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Thread: my ukulele progress

  1. #181
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    Feb 2017
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    I ran across this new (to me) progression. Briefly analyzing the notes, I could see it was written in A. Since I'm currently working in E, I transposed accordingly. Here's the progression:

    vi b Δ
    V7
    I m7
    I m7
    vi b Δ
    V7
    I m7
    VII░
    VII░
    iii b 7

    Sometimes as I play this I change a few things. Sometimes I substitute a B+ for the B7. The augmented chord works really nice in this key because all you need to do is add two fingers to the previous chord.

    Sometimes I prefer a closed chord for the Em7. I really don't like all the freebies that the uke offers such as the Am7, C, etc.

    The progression has two D#░; however I prefer to play D#░, D░, C7. I am also obviously substituting a C7 for a C m7 in order to get that descending chromatic sound for a turnaround.

    I didn't really experiment with making the D#░ a D#° because the dims have an easier fingering.


    Aside from that I just practiced playing the whole fretboard. I would start on the 4th fret with E major and end on the 18th fret with the D# Lokrian. Then I go down to the E on the 19th fret (which gives a resolution of sorts to the modal run I have just accomplished) and improvise the tonic pentatonic shape, working my way back down the neck--until I am at the 2nd fret playing the dominant shape.

    Yeah...I know I'm letting myself down by avoiding my goals of fingerpicking. Some days I just don't have the gumption for it. I really dislike playing songs and that's what the fingerstyle workbook does. I know, by inferring from the opinions of others, that I am in an extreme minority in this regard. Almost everybody wants to play songs. I, however, want to make songs. For example, with the progression I've been discussing today, I would like to be able to play it with some thumb droning. But I have to play song after song in my workbook until I pick up what the essence of fingerpicking is. Then I can apply it to my improv. It would have been nice if I could have found a resource that just instilled principles without songs. Alas! such are my woes.

    My eventual goal is to apply the fingerpicking principles I deduce to my cigar box guitar which I have tuned to open D7 (D Gb A C). I have already made a fretboard chart for this new tuning and I have highliighted all the positions that use a note from the D minor pentatonic. There are a bunch of new shapes to play with...and by shapes I don't mean pentatonic shapes, but rather shapes of notes on the fretboard that contain appropriate notes. I see diamond patterns or a quincunx, or something that looks like a dom7 movable chord.

  2. #182
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    I had recently been watching the lick of the day put out by Hawaiian Music School...at least, I think that's the sponsor. Hitherto nothing had really struck a chord with me. However, today they played a blues riff. I didn't really want the whole riff. It was the first four notes that caught my attention. The musician played them by making this chord like a movable m7 chord with an added hammer-on.

    I played them using the tonic pentatonic shape. It was the 1st, 2nd, and 4th notes of the scale. The noteworthy 4th note of the riff was outside of the scale. Since I'm playing in E, the note should have been an A, but it is a g#. Patently, what's happening is that the riff at this juncture, moves into a major pentatonic. I have largely ignored the major pentatonic (like I'm currently ignoring my current goals), but it is on the edge of my knowledge.

    So now I am pretty much moving on from the riff to thinking about how to transition from the minor to the major pentatonic. I know famous musicians have done this; I just haven't had the opportunity.

    Here's what I did. I played the riff: the three notes from the tonic shape, then the G#, then I hung out with that distinctive G# for a bit. Then I bent it down to the A of the dominant shape. From there, I was back in the minor pentatonic, so I just played my way back down to the E from which I had started.

  3. #183
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    I've recently been reading about new ukulele players and how they universally are supposed to go to a music store to get their instrument. I've never found that too useful. When I go to a music store I spend about 30 seconds with the instrument: visually inspect it, check the action, play a few notes on the dotted frets to make sure it intones correctly over the entire fretboard...and then give it to the tech to set-up. While I am waiting for the instrument to come back, I don't play other ukuleles because they all sound the same with perhaps some little nuance. An A is an A, regardless of what ukulele you have. For me, the bonding experience takes place over time and there's nothing I can do in the store to facilitate or predict that. So as I await the return of my instrument, I browse around the guitars, the banjos, the upright basses, and just look at other stuff. That 30 seconds is what differentiates the online experience from the in-store experience...a total throw-away, if you ask me. But no one is asking me.

    As I was killing time, waiting for my bath time, I was re-reading a jazz book and found a good chart detailing the function of chords, which is useful in making up progressions:

    V7 dominant of I
    IIm7 subdominant of I, precedes dominant/substitutes for IV
    IΔ tonic
    VI7 precedes II
    IIIm7 subs for I, often after V7
    VIm7 Subs for I, follows I or between III and II
    I7 dominant of IV
    IVΔ tonic relief, temporary key center
    Vm7 IIm7 of IV. Usually precedes I7 when it is dominant of IV
    IVm7 passing chords between IVΔ and IΔ, or between IIm7 and I
    II7 subs for IIm7, usually between VI7 and V7
    bIIIm7 subs for VI7, usuallybetween IIIm7 and IIm7
    bVII7 between IVm7 and IΔ


    That's a baker's dozen of the most frequent contexts of these chords, in their order of importance. The 1st 3, e.g., make up 75% of the chords. This isn't exhaustive. For example it doesn't even mention diminished chords of augmented 7's which are peppered throughout the examples of this book. I guess they are numerically insignificant. I'll be trying some of this stuff in my key of E and see what's up/

  4. #184
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    I hit an interesting snag in practicing my thumb as a drone. On the re-entrant tuning, you're supposed to go: 3rd string and then 4th string. That's all well and good if I'm just playing with the thumb. As soon as I mix in some chords with the left hand the problem begins. When I transition to a new chord, my right hand immediately plays the 4th string whether it is the time for that string or not. It totally ruins the pattern.

