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.
 

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."