my ukulele progress

Down Up Dick

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You are a vegetarian? I, again, find your cooking and choice of ingredients very interesting. Hope you enjoy your dinner.
 

Jeanpaul

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I cannot slide the shape without losing its structural integrity. And the fingers don't land at the same time.
Same here, seems I haven't practiced that much as compared to your progressions, however these frustrates me everytime.
 

ripock

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You are a vegetarian? I, again, find your cooking and choice of ingredients very interesting. Hope you enjoy your dinner.
Not really. A vegetarian usually has come ideology or reasoning behind the eating. I do have some precepts that I try to cling to, but they are somewhat unrelated. For example I try not to eat food with ingredients. Things like vegetables, beans, eggs don't have a label with a list of ingredients. Things like dairy, pastries, prepared foods have labels and I steer clear of them. Sometimes I will buy a chicken, or fish, or even pork chops but I say away from processed meats like bacon, ham, or sausages. And that's just a tendency and I break with that tendency at will. Sometimes I will pick up a breakfast burrito at the market. But well over 90% of the time I eat at home and eat primary foods consisting mainly of vegetables, beans, and grains. Another factor is money. Simple foods are pretty cheap.
 

Down Up Dick

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Interesting before and now even more interesting. I will continue to follow your menus.

I’m working to strengthen my flute embouchure. I stopped playing a while back, and it became pretty weak. It’s improving though. I played pretty well tonight.

I wasn’t going to bother you tonight, but I guess I did — sorry.
 

ripock

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my embouchure is shaky, and I don't mean figuratively. It makes this unintentional vibrato and it is a bit shrill. So yes I have fallen out of practice
 

ripock

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The market was a bit busier than usual and certainly busier than I like it. Obviously the chili crops are in. So a bunch of old leathery grandmas were jostling about buying chilis in bulk. They were getting by the box. And I mean box. Not the size of shoe boxes or even the kind of box you get when you buy a watch or something. These boxes were bigger than stereo receivers. What do they do with all those chilis? Pickle them, dry them out and ripen them, and make pimiento powder, make green chili salsa?

I just bought my usual. Some eggs, some turnips, some greens. I bought some trout because my wife said she wanted some animal protein (which I assume means that she is a little loose in the caboose). I don't have that problem. My diet and my trips to the bathroom are very consistent. But my wife is undergoing some issues because she has chronic pain and NSAID's have finally taken their toll on her GI system.

The most interesting thing I made is hot salad, as I call it. I never eat salad in the conventional sense: iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. My hot salad is just softened greens with a dressing. My dressing is usually coconut oil for the fat and lime juice for the acid and mustard which of course I make from black mustard seeds, vinegar, and mustard flour to thicken it up.

I was trying to find new ways to practice that minor chord rooted on the C string. I thought a natural solution would be the most ubiquitous of progressions the 2-5-1. Of course I opted for the minor 2-5-1 since it is harmonized from the harmonic minor which is my main thing nowadays. The chord qualities with the minor 2-5-1 are: II ø, V 7b9, I

The principle is you play the two as half diminished, the five as a dominant chord with some extensions, and the one chord is supposed to be a gussied up minor chord. I usually play it as a m6, but for this exercise I am just using the minor triad which does sound a bit etiolated but it works.

My problem is finding voicings I like. Despite its reputation, for me jazz if often too subtle. For example the easy answer is to use the F# on the 2nd fret, the B which is on the 2nd fret and the E minor which spans from the 2nd fret to the 4th. However the sounds are too similar to me. I need more sonic movement. For example the F# on the 9th fret, the B on the 7th, and the E on the 4th. I am still searching for the sound I am looking for. Once I find the sound I am seeking, then I can switch keys and play it all over the fret board.
 

ripock

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And I have to admit something very shameful that only members of this forum would understand. I am not a dishonest person in general and especially not with my life-long life partner. But I am doing something sketchy. I get quarterly bonuses at work and I am going to noiselessly, divert my bonus into my ukulele account. I am saving up for an elite baritone and the money will help. My quarterly bonus will pay for about 25% of the uke. In defense of my defalcations, we are not hurting for money; my wife is of scottish heritage and just likes to save money for the sake of saving money. So it is a victimless crime, but I am diverting funds.
 

ripock

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I think I'm safe unless one of you guys contacts her. But I do have a back-up plan. I am exercising and losing weight. My intention is for my wife to see my virtuous living and to reward me as a reinforcement for my desired behavior (she is a social scientist and that conditioning is second-nature for her). But by the time she decides to reward my behavior I will have already saved up the money.
 

ripock

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I finally found the sound I was looking for. At first I was trying more and more outlandish things. I didn't like the 7b9, so I tried a #9, 11, 13, b13 (I couldn't make the stretch for a #13). They all had the same issue. They sounded like the half diminished. Granted, they all had nuances and I suppose a refined ear would appreciate the differences, but my ear isn't refined. In the end, the sound I was looking for was just the bare-boned dom7. I think the reason it works for me is that it isn't jazzy. Stepping out of the jazz paradigm is jarring and that puts some distance between it and the half diminished chord. And that was the distinction I was looking for. Now I had a tight 3 chord pattern that I could move around. Sometimes instead of the 7 I would play the 7b9 or I would use the tritone substitution. I did try the V of the V and didn't care for it. In between the progressions, sometimes I would launch into some lead using the F# Lokrian 13 which has the virtue of being the leading tone for E so that going back to E seemed natural. Also since that mode is centered on the F#, going from there to the F#ø seemed natural as well.