    It is interesting because it shouldn't be a problem. It reminds me of the meters of Roman drama. In Roman drama, you learn about iambic lines and trochaic lines and you learn them as different things with different functions. However they are the same thing. An iambic line goes: short syllable, long, short, long, etc. Trochaic lines are long, short, long, short, etc. But...if you take an iambic line and apply the phenomenon of anacrusis to it (i.e., suppress the first syllable), then it becomes trochaic. They are the same thing, except for the 1st syllable.

    The same thing applies to the thumb drone. With linear tuning it goes 434343434343. Re-entrant tuning uses 34343434. If you suppress the first beat of a linear drone, then you have a re-entrant drone. There is nothing new to learn. I only need to convince my mind and fingers of this and I'll be okay.

  5. #185
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    I made a couple of unfortunate investments recently. I bought a copy of Blues Theory Revolution and Harmony and Theory. They didn't really benefit me. I should start by saying that these books are excellent and I could have used them earlier in my career, but they do not fit me currently. I suppose it is to my credit that I say that I didn't learn much from the blues theory book. It shows that I had already learnt much of that stuff already. I don't know what I was hoping for. I suppose my assumption is that I don't know everything and I was hoping that the book would go deeper into the blues and, perhaps, discuss which scale degrees perform what function. I don't know. As it is, what I was able to gather from the book are a few new progressions. E.g., it suggested substituting a 7#9 for the V chord.

    Similarly, the Harmony book is evidently great, but just not what I'm looking for. After some introductory chapters which provides some good overviews of basic terminology, it devotes itself to instructing its readers on how to create chords. Although I don't actually have this knowledge down pat, it is unnecessary. For the ukulele, the chords are already made; I don't need to construct them from scratch.

    Live and learn, I suppose. I'll try to get some supplementary reading material later. Hopefully, it will be more cost-effective.

  6. #186
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    I've been playing around with the V of the V (the dominant of the dominant) and I came up with a 16 bar blues.

    I | IV7 | I | I|
    Iv7 | IV7 | I | I|
    V7 of V | V7 | I7 | IV7|
    I | V7 | I | I |

    The transition from the V of V to the V sounds somewhat like an end, that is why I went to the I7. This way that ending is the ending of one part, but then another part starts. I like the last four bars because of its stuttering: the resolution comes, but then the dominant removes it only to be re-established in the final two bars.

  7. #187
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    I guess I'm progressing. My wife was lying down reading and I was just improvising between frets 2 and 19. I decided I wanted to go pressure cook some barley for dinner and I got up. My wife was annoyed and said, "hey! I was listening to that" as if I were a radio which someone turned off. At least I'm at a point where my music is listenable.

    To that end, I've been working on my lyricism. My left hand is fine. Don't misunderstand; I know my chord transitions aren't as quick and smooth as they need to be. However, that are adequate for what I'm doing. What is holding me back is the right hand. I need something to put amidst the chords. I guess I'm trying to say I need a melody...a riff...a leitmotif. So I have been trying to duplicate some vocals on the ukulele. Since I play blues-based Americana, I think the human voice is the sound I am looking for--the lilt, the intonation, the intervals of the voice is something I am trying to get in my melodies. So I have been revisiting some Led Zeppelin vocals...stuff from "How many more times" or "You shook me." Led Zeppelin stole that stuff from black bluesmen and now I'm stealing it from them to understand vocal lines. Since Led Zeppelin is just an ornate skiffle-band, their stuff is very pentatonic, which fits what I do. Sometimes I lift the vocals note for note (as I hear it) and use that as the riff. Sometimes, once I see the pattern, I alter it.

  8. #188
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    I worked on my lyricism a bit by communing a bit with a book I have by Lil Rev. It contains an approximately thirty page section of blues riffs. Unfortunately, the riffs are categorized by key. I want to play all of them in any key, so I've been analyzing what they're doing and making formulae. It is sllightly difficult because the riffs contain notes from the major scale. My formulae assume the pentatonic scale. Therefore there are a few otiose double-flatted scale degrees.

    I played around with one of the alternative progressions I found in a book I recently acquired:

    I7 | I7 | IV9 | IV9
    I7 | I7 | V9 | IV9
    I7 | #I░ | IIm7 | V7#9

    This one wasn't so bad. At least, I thought it was going to be a train wreck with those dom9's. 9's are so problematic because of how we mix and match its permutations. Often times there is a very subtle mismatch in the tones. E.g., I played the above progression in C which meant I needed an F9 and a G9. The shapes I have memorized is a F9 without the dominant degree and a G9 without its tonic. Each of these variations of the dom9 sound good by itself, but a little off in a musical context exhibiting both. This progression didn't do that. As a matter of fact, the most glaring deficit of this progression (at least in this key) was the C7. The most common form of this chord has all those open strings in it, which really sounds brassy next to all the buttery jazz chords. And that final 7#9 is a little difficult

  9. #189

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    Gee, I was a little happy that my transitions were a little better. Reading a couple of pages of this thread makes me think I need a music theory class. Well, somewhere down the road

  10. #190
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    Oh Captain Janeway, you're your own worst enemy. I'm sure no one is harder on you than yourself. As a matter of fact, I bet if we got together in whatever performance context you engage in, I would totally be blown away. I'm sure my timing would be off, my transitions too clumsy, and there's no way I could stay in the pocket and strum in support of what the group was doing. I'm okay at what I practice and so are you. Eventually we'll both be the complete package, but we have a ways to go. I think it is important to be excellent at what you do, regardless of what you do. So keep on being excellent and build on your successes.

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