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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #591
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    There is actually quite a lot to do with the A dim7 arpeggio. I just spent about ninety minutes exploring the arpeggio.

    It has been a fairly virtuous evening.

    I started off with exercise (I recently put on a stone of fat and it is 100% from beer)

    Ate some rutabagas, asperagus, millet, and a bit of beef instead of my usual beans.

    Then I practiced moving from the 5th to the 17th frets using the arpeggio.

    Yeah, you can just ascend through the arpeggios, but it doesn't sound right. That is more of a staple of neoclassical metal but I am a Roots musician. I need an idiom that is more natural to my genre.

    I think a much more powerful aspect of the arpeggio is its melodic possibilities. You can easily turn out some nice melodies by skipping notes, playing notes together as a double stop, by repeating notes, by reversing the direction of the arpeggio.

    Something that I was really digging this evening was to start off in the subdominant shape of the E minor pentatonic. That shape ends in D. From the D I would move to the D#. That is a very special sound. With the D you are in a very normal world, but when the D# you realize that you've just moved onward to something special. That is the sound of the Harmonic Minor taking over.

    From that D#, I would move to the A on the 5th fret and then by various means I would get down to the A on 17th fret. From there I would normally descend the fretboard via the B Phrygian Minor, F# Lokrian 13, and A Dorian #11.

    It was just a really good time.

  2. #592
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    Any casual reader of these notes knows that i don't play other people's music. That's what my stereo is for: to play CD's of other people's music. My rendition would be an etiolated version of my CD. My goal is to make something new. And I have a few ideas percolating in my head right now.

    1. The first is a memory. I was on vacation with my wife. I had brought a Cordoba tenor with me (which was more of a concert...anyway). My wife was going out with her old school friend and her gorgeous young daughter to a French restaurant of some repute. I took a different route. I let the ladies go their own way. I went to a local market and bought some egg rolls and a six pack of stout from an Alaskan brewery and I was set for the evening. This was a few years ago before I had plans and a vision, so I was undoubtably practicing modes of the major and pentatonic shapes, as i drank that Alaskan stout. This memory has no purpose, as far as I can see. It is just there...existing and I don't know why.

    2. My other two thoughts are a little more germane to song-writing. Since i make my own music, one could wonder how do I do it? I find that the five pentatonic shapes are very amenable to the human voice. So What I do is create a little poem and then listen to myself as I recite it. And then re-create the sound of my voice in pentatonics. It usually translates into a doleful melody and it retains a tinge of the chagrin that was in the poem. My first poem was rather superficial. It was me grousing about local driving habits. A week after moving to my current residence, I could see that all the traffic lights were timed. So my premise is why are people so stupid? They speed. They drive aggressively and zig-zag. But to what purpose? Their reward is only to wait at the stop light longer. I suppose I could stretch the point and globalize this to be a poem about the human condition: we are mortal but we do all this pointless crap and waste the few moments we have.

    3. My other thought seemed more noble to me. It was about heroes and side-kicks. My heroes aren't heroic. It takes no courage to be a hero. When you're a hero, you have super abilities. All you have to do is activate the ability and overcome the adversity. It may be difficult but it is inevitable. However, it is the side-kick that actually possesses courage. The side-kick knows he is mortal and weak and unskilled, and that there is a 99% chance that he is going to die. Nevertheless, the side-kick steps into the breach, knowing that he is going to die. It takes courage to perceive the danger and then to step up to the danger, and be overwhelmed by the danger.

    So those two ideas have been knocking about my head. I will make a little poem about them. and then I'll re-create the lilt of my reciting voice with a scale and capture a lion's share of the emotion that the poem possessed. That's my insight to writing melodies without singing for today.

  3. #593
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    There seems to be a lot of "majoring in the minors" going on around here. People fussing about nut widths, and string spacing, and strings. If they spent as much time playing, they'd improve their ukulele life much more profoundly. But that's their journey and their responsibility.

    I'm still working with A, the fourth interval of my scale.

    The first thing I did was use the A as a basis for some pedal point improv. I feel there is a lot there potentially. I of course slowed it down so that it didn't resemble and gave it some phrasing. I need to explore the sound of the intervals.