I also practiced moving the progression around. I moved up chromatically and when I got to F#m, I would move the shape chromatically back down to the Em. I'm still not happy with how the shape breaks down for me when I move it, but it is getting better.

I am finishing up the prefatory material in my reading of Horatius' epistles. I am at the point where Hortatius' refusal to write poetry (written in poetry) mentions that Horatius is turning away from poetry and embracing philosophy. But he mentions that his attempts aren't consistent. Sometimes he follows philosophy and concerns himself with civic life and sometimes he tries to promote his own interests over that of the common weal. However Horatius maintains that philosophy is beneficial to everyone and just because one cannot be perfect, it doesn't mean that one cannot be better. I ended with him saying that he has become very impatient of the process.

Now it is time to think about supper. Tonight it looks like beans and cabbage, with some left-over lentils and sweet potato.
 

ripock

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I quickly made a stir fry with collard green strips, rice, eggs, shallots, and garlic.

Then I grabbed my Kamaka and was at a distinct disadvantage Having one less playable string, but I managed. I mirrored my 2-5-1 by then playing a 1-5-2. After playing the 2-5-1 from yesterday, I then played Em rooted on the 7th fret, the B7 rooted on the 11th fret, and the F#ø rooted on the 9th fret. To get back to the F# on the 2nd fret from the F# on the 9th fret, I just dive bombed betwixt the two using the A dim7 arpeggio.
 

ripock

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Nothing much going on to write about. I went to the store. On my way I saw a new Jaguar. It looked like any other car like a Toyota or Mazda or Honda. What's the point of having a Jaguar if people cannot see that it is a Jaguar? Anyway the store visit was the usual: just some eggs and trout, swiss chard, kale, turnips. I did buy two bunches of cilantro. I am going to make a very herby batch of habichuelas for protein this week.

I did manage to put $1200 into my baritone fund because of my quarterly bonus.

Playing-wise, I've just been practicing that Em chord. I've been using my Kamaka just because it is closer than my Yorkie which is in another room. I haven't even been picking over the progression although the minor pentatonic and all the modes of the harmonic minor have all the chord tones. Like a newbie I've just been playing the chords over and over again to cement the muscle memory. Of course, I do mix it up and explore all the voicings...well I should say most voicings. I am eschewing the higher end of the fret board because my Kamaka doesn't have a cutaway. Even if I were using Yorkie I would still find the E on the 19th fret problematic. I could certainly form the Em and B7 up there, but the Fø. Same thing, but to a lesser extent, with the E on the 16th fret. But I am using all my other E's.

I have been rather enchanted with the Em rooted on the 12th string. Conversely I have not been too overjoyed with a few of the B7 voicings. The B7 rooted on the 7th fret gives me problems as do all 7 chords rooted on the E string. I should just bite the bullet and embrace these shapes and get over them. I promise I'll work on it.

My other problem is the B7 rooted on the G string. For some reason I do not like the sound of this voicing. I always omit the root note on this shape. However, even if I include the root, I still do not care for the sound. Perhaps I should try other chord qualities for this B. Immediately the 7b9 comes to mind, or sus chords, or even something like a 7#5.

Lastly, I know this sounds boring. After all, the 2-5-1 rivals the 1-6-4-5 in ubiquity and overusage. However it is all about what you do with it. Four down-strokes per measure would be soporific. I have a tendency to play complex (perhaps unmetrical) strum patterns with some sound board thumping for rhythm and liberal pepperings of upstrokes. At least it is sincere, even if it isn't musical.

Perhaps I should publish my excursus on strumming as it relates to breathing and bodily movement.

Anyway, what I've been recently doing is secretly accompanying "Everything I Own" by Bread. I just have the chorus of that song running through my head and I play my 2-5-1 to accompany that. With some voicings it borders on being contrapuntal.
 

ripock

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I made my beans. It is my take on Central American recipes that I've picked up from Salvadorans with whom I've worked in warehouses and distribution centers over the years.

