my ukulele progress

ripock

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There was a rather strange post about not understanding ornamented ukes. What's not to understand? It isn't recondite; pretty things are pretty. It is nice to have nice things. I could cover my nakedness with a trash bag with holes to accommodate my limbs but I wear a suit that doesn't perform the function any better than a trash bag.

What's money for, if you don't buy a fancy uke. Are you supposed to save it so that your descendants can spend it?

I am seeing a connection with my favorite Latin poet, Horatius, on this theme. Horatius advocates spending...within reason. Horatius would say not to be wasteful but don't scrimp either.

Speaking of Horatius, I read at the pub last night his 6th epistle addressed to someone named Numicius. It was strange. The book of epistles has a pretense in which Horatius claims to have eschewed poetry for philosophy, but then he writes five epistles in verse which don't have much to do with philosophy. But in the 6th epistle he actually is philosophical, sort of. For the first half of the epistle he instructs Numicius on how to live well and he describes to Numicius the necessity of being aloof: to neither be obsessed with a goal nor afraid of losing the benefit of that goal. This is obviously just the Stoic principle of ataraxia. However, towards the last third of the epistle, Horatius undercuts his narrative by saying essentially "or not." He says that if you want to live the good life do what he's said or if you'd rather pursue some goal other than virtue, then just do it thoroughly.
 

Voran

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There was a rather strange post about not understanding ornamented ukes. What's not to understand? It isn't recondite; pretty things are pretty. It is nice to have nice things. I could cover my nakedness with a trash bag with holes to accommodate my limbs but I wear a suit that doesn't perform the function any better than a trash bag.

What's money for, if you don't buy a fancy uke. Are you supposed to save it so that your descendants can spend it?

I am seeing a connection with my favorite Latin poet, Horatius, on this theme. Horatius advocates spending...within reason. Horatius would say not to be wasteful but don't scrimp either.

Speaking of Horatius, I read at the pub last night his 6th epistle addressed to someone named Numicius. It was strange. The book of epistles has a pretense in which Horatius claims to have eschewed poetry for philosophy, but then he writes five epistles in verse which don't have much to do with philosophy. But in the 6th epistle he actually is philosophical, sort of. For the first half of the epistle he instructs Numicius on how to live well and he describes to Numicius the necessity of being aloof: to neither be obsessed with a goal nor afraid of losing the benefit of that goal. This is obviously just the Stoic principle of ataraxia. However, towards the last third of the epistle, Horatius undercuts his narrative by saying essentially "or not." He says that if you want to live the good life do what he's said or if you'd rather pursue some goal other than virtue, then just do it thoroughly.
I feel this very hard. I like glittery things.

Ataraxia is a weird word. It sounds like a nerve agent. Something you'd like to drop on the Russian military.
 

ripock

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I just posted a visual aid. It is just the D# Super Lokrian played on the re-entrant (C, E, A strings). The name isn't important. What's important is its notes. It is slightly difficult to see because the columns are so wide, but you can discern the geometrical playing I alluded to. The notes make triangles, inverted triangles, and even a quincunx with A in the middle.

I am just playing around with these concepts in improvising melodies. My major (literally) obstacle is the G-A-B in the middle. It sounds so Ionian/Lydian and that is not a sound I want. In the past I would have just avoided it, but I think I should embrace it and learn to employ it. So I learning on how to make it sound less squamous by altering sequences and articulating it differently.

Anyway, So what I did for limbering up was just play the modes from the C# Aiolian b5 up to the B mixolydian b6 and then I just worked on the D# Super Lokrian.
 

ripock

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I think grocery prices are rising. I spent over $100 today. Granted, I did buy paper products (paper towels and toilet paper) and those items each run about $15 for a supply to last a long time. Nevertheless the bill was high. I guess that's just the way it is with Russia de-stabilizing the world. Oh well. I've already paid for my Baritone, so what do I care if eggs are a bit pricey. I did buy a pork roast for a big Friday feast. I am cooking it fat side down which I know is opposite of accepted procedure. I just wanted to see what would happen. As a matter a fact, I should go and check the internal temperature of that roast.

