Fiddle practice log 9/28/2021

Time practiced

10 minutes

Scales and arpeggios practiced

  • Scales: one octave G, D, A
  • Arpeggios: lower octave G, upper octave G, also D and upper octave A

Techniques practiced

  • Placing multiple fingers down to hit the G and B on the upper G arpeggio, then placing multiple fingers down to hit the D and high G
  • Same thing in reverse coming back down the arpeggio
  • “Left hand rehearsal” where I just step through the fingering patterns of a thing, to train my fingers what they need to be doing

Tune practiced

More Feller from Fortune. Mostly focusing on the B part and trying to make sure I have the fingering down.

However, I also experimented a little bit with where the slurs might be interesting. Can’t really commit to that quite yet just because I am not comfortable playing the full A and B part of this tune all the way through yet. And I feel like I need to get that down before I can start thinking about how to dress up the tune and take it out for dinner.

Fiddle practice log 9/27/2021

This is going up on the 28th, but it’s actually for the practice I did on the 27th.

Scales practiced

  • One octave G
  • One octave D
  • One octave A
  • One octave C

Techniques practiced

  • Double stops on open strings, playing lower string, then upper, then both
  • Also working on trying to sense when the bow is properly parked on both strings to do that double stop
  • (Reminder to self: that angle change to hit both strings at once is not as big as you think it is)

Tunes practiced

Worked more on Feller from Fortune, and specifically the B part. Tried to work on learning it from memory, because I can hear it in my head, and I wanted to see if I could work on training my ear and my ability to reproduce notes.

But apparently this is a three stop process for me:

  1. Can I reproduce the tune I hear in my head? Can I whistle it, hum it, or otherwise vocalize it from memory?
  2. Can I parse what notes I’m hearing? Do I know, say, a B when I hear one?
  3. Can I take each note out of memory and find it on the instrument? Particularly if they are tricky intervals between notes?

There’s a particular bit of the B part of this tune that dips pretty low on the melody, and it took me quite a bit of mental work to realize it was going all the way down to open D. And a lot of work in general just trying to pull up the memory of the Great Big Sea recording in my head, then whistling it slowly, and then trying to reproduce the same notes on the fiddle.

I do more or less understand how the A part works, but the B part still needs some work. And I want to get to the point of playing both of them in a nice flow together before I start trying to dress it up and make it sound cooler.

Fiddle practice log 9/22/2021

Summary

  • Scales practiced: One-octave G, D, A; two-octave G
  • Techniques practiced: Being mindful of the position of my elbow while doing string crossings
  • Tune practiced: Feller from Fortune

Commentary

This practice was pretty much all about me trying to remind myself that hey, playing tunes is fun!

And even more fun when I’m playing with a tune recorded by a band I love, like Great Big Sea.

So, this was more about the Feller from Fortune tune, which is the first of the three tunes in GBS’ Fortune Set. I do all have dots written up ages ago by fans of all three of the tunes, and I had to refer to the dots for the B part of this tune. I could kind of reproduce it in my head, but I was having issues actually bridging the gap between that and what my fingers needed to be doing.

Once I consulted the dots, I was better able to then try to reproduce on my instrument what I hear Bob Hallett playing in the GBS studio recording (as well as multiple concert recordings of the same set).

Mostly, I focused on the B part of the tune since I have a pretty good idea of how to do the A part now, including where I need to put slurs in it. With the B part, I mostly wanted to think about “okay, what’s the basic fingering pattern for this thing?” Once I have that down, I will be able to then refine it with questions like, where do the slurs go, and what my thoughts are on bowing directions.

I DID note that the opening few notes of the B part seem to actually work better if I start on a down bow on the pickup note on B, and then do an up bow for the E that comes next. But this was also playing the B part by itself, as opposed to starting it when coming out of the A part.

I will need to experiment with this!

