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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #251
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    Great thread will need to sit down and read it all. Thank you!

  2. #252
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerneltime View Post
    Great thread will need to sit down and read it all. Thank you!
    That sounds a bit crazy, at least quite an undertaking. Be warned: I haven't provided content in the modern sense of the word where I have purposely made it with an eye of being consumed by someone. There's no pictures or graphics or sound files. I looked into doing that kind of thing and I found that it would take more time and money than the actual playing of the ukulele. So these are just a bunch of journal entries--more or less.

  3. #253
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    Yes I understand, the goal is to understand your approach and experiments more than replicate you.

  4. #254
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerneltime View Post
    Yes I understand, the goal is to understand your approach and experiments more than replicate you.
    For the record, I would be totally down with replicating. It sounds like something one would find in a Philip K. Dick novel.

    Anyway, here's my plan for the weekend. I want to firm up some 4th string skills. While I was waiting for my Yorkie to arrive, I had been playing exclusively with my re-entrant Kamaka. So I am a little more sure of my scales and shapes that are restricted to the 1st 3 strings. Lately I have been reluctantly backing into the fourth string to extend the playing I am doing, but I am not using the 4th string in and of itself.

    This will essentially entail two things:

    1. playing my pentatonic shapes from the G string until the shape ends on the A string (for a total of 4 strings). I know I could pursue the scale up the A string, but I arbitrarily decide to stop with the shape--or the box, as I've heard it called.
    2. playing my modes from the G to the E strings, as opposed to from the C to the A. Again, this is somewhat arbitrary, but I like going from tonic note to tonic note (an octave higher); I could go further, extending the scale into the A string and ending with the 11th degree of the scale...but I don't. I just go an octave.

    The reason for doing this is that I am to some extent guessing where I should go on the G string. A lot of times that works. Sometimes it doesn't. So I just want to take some of the guesswork out of the equation.

    By way of a plan of sorts let me outline for myself what this will mean for my standard 19 fret instrument.

    for the pentatonic shapes that will mean that the lowest shape I can conjure is the subdominant shape starting with the A note on the 2nd fret of the G string. The Highest shape will be the dominant starting on that B on the 16th fret. That's enough of a plan to start. The rest will follow with practice. For example, with re-entrant shapes I know from experience whither to slide to get inside the mediant shape of the leading tone shape. I will construct similar knowledge with the four string pentatonic shapes.

    For my modes, let me see...

    We will be starting with the G# Phrygian on the 1st fret and working up to the B Lydian starting on the 16th.

    There we go. All I need to know is where to start and then everything else will follow.

    There are going to be several slightly nettling problems with playing on the G string. The difference with playing modes on the G versus the C string is a matter of sliding down a half-tone for the notes on the C string. That is very, very slight alteration, but because it is so slight it is so mind-blowing. In many ways it is easier to learn a completely new concept than to minutely alter an existing concept. We'll see.

  5. #255
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    I achieved a lot of my weekend goals, but I didn't plumb them to their depths. I suppose the reason is that I know more now and am easily distracted. In the past I could maintain a singleness of purpose.

    Anyway, it was easy in the beginning. In under a minute I was able to internalize the difference between the modes starting on the G string versus the C string. But I wasn't able to exploit the modes. For me the modes aren't so important musically. The modal progressions are important. They allow such diversity. They allow you to go from the all-too-familiar I IV V progression of the ionian to something like the I IV bVII of the mixolydian. However, in terms of finger picking they aren't so useful because they are, after all, the same seven notes over and over again.

    To me, that's their importance. I use the modes to learn the fretboard. I of course know my dotted frets and therefrom I can deduce the other notes if given the opportunity and time. However, that's not good enough. Music happens a little faster than that. So I like to play my modes and watch my fingers and learn where each note is located. It is a fairly easy process with three steps.

    1. know the notes of your key. In my case, I'm using E whose notes are E F# G# A B C# D#
    2. know your modal shapes
    3. you know your notes; you know your shape. So just play the mode and notice where the finger lands and count off the notes. For example, in the G# Phrygian you just play the shape and watch G# A B C# D# E F# G# come. Then you play your Lydian shape and watch the A B C# D# E F# G# A come out. By this method, you learn where all the notes of this key occur on the keyboard.

    In the past, this would have been a straightforward endeavor. I would play my modes and even improvise with the shapes, and say the notes out loud as I played them. But nowadays I know a little too much for my own good. I can see that the minor pentatonic shares the natural notes with the modes (i.e., the E, A, and B) and the major pentatonic shares the sharps F# G# and C#, as well as the E and B. So I was greatly distracted by trying to transition between the modes and the pentatonics. I'll have to continue this goal into the week and try to learn my fretboard by heart and withstand the allurement of putting the shapes together.