Roast is ready. I'm going to take it out to cool and make some collard greens and millet with basil pesto.
 

ripock

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I wish I had something to write. After a rather protracted period of time, the new nib on my pen is working well and I could really use a task like grading some papers or re-drawing my chord chart.

I am going on a little vacation to attend my nephew's graduation since kids today want everything celebrated. I have never walked in the graduation ceremony or celebrated the achievement--even when I received my PhD. And the vacation is exhausting already. It seems I am doing more for other people than for myself. I need to clean the house so that the cat-sitter won't think we're slobs. My wife is shopping for new clothes and getting her car washed for the first time ever, so that we aren't judged by her parents. I'll be glad when we can get past this period of socializing so that we can get back to our true selves.

I felt I had paid enough obeisance to the ukulele gods by playing my re-entrant uke. So I took off my hair-shirt and grabbed Yorkie, my linear uke. It was a great relief to be able to play everything I wanted to play. I was able to play my dim7 arpeggio again. I have tried playing a 3-string version of the arpeggio and it always sounds trancated. I suppose I could conceive of a different arpeggio shape, but that would defeat the purpose of using the very very regular dim7 pattern.

Of course my modes doubled and that's great. What I mean by that: due to the mathematical genius of music, if you have a linear tuning you get two modes at every position: you get the re-entrant mode and the linear mode. Here's one example: yesterday we were speaking about the D# Super Lokrian which spans the C, E, and A strings. If we use the same exact notes from the E and C strings, but then add the B and C# of the linear G string, then we get the B Mixolydian b6. So the C and E strings, when added to the A string make one mode. And when those two central strings are added to the G string, a different mode is created.

The same applies to the pentatonic shapes. For example the re-entrant Sub-Tonic E major pentatonic shape shares the same space as the Subdominant shape in the linear tuning.

So I was doing a lot of what I started yesterday, but adding in the G string.

Lastly, I was also thinking about what is more important: left-hand or right-hand technique. Of course, the simple answer is that they both matter. The more thoughtful and subjective answer requires you to predicate the answer upon the style of play.

Since from day one I have conceived of myself as a soloist versus being a member of the ripieno (to borrow terminology from my Baroque background), the right hand is much more important. At the beginner level, the left-hand is the focus because you need to learn the chords and their voicings as well as the notes of the scales. But that's just the raw material. The right hand turns it into music but supplying the rhythm, the silences, the attacks and articulations, etc.

Obviously there is some grey area in the middle. For example, since I am primarily a Roots musician, I employ a lot of left hand ornamentation such as bends, slides, pizzicato, k.t.l. (k.t.l. is Greek for Et cetera, being kata ton leipon)
 

John Colter

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"k.t.l. is Greek for Et cetera, being kata ton leipon"

Interesting. The equivalent in Esperanto is ktp, or kaj tiel plu, meaning, "and so forth".
 

ripock

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I became a bit distracted. After I made a hot salad (collard greens, ghee. lemon juice, a touch of olive brine) I indulged my whimsy. I have been obsessed with sus chords. No reason in particular. It is just that the concept caught my eye. Maybe I am intrigued because I don't really have those shapes at my fingertips.

Regardless I played around a bit. I had read that a sus chord can serve as a weak v/v. Therefore I experimented with F#ø \ B sus2 \ B7 \ Em. I sounded nice. However I find the voicing really makes a difference with the sus chord. And I did try a sus4 paired with a 7 chord, which is the more common grouping. Yet, I did not fancy the sound. They were too similar. I want more differentiation between my chords and not so much subtlety.

I also tried letting the sus chord quality stand on its own. E13 \ A9 \ B sus4 \ D \ G+ \ B7 \ Em

That last progression reminds me: ah yes, the 9 chord. That's another one that drives me crazy. It seems that the 9 chord is very ubiquitous but I can never make it sound appropriate. It often seems not to match the chords around it or it sounds too high-pitched.
 

ripock

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I just returned from a 4-day weekend devoted to driving up to Colorado to attend the graduation of a nephew. Now that I am back I am following up an interest that became ripe before I left: spend some time with 9 chords. I have always had trouble using them. Their shape is no problem. They have the same shapes as ø chords--the only difference is which note is considered the root.