    The second thing I did was go back to the drone. The trick is to simplify. When you're pulsing a drone note, there isn't a lot you can do between the drones. You just have to commit to a lick and its variations, and intersperse some chords every so often. An unforeseen pitfall is the tonic. I obviously was playing in A Dorian #11 but there is an almost inexorable need to gravitate to the E. Once that happens, it is all over for the mode.

  4. #594
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    I received my cigar box back from my luthier. It is kind of funny but he just threw some strings on it for me. I don't know what gauge they are, what brand, or even which strings. After all a guitar set has six strings and my cigar box has four. They might not even be from the same set because the first two strings are silvery and and last two are more coppery. It was funny because I know some persnickety people on the forum who wouldn't abide this; they have to have their set-up or they just cannot play. I was just <shrug>. I started to tighten the fourth string until it stopped buzzing. To my surprise I was able to tune it to a G. Immediately I tuned the other strings to CEA. This is the first time in years that I've had an instrument in standard tuning. I usually keep my ukes in EAC#F#. Now I have an electric GCEA that I can pick. Previously I had used the top four strings of a guitar set and I used a DGBE tuning or a DFAD open D minor tuning. And I couldn't pick because I had screwed up the neck and where the neck met the body the strings were at 38mm, I believe my luthier said. I used it with a slide. Now I can pick the strings and I imagine I can still use the slide, but I'll have to clean up my technique since the frets will be closer to the strings.

  5. #595
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    Just for people's information, I did ask what strings my luthier put on my cigar box which allowed me to tune to GCEA. He said Curt Mangan 12-54. The gauges being 32, 24, 16, and 12.

  6. #596
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    Default secondary Dominant

    I read the oddest thread today where the secondary dominant created a bit of animus.

    The secondary dominant is no big deal--a google search will tell all you need to know. Just for fun, I added a secondary dominant (which I always call V or the V) to my current little progression: E add9, Am add9, F#9 Bm.

    What you need to know, in my opinion, about the secondary dominant is that it exploits the special relationship between a tonic chord and a dominant chord. Without getting into the whys and wherefores of the matter, the dominant sets the stage for a resolution of the tonic.

    Take the most rudimentary blues progression of I IV V. That V wants to go back to the I for closure or completeness.

    If you look at the entry level uke progression, you have C F G. The G, being the dominant, anticipates the return to the C. Here's how you work a secondary dominant into it.

    You play C, the F...now your ear is ready for the G. However, for a moment assume that the G isn't the V chord, but a I chord. If G is the I, what is the V? That is the D. Now play it:

    You play the I chord, C, then the IV chord, F, now the D which anticipates the G, now the G which anticipates the C.

    So all you're doing is inserting an extra I-V relationship in there to heighten the tension and need for resolution

  7. #597
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    played around some more with secondary dominant since it was a topic of discussion lately.

    I took the standard harmonic minor progression: i iv V and added a V of V to it. For my key that's E A F# B.

    I played it as E add9, Am add9, F#9, B7. Sometimes I would use a tritone substitution and play a C9 instead of F#9.

    I ended by wanting to try something that tried walking down the fretboard, but with chords instead of single notes. My idea to start on the 9th fret and play three chords, then move down a bit either to the 8th or 5th fret, and end on the 4th fret. I was still working on it when I had to go to bed. The trick was to find the right chord shapes that movable. I'll work on it

  8. #598
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    As someone can see from the sixty pages of this journal, the mainspring of my inspiration is improvising to make my own music. A kindred spirit also motivates my food shopping. I never go to supermarkets; that would be too easy. That have everything. I go to small neighborhood markets. I do it for political reasons, for agoraphobic reasons, and for the challenge. There is a S&M vibe when you shop small. You go there and "Here's what I want" and the market slaps you and says "you don't get what you want, but here's what you need." And then you make do and improvise. And there is a resulting sense of accomplishment knowing that you can make do and you can survive without having your every whim as a consumer indulged.

    Since I have to improvise with this market, I noticed that there were two items in their scanty produce aisle that I hadn't made use of. Those things were leeks and daikon. I've never used them before and probably I never would have used them if I shopped at a supermarket. But in my circumstance, I need to exploit all my resources. In my system of eating, I always try to eat roots, beans, greens, and grains. This daikon looks like a root and I will roast it like I do my parsnips, potatoes, turnips, etc. Those leeks look like a big scallion. I am either going to cut it very chunky and roast it with the roots or I am going to chop it finely and use it for flavoring as you would an onion.

