Friday, May 31, 2013

beginning ukulele resources

i borrowed an instrument for the summer from Nick
sorry for the terrible lighting and picture quality, but i'm enamored with my new Magic SmartPhone right now :D

it's tuned like the ukulele (well, with low-G / low-4th/ linear tuning instead of the standard reentrant C tuning)

and here are some of the resources I've been using to learn ukulele. I have some advantage in that I already know how to read sheet music, play piano so I can play strange rhythms, and also got some tips from Nick introducing me to things like what are picking patterns and hammer on / pull offs. but essentially i'm a complete beginner.

top 100 ukulele sites:

well-done online tuner:

excellent video course: includes "ukulele minutes", short videos for when I'm feeling scatterbrained

excellent pdf and other resources:

more resources, these tend to be videos:

This video was excellent ("in 10 minutes"):

[Edit 12 Jun 2013] Another excellent site:

Then for some tabs:
Excellent stairway to heaven tab:

The only other full tab I found on that site, but I don't recognize the song, is Blackbird:

Folk music tabs:

Canon in C:

and others here:

including the crazy while my guitar gently weeps:
that is apparently a "rite of passage" for ukulele players

easier but still beyond my current skill level:

low G tabs:

I don't really get the "tabs" that only have chords. Am I supposed to sing the song and strum the chords? =__= I suspect that's what's expected, but I'm not much of a singer and I don't know many songs well enough to sing their melodies.

Ukulele underground also does play along videos:

And some inspirational videos:
Let's Dance (bukuro)
I'm Yours (Sungha Jung)
and the classic, While My Guitar Gently Weeps (bukuro again)

Hrm, in the meantime, a gazillion projects. More later...

Notes to self

Arkansas Traveler
wut. in this version this guy is playing the harmonica and strumming the ukulele at the same time
Ashokan Farewell (difficult)
Concertina Reel
Down by the Salley Gardens
Fanny Power

On the issue of linear (what I have, low-G) versus reentrant tuning:
" Songs written for ukulele, especially the early classics from the 20s and 30s nearly always sound better on a reentrant uke. So do bluegrass songs when strummed. Songs written for guitar, rock, blues, etc seem to sound best when played with a low G uke."
"Check out Herb Ohta Jr. if you're looking for a specific artist. He's the top dog when it comes to plain, beautiful low-g 'ukulele work. Something like his "Sand Castles" is a brilliant piece."

More tabs: has low-G pieces

Bookmarks of what I'm learning next:

Friday, May 17, 2013

fcpx and external hard drives on a mac; or, film editing at MIT: project dx/dt

I'm working on documentary on how sexual violations have affected the MIT community ( More about it someday (edit: you can read my co-producer Chacha Durazo's blog post on it here: But the screening is in two days and we've just started editing. (Edit: film will be released online within a week. Edit: up at

There is a Macathena cluster on campus in building 26 with the video editing software (super fancy) final cut pro X installed. perfect!

Well, some hitches. I had to backup everything off my external hard drive and format it to be some special Mac format, otherwise the hard drive appears as read only on the Mac computers.

Of course, the point of this is to make sure I can back-up my "project" files in fcpx (the native file format, in a sense). I was going to set my scratch disks onto an external hard drive ( but,

According to seems like I shouldn't do all my editing on an external hard drive connected via USB. as of 2011 at least... probably when I bought the drive

Edit your project on a different computer

What the heck is with the different import formats?
Looks like for best quality, since I have plenty of hard drive space, I should go with "optimize" checked (but I can also check proxy media at the same time? What does that do? Mostly I want to know the effect on the final output and the effect on how long I have to spend waiting on the spinning cursor...)

Ran into this issue where all the export options were grayed out (and importing had not changed in hours in background tasks list)

Editing audio keyframes
(hit "r" for the range, then just drag the audio level bar up and down)

Censor effect under "stylize"

Compressing files .mov to mpeg4
backing up files from external hard drive to local scratch disk - 40 minutes (so all files are local for editing)
importing files into final cut from local scratch disk - 11pm to ?

Export 38 minute video, full size (master, same size as source video) to external hard drive= 1.5 hours
Previous blog post about fcpx: