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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #291
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    I made a bit of a commitment and I started practicing Daniel Ward's first Melodic meditation for ukulele. It is written for high G, so I am playing my Kamaka more. The melodic meditation is going well...as it should! Everything is written down; all you do is follow the directions. So that isn't hard. In fact, a monkey could do it. The goal is to do it flawlessly and then to do it flawlessly with some kind of feeling. I'll practice that a little bit, but I can't do too much of it because it tends to suck the marrow from my soul (or whatever else is at the center of the soul).

    Since I'm playing the Kamaka, I am also using it to do more creative things. I've been playing around with something akin to chord melodies. I've been playing a progression in which each chord uses a lower note on the A string. In other words, it is a progression in which each successive chord chromatically descends on the A string by a half-step. For example going from D7 to G to Gm to D.

    There is currently a large thread which is tantamount to a circle jerk over the wonders of the high G. I will here employ the figure of the praeteritio and not complain how the high G makes everything sound like elevator music. Instead I am just going to lament how with the high G, 25% of my notes are gone. Basically, with high G, the G string becomes dead to me. However, I am trying to look at it as an opportunity to do more with less. So I've been playing around, mixing major and minor pentatonics with modes, of course focusing on B and E which are the pivot notes that occur in both forms of the pentatonic. That B is a wonderful thing. I've started to notice where it is on the fret board. I gravitate toward it because you can either resolve it back to E or move forward into something else.

  2. #292
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    well, tomorrow Daniel Ward is scheduled to upload supporting videos for his Melodic Meditations book. It will be interesting to see if my accentuation and tempo is on point or not. But, my goodness, it is abject drudgery. I know that for 99% of the people, this is what music is: getting the chord charts, notation, and strum pattern and mimicking the model to a T. However I am rather uninspired.

    To offset that lack of licence and creativity I have been messing around with combining major and minor pentatonics. I have been sticking with my Kamaka, so I'm only playing the shapes on the first three strings. To keep it simple I started with the tonic and dominant shapes since they are rooted in E and B, and E and B are also notes in the major pentatonic.

    At first I was just just playing the shapes paratactically--ascending in the minor and then descending in the major. It was pretty cool but obviously has limitations. So what I am doing now is trying to play them syntactically. I haven't worked with out completely. What I'm currently trying to do is figure out which intervals sound good. For example, if I'm in the minor pentatonic and play a G, where can I go? What note in the major pentatonic will sound good next to the G? A C#? An F#? I'm still figuring it out. And then do I go right back to the minor pentatonic or do I linger a bit in the major? That's the kind of thing that keeps me up at night and that's what I call music and what I enjoy doing. However, I'm still going to suffer through the regimen of the melodic meditation book because it is probably good for my soul or something. Seriously though, the reason I like Daniel Ward's books is that the skills transfer. All that fingerpicking is going to be germane to my own playing.

  3. #293
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    I have a luthier job to do. The neck came off my cigar box guitar. It was glued to the top of the cigar box. It may be excessive, but I'm just going to screw the neck to the cigar box. I have all lengths of drywall screws and I think they'll do the trick. For some reason, I am currently lacking the gumption to do it now. However, I'll do it soon. I have nothing to lose. If I somehow screw things up, the cigar box will be lost to me as it now currently is.

    I spent today doing something fun. I have been translating words into music. One of the many things I respect about the pentatonic scale is that it lends itself to the human voice very well. Here's what I've been doing:

    1. Come up with a simple phrase. For some reason all my phrases tend to be negative. Stuff like "I hate you so much" or "I wish you would die."
    2. Say the phrases naturally, but with your lips sealed. Doing so renders the phrase into a hum. If you can hear the hum, you can play the hum.

    This is a good way to add some lyricism to your playing. A nice way of linking up these lyrics is to engage in questions and answers. Questions tend to ascend in pitch whereas answers descend. This could be a useful way to link up to phrases. Such as:

    Q: "Why don't you shove it up your butt?"
    A: "Oh! I suppose you would like that very much."

    That's a good one, if I must say so. I think what makes that one nice is that there are more than five syllables in the phrases, so that it will be necessary to use more than one shape to complete it. I'll work on that, I think.

  4. #294
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    I've been up all night playing around. It is now 7 a.m., the sun is up, and I reluctantly have to go to bed. First I have to make a good post-ukulele feeding. I'll make some huevos rancheros.