  6. #256
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    I forgot to mention one compositional block that I came up with. The Phrygian is rather difficult to use because its sound is so idiosyncratic with that half step occurring up front. What I found that works is to avoid that half step when improvising. Also the C string is a good tool. In the Phrygian, you play the G string notes and then the C string notes. However the second string of the Phrygian shape is also the first string of the C# aiolian. So once you get to that point you can move to the aiolian which is a much more ubiquitous sound. At the end of the aiolian is the B and D#, which are in common with the major pentatonic. So that's a nice little progression of shapes.

  7. #257
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    I was starting to develop some nice stuff with the Phrygian, but I abandoned it because I was using it as an excuse not to embrace my challenges. Those challenges are the lydian and mixolydian modes. What's tough about them for me is that shift you have to make on the C string. And I can't really avoid them because the occupy some prime real estate on the fret board. The Lydian spans the frets 2-5 and the Mixolydian frets 4-7. I focused on the lydian.

    First off, I am having some trouble playing it because I am undergoing some revamping of my muscle memory. I had been sitting down and practicing. When you play on your feet, the angle is a bit different and my fingers miss the mark when fretting. So I have been practicing just playing the mode. I can't go any farther 'til I get that squared away.

    I am also having some problem in locating the lydian when I need it. I didn't have that problem with the Phrygian. I believe it is because the Phrygian abuts the nut, so it is easy to find. Since the Lydian is floating on its own, it is more difficult. To overcome this, I memorized the notes of the Lydian so that I could at least see where the mode was.

    I'm going to bed, but I'll expand on this stuff later.

  8. #258
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    Today’s goal is to get hyped about the lydian. It is a challenge since the lydian is probably my least favorite mode since it is so vanilla. Because of that I want to focus on it so that my weakness becomes a strength. The way to do that (for me) is study. Once I get into anything, I find it interesting.

    First, there are three practical sites for the A lydian: at the A on the second fret of the G string, on the fourteenth fret of the G, and the ninth fret of the C string. I could conceivably play it on the E or A strings, but that would require clumsily going up those strings.

    Since those are the sites of the A lydian it makes sense to plan which scales to use in conjunction with it. I wonder if real musicians would consider it cheating to plan out my improvisation. Of course, when I use the shapes, I will spontaneously choose which notes to play, but the general outline won’t be so off the cuff.

    Anyway, the logical choice to complement the A lydian is the E major pentatonic because it is comprised of the 1,2,3,5, &6 degrees of E major—all of which are contained in the A lydian. I could, in theory, jump off the lydian at any point and start on the major pentatonic.

    The minor pentatonic, on the other hand, is made from 1, b3, 4, 5, b7 degrees. Obviously the 1, 4, and 5 are common to the lydian, but the flat 3 and 7 are a bit grating since they are off by a half-step. I will have to experiment because, sometimes, that dissonance works. However the major pentatonic is more of a slam dunk.

    Excuse the excursus but a thought has just come to me. The A lydian has a weird quality (to my ear). Since the A lydian starts and ends on the A, I assume that the A is for all intents and purposes the de facto root of the mode. However, there never seems to be a sense of resolution or closure when I return to the A. I am not much of a musical theorist, so maybe this is self-evident to anyone with any knowledge. Maybe the root is still E, the key of the A lydian. Maybe I should try ending a run on the E and see if that sounds good. If memory serves me, I seem to remember that ending on the B sounds better than the A. Maybe that’s because the B is the dominant of the E and while it offers no resolution, it at least promise of an E to come. That’s how it is used in traditional blues turnarounds. Maybe it is just a matter of training the ear. I am by natural inclination drawn more to the “minor” modes and the more “major” ones sound off-putting to me.

    Anyway...let’s get back to major pentatonics and which ones will imbriate with the A lydian. I will be focusing on the A lydian starting on the second fret of the G string because nowadays I am focusing on the linear tuning.

    The A lydian ends on the E string with the notes F# G# and A. Let’s think about what that means for the major pentatonic with the nut of the fret board being so close below and cutting off certain options.

    The F# and G# are the ones to watch here. They are, respectively, the second and third degrees of the major pentatonic. They are on the second and fourth frets. Where does that lead? The linear subdominant shape fits the bill since it also has a F# and G# on the E string. My tendency would be to descend in pitch to the lower notes of the G string. The G string possesses the G# and the B.

    [Oh! That xplains my rant above. The reason why the A sounds less than satisfying as the terminus for a run is that it is outside of my scale since I am descending in the major pentatonic that does not have an A. However, if I stop the pentatonic on the E of the C string, that is in the major pentatonic. It is also in the A lydian so that if, at the E, I change back to the A lydian, then I could descend back down the A lydian: E D# C# B A.]