Fiddle practice log 9/20/2021

Summary

  • Time practiced: 10 minutes
  • Scales practiced:
    1. One-octave G, D, A
    2. Two-octave G
  • Techniques practiced:
    1. Up-down-both double stops, all string pairs
    2. Down-up-both double stops, all string pairs
    3. Trying to be mindful of a steady bowing pace for purposes of keeping a scale flowing
    4. Trying to be mindful of keeping my elbow swinging smoothly when doing string crossings
    5. Trying to be mindful of finger placement and specifically consciously telling myself “I’m putting my finger right there next”
  • Tunes practiced: Fortune set by Great Big Sea, A part of the first tune

Commentary

Finding those angles on my double stops is still a damn problem. And it’s still entirely a matter of not being able to find the proper intermediate angle to hit both of those strings at the same time, at least in a timely fashion. If I do it slowly, and do the thing where you judge where the bow is resting so that you can actively tell “yes, I am on both strings”, i can do it.

But not if I try to do it quickly. Therefore, as with just about everything when it comes to the fiddle, more practice is required.

Today’s tune was the Fortune set from Great Big Sea just because I listened to that again recently, and it’s stuck in my head! Also because the A part of the first tune is pretty easy. I already knew I could kind of play it on the fiddle, but I also wanted to see what I could learn by dropping some slurs in it.

First immediate thing I learned: “do slurs on descending notes” is not quite enough for my satisfaction for this tune. It’s very obvious that if I want to try to emulate what Bob Hallett does on the recording, I need to slur the first few notes that start the A part of this thing.

After that, it becomes a question of where else to slur, and I think I did figure that out easily enough—there are parts with descending notes where yeah, I can slur those easily enough and make the A part come out… well, if not exactly rocking quite yet, then at least beginning to sound like I might actually know what I’m doing. Lol.

Also spent a little time trying to see if I could play the B part by memory, but I don’t have that bit of the tune as well engrained in my head quite yet. Clearly I’m going to have to listen to the recording a few more dozen times. Oh darn whatever shall I do.

Side note for the Great Big Sea fans who may be reading this: this A and B part I’m talking about is specifically for the first instrumental bit of the Fortune recording, which comes before the B’ys jump in with the vocals and start singing “There’s lots of fish in Bonavist Harbor!”

After that vocal bit there are two more tunes to round out the set and I do have eventual aspirations of getting to those, too. But for now I’m focused just on the first tune. :D

Fiddle practice log 9/7/2021

Time practiced

10 minutes

Scales practiced

  • One octave G, D, A
  • Two octave G

Techniques practiced

  • Double stops on each string pair, lower-upper-both, then upper-lower-both
  • Trying to keep my torso still while bowing, which is hard

Tunes practiced

  • More Blarney Pilgrim, mostly the B part

Commentary

As per my last practice post I wanted to try the notion of doing slurs only on patterns of descending notes, to see what that told me about optimal bowing direction.

In the B part of Blarney Pilgrim, the note flow is a bit more complicated than in the A part, because it’s got this spike up onto the E string at the beginning of the first phrase, before swinging down onto the A and D strings and bouncing back and forth between them for a bit.

So there are bits of descending notes here. But the way they’re working, with the third note of a triplet actually being on the string crossing, this seems to play into what I saw the last practice with needing to put a slur only on the first two notes of any descending triplet.

If I try to play the whole descending triplet on a single stroke, this makes me run out of bow, and it also makes it more difficult to do the string crossing.

For example, the first phrase of the B part looks like this:

D-E-D D-B-G A-G-A B-G-E

The second triplet, D-B-G, and the fourth one, B-G-E, seem to be good places to drop slurs. So in theory the bowing might look like this if I do slurs on both of those triplets:

Down-Up-Down Dow-ow-own Up-Down-Up Dow-ow-own

But if I’m still bowing down when I try to go from the B down to the G in that second triplet, it seems like I run out of bow real quick. And the string crossing is more difficult.

That fourth triplet shakes things up a bit, though, because with that one, the string crossing is between the first and second notes, not the second and third.

