my ukulele progress

ripock

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I tried to make a jump in musicality and it didn't work out so well.

I thought I would try to erase the lines between the shapes I am playing, thereby freeing me to play wherever I wanted. After all, I know the notes so why not just go to them without the shapes. I believe this is a noble quest because then I could use the whole fret board.

But it just sounded like crap. It was really disjointed and random. I guess I don't quite have an understanding of the relationships between the intervals. In a perfect world, there would be a sound I am after and I'd go to the note to achieve that sound. But today I was just jumping for the sake of jumping and it didn't sound good.

When I play within a shape, the relationships are evident and the shape itself makes the music.

I have to conclude that I'm just not ready. I don't have the experience nor the discretion to pick appropriate notes.

I'm going to have to take smaller steps by combining adjacent shapes. That I can do. I can play in a shape, slide at a certain point, and then be in the next shape. So for now I will need to remain being conscious of what shape I'm in. With enough practice I may be able to erode the lines demarcating the shapes.

One thing I can do is study a little bit and be more aware of which notes at which frets are in which octave. In that way I will be able to join shapes which aren't contiguous. For example the B on the 2nd fret is B4 and so is the B on the 11th fret. So I could be playing the C# Aiolian b5 really low on the neck and then use the B to transition to the B mixolydian b6 on the 11th fret.
 

Oldscruggsfan

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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. :)
Or, maybe, "Honk if you understand Lokrian".
 

ripock

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I really wish I could talk with somebody who is an accomplished improviser. I would love to talk about the mechanics of musical ingenuity. My questions primarily concern what are the building blocks. It is kind of like studying words. You can break words in morphemes and then you can further break them down to phonemes. When do you stop? At what point does it not yield significant results. How do you know you haven't gone far enough.

This is on my mind because yesterday I abandoned modal shapes and I sounded like some third rate Schoenbergesque twelve-tone composer. Today I went back to thinking in modes and I could freely move around the fret board with purposeful music.

For example I started with G Lydian #5, moved down to C# Aiolian b5, ascended to the C#, which is next to the A that is the tonal center of the A Lydian Dominant which is also the E Aiolian #6#7 in the bass strings and one step up is the B mixolydian b6.

When I think in modes I can play an area of the fretboard and improvise music and then slide up or down with shared notes and play a little bit more from a nearby shape.

So the question is have I arrived at my goal? Am I supposed to be using these shapes to improvise? Or are they just a crutch and an impediment holding me back from a true understanding.

These are the questions that keep me up at night. Or, to be honest, keep me up for 5 minutes. Because, like every person with a clean conscience, I sleep easily and peacefully.
 

ripock

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my problem is that I don't know how big my house is. Do I have enough bricks? I could do what builders of castles and cathedrals do: just build with what I have and if I need to add another wing to the house, I can always do that later.
 

ripock

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I'm feeling better today. I go through pensive moods every so often. I remember taking a walk with my wife at the time (and she is still my wife but she was my wife at the time as well) and pondering why I'm even getting a PhD. It doesn't feed the hungry or shelter the homeless.

Today I created the content for 2 of the 3 classes I need to teach this semester, my mustache has a very seemly and symmetrical lilt, and I am pressure cooking a large sweet potato and some millet, to which I will add a pound a mahi mahi which my market had for $5 a pound. And my plan for the evening is to combine some mid-neck shapes into melodies over a 7-3-6 chord progression.
 

ripock

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I just saw an iteration of the comment that you'll play your uke more if it is out. Never understood that. I know when I'm going to play and then I take the 10 seconds to open the case, and then play for an hour.

My fingers are a little sore. I normally play with an A tuning but my uke had detuned to a G tuning. I tuned it back to A and the strings are a bit tight for my taste. I think I will migrate to a G# or a G tuning.

For the backbone of my playing I stuck to the progression: D#ø, G7b9, C#13 or sometimes C# m Δ7. On top of that I played the C# Aiolian b5 and the F# Dorian b2. I am crunched for time right now, but I'll go into more detail later.
 

ripock

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I just came back from a supplemental produce-shopping trip. Since I sprout some white hairs on my chin if I don't shave, I am afforded the privileges of the old man. That means I can call young women offensive amorous sobriquets such as "sugar" or "honey" and it means I can complain about traffic.

