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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #581
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    I was watching some videos today and I have to admit that I am doubting the truthfulness of the sound. First, let me say I am not disparaging any of the players. I would have to obviously practice for another ten years to be even close to that level. I'm just saying it seems like they are getting some post-production assistance. The player I was watching was playing outside, however there are no ambient sounds and no wind-interference with the mic. I just have to wonder how much of this is "lip-synching." I realize that even if they are faking it in the video, they played it once and played it nicely. That's something. But it lacks the cache of a live performance that it purports to be. Maybe I am just naif, and it is a open secret that no one really plays live when they appear to be.

    Be that as it may, I'll let them be them and I'll be me. And what I was doing was trying to apply some clawhammer to my heavily Aiolean playing style.

    I was a bit rusty with the technique, but it started to come back to life rather quickly. I also forgot that this style doesn't sound too good in linear tuning.

    That being said, the G string takes a bit of finesse so that it doesn't just quack out like an ugly duckling. Certain chords sounded better than others. I was using add9, minor add9, 13, and m6 chords. The m6 chords sounded the best.

    At this point I am not going to draw any conclusions. I will await some experimenting with my re-entrant Kamaka before I say anything definite. I expect the different inversions of the re-entrant will fix some of the sound.

    But I do think that this technique has to be used with circumspection and moderation. Its relentlessly galloping sound does not blend well with my laid-back style. I think there may be some use for the clawhammer if I slow it down, break it up with interstices of silence, and use it for a limited purpose.

  2. #582
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    The lack of success I had the a linear-tuned claw hammer experiment, wasn't a total waste of time. It really bought home to me the importance of the thumb and a bass-drone. If I abandon the claw hammer cadence, but keep the thumb, I'll be on my way to a musical goal of mine. This may turn out to be a great mistake.

  3. #583
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    I was thinking of obsolescent things and the item that topped my list was the bath robe. When I was growing up all my elders had bath robes, but I have never worn a bath robe, neither has my wife, nor has any one I know. When I get out of bed I either put on clothes or walk around dishabille. I suppose I am thinking of this because someone posted a video of two pre-eminent ukulele luminaries and I could only watch it for about twenty seconds. It was just so boring and outdated. It was a technical tour de force, but so is someone completing a sudoku puzzle very quickly. And I do not want to watch either one even though I readily appreciate the skill involved. That video just used the same group of pitches and the same quick 16th notes, but it had no soul. When other instrumentalists play, there are low notes, high notes, fast rhythms, slow rhythms. Some kind of variety and some kind of internal logic for switching between the variants. Ukuleles are doomed to become obsolete unless the spokespeople of the instrument learn some musicianship.

    Meanwhile, I am doing what I can in my little corner of the world. I have been following up on trying to be my own bass player. I've been playing my G string on the first beat of the measure and throwing down some melody in between the bass notes. It is kind of stressful because all of a sudden everything became music all of a sudden instead of just bopping around. Those bass notes constitute a deadline and you have to put supportive things in the space you're allotted. And there is a lot of strategy involved. Sometimes you have to stand pat for a few measures and just let the music build and then jump up the fretboard and then jump back and re-affirm the melody.

  4. #584
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    As I mentioned above, now that I have introduced rhythm into my playing, I have created a dimension of peer pressure to the process because now there is a band member keeping time for me and I have the obligation to do something with the opportunity that's been afforded to me. I need to fill in the space while staying in the pocket. I need a plan.

    I think I'll fall back on Rhythm Changes for my structure. Here's how I construe the bars of Rhythm Changes:

    bars 1-6=A section
    bars 7-8=bars 1 and 2
    bars 9-14=A section
    bars 15-24=B section
    bars 25-30=A section
    bars 31-32=end

    Now I have to fill those bars. I am not going to worry about chords right now. I have enough to do with the rhythm and picking. I'm not going to actually compose a melody; I want to retain as much as possible the spontaneity and serandipity of my style.

    I am going to wing it using the D#dim7 arpeggio and one of the modes of the harmonic minor which occurs low on the fretboard. For the B section I am going to move up the fretboard and let the higher pitch serve as a device to denote an emotional culmination. That's nothing new. It is a common practice to start low and end on the high note. No need to re-invent the wheel.

    Then, after the B section, I'll just return to the A section and for the last two bars just do something (like an E Aiolian #7) which resolves into the E.

