my ukulele progress

ripock

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I am in the process of getting back to my roots and get re-centered on my, and the western world’s, musicality with the pentatonic.

Perhaps it is a testament to my progress, but there seems to be more that I do not know than before. I attribute that to the old Sokratic saw of gnothi seauton. I now know more and being more secure in my knowledge and I am equally cognizant of what I don’t know.

And what I don’t know is my major pentatonic. I know on an intellectual level that the major pentatonic is the minor pentatonic of the relative major of the key you’re in. Since I work in E, that would be C# for my relative major. So if I play C# minor pentatonic, I am playing E major pentatonic. However that knowledge doesn’t translate to musical knowledge. There is too much cogitation going on. I cannot use the E major pentatonic without some forethought. And when you’re playing music, there’s no time for that.

I can see my ignorance in my system of nomenclature. There are five shapes, or modes, of the minor pentatonic scale. I know that the guitar world just uses numbers to classify the different shapes. I don’t play guitar, so I made up my own system. I just name my shapes based on degree of the scale which they start with. In my system I refer to my shapes as the tonic, mediant, subdominant, dominant, and leading tone shapes.

And for the major pentatonic I just called the five shapes the same things although that is wildly inaccurate because the notes are different. The major pentatonic uses the tonic, supertonic, mediant, dominant, and the submediant.

So I’m thinking of them all wrong. But that’s just on a conceptual level. The main issue is the musical level. No matter what I call them, I need to move to them when improvising.

The key to the easy transitions are the tonic and dominant. Those are the only two notes that are common to the major and minor pentatonic. And to be honest, the tonic isn’t such a good choice because when you return to the tonic you are ending your musical phrase with resolution. So the real player here is the dominant because with the dominant you can switch from minor to major seamlessly.

Obviously I can change with the other notes. The only liability is that it sounds like a modulation because it is. But that’s not a bad thing. Actually it is a very strong sound that has its uses. Those switches are half steps and they are very audible but it often sounds like something important is happening.

Okay, but how do the pentatonics work with my other staples of improvisation? I love playing my D# dim7 arpeggio. The D# is in neither pentatonic, the F# is in the major pentatonic, and the A is in the minor pentatonic, with the C of the arpeggio being in neither pentatonic. So from the arpeggio I can go to either pentatonic.

And as far as my harmonic minor is concerned, it shares four notes with the minor pentatonic, and three with the major pentatonics

This is getting overwhelming. I think I am just going to focus on using B, the dominant note, to transition between major and minor pentatonics—and work in a harmonic minor mode when the occasion arises.
 

ripock

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I add non-ukulele topics here at times because I think it shows different facets of something of which ukulele is only a part. A case in point is my latest literary obsession. The twenty letters collected and published by the Roman poet, Horace. They're a mystery to me. In grad school, we just read them simplistically as letters. And that would be fine if these letters were found in Horace's villa after his death. But these things were published by Horace. So they are literature and need to be investigated as such. Why were they published? What are we supposed to get out of reading them? How are we supposed to feel about Horace?

And I am doing some similar detective work with the ukulele. Here's a road map of a little song that moves from the 2nd fret to the 19th fret. It is just a road map because the particulars of the song depends on what melody you chose whilst improvising the sections.

1. started with the subdominant shape of the E minor pentatonic.
2. using the B of #1, I switched to the mediant shape of the E major pentatonic
3. the final note of #3 is C#. From C# I just descended chromatically to C
4. With that C I was in C Lydian #2 and G Ionian #5.
5. I ended on the A on the 2nd fret and then I arpeggiated to the A on the 12th fret
6. The A on the 12fret is smack dab in the middle of the B Phrygian Dominant/F# Lokrian 13 which I play 'til I get to the A on the 14th fret
7. I arpeggiate from the A up to the D# on the 18th fret.
8. Then we're so close, being on the leading tone of the tonic and resolution
9. So I just chromatically just up to E on the 19th.

That is the past I chose today
 

ripock

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I made a nice stir fry with daikon and brussel sprouts, among other things. I also have started my study of the epistles of Horatius...trying to establish a basal reading of his tone.