So I need to experiment with this more. Possible optimal bow patterns here are:

Down-Up-Down Dow-own-Up Down-Up-Down Uh-Up-Down

Or:

Down-Up-Down Dow-own-Up Down-Up-Down Up-Dow-own

Fiddle practice log 9/3/2021

I’ve been doing these posts on my Facebook wall for a bit, but realized that they would probably work a lot better as posts on my own blog.

This solves a couple of problems:

  • People who aren’t on Facebook can see my logs
  • It puts the content on my server, so it doesn’t have to be just on Facebook, and that’s always a good idea

So, some context for those of you who haven’t been seeing me put this stuff on Facebook. I’ve been taking fiddle lessons for several years now and my progress has been excruciatingly slow. Nor has it been helped by the pandemic and the attendant stresses of that.

Details on this practice and background for this behind the fold!

Continue reading “Fiddle practice log 9/3/2021”

Long overdue ebook roundup post

Geez, this post has been sitting in my Drafts folder for quite some time! I have no particular excuse for this, other than just being very, very lax on getting this post written up! But since I’ve started doing all the Skyrim posts, seeing my Drafts folder on my WordPress site kept reminding me this post was there, and ever so patiently waiting for me to deal with it.

Let’s deal with it now, shall we?

Acquired from Kobo:

  • Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly. This is the book on which the movie of the same name was based, and I bought it on the strength of the buzz about the movie.
  • Unconquerable Sun, by Kate Elliott. SF/Space Opera. Also, a lesbian version of the saga of Alexander the Great IN SPACE, as I understand it. SIGN ME UP.
  • Death of a New American, by Mariah Fredericks. Book 2 of a mystery series I’d already bought Book 1 for.
  • Stealing Thunder and Gifting Fire, by Alina Boyden. Books 1 and 2 of a fantasy series featuring a transgendered heroine.
  • A Peculiar Combination, by Ashley Weaver. Book 1 of a historical mystery series featuring a heroine whose lockpicking talents get her drafted into supporting Britain during WWII.
  • Mirage and Spectrum, by Julie E. Czerneda. SF. Books 2 and 3 of the Web-Shifter’s Library series.
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers. SF. Book 4 of Chambers’ Wayfarers series. And, I’m given to understand, the last one!

Acquired from Amazon:

  • Wings of Fury, by Emily R. King. Fantasy set in the time of Greek myth.
  • The Dispatcher, by John Scalzi. SF/mystery. Ebook version of the audiobook of the same name, which I’ve already listened to and enjoyed. Nabbed this just because I’m a completist, and because the audiobook for Book 2 came out.
  • Spacer’s Cinderella, by Adria Rose. SF/Romance, Space Opera. As you might guess from the title, a version of the Cinderella story set in space.

Acquired from Audible (which also essentially means, acquired from Amazon, but I’m counting this differently):

  • Murder By Other Means, by John Scalzi. The aforementioned Book 2 audiobook for John Scalzi’s Dispatcher series. Like Book 1, this is narrated by Zachary Quinto.

Kobo pre-orders that showed up:

  • The Conductors, by Nicole Glover. Historical fantasy set during the 1800’s, with heavy Underground Railroad themes in the plot.
  • Fugitive Telemetry, by Martha Wells. The next Murderbot book. Yes please, I’ll have some!
  • While Justice Sleeps, by Stacey Abrams. A Supreme Court thriller written by Stacey Abrams. Yes, that Stacey Abrams. She’s got an established career as an author but with this book, she’s writing under her actual name rather than the pen name she uses for her romances, Selena Montgomery.

Amazon pre-orders that showed up:

  • Heartbreak Bay, by Rachel Caine. Book 5 (and final, due to Caine’s passing away) of the Stillhouse Lake series of thrillers.

Kobo pre-orders I’ve placed:

  • You Feel It Just Below the Ribs, by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson. Prequel novel to the Within the Wires podcast, which I’ve enjoyed quite a bit.

