Observation: It’s really, REALLY hard to practice bass with a head cold and/or allergies. I’m not quite sure what it was that hit me abruptly at around 7 pm last night, but I know I took a benadryl and it did a whole fuck lot of nothing, but woke up totally fine this morning. So, either I had a very, very short lived cold (full of itchy, watery eyes, cough, nose that won’t stop running…etc), or a night of allergies the likes of with OTC meds don’t stand a chance against. We were under a tornado warning yesterday, with buckets upon buckets of rain, so it’s entirely possible that the excessive damp did my sinuses in. Whatever. I’m fine now. However, I repeat, it’s indescribably hard to practice bass when you can only half see and can barely breathe. It puts you into this mental space of just ‘I give craps about nothing’, and keeping to a beat when you’re head is swimming is kind of an exercise in futility.

That said, I did stubbornly clear the Legato 101 lesson. I HAD TO. I was at 99.1% completion. The damn thing was taunting me. Funny thing about that, is that I was getting so fed up with missing one note (not the same one every time, mind) that I ended up doing what I thought was half-assing it, but which I realized about halfway through my first half-ass was actually kind of better technique. See, I think I still have a tendency to try to muscle my way through a lot of things. I assume things need more force than they actually need a good amount of the time. It’s not that I’m overly tense, or at least, when I’m doing it, I don’t feel tense…until I do the exact same thing genuinely relaxed and realize ‘oh, that’s what relaxed feels like? Really? Wow. I had it all wrong.’  In theory, anyway. Until I take that out of rocksmith and see if the notes are ringing clearly, I won’t be positive, but my hand was pretty happy with me for the change.  The legato lesson was one that always tended to tire my hand out, so that’s probably a sign that I was being a bit too rough, though.

After that I was going to work on the slides 101 lesson, and that’s when things went downhill. Bearing in mind that these are both lessons I’ve conquered before on the PC version of rocksmith, so I know I’m capable of conquering them again, the slides lesson looked like an impossibility when I opened it.  It’s just a visually busy lesson, one I ought to slow down in the riff repeater to familiarize myself with, but just…haven’t. After all, I conquered it before, right?

Well, as it turns out, the slides lesson is when things started going downhill for me. I actually quit it about 25% of the way in (it can’t possibly be more than a minute or two long, to give you an idea of how fast I gave up last night), because my eyes were just like ‘no. bite me.’

I stubbornly tried to persevere and moved over to learn a song, deciding only songs in E Standard since I just couldn’t bear the thought of even changing tuning on my bass with the way I was starting to feel, and that involved fumbling my way through several songs I had done well on before, trying, and quitting a rush song three notes in because my eyes just refused…

…It was a rough night for bass.

This morning I was feeling better though, so I picked it up for a few minutes and opened that pdf from the lesson I mentioned…yesterday?? The day before? I’m losing all sense of time. It’s still 2016, right?

Anyway, I started to go slowly through the G major arpeggio, paying attention to the thumb thing.  I won’t pretend I know the G major arpeggio now, but man, that gets dull fast! I found myself trying to make a sort of tune or beat out of it, which made it a more interesting process, so I’ll keep that in the back of my mind for the next time I’m faced with a boring drill that I want to work through for some logical reason, but also find incredibly dull.

Meanwhile, in ukulele land: 

I finally got the clippy phone thing in the mail I was waiting for. (This) And you might wonder what the heck that has to do with music, but it has to do with recording music.  I’ve had some wonky DIY recording set ups to date. The first one involved a carboard box a lot of tape and some paper clips. The second one was a mic stand, a wrapping paper roll, newspaper, and a rubber band.

Now, a bit ago I got a deal on a music stand, and was trying to find the best way to prop things up. I tried a standing selfie tripod behind it, but on carpet that doesn’t work out very well, the tripod legs were too small, too flimsy, and badly balanced. There was a makeshift adjustment involving binder clips (okay, one was actually a chip clip, whatever). And, then I went ebaying. There had to be some sort of clip on selfie stick. Had to be! And, that’s when I found this bendy arm thing, which does exactly what I needed for some sense of stability.

Basically, I take my music stand, clip the bendy selfie stick to the front of it, then wrap the arm around the back and over the top, use the top of the stand to stabilize everything. Seems functional so far, and means I can have my music in front of me without creative use of scotch tape.

I’ve also realized, while I use precarious recording equipment as an excuse, the reality is that I don’t record much video because I hate seeing myself on camera (which I am well aware is a bit like shooting myself in the foot, since it means I virtually never post anything to youtube).

