Revised CPLUG Ukulele Song Book

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I spent the past couple of weeks diligently working on updating and expanding our Collingwood Public Library Ukulele Group (CPLUG) songbook. I’m happy to announce it is completed – and that I can get back to my regular blogging. Update, June 2020: The link to download was broken and is fixed. AND there are more songs in the songbook than listed below. I had put together two smaller songbooks previously for group use, as well as sent along several individual … click below for more!

The Book List Game

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In a recent story titled “Neil deGrasse Tyson Selects the Eight Books Every Intelligent Person on the Planet Should Read,” the eminent astrophysicist listed his top eight book titles – from a Reddit conversation that was going on back in December, 2011. Here are the books he chose back then (check the linked story above for his comments on why he picked these titles): The Bible; The System of the World, by Isaac Newton; On the Origin of Species, by … click below for more!

Classical music matters even more today

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The official launch of the new Classical FM 102.9 radio station in Collingwood this past weekend reminded me of my own past history with classical music, but also why it matters so much to have classical music in our lives. And why we need to keep that cultural lifeline to our musical past alive and active. Classical music binds us to our past, to our civilization and our culture. Music reflects the styles and tastes of the era in which it was composed, … click below for more!

Dave Clark Five

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We’re sitting on the front deck listening to British Sixties Radio, an internet radio station we like and listen to a lot, and they just played the Dave Clark Five doing Glad All Over. That song came out on the UK charts in January, 1964, reaching North America a bit later. Fifty years ago this year. I was a young teenager then, not long moved to a new apartment, going to high school, and listening to the music of the … click below for more!

WWHWWWH

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WWHWWWH is one of two formulae I need to keep in mind when working through my scales on the ukulele and guitar. The other is 2122122. I see the musicians among you already recognize what these mean. I still need to have these written on a sticky note so I will remember when I practice. WWHWWWH means: Whole step – whole step – half step – whole step – whole step – whole step – half step. It’s how you … click below for more!

Practice makes perfect

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Whenever I’m asked for advice from new ukulele players on how to get better, or what secret they need to know to play better, I tell them it’s simple: Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. … click below for more!

How many chords?

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How many chords does a musician need to know? How many does an amateur musician who plays mostly popular, folk and blues music, need to know? My first answer has always been, “all of them” because you never know when you need them. But that’s not realistic. After all, there are thousands of chords you can play on a guitar or piano and you simply can’t memorize every one. Well, at least I can’t. I know a lot of the basic … click below for more!

Reading music and music theory

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I write about reading a lot, because I read a lot of books. There are other kinds of reading – other languages, too – that I don’t write much about. Reading music is one of them. It’s a different language; a symbolic language with its own grammar, punctuation and rules. As far as reading music goes, I’m semi-illiterate. I’ve been playing music – guitar mostly – since the Beatles had Ticket To Ride on the hit parade, back in the … click below for more!

Just Six Songs?

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Author, musician and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says all music can be classified into a mere six types of song. That’s part of the premise in his 2009 book, The World in Six Songs. I recently started reading it and it has opened some interesting areas of thought for me.* A mere six fundamental themes in song, Levitin writes: friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge and love. And he provides a chapter for each in what is a literary combination of sciences, … click below for more!

Spoon River: Smith, Goodman and Masters

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VERY well, you liberals, And navigators into realms intellectual, You sailors through heights imaginative, Blown about by erratic currents, tumbling into air pockets, You Margaret Fuller Slacks, Petits, And Tennessee Claflin Shopes— You found with all your boasted wisdom How hard at the last it is To keep the soul from splitting into cellular atoms. While we, seekers of earth’s treasures, Getters and hoarders of gold, Are self-contained, compact, harmonized, Even to the end. Edgar Lee Masters: Thomas Rhodes; from … click below for more!

The 2013 Great Gatsby

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Watched the 2013 film of The Great Gatsby last night. The first half was spectacular, grandiose and captivating, if somewhat over the top. Like Busby Berkeley meets The Fifth Element. Extravaganza, spectacle and excess. The film doesn’t feel like it’s set in New York of the Jazz Age. It’s too shiny, too polished, too mechanical, and not gritty enough. That’s actually okay, and had director Baz Luhrmann chosen to make Gatsby into a scifi film set not the roaring twenties, … click below for more!

The Wild Women of Wongo

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Who can resist a film with a title like that? Or Zontar, the Thing From Venus? Robot Monster? Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet? The Atomic Brain? Clearly, I can’t. I love this stuff. B-films, especially scifi B-films. But I am a tad disappointed with this Mill Creek package.* I recently received the set of SciFi Classics Collection: 50 Movie Pack, a 12-DVD collection, cover shown on the left. It turned out to be the same set I already had, just … click below for more!

Makes you feel happy, like an old time movie

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There’s something touching about a classic film, something magical about a B&W movie, about a film shot between the wars in that period of recovery and optimism; a film that was new when my parents were young, full of life and hope. A movie from the days before CGI, before green screens and 3D. Before slasher films, before graphic sex and graphic violence. It’s a combination of art and innocence, of technology just starting to blossom, of storytelling finding new avenues … click below for more!

Coriolanus on Film

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Coriolanus is a tough play, full of politics and angry people and shouting mobs. It has no comic relief, no jesters, no romance and no real heroes. No great soliloquies, unsympathetic characters, uncomfortable double dealing, treachery and plotting. No powerful subplot as a counterpoint. Pride, arrogance, and power dominate. Coriolanus himself is empty, driven, bereft of the great passions that animate Shakespeare’s other main protagonists. Except the passion for revenge, which comes upon him halfway through the play. Before that, … click below for more!

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