    So the subdominant shape works. I think the dominant shape works as well. It works because of the G#. With the subdominant shape the G# was the high note and I had to work back toward the nut, whereas in the dominant shape the G# is the low note and I have to work upward. The same methodology applies to this linear dominant shape. In the dominant shape, the B and he C# pop up on the G string. From the B we could slide down to the A but as we noted above, the A would be outside of the shape since our ears anticipate an A and not a G#. The turning point, once again, is the E. The E is the low note of the C string in the dominant shape. But it is also the high note of the A lydian on the C string. So here’s the basic run-down. In the dominant shape you descend E (at an octave higher) C# B G# F# E, but at the E you switch to the A lydian shape where the E is the high note of the C string and then finish: E D# C# B A.

    That’s it for the linear major pentatonic shapes. Obviously I could slide up to the leading tone shape or even the tonic shape, improvise, and then slide back down to the A lydian, but I’m trying to keep this simple...despite how long this post is stretching.

    Okay, now let’s think about the minor pentatonic. The A lydian’s notes on the E string are F# G# A. The A is the only connection between the lydian and the pentatonic. The A is the third degree of the minor pentatonic. Coincidentally or not, the subdominant and dominant shapes are the linear shapes that have that A on the E string.

    Things are spinning out of control here. I know that the A Lydian has an A on the E string, as does the linear minor pentatonic shapes, but that’s where I am going to leave it. There are so many variables involved here that I cannot think about it. I am going to just bow out and say I will experiment and see what works and what doesn’t.

    Maybe it is the beer. I am at the local pub where on Fridays I visit to see the local tradesmen and other regulars. I’ve had four beers. I usually only have three but I’m crazy like that.

    I was going to look at re-entrant forms of the pentatonic, but the re-entrant forms are the same as the linear ones, except they don’t extend to the G string. So there’s nothing new to talk about with them.

    Another angle of the lydian to think about is the chord harmonization of this mode. If you work this all out, here’s the schema:

    I II biii IV V vi vii

    The essential chords are the I II V

    Just to be clear the actual chords would be:

    E F# G minor A diminished B C# minor D# minor

    The E F# B progression isn’t much to write home about. It very much like a standard I IV V progression ezcept that the F# creates a bit of a different sound, being closer to the B than the A. The F# poses an interesting question as to how to form it. I can either form it by making the G chord and then moving it down to the first fret. That’s easy enough but then the B chord would be a totally different shape. Conversely I could form the F# by using the F-shaped barre chord, something I never do. That would be hard, but then the B chord is just one finger’s difference.

    Aside from that I have only experimented with the progression briefly. I find that I don’t have much use for the G minor or D# minor. That’s nothing new really. The third and seventh intervals are rarely used by most people. I even tried different chord qualities, e.g. the G m7, but it still seemed unessential. So far, here’s the groove I like to get in to:

    E C#m F# B A E

    What isn’t so evident in this progression is the stacking of fingers. I picked this progression because of the fingerings more than the sound...although it sounds good, too:

    1. The E is just the E, the good old tonic
    2. The C#m is very common; the I to vi interval is ubiquitous in pop music. However, I picked it because it barres the first fret (I use the 1444 shape)
    3. Since the first fret is already barred, all I have to do is form the F major chord with my middle and ring fingers to get the F#

    4. B. If I move the F# up a fret and move the middle finger to the C string, I have an B major chord.

    5. The diminished A is a cloying call for resolution. But I also use it because my ring finger is on the A string for this chord. Then all I have to do to return to the E is slide that finger down a fret.

  9. #259
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    I saw a video from some wunderkind with a guitar whose advice was to f#ck scale shapes and just play the notes wherever. I guess that's true but this savant isn't quite grasping that in order to know wherever the notes are, we need to practice our scales and then un-remember them.

    Coincidentally, or not, I was playing around and erasing some of the boundaries that I have relied upon. I was playing the 1st five frets using the G# phrygian and A lydian (from the G string) and the C# aiolian (from the C string). Of course the D# Lokrian is also in the vicinity, but it is, after all, the Lokrian and good for nothing. I was able to improvise quite a bit with those shapes and I moved betwixt them so much that they were blending into one another.

    Then I was noodling around and almost had an instrumental version of "Sunshine of your love."

  10. #260
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    Yesterday I was frustrated with "Sunshine of Your Love" because I couldn't get a certain sequence of the song. It seemed like I was trying a bunch of things, but today I realized it was just misplaced ingenuity. The notes I were searching for were all in the minor pentatonic scale. All I had to do was descend the scale.

    I was playing around with a basic A Lydian progression. I changed one chord quality and it changed the progression. I was playing

    E major, C# minor, F# major, B9, A diminished, E

    The cool stuff was the last 3 elements. By using the 9 chord it pulled away from the butter chords. What's also cool is that once I pull away from the butter chords, the final three create a walk-down because I played the B9 as 2324. Then the A diminished is 2323, moving the A string, the melody string down a fret, then the E major is centered around the 2nd fret, again a fret lower. It is nice.

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