    As for mustic, I've been focusing on the A note and building bridges to and away from the various A's on the fret board. This is a very illuminating practice because you create a very personal relationship with that voicing and get to know what's around it.

    I've been starting on the A on the 2nd fret, and things tend to just move up the fretboard and the improv develops. I've been needing a turnaround to get back up to that A on the 2nd fret. A typical blues turnaround is : triplet, descend, triplet, descend, triplet, root.

    I was thinking, what if I used chords, instead of notes or double-stops, to descend toward the root? Obviously, I need something easy if I'm going to be playing three chords for a triplet. I decided on maj7, 7b9, and m7 because they use a barre for the bottom of the shape and the top of the shape move closer and closer to the bottom. For maj7 the top is two frets away, for the 7b9, the top is one fret away, and for the m7 the top and bottom are on the same fret. So that gives me a descending sound as I am descending through these triplets toward the A on the second fret.

    I haven't decided if I should stay in key or not stay in key. If I stay in key, I have to shift frets after the maj7. Both options have repercussions as far as sound is concerned. The there is always the fact that those turnarounds in the blues always sound a bit grating but since they end in resolution, all is forgiven. In case you're curious, I'll map out the recent turnaround.

    1. by hook or crook, I get to the 9th fret (for example, by using the E Aiolian #7 or the A Dorian #11).
    2. barre the 9th fret and play Emaj7, A7b9, F#m7
    3. barre 5th fret and play Cmaj7
    4. move barre to 6th fret and play F#7b9 and D#m7
    5. barre 4th fret and play Bmaj7 and E7b9
    6. barre 3rd fret and play Cm7
    7. go to 2nd fret and play the A. I play A+ or Am add9 because I just can't play Am

  9. #599
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    I'm saving up for the last ukulele I will need. I have a good uke for my re-entrant tuning and I have a good one for linear tunings. I need a good baritone. But I am anticipating and playing some mental chess. I gave up beer, which is the only bad thing I do. All that sugar water had increased my weight. I'm re-starting the daily exercise I used to follow. My plan is to demonstrate by my virtuous living that I deserve to take my bonuses from work and divert them into my baritone fund. I think this will persuade my wife that I deserve a reward. After a few bonuses, I should be well on my way to paying the $4000 I will need.

    Speaking of virtuous living, my experiments with new vegetables is going well. A leek is just a really big green onion. The Daikon is okay as well. I cut one up and roasted it with potatoes. I cut the daikon a bit thickly, but thinner chunks witll roast well. I also shredded a daikon root and used the shreds in a stir fry. I don't anticipate any problems using the bok choy I bought. It can be used like any cabbage.

    Musically, I was exploring some alternate arpeggio paths. I was playing around with my A dim7 arpeggio. I found a way to double it. Usually start at the A on the 2nd fret and end on the A on the fifth fret. But that A is from the 4th octave. The same A is also on the 14th fret of the G string (at least, it is in linear tuning. So instead of playing the A on the 5th fret, if I jump to the A on the 14th fret, then I can complete the pattern again as I go across the strings again. This obviously gives me a great avenue to move between the highest and lowest frets.

    I also started working on a new dominant arpeggio. I have been playing the m9. I have tried it with E and A, which are minor chords in a typical minor harmonic progression. It also works well in moving chromatically from one note to another in the key, like going from D# to C.

  10. #600
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    I saw a thread about percussive playing and I think the participants had it all backwards. They were starting with the percussion whereas i think that should be at the end of the process. The fundamental principles are rhythm and consistency. Once you are consistently rhythmic, then you can drop the flick in. But without rhythm, the percussion is pointless. But that's their pigeon; they'll figure it out.

    I've been eating a lot of daikon, bok choy, and leeks. I've been making some good meals. Musically, I have been using double arpeggios to transition from pentatonics to harmonic minor modes. It is actually a rather simple trick. Playing over some pentatonics, I will play a minor ninth arpeggio. That arpeggio shares its notes with the pentatonic scales until you get to the ninth interval. That note, F# in my case, isn't pentatonic. However it is part of the diminished arpeggio. So if I proceed from the F#, I am in harmonic minor territory and I can then play harmonic minor chords under the arpeggio.

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