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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #341
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    I've been racking my brain, and my fingers, trying to figure out the turnaround, Cmaj7, Eb7, D7, C#7 (and they are all doms and not minor doms; that was a typo). My wife noticed that the sound just doesn't work. She isn't musical. So she's coming at it as merely an audience member. To her ears, if I may put words in her mouth, the turnaround is bluesy whereas the progression is jazzy (my words and not hers). I have been trying different chord qualities to try and find something a little more concordant. Hitherto I haven't found what I'm looking for.

    I've made a bit of a discovery with my augmented chords. It isn't a discovery in the sense that I've found something that no one has ever seen. If I had just read Brad Bordessa's materials more closely I probably could have seen it. Regardless, I did discover that, if one uses the three-string versions (which I prefer) of the augmented chord, there are only two shapes to cover the entire fretboard. They are:

    322X
    X221

    The trick is to realize that any of the three notes can be the root. So now instead of memorizing all those darned first position shapes that they teach you in the ukulele chord books, I have one shape for every string (well, the middle two strings have two shapes). Now I can intelligently play any augmented chord anywhere on the fret board.

    It is similar to the diminished 7 chords. When you begin playing, you learn the basic dim7 shape: 1212 and then you learn that you can get a different voicing of that chord if you move three frets. That's true, but that requires you to do all this counting. That takes too much time. However if you know that you want, for example, a B dim7, all you need to do is move the 1212 shape to a place where one of the notes of the shape is a B. That's much easier.

  2. #342
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    I was just browsing a thread about outdoor ukuleles, which I am against, but the thing that caught my eye was the casual mentioning of Bend, Oregon. What's interesting is that Bend, Oregon is, to me, the saddest place in the world. It is so depressing because I grew up around there and the world I knew is gone. Literally gone. Eminent domain paved over the neighborhood that used to be my grandparents' area to make way for a mall. It is illegal to feed the drakes at Drake Pond because that will encourage drakes to be there and they would naturally poop and make it a nuisance for the transplanted Californians to jog. So, to me, it is just a travesty and a mockery. All the microbreweries and kitchen shops and clothing stores make it seem like some fake Disneyland attraction. I actually find it disturbing to be there and I will never go again.

    But on happier notes, I became aware of a hole in my musical armament. My 9's were deficient. To be sure, in my song book (if I may be permitted to call it that) there are dom9s and add9s, but I am very very much a lover of the minor. So where's my minor 9's? I like to keep all my essential chord qualities on one sheet of paper. To save space I thought I would only use either a m9 or a minor add9. But which one to jettison? Originally I thought a m9 is just a m7 with an extra note. So I could just use the m7 anywhere I would normally use a m9. But although that is kind of true, the m9 does have a slightly different sound. I thought again the m9 and minor add9 only differ by a half-step, so why bother with the add9? Again, there's a problem. They do sound similar, but the add9 is a little less smooth to my ears. And both qualities have one shape that is quite impractical. The m9 has this shape rooted on the C string which is just ridiculous and the minor add9 has a shape rooted on the A string that is five frets wide! There is one basic difference. m9 shapes are rootless whereas the minor add9 shapes contain the root. That does very slightly affect the sound but more importantly the pitch is different. The m9 chords can be a whole step above their root and that gives me a higher sound. So I have added them both to my repertoire. They are great for arpeggios.

    I mentioned in my last post that I had been dissatisfied with the progression of Cmaj7, Eb7, D7, C#7 constituting the last two bars of my blues progression. I finally found some chord qualities that sounded better to my ears.

    I went with the spirit of the progression which is written very much in the bait-and-switch vein. In the original, the 10th bar is the V chord which introduces the need for resolution. The 11th bar starts the resolution but then swoops away to the Eb and then chromatically walks back up toward the I chord.

    I employed the same tenet of delayed gratification without being such a chord-tease. The 10th bar, as I mentioned above, has the V chord. In my 11th bar I change to dom13 chords and walk down from the IV chord to the III chord. For the 12th chord, the first half is the dom13 of the II chord, continuing the walk-down toward the I chord, For the final half of the final bar, I go back up to the V chord. To be precise, I hit the half-diminished chord of the V and slide into the maj7 of that note. Despite the rather odd chord qualities, it is nothing more than the II and V (anticipating the I after the turnaround) which is the most popular and frequently used progression in jazz. So just to put in concrete terms, for the key of C my turnaround would run:

    F13 + E13 | D13 + G ^ Gmaj7


    I've been playing the same progression for a while now and I think it is time to try something different. I found a progression with no maj7 chords. It extensively uses minor 6 chords. I will need to practice it for a while. Here's a rundown of the bars in the key of D, which is my current side project:

    1. Dm6
    2. E | A7+
    3. Dm6
    4. D7
    5. Gm6
    6. Gm6
    7. Dm6
    8. Dm6
    9. E
    10. A7+
    11. Dm6
    12. Dm6

    I will positively need to think about that A7+. First of all, I don't really know the sound. Second of all the shape will be a bit off-putting. It is no big deal; all one really needs to do is increment the fifth. So when the normal A7 is formed, just play an F where there would have been an E. Probably easier said but done, huh?