Before trying to improvise with them I thought I would practice an old blues progression I had that was rife, if not riotous, with 9 chords. Here it is:

01. I 13
02. IV 9
03. I 13
04. I 13
05. IV9
06. IV9
07. I 13 | bI 13
08. bbI 13 | bbbI 13
09. II 13
10. V9
11. ?
12 ?

Couple of things to note. Bars 3 & 4, and 5 & 6, need some variation. I'll contemplate that later. the II 13 is too difficult to play in the region I am playing; instead, I used a II add 9. More importantly, the turnaround has to be determined. The turnaround is supposed to be I 13, bIII 13, II 13, bII 13. However I don't care for that too much.

I do have a small amount of turnarounds which mostly contain 7 chords and Δ7 chords. The 7 chords are easy. I can either play them as dom7 chords or use the 7 chord as a jazz musician does. In jazz, a 7 chord is a chord which contains a b7 and that applies to dom7, 9, 11, or 13 chords. As for the Δ7 chords: maybe they'll sound odd and maybe they won't. I will try them out. I have an uninformed hunch that it will sound inappropriate because I associate Δ7 chords with the tonic and in this progression the tonic has been the 13 chord. Yet I'm not harboring any pre-conceived attachments. I will experiment and let the results speak for themselves.
 

ripock

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I was looking at the few photographs I had to post to the "ukulele corner" thread. I could never find a complete photo, one that had my music stand which is the central figure of my corner. I did find a picture of my "courage corner" which is an anglicized form of the Russian word denoting a small area where you train.

But I did find a chord progression that I had written out. Here it is:

Em
Am/C
D
B7
C/Eb
Bm EΔ7
Ab-B7

That's what I wrote but I don't know the meaning. For example are those slash chords or simply a choice? I played around with it a bit. I will report soon.
 

ripock

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I haven't had time to properly explore this progression. My wife was having a meeting and I had to make myself scarce. So I went to the pub and had 3 whiskies, a steak, and read Latin. Here's what I have discovered so far: It is all about the rhythm. If I play through it quickly and with commitment, it sounds good from the Em to the Bm. The Bm even sounds like an ending which is a no-brainer since it is the dominant so that it is the penultimate sound before we return to Em. However those last three chords don't seem to work for me. It is obvious what they're doing. After the dominant Bm, we get a tonic, but not the tonic we want. Then we move down a fret to Ab, and then down another to B7, once again the dominant. So this is just a hiccup before resolving. But, man, that EΔ7 just doesn't sound right. For me, it is a trespass. Up 'til then the chords are normal chords and then we jump into jazz-land and then jump back out.

I need to play around with some chord qualities to see if there is anyway to mitigate that effect. It will not be tonight because my wife has another meeting, but I'll get on it soon.
 

ripock

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I gave some attention to that found progression and made some, well, progress. The first thing I did was play different parts differently. Instead of playing this progression as seven bars, I played it as seven section. It didn't sound correct playing all the sections with a static strum. I made some interpretive decisions in how I phrased some of the sections together while making other sections departures. That being said, what makes or breaks the end of the progression is how much attention or lack thereof you give those last 3 chords. I did change the EΔ7 to a Em6 because that's my favorite chord. I find the m6 has the same general vibe but it has its own nuance as well. The problem with the EΔ7 was its high note was way too high. It sounds out of place. With the Em6 all the notes are around the 4th fret. Anyway, so the key to the Em6, Ab, B7 sequence it how much attention you give to each.
 

ripock

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I saw a humorous thread about if a u-bass is a ukulele. I said yes because I could play it. Nothing really profound. The thing that is interesting is the unstated presumption of what is a ukulele. There is a faction of people who say that the re-entrant soprano is "the" ukulele and that ukulele is ontologically superior. However the slag-heap of history is littered with people who couldn't adapt. The proper ukulele is just a moment in the progress of this instrument's history. The Portuguese colonial overlords brought the instrument which then was modified to become the ukulele. And then modernity introduced improvements...or if not improvements at least they made the instrument to meet the expectations of the contemporary consumer. And it will keep on evolving. So no moment in the development of the instrument has the advantage.