    1. Instead of a corn tortilla (you should never use flour tortillas, unless you're also having a pumpkin spice latte) I will make a farinata (4 oz. garbanzo flour & 5 oz. of water and olive oil)
    2. top with two runny eggs
    3. top with beans. Right now I only have some Dominican red beans and rice. I'll add some gorgonzola cheese as well as some Da Bomb (23000 Scovilles)
    4. top with red salsa and green salsa

  5. #295
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    I've had an opportunity to listen to the companion recordings to Daniel Ward's Melodic Meditations and it is faster than I thought. And he plays with more touch. I've noticed the same thing with Sam Muir's playing. We are so used to banging out those chords but we seldom play softly. For me, it seems to be an issue of being comfortable and confident. I'm more concerned with getting the note out that I don't think about its articulation. So I'm going to need to practice more until it feels good and then I can elect to play it softer. To complicate matters slightly I am trying to re-adjust my picking. I have the tendency to use my first two fingers in plucking...kind of like the picado style without the speed or precision. I am trying to not do that and use PPIM fingering. I use PPIM if I'm doing some pattern picking like Travis picking. I'm trying to force myself to use PPIM to pick because I fancy that it will be useful with the more complicated meditations. Right now it is very awkward to restrict the middle finger to the A string, the index finger to the E string and the thumb to the C string when playing the descending C major scale that makes up this meditation. I could play it as fast as I wanted if I only used my index finger as is my wont, but I am going to try to stay disciplined.

  6. #296
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    Since there's been mention of "proper" instruments, I have been ruminating or ratiocinating or whatever R-word. Well...not any. I once read in an Attic comedy the verb radizesthai which signifies punishing an adulterer by sodomizing him with a freshly grated horseradish. Anyway, I've been thinking and what I notice as a difference between proper instruments and the ukulele is a sense of community. When I played proper instruments, there was a systematic way of approaching music which was a common bond between everyone who undertook the task. It was a shared experience. Everyone who made the commitment to music did basically the same thing. I don't get that with the ukulele. With the ukulele you have people who only learn three chords (and go on to win nationally televised talent contents) and you have people who do due diligence with the instrument. On one hand it is good to democratize music so that anyone can play, but it makes the ukulele world seem fragmented. I've gone to one regional ukulele workshop and it'll be my last because it seemed like its objective was how to strum better. That's really not what I want. I want to have a deeper understanding of my instrument. Anyway...that lack of a centralized culture is what I feel is the difference between traditionally proper instruments and the ukulele. There's nothing that prevents the ukulele from being a proper instrument in and of itself. I guess I should look at the silver lining. At least it is easy to impress people with the ukulele since they de-value it. I have 80 notes to choose from on my ukuleles and people are floored when I can pick seven from that selection and play a scale.

    Speaking of scales, I have been spottily practicing my Daniel Ward melodic meditation. It is in C, which is something I never play in because it uses open strings (at least in re-entrant tuning) and I hate open strings. I cannot control them or bend them, and those open strings disrupt the finger pattern I have memorized. I love playing everything from C# maj on the first fret to E on the sixteenth. But I always avoid that C maj with the open C, E, and A strings. But now all that has changed and I have to get over it. So that is taking some practice. I hardly even acknowledge it as the C major scale. It seems more like individual notes since the nut cuts off the top of my scale.

    And I am recanting. I previously stated that I was going to force myself to use my PPIM formation to play this scale. However I don't see any reason for doing so any more. I use PPIM for pattern picking and I use my index for melody plucking. Life is hard; why make it harder? When I get to something harder, where there's double-stop pinching and patterns, I'll use my PPIM. But on this first meditation there simply isn't a justification.

  7. #297
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    2019-06-05-034452.jpg

    That's a strange photograph of me jamming around a B mixolydian on my Yorkie. It is strange because of the angle and because it looks like it is daytime. However the time was actually two or three hours before sunrise.

  8. #298
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    It has been a while since I updated. The main thing I have been doing is practicing m7 chords. I watched a video or two by Brian Liu. The videos are very remedial jazz tutorials. So it wasn't anything new, but for some reason it resonated this time around. And I decided to practice with those m7 shapes. I know four and each one has the root note on a different note. This is a great way to learn individual notes since you have to know where the notes are in order to play the chord. The shapes I use are

    1. G string root (Gm7)
    2. C string root (Dm7)
    3. E string root (Fm7)
    4. A string root (Bbm7)

    minor 7s are very important at least in my mind. They are fun to play because they are silky and make it sound like you know how to play jazz. To me the major and minor triad and the major and minor 7 chords are the nucleus of sound. And I would say that they are all a person needs. Of course music is more than necessity, but if I were stuck on a desert island and could only take four chord qualities with me, those would be the ones.

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