strum all open strings or form chords. That is the second third of the clam hammer. Picking the correct note is the last third. Thus, I think it is possible. The trick would be to harness it into something. The first thing would be to slow it down, lest it become that nauseatingly saccharine chirpy happy-slappy old-timey music. No one wants that. The next thing would be to turn this into an ornamentation. It is an embellishment. Like the fan-stroke, it is something that adds a vibe, unless you overuse it.

I think I could employ the notes from the melody of the post, strum it open, and use the G string for the base. I'm going to try that and see what can be done.