  3. #343
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    I had to fix my songbook. Other musicians have songbooks in which they have collected the chord charts and lyrics to other people's music whereas my songbook is a page of chord shapes that I use to make songs.

    I like to restrict my chords to one page. That page was getting rather full. I came upon the idea of condensing several diagrams into one. For example, we have the m7. Just raise the third and you have a dom7. Raise the third again and we have a 7sus4. Or if we raise the fifth we get a 7+. So, in one diagram we have four chords. I could also add the m7b5 but then the diagram would start looking like a sudoku puzzle.

    So I combined all the 7 variations into one diagram and I combined the major and minor versions of my 6, 9, and add9 chords. The result was a tidier, much less cramped songbook.

  4. #344
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    I haven't been feeling very adventurous lately. Today I just grooved in the D minor blues for what seemed like forever. I just entranced myself. Eventually I broke the spell and started using some different inversions of the chords. Lastly, I started to break up the progression with some fingerpicking--mostly some D minor pentatonic stuff as well as some Double Harmonic in D.

  5. #345
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    I practiced some D chords with the root on the E string merely because that is a weak spot. The major triad isn't so bad. It is the minor triad that gives me trouble. There are two shapes associated with the E string root. There is the triangle shape (think of the standard F# minor) and then there's the one (famously, the G minor) shaped like a crooked version of the major triad. With the former, it is necessary to mute the A string. With the latter, the G string must be muted. Aside from the slight problem of muting a string, the main reason I don't usually play these chords is the fact that I just don't ever seem to remember them.

    I was a bit miffed because my weekly batch of beans that I make for my breakfasts turned out a bit runny. To add to my misery I had the misfortune of watching the video of a group of ukulele players singing happy slappy versions of punk songs. To exorcise that from my soul I just improvised some low and slow music using the D harmonic minor scale at the 7th fret and the A melodic minor at the 2nd fret, in order to get that tonic/dominant sound. I felt better after that. Why does most ukulele music insist on being so fast and chirpy? There is nothing inherently wrong with that style. I only object because it is so overdone and it ignores all the other things a uke can do.

  6. #346
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    Okay. I have had enough of working with the key of D. I was jamming all over the fret board, so it is time to move on. I arbitrarily chose the key of F#.

    F#, as I have discussed in the past, has some problems. Namely F# and Gb are, obviously, enharmonically equivalent. Each scale has six accidental notes so that there is no clear preference one way or the other. I had been trying to think of this scale as the Gb scale because I have a tendency to think in sharps and therefore I was trying to push myself to think in flats. However, in this case it is silly.

    My main vehicle in these studies of the keys is the blues progression. If I persisted in regarding this scale as the Gb, that would mean that my chords would be Gb for the tonic, Db for the subdominant, and Cb for the dominant. Cb? Really? Come on, who says or thinks that? That's a B. So I am forced to use the scale of F#, focusing on the F#, C# and B chords. Otherwise I would be calling B a Cb for a week and that would grow wearisome.

    As per usual, my first task is to map out where these notes occur. Here's what I found:

    F#: g11, c6, c18*, e2, e14, a9
    B: g4, g16, c11, e7, e19*, a2, a14
    C#: g6, g18*, e9, a4, a16

    The asterisk next to the location indicates that the note is too high on the fretboard for me to make a chord--although I can easily finger pick it. That being said, it sure is weird how these notes pop up. The F# only occurs five times, the B six times, and the C# four times. In my past experience, the notes seemed to be somewhat equal in the number of their appearances.

    Anyway, there you have it. Tomorrow I will follow my usual program. I will start by playing the I IV V progression with just the notes. After that becomes comfortable, then I shall start to erect chords around them. As always I'll primarily be using major and minor triads for the I chord and variations of the dominant for the IV and V chords.

  7. #347
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    I follow with some interest certain guitarists' blogs for ideas. The E minor add9 has popped up more than once. For that reason I had added the add9 chord quality to my arsenal. The E minor add9 recurred again today and I thought I would practice it. the minor add9 has a few challenges for me. Namely the shapes with the roots on the C and A strings have impossible stretches. For example the G minor add9 = 3755. That's just too darn far for my fingers. Luckily I have been playing enough to know I can play it as 3X55. Now, that's easy: barre the third fret and then partially barre the fifth and it is done.

    A while ago I would have said "how can you have a G minor add9 without the G?" Now I know that by playing Bb, the minor third, you (and your ear) naturally ask Bb is the minor third of what? The answer is the G. Same with the A and the D which are, respectively the ninth and the fifth of the G. So all those notes imply the G. You hardly miss it at all since the remaining cluster of notes. It is perceptible. There's a nuance missing, but it is only missing in an academic context. In a musical context, it sounds perfectly natural and it still has the vibe of the add9.