I tend to only force myself to take selfies for very specific things:

  1. Halloween
  2. When my current facebook picture is so old that I barely recognize myself anymore.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but they’re sure not frequent. I’m just not into it. No one needs to see that much of me. And on video, it’s kind of worse. You stand a chance, with enough re-tries and deletes of getting a genuinely good selfie. But add motion. I’ll admit to this little bit of vanity: I end up focusing on how incredibly asymmetrical my face is. Due to the allergies from hell and a scab that just refuses to heal, one of my nostrils is like half the size of the other, and my eyes zero in on that like it’s some kind of tumor. When I finally do manage to stop staring at my serpent-like nose slit, I’m drawn to the fact that one eye, somehow, never seems to open as much as the other.

We all do this, of course, and it’s not like I center my world around ‘omg, don’t let people see my squint-eye!’ But when it’s there, and I’m watching myself, I can’t stop myself from staring at it and going ‘seriously? I didn’t realize it was that pronounced…maybe I should just get an eye patch and a parrot to complete the look.’ And, knowing that every time I record I am going to be staring at my squint eye, and analyzing whether the condition of my allergy nostril has improved any, added to the thought that I should, theoretically, brush my hair and change out of my gym clothes (at least from the waist up) before recording video puts me at a dead stop of me just not recording anything for huge chunks of time, and then, when I do, sort of hoping that it will languish in obscurity because I hate looking at it.

…which has to be the most counterproductive way to youtube ever. But, I believe in being honest about my quirks. This is one of my quirks. I have never, EVER liked having my photo taken. I’m not the self-conscious mess I once was (in spite of above evidence to the contrary), but every time I have to use a profile picture…every time I seriously consider just using a picture of my cat to save myself the hassle.

As much as I’m sure everyone would love to watch my cat sing on my behalf, that’s not going to help me get over my strong aversion to being the center of attention one bit, so as much as I can endure it, I will force myself to occasionally post a video on youtube. Very occasionally.

(Ah, the ponytail. Yeah, there I am, test driving the set up, giving no shits. Well, it’s a good thing I’m a gamer…)


Until Next Time, I’m going to try very, very hard to not delete that video, but I promise nothing.

6 thoughts on “Observations

    1. Well, the techniques really aren’t different, precisely. It’s more that they’d be more frequently applied/useful on one instrument than another. The techniques themselves are fairly universal-a slide is a slide is a slide, really. Legato doesn’t stop being legato on a different instrument. Just the scale and strength requirement changes.

      I have more glitches keeping chords in different tunings sorted. I’ve played an uke Cmaj on guitar more than a few times.


      1. Finger placement is much different on Uke than a bass. The stretches are different, as are the muscle memories. The technique used on roundwound strings is different than the technique used on the nylgut strings on the Uke. Not to mention the strings are a bit reordered on uke. Sorry to be a bit of a bass geek, but I think that there’s a world of difference.


      2. Sure, but if you learn a technique on one instrument – a slide, a mute, etc – you don’t suddenly unknow that info when you move to the other. They’re both fretted instruments. You have to adjust for scale, sure, but you don’t have to learn the technique all over again. You just have to tweak it a little. The concept remains constant. Yeah, you need to say, press more firmly, or stretch farther on bass, but it’s not a whole new technique, just an adaptation. These instruments all have different scales and tunings, granted, but they’re also all fretted instruments with similar builds(if different in scale), so your basic groundwork translates.


      3. Yess, but fundamentally, the way you hold your neck is much different on bass than on uke or guitar. That impacts everything else that you do. Sure, they’re all fretted, but drums are all skinned, yet bongos are much different from snare.


      4. We’re going to have to agree to disagree this time. It’s not like bass and uke are English vs Chinese. They’re more like Spanish vs Italian. The common ground is there to build on at the foundation. As you branch away from the foundation, the differences become more significant, but by the time I get there, it won’t matter, since I’m building both techniques at the same time.

        People I talk to keep overlooking that while learning them simultaneously has disadvantages, there are also a few advantages, most notably that I don’t have to fight muscle memory; there was none to fight. I’m developing the muscle memory for both at the same time, so while you say ‘the scale is so different’ or ‘the neck is totally different’, to someone picking them up at the same time it’s more like ‘eh, well, sure, it’s bigger.’ There are no predispositions, or instincts based on prior learning. It leaves the entire experience much more mechanical by its nature. All I have to think about is ‘how are these things similar? Where are they different?’ My hands don’t care because they’re not familiar with any of it, so it’s just not that big of a deal precisely because I’m learning them simultaneously. So, laying the groundwork for both is almost entirely a mental exercise, my hands are just rolling with it like ‘oh. We’re doing this now. Okay.’ I have a far harder time switching between uke and guitar than uke and bass. Perspective is important. Look at it from the perspective of, what if I picked these both up at the same time having no prior musical experience? You would find your perception of these hurdles to be quite different.


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