Musically I am still not getting the big picture. I mean...I know that the E major pentatonic is just the Db minor pentatonic, but the question is how to use it in conjunction with the E minor pentatonic. How do I move back and forth. I tried using the B.B. box which is a mixture of the major and minor pentatonics and I can use it. But it doesn't seem to get me anywhere. It isn't helping me synthesize the material.

Maybe I am biting off more than I can chew by trying to juxtapose two systems. Maybe I should just stick to the minor pentatonic and add a major pentatonic note into the mix. The likeliest candidates are the 2 and the 6, F# and C#. I think I will try to play my normal pentatonics but add an F# occasionally to see how it sounds.
 

ripock

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Speaking of biting and chewing, I made one of my favorites today: farinata (or Cecina). Half a cup of garbanzo flour and five ounces of water mixed together. While that sits and absorbs, Put a skillet in the oven with a dollop of fat and heat to 495. And don't be stingy with the fat. Unlike a typical American diet, this is your fat so be liberal. When the oven reaches temperature, add to the flour mixture some olive oil and whatever spices you want. Then cook it in the heated up skillet. It is nice crispy flat bread.

With it I made some beans with half a bulb of garlic, leeks, zattar, and black strap molasses
 

ripock

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Since I was uptown at my tailor's I dropped by a middle eastern market to pick up some staples. I bought a little bag of mung beans and another of lentils. It is hard to remember that in parts of the world lentils and water is what you get and you're glad to get it. I love dal. Who doesn't. But it is another thing to think of that bag of lentils as being the staff of life. I also picked up some Egyptian Romy cheese. It is a lot like the pecorino I had in Italy. It is really sharp and if you have any mouth sores, it gets in there and stings. You have to love a cheese that bites you back.

I have been trying to incorporate the C# and F# from the E major pentatonic into the E minor pentatonic. I don't care for it at all. I realize that I am still playing G, therefore I'm still in the minor, but adding those C# and F# and their half-step intervals really gives a major vibe. That bugs me. I don't care of the timbre of the instrument as so many seem to do, but I do care about my groove and the way it sounds and the way it is perceived.

There is a very real chance that the problem is me and the fact that I am overdoing it. Perhaps if I were more discriminate and very occasionally dropped an F# or C# into the mix then it would cause some interest for an eighth of a measure or so before returning to the basic sound. It is similar in theory to the #4, the blues note. I don't use it very often. It is just a nice little passing tone betwixt the subdominant and the dominant. Maybe I should think of the C# and F# and little grace notes before the mediant or leading tone. Obviously you can slide into the minor pentatonic notes from the major ones.

Speaking of slides, I saw a slide. I believe the brand was black mountain. It was essentially a wide ring that would cover the medial phlanges. It is wide enough to slide on one or two strings, but narrow enough to still allow you the ability to bend your finger while fretting. I have always used the traditional technique of using the slide on my pinky and fretting with the other fingers.
 

ripock

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I slept two or three hours, then I got up at the behest of the sunshine and heat. I did my weekly shopping and got some leeks and greens, and other things. I had oral surgery a week back and my doctor wants me to start using a saline rinse. So I had to buy one of those cylinders of salt. I do not remember ever buying one of these before. It is odd because they are so ubiquitous but I don't use a lot of salt. I do buy some hawaiian black salt and use it but I have never bought a big parcel of salt...which only cost 79 cents.

I'll probably be using the leeks I just bought to make some yellow rice. I don't know what else to call it. It is a Persian thing I picked up somewhere. It is easy it is just garlic and onions and tumeric and salt with some rice. I of course improvise a bit. First of all, I always use basmati rice because I like the longer grains. Secondly I don't have tumeric per se. I do have some curry powder which is comprised of tumeric, fenugreek, coriander and ? (I cannot remember the fourth ingredient of curry powder).

Why rice recipes here? I have said it before but I believe my cooking, my playing, and my reading...all triangulate toward a unified intellectual response to the world and I try to annotate those aspects whenever possible. I truly feel that if I gave a detailed enough account, a reader could trace the connection between my food choices and my chord choices.
 

ripock

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I made a lazy jam in E. The movement comes more from the chord qualities than the chords.