My observation is this: where we live the traffic lights are timed. However people still speed, but the net result of their behavior is waiting longer at the traffic light. People zoom by me by I'll see them again as I creep up to the stoplight. My wife spent her career as a behaviorist. So I have the experience to ask where's the reinforcement. What benefit do people get for this behavior? Do they derive some sort of pleasure from waiting. I would not like it because I don't use air conditioning so it is more comfortable to be moving with a breeze. However most people are in their little ozone-destroying bubbles and perhaps they derive joy of some sort by waiting. Perhaps they're doing something on their little computers? I don't know.

What I do know is what I was doing on the ukulele. As I said in my last entry, I focused on the linear C# Aiolian b5. When I reached the C# on the E string, I switched to a linear shape. I do this because on a linear shape the E string is in the middle of the shape and it obscures the squamous nature of what I am doing. If you transition at the beginning or end of shapes it sounds rather robotic and not mustical.

So when I hit that c# I have 3 options. I can play it as part of the F# Dorian b2 (which is the re-entrant shape embedded within the linear C# Aiolianb b5. Or I can go up the fret board and play that C# as part of the G Lydian #5 or the A Lydian Dominant.

I know that sounds technical and boring, but all it really says is that I pivot on the C# on the E string.

One thing I did with that C# is move horizontally. This C# is part of a F#m chord and I can easily arpeggiate to the F# and from there play a major pentatonic to get back to the C# on the G string whence all this started.

Speaking of the pentatonic, I watched a video which addressed the underwhelming result of using pentatonics. Granted I believe the message is meant for people who overuse it but the general thesis was that the pentatonic will always work but it isn't the best choice. The impression I received is that you can play a pentatonic over a chord just like you can fly a plane over a landscape. In both instances there will be no clashes, no crashes, but no engagement. Instead of pentatonics it was suggested using something that is personalized to the chord and which relates to the contours of the the chord.

This is all very interesting but it sounds like a high-level issue. I have to get to the point where I am improvising a lot and that I lean heavily on the crutch of the pentatonic scale, and that I have to ween myself from its ubiquity. I should be so lucky to ever reach that point.
 

ripock

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I commented on a blues thread today and it put that genre in my mind, so I played one of my favorite progressions:

1. I 13
2. IV 9
3. I 13
4. I 13
5. IV 9
6. IV 9
7. I 13 \ bI 13
8. bb I 13 \ bbb I 13
9. II 13
10. V 9
11. I 13 \ bIII 13
12. II 13 \ bII 13

That F#13 is a bit tricky. And sometimes to break the monotony in the first half, I'll use an Overtone scale for a measure.

Then I played around a bit with the C# Aiolian b5 and was posed with an interesting problem. No matter what I did I couldn't get that C# sound resolved. That C# always was drawn to the E. Or the C# sounds correct when I just use it as a stepping stone to move to the B Mixolydian b6 or D# Super Lokrian.
 

ripock

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While the rest of the forum is still gnashing its teeth about Emmanuel Goldstein, I thought I'd practice some more.

I went to random.org and randomized a number between 1 and 19 and received 16. So fret 16 it will be for me. B is on the 16th fret but I avoided the B mixolydian b6 because that's too easy. So I just poked around and found a nearby D# and C# and I started erecting some melodies without using shapes. Of course the shapes came into play to a degree as I cannot unlearn what I've learnt. I did utilize some shape knowledge for moving up or down a string. However it was a good start.
 

ripock

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I made a stir fry with ground beef that had the general flavor profile of carne adovada. And millet coated in egg. And chinese cabbage.

I saw a thread about string winders and I have to admit that I don't see the point in them. They are clunky and they don't save that much time. The only string-changing tool I use is a pair of scissors. Instead of putzing around with unwinding strings, I cut mine and they're off the uke in a matter of seconds. Now that's a time-saver! I have heard some people object to that practice because it is such a seismic shift in tensions--as if the ukulele had more tension than a rubber band.

I randomized another fret number and received 8 which was a curse at first but I later realized it was a blessing. The 8th fret only has one note I can use, the D#. At first that seemed limiting but it also necessitated movement. And I did move quite a bit around the mid-fret board. I think I can see where this is going. I will move both lower and higher on the fret board 'til I have connected with regions that I am more comfortable in
 

ripock

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i took some rather big risks at the market today. My wife likes bartlett pears and is lukewarm about d'anjou and bosc pears. The supply chain issue made it so that bartlett pears aren't an option for me right now, so I elected to go with apricots. Apricots, like peaches and nectarines, are a very mercurial mistress. When they're good, they're excellent; when they're desiccated, they are really bad. I took a gamble, only time will tell if I eked out a win or not.