I have more to say but it would doubtlessly be insulting to some people. So I'll just truncate my thought and say play what you like and like what you play.
 

ripock

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Today I have been prepping food for the week and imbricating scales with the found Em progression I found.

At a family gathering last weekend, my in-laws were aghast at the cadaverous state of my wife who is down to 115 pounds. This is due to her rather recent GI problems in which most foods cause her pain except for cucumbers and melons. So I have to fatten her up. I bought more meat this week than usual. I bought ground beef, swai fillets, and chicken thighs. I'll try to include meat when feeding her since meat is so calorically dense.

For myself I just made some pinto beans. I seasoned them, after pressure cooking, with cilantro, leeks, Tajin (a lime powder) and salt. I would have liked to add some heat to the beans, but I have to abstain in case my wife has some of the beans. I have to keep things fairly tame. However I can always add some peppers or chilis to my bowl--just not the entire pot.

As was aforementioned above, I have been trying to firm up the inchoate connection between playing the chords rather low on the fret board whilst soloing on the high frets.

perhaps I am being too rough on myself, but I feel there should be some transition between the chords and the solos. We've all heard songs where they just stop playing chords and start the solo without any preface but I'm wanting something more smooth than that from myself.

What I've been doing is using an arpeggio to get away from the region of the chords and into the midsection of the fret board. I start my solo from there and move up to the highest frets where I end on a high note before returning to the chords.
 

ripock

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There has been some amusing threads lately. One is devoted to cutaways. For me it is a strange philosophical debate: do I play high on the neck because I have a cutaway or do I have a cutaway because I play high on the neck. Perhaps we'll never know. But I do know that I would not like it if the upper frets were just ornamental. I would rather have just twelve frets that stop at the body of the uke. However since the frets do move past the edge of the body, then I feel I must play them. It is a matter of thoroughness. That's just how my previous interactions with music have conditioned me. If you have an instrument, you learn it...all of it...and don't turn a blind eye to aspects of it which are difficult. That's why I'm not a cowboy-chord crooner. I'm just not programmed that way. It is like manifest destiny. I look up the fretboard and see all those unexplored regions and I want to go there.
 

ripock

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Ha! there's a thread asking about Ohta-san's strings--as if his strings contribute to his timbre or as if one could sound like Ohta-san by using the same strings. *shrug*

I was playing that progression I found and I was finally happy with it by changing the ending a bit. I switched it to C, Bm, AΔ7, B7 (with a quick E°7 thrown into the mix). Over that progression I played some standards: E Aiolian #6#7, B mixolydian b6, some pentatonics at wherever I was on the fret board, Those were the main shapes I relied upon. Of course, I used other shapes and arpeggios to connect. However I can't really recall them all because I was just whizzing around for about an hour and just playing without much thought about anything except trying to support the progression with my melodies. I wish there was another term aside from finger picking because even though that's what I'm doing, I don't have a lot in common with other people who finger pick. Most of the time when people finger pick they are playing those codified patterns which I almost never do. When I pick, I am playing individual notes and making melodic phrases. I suppose you could say I'm playing lines, but that's a jazz idiom and what I do doesn't really approach jazz in skill level or complexity. I would feel I am arrogating something I haven't a right to. I suppose I could say I am melodizing. That seems unique enough
 

ripock

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I dusted off the case and pulled out my Kamaka. The hygrometer is getting rather high. I might have to remove the humidifers because we have the swamp cooler on for a few hours a day.