1. Em6
2. Emaj7
3. E7
4. A maj7
5. A dim7
6. B7
7. Bm7#5
8. Bm9#5
9. C#7 sus4
10. E add9

But I sometimes I would omit 7 thru 10 above and instead play some improvised leads based on the dominant shape of the E minor pentatonic and the mediant shape of the E major pentatonic. They are the same shape but on the 4th fret and 1st fret, respectively.
 

ripock

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while I was playing the above I pressure cooked for a half hour some lentils and mung beans with leeks, salt, and curry powder.

I am making some progress in my study of Horatius' first book of epistles. The first epistle is a recusatio, a refusal. In 23 b.c. Horatius accomplished the greatest feat in Latin poetry with the publication of his Carmina. But they weren't praised as they should have been. So this book of epistles is purportedly Horatius refusing to write poetry anymore, the the refusal and this book of epistles is poetry. So it is a contradiction.
 

Down Up Dick

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Do you read Horatius in Latin? I read some of your posts, and, though I’ve been playing a lot of different instruments for about 75 years, most of what you write about music is Greek to me. Ya see? I’m a linguist too! I am also a cook. I make a wicked peanut butter sandwich — with or without jam!

I really like your style and enjoy what I can glean from your writing. I think you need another UU friend.
 
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ripock

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I haven't seen you around in a while. And actually we were already friends in the general sense and in the technical UU sense. But I am happy to renew and to re-click you. Yes, I do have a PhD in Greek and Latin so I do read old Horatius in the original. I just finished my day job and now I have to check in with my students in my secondary job...so I don't have anything cogent to say or to offer. But I am glad to see you around.
 

ripock

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EΔ7 or perhaps Gø and F°. Let's see if the new software will allow those musical symbols
 

ripock

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Like all resources, those located within us is a limited quality. We only have so much intelligence and gumption. That is evident to those of us who read ancient poetry. We read the rather large corpus our entire life but our relationship with the poetry alters as we grow older.
When we were younger, we spent most of our resoucres on the language and just understanding. After that expenditure, we didn't have have any resources left to search for the meaning.
Now that I am older, I am re-reading the poetry and have a surplus of resources to interpret the poetry since I do not have to expend resources on the language.
I had read Horatius, but I don't remember it. That's because I read it to check off an item on the bucket list: all educated people have read their Horace. Now I'm coming back to it with a maturity and a leisure.
I want to understand the first book of epistles. And the first part of the first epistle relates to slavery.
Horatius came from slaves. His father was a freeman which meant he started as a slave but climbed out of slavery by merit or by buying his freedom. Horatius was a first generation free person. His family must have been very conscious of class distinctions because they are social climbers.
These epistles to some degree are bound to be constructed as doucments of self-worth to a person conscious of class distinctions who is trying to justify himself.
Horatius' personal connection with slavery: his father was an ex-slave. Horatius' father saw that education was one of the keys to rising. He had Horatius educated like an elite, although the expense was beyond thie budget.
That's nothing strange in our culture. Education and property are key. That's he basis of institutional racism: non-white people were discouraged from owning property which translates into accummulated wealth passed through the generations.
Anyway...Horatius was educated like an aristocrat and went to college at Athens and associated with the elite. When the civil war started Horatius got involeved in a faction--as a college kid is wont to do. He picked the wrong side--as college kids are wont to do.
The victors were calculatedly magnaminous to unite the populace and largely forgave. Horatius' family lost some property but Horatius secured a post in the treasury. All the while he was writing, the prerogative of the elite. Eventually he caught the attention and patronage of Maecenas, an associate of the emperor. In 39 b.c. Horatius was given his famous Sabine Farm from which he withdrew from society, wrote his literature, and lived. He was a kept man and still could evince some dignity.
That's what the epistles are about: how to be independent when you're not. This is a very important topic for the Romans. For example, the servus callidus is a very endearing and enduring figure of the Roman stage. Why did the Romans, who were slavers, identify with the slave? The answer is everyone is someone else's bitch (this was the thesis of a famous book some 20 years ago by Kathleen McCarthy). A Roman may be a slaver but he is beholden to his patron, or lien holder, or vocational supervisor, or the tax collector, or the government, or a wife. No one is really free. Horace is beholden to his patron Maecena but Maecenas is beholden to the emperor.
Therefore, as long as he's charming about it, Horatius can reference slavery and rising above it. It serves his purpose and it appeals to his patron who is a "slave" himself trying to live his best life in spite of that.
That is from where the appeal radiates. if Horatius addressed his literature to literal slaves, his audience would be somewhat circumscribed. Since he addresses his commentary to anyone who is enslaved by an institution or a concept, then his audience is quite catholic and timeless.
 