Monsoon season is ending here in the desert and that means people are now roasting chilis. Many establishments, including my market, have a large rotating barrel which they turn and roast the chilis over a flame. It is a great smell but I don't know what deeply I will be able to partake since my wife's GI problems preclude much spice. It reminds me of when I was working in a warehouse downtown. I worked the graveyard shift and although it was pre-dawn, I knew the end of the shift was approaching when I could smell the roasted corn of a nearby tortilla factory.

I finished an epistle of Horatius in an on-going project to revisit these literary artifacts. Of course I have a few lingering questions about the end of the epistle because Horatius has a tendency to undercut his moralizing at the end of a piece. Of course that has been part of his charm for the last 2000 years. Unlike other moralists, he is softer in his criticism so that he seems more sympathetic (laughing with you rather than at you). However there is one image that is puzzling, if not haunting. Horatius said that a house with a small profit margin is indeed poor because the master is deceived and robbed by his servants. I agree that would suck. But how would having a wider profit margin resolve this issue? Does having more money preclude the situation because the servants would have more respect for you? Or is the predation of servants a constant and having more money would just obscure the theft? I don't know, and I want to know. Horatius had a point and I want to understand it. I have a commentary about this epistle and it only mentions the rhetorical devices of the passage--not addressing the content. So I'm on my own to carve out an understanding.

I just randomized another number and received 1. so later today I'll be starting on the 1st fret with my improvising.
 

Oldscruggsfan

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i took some rather big risks at the market today. My wife likes bartlett pears and is lukewarm about d'anjou and bosc pears. The supply chain issue made it so that bartlett pears aren't an option for me right now, so I elected to go with apricots. Apricots, like peaches and nectarines, are a very mercurial mistress. When they're good, they're excellent; when they're desiccated, they are really bad. I took a gamble, only time will tell if I eked out a win or not.

Monsoon season is ending here in the desert and that means people are now roasting chilis. Many establishments, including my market, have a large rotating barrel which they turn and roast the chilis over a flame. It is a great smell but I don't know what deeply I will be able to partake since my wife's GI problems preclude much spice. It reminds me of when I was working in a warehouse downtown. I worked the graveyard shift and although it was pre-dawn, I knew the end of the shift was approaching when I could smell the roasted corn of a nearby tortilla factory.

I finished an epistle of Horatius in an on-going project to revisit these literary artifacts. Of course I have a few lingering questions about the end of the epistle because Horatius has a tendency to undercut his moralizing at the end of a piece. Of course that has been part of his charm for the last 2000 years. Unlike other moralists, he is softer in his criticism so that he seems more sympathetic (laughing with you rather than at you). However there is one image that is puzzling, if not haunting. Horatius said that a house with a small profit margin is indeed poor because the master is deceived and robbed by his servants. I agree that would suck. But how would having a wider profit margin resolve this issue? Does having more money preclude the situation because the servants would have more respect for you? Or is the predation of servants a constant and having more money would just obscure the theft? I don't know, and I want to know. Horatius had a point and I want to understand it. I have a commentary about this epistle and it only mentions the rhetorical devices of the passage--not addressing the content. So I'm on my own to carve out an understanding.

I just randomized another number and received 1. so later today I'll be starting on the 1st fret with my improvising.
Thanks, riprock, for yet another thought provoking post. Though I've never been accused of being a scholar nor, for that matter, a musician, I choose to believe Horatius was commenting on the concept of stewardship, e.g. that the expense of housing and feeding servants is a financial farce unless one [the household] has sufficient profit margin [disposable income] to do so. Thus it's a caution against living beyond one's means. In that context, the act of spending next month's rent money on liquor, gambling, pay TV, over-ripe apricots and ukuleles is a metaphor for "servants". I was taught in far less scholarly language that, "When your outflow outstrips your income, your upkeep will be your downfall."
 

ripock

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I randomized a received the number 4. The 4th fret is a fruitful fret with 3 of the 4 notes in the key.

I focused on a riff based on the B mixolydian b6: B C# D# E D#. It had a rather bossa nova-ish feel to it. I played some diatonic enclosures around the D# and then moved up the fret board using the C string. I had to ascend with the C string because it is in the a.m. and my wife is sleeping and high notes are piercing and wake her up.

