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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #361
    Join Date
    Feb 2017


    I ran across an interesting passage in an old British detective novel. I don't have it in front of me, but the purport is this: an impoverished character was being interviewed in her rooms and she had a broken down piano with loose wiring. Whenever the train would pass by her window or whenever anyone walked too close, the piano would emit a jumbled aeolian melody. This isn't high literature. However the author could still rely on his audience to know their modes to follow that passage. In the last century we have gained a lot but left a lot of information behind.

    I have been cooking all day. I received my new pressure cooker and made some habichuelas, some pinto beans, some basmati rice to go with my habichuelas, and some porridge for my wife. Now I'm making some fondant potatoes for a midnight snack.

    To accompany all this, I was practicing the pentatonic minor modes on my Kamaka (re-entrant, so only one set of shapes to worry about). For some reason I had become foggy about the mediant shape and the leading tone shape (the one up there around the 12th fret).

    Later on, I am going to try to practice my harmonic minor modes on my Yorkie. That will mean trying to remember both sets (the GCE and the CEA). That is one of the advantages of the linear tuning. It can play everything the re-entrant can, plus it has a whole other set of shapes using its G string.

  2. #362
    Join Date
    Feb 2017


    It seems these recent journal entries have been peppered with culinary tid-bits. This one is no different. I went to a new market today and procured some essentials like cumin seeds, ghee, as well as some treats like maamoul cookies and haloumi (Cyprian friable cheese).

    I saw something motivating today. It was an analysis of the music of Guthrie Govan, a favorite British guitarist of mine. Lo and behold! He was combining minor pentatonic (the Bb) with harmonic minor scales. That's what I've been doing. So at least I know I am on the right track. One thing I noticed he does is utilize half-step slides to rub out the rough edges betwixt the shapes. He also doesn't privilege the tonic note in his phrases. In the thing I was viewing, he was punctuating his phrases around the sharp seventh. I might want to give that a try.

    I just finished my fried cheese and had a local double IPA, so now I think I will plan out my schedule for tonight. I really wanted to work on my Harmonic minor modes tonight (both linear and re-entrant). Speaking of modes, recently I have received a few comments about my erudition/hoity-toityness and I think it is just because I call the modes what they're called. I didn't make the names up. I just use them and I use them because, if I didn't use them, I'd have to use some descriptive periphrasis instead. This seems more economical time-wise. And it isn't really that complicated, despite all the Greek nomenclature.

    What I'm dealing with is the set of notes known collectively as the E harmonic minor (E F# G A B C D#)

    And the modes are nothing more than these seven notes, except each mode starts at a specific degree of the scale and goes up an octave. For example,

    the E Aiolian #7 starts on the E and goes up to the next E
    the F# Lokrian 13 starts on the F# (2nd degree of the scale) and goes up to the next F#
    the G Ionian #5 goes from one G to the next....and so on.

    So I am not really doing anything special. I am just repeating the same seven notes all over the fret board. In my mind, the goal is to practice these seven modes so much that the delineations of their respective shapes become obscured and then I am just playing one gargantuan shape starting with the G Ionian #5 at the open G string and going all the way up to that final E of the Aiolian #7 on the 19th fret of the A string.

    I cannot make any promises on when I arrive at that musical land of New Zion, but I am getting closer. And I will say emphatically that I hate the G Ionian #5 and the C Lydian #2 because they use open strings and I hate open strings; they throw off my pattern. My index finger should be fretting the note of the open string and that confuses my hand, head, and heart.
    Last edited by ripock; 01-21-2020 at 01:58 PM.

  3. #363
    Join Date
    Feb 2017


    I am cleaning my floors and have everything but the main room mopped. I have to let the others rooms dry so that I can transfer furniture to them and give me unencumbered access to the floor of the main room.

    I see that the 2020 NAMM show thread has innumerable views. I am just not that interested in the new and timely. My eye is fixed more on the timeless. So I haven't even clicked on that thread. I have contacted a few custom luthiers about my idea for a baritone. It seems it will start at $4000 and to get on the build-list I have to wait about two years. So if I ever want an elite baritone to complement my other fine ukuleles, it would be about a five year wait (a few years to save the money and a few more to have it built).

    But back to the present. I have been involved in an open versus closed chord conversation. And, to be honest, I never really have it any thought. In the past I just played whatever I could because, I reasoned, beggars cannot be choosers. However nowadays I am a chooser and I realize that I never think about the choice in terms of do I want a big sound or not. I have a system of chords that I use. For each chord quality I have four shapes (each shape has the root note on a different string). Let me look at what I do and see exactly where I use open and where I use closed chords.

    This dilemma seems to appertain only to major and minor triads for me. Augmented, diminished, and sus chords are all closed. All my dominant chords and add6 chords are closed. My extended chords (9, add9, and 13) are by definition open chords (except when they aren't because of omitted their roots).

    To take the major triad first, the shapes I use for the interior strings are closed. The C string shape is just a barre with the A string dampened. D would be, e.g., 222X. The E string shape the good old G major shape=X232. For the G and A strings, I use the old Bb shape which has its root on both strings. That shape may or may not be open depending on the tuning used. This chord is actually two chords in one. Rooting it on the G string a C major would be 543X and rooting it on the A string=X433. However I never separate the two chords.

    Now on to a chord quality that is closer to my heart, the minor. It is very similar to the major in that the G string rooted shape (e.g., Bm=4222) will or won't be open depending on the tuning, the C string rooted shape (the standard Em) is similar with its fifth on both the G and A strings, the E string rooted chord is closed (e.g., Gm=X231), and the A string root is closed (Cm=X333).

    It appears that I need to be mindful of the G string when playing my regular shapes.

    And that's my regular shapes. Obviously I can always do something crazy by way of open chords such as G maj=0 11 10 10.

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