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ripock

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Like all resources, those located within us is a limited quality. We only have so much intelligence and gumption. That is evident to those of us who read ancient poetry. We read the rather large corpus our entire life but our relationship with the poetry alters as we grow older.
When we were younger, we spent most of our resoucres on the language and just understanding. After that expenditure, we didn't have have any resources left to search for the meaning.
Now that I am older, I am re-reading the poetry and have a surplus of resources to interpret the poetry since I do not have to expend resources on the language.
I had read Horatius, but I don't remember it. That's because I read it to check off an item on the bucket list: all educated people have read their Horace. Now I'm coming back to it with a maturity and a leisure.
I want to understand the first book of epistles. And the first part of the first epistle relates to slavery.
Horatius came from slaves. His father was a freeman which meant he started as a slave but climbed out of slavery by merit or by buying his freedom. Horatius was a first generation free person. His family must have been very conscious of class distinctions because they are social climbers.
These epistles to some degree are bound to be constructed as doucments of self-worth to a person conscious of class distinctions who is trying to justify himself.
Horatius' personal connection with slavery: his father was an ex-slave. Horatius' father saw that education was one of the keys to rising. He had Horatius educated like an elite, although the expense was beyond thie budget.
That's nothing strange in our culture. Education and property are key. That's he basis of institutional racism: non-white people were discouraged from owning property which translates into accummulated wealth passed through the generations.
Anyway...Horatius was educated like an aristocrat and went to college at Athens and associated with the elite. When the civil war started Horatius got involeved in a faction--as a college kid is wont to do. He picked the wrong side--as college kids are wont to do.
The victors were calculatedly magnaminous to unite the populace and largely forgave. Horatius' family lost some property but Horatius secured a post in the treasury. All the while he was writing, the prerogative of the elite. Eventually he caught the attention and patronage of Maecenas, an associate of the emperor. In 39 b.c. Horatius was given his famous Sabine Farm from which he withdrew from society, wrote his literature, and lived. He was a kept man and still could evince some dignity.
That's what the epistles are about: how to be independent when you're not. This is a very important topic for the Romans. For example, the servus callidus is a very endearing and enduring figure of the Roman stage. Why did the Romans, who were slavers, identify with the slave? The answer is everyone is someone else's bitch (this was the thesis of a famous book some 20 years ago by Kathleen McCarthy). A Roman may be a slaver but he is beholden to his patron, or lien holder, or vocational supervisor, or the tax collector, or the government, or a wife. No one is really free. Horace is beholden to his patron Maecena but Maecenas is beholden to the emperor.
Therefore, as long as he's charming about it, Horatius can reference slavery and rising above it. It serves his purpose and it appeals to his patron who is a "slave" himself trying to live his best life in spite of that.
That is from where the appeal radiates. if Horatius addressed his literature to literal slaves, his audience would be somewhat circumscribed. Since he addresses his commentary to anyone who is enslaved by an institution or a concept, then his audience is quite catholic and timeless.
 

ripock

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My wife had the delta blues. She was full of trepidations about catching the delta variant. So she didn't want to go out to eat a big breakfast on Saturday. So I made her a big breakfast. After all I can make a breakfast that is superior to anything she can get elsewhere. I kept it simple: bacon, hash browns, peeled apple, and I made two eggs in my wok. I actually scrambled them and my wife appreciated the act of love which that entailed. She knows my feeling about scrambled eggs. No one over the age of 7 should eat scrambled egg, catsup, or ranch dressing. So it was an act of love.
Musically, I just worked on connecting the areas of the fret board. One of the tools I used was the arpeggio. There is no wrong way to do an arpeggio (but don't tell that to a guitar player), so I'll just explain what I do. I use these for one of two purposes: moving horizontally or vertically.
1. A dim7 horizontal: A@G2, C@G5, D#@C3, F#@E2, A@E5, C@A3, D#@A6.
2. A dim7 vertical: A@G2, C@G5,D#@C3, F#@C6, A@C9, C@E8, D#@E11, F#@A9, A@A12.

So essentially I would playing a chord low on the neck, like the E add9. While playing the chord I would just play the E string at times and emphasize that F# note.