Obviously from that D# I moved through the F# Dorian b2 and the G Lydian #5. However I tried my best not to think of them. Obviously I had to use some knowledge of them to know what to play around a certain note, but I minimized thinking about the shapes. My theory is that getting rid of the arbitrary lines delineating the shapes will be a boon to my playing. However the arbitrary lines do have a function still in disciplining my intervallic jumps. Without the lines, my jumps sound random. If I stay within a shape, the jumps sound natural.
 

ripock

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I revisited my Hortatian epistle and it makes even less sense to me. It makes sense on a superficial level: when you're only making a bit more than you're spending...then you're not really doing so well. That's all well and good. It is the deeper reading that really mucks things up. I have been studying Horatius intermittently for about 30 years, so i know a few things. I know that one of his essential qualities is restraint in all things, including money. In other works he maintains that it is pointless to have a big pile of money when a small pile serves the same purpose. So I have to ask myself if I'm misreading this passage or has Horatius changed his perspective. I'm obviously not very satisfied at this point in time. Maybe the solution is to assume that Horatius' advice isn't his opinion. It is somewhat contrafactual: IF you think money is the cure (which Horatius doesn't believe), THEN you need to commit to that pursuit. Maybe that's the solution. Horatius' advice to his reader is sculpted to fit the nature and character of that reader although he isn't in agreement with it.
 

ripock

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I pursued that B Mixolydian b6 riff from two entries ago. I made one adjustment. The last three notes of the riff are just a diatonic enclosure around D#. Instead of landing on the D# on the 3rd fret, I jump to the one on the 8th fret. Both D#'s are the same octave, so it is a seamless jump. The benefit is that on the 8th fret I am in striking distance to my favorite area, the 11th fret. In that area, I don't think about the shapes. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, the scales have fallen from my eyes.
 

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I pursued that B Mixolydian b6 riff from two entries ago. I made one adjustment. The last three notes of the riff are just a diatonic enclosure around D#. Instead of landing on the D# on the 3rd fret, I jump to the one on the 8th fret. Both D#'s are the same octave, so it is a seamless jump. The benefit is that on the 8th fret I am in striking distance to my favorite area, the 11th fret. In that area, I don't think about the shapes. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, the scales have fallen from my eyes.
Ripoff- though I fall far short of your expertise in music theory, I love the road to Damascus analogy.
 

ripock

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I had one of those liminal days where I am heading somewhere but it hasn't taken shape yet. I was tending toward a lot of D# and G and F#, some horizontal movement with arpeggios, and some tonic resolutions. I will have more to say once this seed has started to grow in the next few days.

Then I strummed around a bit with a re-ordered minor 2-5-1. Both low and high on the fret board I played Em B7 F#ø DΔ. Ending on that subtonic just sounded right tonight.
 

ripock

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I just received news that I am going to receive a discretionary bonus because my company has exceeded its goals for the fiscal quarter. That should more than pay off the remaining balance on my bespoke baritone.

Something more shocking has happened. For the first time in my adult life I was out of beans. I have always made it a policy to keep a supply of beans on hand. My wife has satirized my 50 lb. bag of black beans or my 25 lb. bag of habichuelas rojas that I procured from Vermont (although she doesn't complaint about the savings). Purely from muscle memory I turned and outstretched my hand to grab my supply and there was nothingness. There was a void where normally there should have been a handful of beans. I ran to the market and grabbed a 10 lb. bag of beans from Estancia, which is the local mecca for beans. As I say, I grabbed some beans and I added some cilantro to my grocery list. I am going to make some beans with cilantro and leeks and of course spices. My main motivation is that my diastolic heart rate is at 110. I have become too fat in my pandemic leisure. I need to bring that number down with some good old fashioned fat loss. So I am going to be having 1/2 a cup of savory beans for dinners as if I were a student struggling in my atelier.
 

ripock

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It is raining and as I have said it is Monsoon season here in the desert. However I wanted to mention that Monsoon conditions in the desert are not the Monsoon conditions you've heard about. Typically a Monsoon in Asia means that the ocean reclaims atolls and lives are lost and buildings are destroyed. In the desert, by definition we receive only 8 inches of rain per annum. So for us a monsoon is a sporadically consistent drizzle. A monsoon for us is like sexual awakening. Remember when you were 14 and first received a glimmering of an object of your desire which caused tingling in your netherregions? That is our rain. It tingles on your arms and gives you an impression. Of course I wear a fedora and a sports coat, so the rain merely makes me damp which again returns to my image of sexual awakening.