    Of course it is going to sound like crap as I experiment with the picking. One good thing about the strictures of the rhythm is that I don't have a lot of rope with which to hang myself.

    Once I get into a groove with the picing, I can alternate to chords for some of the bars to break up the picking.

    Speaking of chords, I have found a chord quality I am very fond of right now. It is the dom13#9. I think I read somewhere that dom13's match up very well with Lydian Dominants (otherwise known as the Overtone Scale, as I learnt it). However I am not sure how that #9 will alter the situation.

  5. #585
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    I've always had trouble fusing different genres of music together. Blues, for example, has its own idiom and so does jazz. Once you commit to one genre and its idiom, I have always found it difficult to jump to another idiom without it sounding very awkward. However, I was listening to someone (it was either Buddy Guy or Freddie King, can't remember which) and he employed a very crafty transition. He was moving around in dominant chords, naturally, but then he went to a half-diminished fifth. It was a sound--kind of like the dominant chords were melting into a jumble. After the half-diminished chord, then he continued in a rather jazzy progression of I-VI-II-V (all in the dominant chord quality). It was as if the half-diminished created some confusion and cleansed the palate for the next genre.

  6. #586
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    I haven't updated in a while, because I haven't had much to say. What I've been working on is very mechanical and I wouldn't suppose that it lends itself to discussion. I've been working on that 4th string drone. I play with the metronome which I have set to tick-tick-tick-chime. On every chime I hit that open G string. I'm still struggling with it. By struggling I mean putting things between the chimes. Obviously I had to take a step back from the plan I had of using a 32-bar structure; I just wasn't comfortable and proficient in switching from the bass line to the lead.

    I had to regress a little bit. I think I will start much more conservatively. Probably my skill level is more in line with a 12 bar progression. I'll just play a blues progression in g or e and practice maintaining that bass on the chime. And I recently got a list of five turnarounds in G which I can turn into E once I analyze the intervals to see what's going on.

    I am hopeful for tonight for some good practice. I also am hopeful for dinner. I read in an old Nero Wolfe novel a recipe for trout. So I picked up two pounds of trout at my corner market and I'll be trying to re-create it. Here's the basic procedure: on the trout put brown sugar and onions and cover with ham. The original recipe was using whole trout and I am using fillets. and the recipe calls for wrapping the fish in tin foil, which I don't usually do because of heavy metal poisioning. However here's what I'm going to do.

    I am going to put a little balsamic vinegar on the fish just to make it moist, add some brown sugar, add some powder I have (salt, shallots, and chives), add some red chili powder, cover with ham slices which I bought especially for this occasion. I am going to wrap one half of the fish and leave the other half uncovered. I'll see how those two things work out. Of course, I am going to add some green chili sauce after it is done. I am very conflicted about this chili sauce. It is great sauce from local chilis, but I bear it a grudge because I meant to grab a tomatillo sauce.

  7. #587
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    I received my quarterly bonus and decided to take my cigar box in for repairs. The main issue is that I screwed up the neck...literally. To secure it more securely to the body I screwed some drywall screws into the neck and that made the neck cant at about a 20-30 degree angle in relation to the body. My luthier gauged the action at 46mm. He said that he was going to do something exciting to it...whatever that means. I basically gave him carte blanche.

    I need to start saving for my final purchase: an elite baritone. I have an elite re-entrant uke, an elite linear uke, a very serviceable tenor guitar, a (hopefully) restored cigar box...so I need a baritone that I can be proud of. I am thinking along the lines of Beau Hannam or Jay Lichty, and that means somewhere around $4000. At this point, I am not committed to either of those builders, but I want something at that level. Here's my idea: I want a baritone with a florentine cutaway (a ukulele without a cutaway is a waste of time). I want a stauffer headstock with some inlay (I don't care what--maybe a tendril or something). I want 19 frets, no fret markers and side markers on the pentatonic frets. I want a neck with a flattened back and I don't care a flip for the string spacing.

    That's it for my requirements. What I will leave to the luthier's discretion is wood-choice. Right now, I am thinking all North American woods, but I want something so unique that people will take a double or triple-take. My take on tone wood is that it is a steep hill of B.S. It provides a nuance so negligible that I won't deign a moment's thought to it. My motivation for wood choice is entirely for bling value and beauty. I don't care if a sensitive ear can classify my wood choices as warm or bright; it makes no difference to me or how I am going to play.