I just pressure cooked 2 cups of habichuelas rojas. In a pot I added some garam marsala and some cumin I ground up. I added about 4 inches of leek stalk sliced up and two bunches of cilantro. I combined the above with a rather wet amount of habichuelas. Then I used a masher to squish them a little bit. I did add some salt...perhaps a little too much because I am not very good at salt or cooking meat. I came to those things rather late in life and don't have a good feel for them. This mixture is savory rather than spicy because my wife is having GI problems and spicy foods are forbidden. Rest assured that I will be adding green chilis to my bowl, but hers will remain spice-free lest her throat get irritated.
 

ripock

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There's a nice thread about sopranos going on and they have their own thing going on and I certainly do not want to obtrude. When I first decided to delve into the ukulele, I had pre-conceived notions. I thought that the soprano was a toy and it had a timbre similar to playing a guitar between the bridge and the tail-piece. I associated it with Tiny Tim, George Formby, and all those players who make all ukulele music sound like elevator music with a slight Reggae back-beat.

I have to admit that I still hold those opinions although at this point in time I realize that they are just opinions and I would be open to emending them if the data warranted it. However, I followed my initial prejudices and went after bigger ukes to minimize what I find disagreeable with the smaller ones. The only way I would buy a soprano would be if I could find a 1940's Martin soprano. I could get behind the history of such an instrument and use that mojo to mitigate its lack of sustain, fretting options, and tinny sound.

Since my wife is sleeping, I am practicing V-I transitions on my cigar box. Since it is electric, it is the only instrument that won't wake her up.
 

ripock

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Actually the only music I play is my own. I have no interest in playing other people's music. For me, that's what my CD player is for. I do have a ton of classical music from my days on the flute, but the latest CD's I've purchased are Tom Waits' Rain Dogs, Operation Mindcrime a rock opera by Queensryche, and Apostrophe by Zappa. However, my ear is always listening for things to steal rather than things to play. I'll hear something I like and I'll work out that riff and incorporate it into my songs which are primarily based on pentatonic scales and modes of the harmonic minor. I did learn to play one song when I first started. It was Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows"--aside from that I just strive to be able to play whatever my mind invents.
 

Down Up Dick

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That’s a nice idea. I do that sometimes too, especially with my flutes. It’s very relaxing to just sit back and play whatever your mood calls for.

It’s more difficult with my stringed instruments, though, because I have to deal with chords. I’m working on that now. Before I started on stringed instruments in 2014, I didn’t have much to do with chords. They have been a struggle for me since then. I think I’m too old for chords.

Anyway, I enjoy playing as you do sometime too. It’s a good thing.
 

ripock

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I completely understand. I never played chords in my entire life until I grabbed the uke. And chords blew my mind. With the flute an E was an E, but with the uke E maj was not just E maj. You can have different voicings and they don't sound the same. It was sort of a Hegelian crisis because I was raised to believe that each signifier had one signified but with chords each signifier had many signifieds. It was a complete change of my worldview. I used to pace the floor of my library and fret about this until I learned to loosen up.

As for music today, I just briefly played around with the theme from Deliverance. I played it straight, sometimes I would play it with different rhythms to disguise it, sometimes and I would play it and blend it with pentatonic shapes, and in the end I played it as a chord melody with minor chords. I did this briefly as I was awaiting my wife's porridge to finish cooking.
 

Down Up Dick

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I sometimes enjoy changing major keyed tunes to minor. I really like minor keyed music like Klezmer. It’s surprising that such joyous, happy music can be played in minor keys. I have some Eastern European music on CDs that‘s a riot too. I guess I’m a sad person — Ha!
 

ripock

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I've read some arguments that stringed instruments were designed for the minor. Even though I concur, the "proof" seems a little contrived and arbitrary. Perhaps it is going too far to say that stringed instruments were made to play minor keys, but it seems to me that the minor key has a very prevalent presence in American music, especially with the African influence. After all, those markers don't highlight the pentatonic notes for nothing.

Work has been waylaying me so dinner was quick: for my wife, hamburger patty, hot salad, and lentils & mung beans cooked with some cinnamon and black strap molasses. I had rice and beans as well as hot salad (kale with coconut oil, lemon juice, and a bit of mustard.

Then I played The very familar progression of i V iv using the C rooted minor, the A rooted 7, and the
G rooted minor.

Instead of playing it in E, my favorite, I moved up to the 7th fret. I did that to give me more room. I know that a lot of people love the freebies that open strings give, but I hate open strings in strumming and in chording. I do not like that you cannot control them and they disrupt patterns. Plus the nut stops everything. If you play closer to the middle of the fret board, you have options above and below your location.
 

ripock

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There have been some funny threads lately. I saw, but didn't read, something about the best $250 uke. I won't even mention how oxymornic it is to have $250 and 'best' in the same sentence. There was also something about vacation ukes. This is a more complicated topic for me. As evidenced by this blog, anyone can see my commitment to the ukulele. However, the very last thing I want in a public space or a confined space is a musical instrument. If I had paid money for a vacation, I want a neutral space where I bother no one and no one bothers me. Someone playing typical ukulele tin pan alley schlock does not conform to that expectation. Public buskers hold the same place in my mind as sidewalk evangelists or skateboarders. They are really annoying when you're walking around with your wife trying to have a conversation and trying to forget the tribulations of the work week.