There's a Phrygian thread going on. I contributed a little to it. It seems that people were repeating what I said, which must mean that I didn't articulate well enough. Oh well...some days are better than others. I decided to pay homage to the phrygian by melodizing with my B phrygian dominant and the B mixolydian b6. It is unfortunate that I'm playing the kamaka today because it only has one phrygian dominant whereas a linear tuning has 3. The phrygian does have the middle eastern vibe if you play it squamously, but if you only play a sub-set of those notes, it doesn't sound Byzantine but rather folksy.

I also paid tribute to another thread about playing high on the neck. Kamaka doesn't have a cutaway so I had to do a bit of acrobatics with the left hand when I played around with the D# super lokrian bb7 which spans the area from the 15th to the 19th frets.
 

ripock

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It was just one of those days when my contentment knew no bounds. I've had my setbacks lately. My favorite sportscoat still isn't back from the haberdasher's and my pocket watch is still at the jeweler's. However I was really happy with Yorkie, my favorite ukulele. It has so much sustain and echo. Even though I've bought a $4k+ baritone, I do not see how it can depose Yorkie. I even like the smell of Yorkie's walnut neck.

Since I had Yorkie, my soul mate, the apple of my eye, I thought I would melodize up there where the cutaway grants me access.

I was just frolicking atop an E minor progression and I didn't have a definite destination in mind, but here is the roadmap I followed.

1. start off with the linear B mixolydian b6 on the 16th fret which turns into the re-entrant D# Super Lokrian.
2. from that D# on the 18th fret, I arpeggiate with the A dim7 arpeggio back to the A on the 14th fret.
3. From that A, move across the fret board using the A Lydian Dominant and C# Aiolian b5.
4. From the B on the A string I descend the dominant shape of the E minor pentatonic.
5. endig up on the G on 12th fret I slide down to E
6. Then using the E Hungarian minor which spans ten frets, I get down to the 19th fret.

That was the basic outline I followed. Of course the real melody is in the phrases, repetions, and silences I chose...but you get the picture.
 

ripock

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I just saw that a Moore Bettah is up for auction and that just underscores for me the beauty and subjectivity of this hobby. For I don't see the appeal of that brand. I'm sure they sound great as do all customs, but it is so boring. To me it just looks so vanilla...but even that is a matter of perspective because my wife insists that vanilla is a flavor but I contend that vanilla is just the lack of chocolate.

I don't want to be negative. I've spent my 10K on the ukes of my heart. I don't understand the big deal about Bettahs but I am happy if they make others happy.

What I'm not so happy about are 9 chords. I had two goals in mind. #1: to work with some modes in no-man's-land--frets 6-10--and #2: to employ some 9 chords.

9 chords are easy in theory, they're the same shape as m6 chords or ø chords. However it is actually the successful deployment of them that is alluding me. They seem to be too high-pitched when I play them and often their vibe just doesn't gel with what I am doing. I am going to keep on experimenting until i stumble upon the secret to them.
 

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I just saw that a Moore Bettah is up for auction and that just underscores for me the beauty and subjectivity of this hobby. For I don't see the appeal of that brand. I'm sure they sound great as do all customs, but it is so boring. To me it just looks so vanilla...but even that is a matter of perspective because my wife insists that vanilla is a flavor but I contend that vanilla is just the lack of chocolate.

I don't want to be negative. I've spent my 10K on the ukes of my heart. I don't understand the big deal about Bettahs but I am happy if they make others happy.

What I'm not so happy about are 9 chords. I had two goals in mind. #1: to work with some modes in no-man's-land--frets 6-10--and #2: to employ some 9 chords.

9 chords are easy in theory, they're the same shape as m6 chords or ø chords. However it is actually the successful deployment of them that is alluding me. They seem to be too high-pitched when I play them and often their vibe just doesn't gel with what I am doing. I am going to keep on experimenting until i stumble upon the secret to them.
I don’t mean to sound unfriendly, but I do think that a luthier’s work should be respected, even if it isn’t to your particular taste. Each luthier is an artist (not simply a craftsman), one whose painstaking and intricate work pleases a certain segment of the ukulele-playing public. If you’re not a fan, don’t buy.