Acquired for free from Tor.com:

  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, by Nghi Vo. Fantasy. Book 2 of the Singing Hills Cycle series, and I really ought to nab Book 1 before I read this, I think!

Acquired as a Kickstarter reward:

  • Daughter of the Lilies. Fantasy, graphic novel release of the excellent webcomic of the same name that I’ve been following at daughterofthelilies.com. The author and colorist teamed up to put out a print edition of the first storyline they’ve done, and I was a backer for their Kickstarter.

Total for the year: 51.

Computer status update: SSD transplant successful!

Meanwhile, aside from the significant relief of finally getting the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine in my arm, I can also report the significant relief of getting my computer problems resolved.

When last we left our heroine, Time Machine had been having a lot of mysterious copy errors, and the only way I got it to work was to do a full backup in Safe Mode. Even that threw an error about problems setting ownership of files, and the copy errors returned as soon as I tried to do another backup in standard mode.

Continue reading “Computer status update: SSD transplant successful!”

First Pfizer COVID-19 shot achieved! \0/

A few days ago our housemate Paul, acting on the sage advice of our friend Kathryn, scored his first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Rite Aid right down the hill from our house.

Dara and I basically went !!! at this, and as soon as my work hours that day were over, we zipped down to the Rite Aid to tell them “hey we would like to be on your list of vaccine doses, please!”

They were happy to accommodate us. And yesterday they called me to say “would you like to come in tomorrow for your shots?”

YES, I said, YES WE WOULD.

So tonight we went down for our first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. They were doing brisk vaccination business down there–there was a pair of older gentlemen waiting ahead of us, and a woman maybe our age or a little older as well. And another woman got into the queue for her shot after we’d turned in our filled-out forms and were waiting.

It went a lot like getting a flu shot, really. And since I’ve gotten my flu shots the last couple years at this exact Rite Aid, I applied the same advice I’ve gotten for those before–which is to say, move the arm around for a little while after getting the shot. So Dara and I did that, while we were hanging out for the 15-minute window for checking whether we’d have any adverse reactions at all.

No adverse reactions happened, so we rode our bikes back up the hill to the house!

Rite Aid told us we could come back for the second shot to get it with them in three weeks if we want, and we’ll plan to do that. It is super convenient to be able to get the shots right down the hill from our house.

Paul says he didn’t notice any effects until the next morning after his shot, at which point his arm felt like somebody had punched it. As of this writing my arm feels fine. We’ll see how I feel in the morning!

All the reports I’ve seen say it’s the second shot that really kicks your ass, anyway. And with that in mind, aside from the general relief of fuck yeah I finally got a shot, I’ll be relieved that my three-week window will be past the release my team at work is supposed to drop this weekend. Because yeaaaaah I don’t really want the second shot of this thing to be kicking my ass close to when I’m supposed to provide SDET support for a release to production…

(But that said? I’d absolutely tell my team “look I just got the second COVID-19, non-zero risk of me feeling like ass, let’s plan accordingly” if there were a risk of it interfering with the release schedule.)

Anyway, that’s sorted! And I’ve set myself a reminder to check back with them in three weeks, and I’ve notified my primary care physician that I’ve gotten the first shot and would they please update my records accordingly?

Whew. Things are still not normal, not by a long shot. But as of tonight I feel like I’ve taken a step in normal’s direction. The journey to normal is beginning.

The Great Recovery of My Old Webpages Project

So while the whole meltdown of my primary computer is going on, the secondary one, Savah, has actually proven useful for reasons above and beyond “because Aroree is being stupid”.

I’ve been doing this ongoing massive re-org of my files, with an eye to creating a proper archive that Dara can burn to these fancy archival-quality discs we have. As part of this, I’ve been digging into my old web page files and thinking it’d be nice to restore working copies of earlier versions of my sites.

More technogeekery as well as screencaps of my work behind the cut!

Continue reading “The Great Recovery of My Old Webpages Project”