  8. #588
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    Earlier today I made a statement and perhaps it sounds arrogant. I said that I find playing a song boring...and I do. But I didn't mean to say that learning a song is so easy and so beneath me. Learning a song isn't easy, but it is inevitable. You have--what?--32 measures in a song. You learn the first measure and then go on to the second one... et cetera and kata to loipon...'til you hit the 32nd measure. It isn't easy, but there's no thought involved; you just follow directions. That doesn't do it for me. I want more involvement in the creation of the music. That's just the way I'm wired. When I watch a video of some 14 year old girl playing flawlessly some Dream Theatre riffs, my response is "great. You've been able to mimic someone else's creativity, but what have you done made?" And I hold myself to that standard as well. I want to make something cool.

    And I did have a moment today when some clarity came through. Maybe it is obvious but here it is regardless. Often I hear people debating about why or why not that scales matter. I play scales because people smarter than me have espoused scales. So I play them because I trust in the inherent wisdom of my elders. But I found another functional reason to practice scales: you understand intervals across the strings. Any idiot can figure out a melody on a single string, but you cannot really play that way--sliding up and down a string. How do you convert that to more efficient playing? With scales you learn how to move between strings and play with efficacy. Playing the modes of the harmonic minor as I do, I know how to move between strings anywhere on the fret board--from the open strings to the 19th fret. I can start a melody from anywhere on the fret board and I can follow the intervals of my scale to figure out the melody. Perhaps the intervals of the song do not match the intervals of the scale, and I will have to occasionally augment or diminish an interval. Nevertheless I have the backbone for making melodies.

    I have the need for a shift. I have been practicing using a drone bass note. It is coming along. It is not perfect or second nature, but I have made some in-roads. At this point I am just waiting for that quantum leap when everything just comes together. But I need a break. So I'm going back to practicing some mode transitions. I went to Random.org and randomized and received the number 4. So it is to be the 4th interval that I focus upon. So I am going to pay special attention to where the A falls in my various modes and jump to other modes at the A...thereby effacing the walls between the modes. An added bonus to A is that A is part of my D# dim7 arpeggio that I have been practicing. So I'm going to have a bunch of options as I recuperate from my drone-training.

  9. #589
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    I don't think I can explain where I've been the last two hours. It was a sort of musical trance.

    I started out with a combination of the A Dorian #11 and the D# dim7 arpeggio. I did reach up to the B Phrygian dominant a little bit and once or twice to the E Aiolian #7--but not much with the latter because it is such a strong sound that it pulls everything to it and then the modular vibe gets ruined.

    At some point I started driving off the bass note of the A Dorian #11 and going into a little progression: Am add9, E7, mystery chord, D major (the mystery chord was always rooted in G but I just couldn't commit to a chord quality. Sometimes it was G7+, or Gm6, or G+, or G7 sus2).

    From the chord progression, I would return to the A note and try to develop a melody on the E string with the A note at its kernel.

    I looked up and two hours had passed away. It seemed to transpire in a blink of the eye.

  10. #590
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    I saw a mirthful thread recently centered around people compiling a list of the "best" concerts for $250. I would say they should buy any $250 concert, they're all going to be the same...if not made in the same Chinese factory. But that's their journey and not mine.

    I pulled my Kamaka out yesterday, not so much to play it, but to refill the humidifier. I did pull it out because the case was open. I strummed it a bit, but there's not much else you can do with a re-entrant uke being hamstring as it is by that G string.

    My current interest is in A, the fourth interval of my scale. Here is the basic blue-print of what I was doing. Of course I made it more musical by repetition, phrasing, etc.

    1. played around with the linear A Dorian #11.
    2. From the A on the second fret, I moved across the fretboard using the A dim7 arpeggio. I wound up at the D# on the 6th fret.
    3. I made a small retrograde movement to the A on the 5th fret. From that A I arpeggiated vertically using the E and A strings. I moved up to the A on the 17th fret.
    4. At the 17th fret, I played around in two different shapes: the re-entant D# Super Lokrian bb7 and the Linear A Dorian #11
    5. Regardless of my particular route, I ended up at the A on the 14th fret. Using the B on the 14th fret, I played around with a B7 chord and then I moved down the fretboard playing B7's at the 11th, 7th, 4th and 2nd frets.
    6. Since I'm back at the second fret, I just start over

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