Then I would transistion into the F# dim7 and then run it all the way up to the A on the 12 fret.

From that A I would go into the mediant shape of the E minor pentatonic
From the G of the mediant shape I would scoot up to the subdominant shape.

From those pentatonic shapes it is easy to morph into modal shapes such as the Dorian #11 or Phrygian Dominant. I usually end up on the D# @ A18. From there I just do a horizontal arpeggio to get back to the bass side, from which it is easy to then attain the E@C16 for resolution
 

Down Up Dick

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I understand little or nothing of your music posts despite my 75 years of playing and studying music on lots of different instruments, and, of course, your language posts are all Greek to me. However, I really enjoy your posts about food, and it’s preparation. You seem to get a great deal of enjoyment from just posting about it, and I feel good reading them.

It’s nice to be able to enjoy the things that one likes to do even during these horrible times.

I seem to be somewhat repetitive in my old age too . . . ahhh, me.
 
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ripock

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repetition is actually one of my goals...at least musically. I tend to be very linear and I realize I need more repetitions to make it more musical. And you're not alone in not understanding my music. I worked with a professional musician who later in life was just getting into theory. He had made a career out of playing what he called cowboy chords. He said if I had started earlier I could have been a mad genius like Thelonious Monk or just a marginalized non-entity!
 

Down Up Dick

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Good evening, ripock. Most of my music life I was a brass man (all). Later I picked up the flute (various types). I also taught myself how to play the snare drum which I enjoyed very much. I really like rhythm. There were other trials and a few failures too.

When I started to grow old, I thought it would be a good idea to learn something not involving embochure. So I picked strings, and it’s been a struggle ever since. One of my earlier failures was my keyboard. I could play the left hand and the right, but not together. I use it now, mostly right handed to work out music problems.

But enough of my chord woes. I played my concert flute well today, and I learned a little somethin’ on my tenor guitar.

Do you only play ukulele? If so, that’s hard to believe.
 

ripock

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Flute. While I was still in high school I paid $23.89 a month to get a concert flute. Nowadays I have a much better flute with a solid silver head joint and the tail joint extends to Bb. I think you can see the flautist in me with all the scales I play on the uke and my obsession with knowing the fret board. I actually kind of freaked out when I moved to the stringed instrument. I was really troubled with the concept of voicings. On the flute, the E is the E. It is just an objective fact. On stringed instruments there are several E majors and they do not sound the same. This actually troubled me.
 

Down Up Dick

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I started a long time ago with my wife’s flute. Then I sent for one from Sears (I was in Turkey), so we could play duets, which we never did. Later I sold it and bought an Armstrong with a gold tip and mouthpiece. It’s low note is B. I also have an alto flute that plays beautiful (sometimes) low notes. It’s low note is G.

My favorite stringed instruments are my three mandolins. They use two finger chords and not very many. I’ve seen some mandolinists who don’t use any at all. I also play an Irish banjo . . . no chords either! I have an on going battle with chords.
 

ripock

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Tonight I kept it simple: beans, greens, grains, and roots. I boiled some potatoes simply because I've read about them so much in British novels. I just put some pepper and ghee on them. I also made a medley of lentils, habichuelas, bok choy, seasoned with garlic, leeks, and curry powder.

Then I busted Yorkie out of its case and practiced arpeggios and some shapes that resolve on the E on the 16th fret.

I spent the better part of an hour practicing the minor chord rooted on the C string. Last week on the forum I admitted that I find this chord bothersome and avoid it. But the minor chord is a large facet of my playing. So I've been depriving myself of 25% of the minor chords. And it is foolish. The only reason it is difficult is I never tried to learn it, really. So there's nothing like a little bit of rote learning to overcome anything.

I started by just playing and A and E strings...just playing that Major Third double-stop. After that became comfortable, I partially barred the C and G strings. And then I had my minor chord. I find it easier to play all four strings with the fifth in unison rather than playing a crisp triad like I usually do. I still have some work to do; I cannot slide the shape without losing its structural integrity. And the fingers don't land at the same time.

I finished by practicing a little progression in E Harmonic Minor (with two subs):

Em
G+
Am add9

Bm6

The two variations are the non-diatonic D and the B is supposed to have major chord quality.