  8. #348
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    Not being a millennial, I don't engage in social media; I just use online resources and leave when I am done. So I didn't really know about rating conversations and threads and such. Today I just happened to look at this my little ukulele diary and I saw that it had two stars. I thought that was good. After all, it was two more stars than I had anticipated. Upon further examination, I read that two stars equals the rating of "bad." What does it mean to have a bad ukulele diary. How can people know that I am bad? Do they know my goals and my potential and therefore feel justified in announcing that I am falling short? It seems odd. It seems like it would just be easier to ignore my bad diary versus taking the time to denigrate it.

    Whatever...another first world problem. On the other hand, I found some habichuelas rojas at an international market, so that I can make my beans and rice. Around here most stores have kidney beans and they assume that variety will suffice for everyone's red bean needs. I have to disagree and am relieved to have found proper red beans at last. So I am pressure cooking some of my staple food (along with some potatoes) and now it is time to annotate what I've been doing.

    Most recently I have toying with something that I knew about but never actually practiced, and that is the dominant diminished scale. It is a logical, symmetrical scale that alternates half steps and whole steps. The fingering pattern on the G and E strings are the same and the fingerings on the C and A strings are the same. Therefore, if you employ string skipping you can finger, in this order, the G, E, C, and A strings. You can move fairly quickly because of the recursive nature of the scale. This scale is meant to be played over dominant chords. So in order to make use of it I just played around with a progression based on a harmonization of the Harmonic minor scale. Here was my strategy:

    1. E minor
    2. B7
    3. Am7
    4. Bb dom dim scale. I read that the scale should be played a half step above what it is being used with...in this case an A. Here's what I did specifically: meander up the scale from the Bb on the G string until I hit the E on the A string. When I hit that E, then I descended in a harmonic minor scale down to the E on the C string. From there I just improvised using the tonic and leading tone shapes of the pentatonic scale, eventually resolving on that E. Then I just built the minor chord around that E and returned to the progression.

    Sometimes for variety's sake I would use the E minor and B7 chords located at the 7th and 11th frets, respectively, and play the Bb dom dim from the 15th to the 19th frets.

    That was today's fun. Oh, and here's a graphic for the mouth-breathers. Maybe breaking up my text will get me another star.

  9. #349
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    for posterity's sake I need to mention what I'm doing. However I cannot be very specific because I've just been playing without much of a plan. Without a road map, it is hard to tell where you've been and how far you are from your destination. So here are some of the things which have been attracting my attention:

    1. playing blues in F# and F#m, using different roots all over the fret board
    2. messing around with the 7sus2 chord just to get a feel for it. Used it successfully in place of a dom9 chord
    3. combined some structures to create new platforms for improvising. Specifically tried Phrygian + pentatonic and Gypsy scale + harmonic minor scale.

  10. #350
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    I had become homesick. I enjoyed trying out different keys and using different roots for my chords, but I missed my E, my favorite key. It will be of course comforting to be back in my key, but it will also be interesting to see how I've changed by using those other keys and how it will transfer to my old stuff.

    Off the top of my head, the first thing I was going to jump into was a progression from the aiolian harmonization. What is great about that harmonization is the quantity of flatted scale degrees. The formula for the aiolian is

    i II bIII iv v bVI bVII


    or

    Em F# G Am Bm C D

    All those natural notes sure look appealing. I guess that's just the woodwind player in me. I like to see natural notes even though with stringed instruments it doesn't matter if a note is flat, natural, or sharp; it is just played at a different fret.

    Anyway, I plan on just grooving to the Aiolian for a while. Maybe I'll mix in some other "minor-ish" harmonizations like the dorian:

    Em F# G A Bm C# D

    or the phrygian:

    Em F G Am B C Dm

    I'll probably stay away from the melodic and harmonic minors because I had been focusing on them a lot. For example I had worked out a system of modes for the harmonic minor wherein I started each pattern at a different degree of the scale. It was cool, but it is time to return to some basics and get re-centered.

    I also transposed a lot of blues licks from a Lil Rev book. I think I will try some out and see how I like them.

    And, of course, I have been fascinated with playing all over the fretboard, and I'll probably keep that alive and apply it to my E. I think I have to thank my newfound passion for root notes to two people Brian Liu and, of course, myself. I watched some Brian Liu videos where he was using different roots to play over the fret board and it inspired me although I had known about it. I think I was just at a place in my ukulele career to do it. I had been practicing and getting comfortable, and so I was just ready to leave those cowboy chords behind and start being the virtuoso that I know myself to be...or at least as virtuostic as I can be.

    So let me think, where are my root notes for an E blues progression.

    For E, I have G9, C4, C16, E0, E12, A7, A19
    For A, G2, G14, C10, E5,E17, A0, A12
    For B, G4, G16, C11, E7, E19, A2, A14

    Of course I can mix any of the roots up, if I wish...but where are the natural groupings that won't be eccentric?

    There is, of course, old Faithful down there around the 4th fret. Then there's the E @G9, A @C9, B @C11 (that is my favorite B).

    There's the E @A7, the A @ E5 and the B @ E7

    There's the E @ E12 which is interesting because with it you can either go up to the A @G14 or down to C9.

    Similarly the E @ C4 has fourths and fifths above and below it.

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