Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hanging to relieve Shoulder Pain

The Integral Strength test session went well, except for the reverse chin-ups.  I was able to do them, but I've had a longstanding issue with some kind of aching in the left shoulder when I am in a dead hang, either to start a pullup/chinup, or lowering myself from one.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that simply hanging from a bar might actually be good for shoulder pain relief.  Searching the web eventually turned up Dr. Kirsch:

Unfortunately the above video doesn't show the hanging exercise.  I did find this one from Z-Health:

I dug up my door pullup bar and started doing some short sessions - a few seconds at a time - of hanging from them with palms facing forward, no thumbs, and my feet on the ground to decrease the intensity a bit.  A promised bonus benefit is spinal decompression.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

End of my Elements practice, and moving on

I injured my lower back two Fridays ago, while practicing the High Frogger and /High Monkey movements in what was to be my last Elements session for the month.  I was in a deep squat, getting ready to do a High Frogger.  When I'm in a deep squat, my low back is stretched - one of the last things I would want to happen, while in that position, is a low back muscle contraction .  Unfortunately, that is what happened.  Whatever the cause of that ill-timed muscle contraction, whether it was a spasm or something else, the pain was immediate and intense.  The pain was intense enough that I had a very difficult time getting up off the floor. After more difficulty getting to the kitchen and raising a glass of water to my lips, I was able to take 2 Motrin capsules to try to reduce the pain.  That evening, I went to the doctor, who prescribed a muscle relaxant and physical therapy.

Physical therapy has been going well.  Looking ahead to when I'm ready to exercise for strength again instead of just rehab,  I  decided to assess what exercises from Integral Strength I could start working on, on the days I don't have a physical therapy session scheduled.  These are the results, with only one measure per exercise - whether my body, particularly the low back and hips in their current condition;  will allow me to do it or not:

Broad Jump No
Shrimp Squats Ok but be careful
Push-Ups Ok but be careful
Bridge Press-Ups No
Inverted Press Yes
L-sit No
Chin-Ups  Did not try but probably no
Hollow Body Did not try but I do a very gentle version of it in physical therapy

I had a sore hip for the rest of the day, as punishment for trying out the above movements, but it was worth it, as it settled that question in my mind.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Minor Pentatonic Scales for ii V I chord progressions

Tim Miller in his Creative Arpeggio Design course on Truefire provides some cool little tips for using minor pentatonic scales in a ii-V-I chord progression, which is the most common chord progression in pre-modal era jazz.

Dmin9 - A minor pentatonic
G7alt - Bb  minor pentatonic (hits the altered tones of the altered dominant chord)
Cmaj6 - B minor pentatonic (hits notes from the Lydian mode, producing a "brighter" sound)

Thus extrapolated to more generalized terms:

ii - minor pentatonic perfect 5th up from root
V - minor pentatonic minor 3rd up from root
I - minor pentatonic just half step down from root

The neat thing about these pentatonic scales is you just move up one half step for each chord, as you go through the ii-V-I chord progression - which is very convenient on the guitar.

I'll probably try these pentatonic ideas for a Steely Dan style chord progression:

Bmaj7 - Bb minor pentatonic
Emin9 - B minor pentatonic
G7 - Bb minor pentatonic
D/G - F# minor pentatonic or C# minor pentatonic.
E/A - Eb minor pentatonic or Ab minor pentatonic
G7 - Bb minor pentatonic
F#7alt - A minor pentatonic

The D/G and E/A slash chords are interesting because each fits two different major scales.  To streamline the choices a bit so I can lazily just move the same minor pentatonic pattern up and down with as few steps as possible:

Bmaj7 - Bb minor pentatonic
Emin9 - B minor pentatonic - 1 up
G7 - Bb minor pentatonic - 1 down
D/G - C# minor pentatonic - 3 up
E/A -  Ab minor pentatonic - 5 down
G7 - Bb minor pentatonic - 2 up
F#7alt - A minor pentatonic - 1 down

On the other hand, if I change pentatonic patterns, I can limit the fretboard movement - the numbers indicate the starting fret on the 6th string.

Bmaj7 - Bb minor pentatonic - 6
Emin9 - B minor pentatonic - 7
G7 - Bb minor pentatonic - 6
D/G - F# minor pentatonic - 7 (same pattern as 3rd inversion of A minor pentatonic)
E/A -  Ab minor pentatonic - 7 (same pattern as 2nd inversion of A minor pentatonic)
G7 - Bb minor pentatonic - 6
F#7alt - A minor pentatonic - 8 (2nd inversion)

Monday, June 04, 2018

Elements Week 6, Day 6

As usual, it's the day to self-assess and play with the movements freestyle.  I don't know if I missed it before, but the BAP for the animals apparently should have included measurements of how long one could perform the movement before stopping.

Bear BAP

Time: 2:25.  The shoulders were the first to fatigue.  I seem to be decent at keeping the butt in the air.

Monkey BAP

Time: 2:25.  The feet were the first to fatigue.  Maybe some fatigue in the legs too.  Otherwise, the movement seems decent.

Frogger BAP

Time: 5:00.  The 5 min. were up before I knew it.  My abs must have strengthened in some way because they used to tire out so fast when practicing the Floating Table Top then the Monkey.  It's pulling the tailbone under that did it. 

I cheated on the free play section.  It was supposed to be 5 min. per level of play (basic only, intermediate only, mix).  I did all three in one 5 min. session because I was pressed for time.  My fault for time management.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Boss Katana 100: Initial experience

I actually first heard about the Boss Katana amps on the Electric Violin Shop website - their description says, "yeah its a guitar amp, but it has an Acoustic amp type that sounds great w/ violin...".   When I saw a Katana 100 on sale recently, I just had to get it.  I have a couple of tube guitar amps, but the one that's loud enough for the band I play with is too unreliable, and the other isn't quite loud enough.  The Katana 100 at 100 watts is definitely loud enough.  It's part of the current generation of solid state/digital amps that emulate the sound and performance of tube amps through physical modeling.  It sounds really good to my ears with both electric violin and guitar, and delivers the responsive, dynamic performance I'd expect out of a decent tube amp.  The Acoustic amp type does sound nice with my Yamaha YEV violin, but I'm not really trying to get it to sound like a fine acoustic Stradivarius or anything like that.

To use the Katana with a band requires foot control to select different sounds, so I picked up the GA-FC foot controller and the EV-5 expression pedal yesterday. The GA-FC now has the Boss logo on it instead of Roland, but the GC guys had to look it up under the Roland name to find it - just fyi for anyone thinking of buying it to pair with a Katana. Roland originally designed it for a line of Roland amps that are no longer under production. The Katana ships with labels for the GA-FC, but the GA-FC that I received already has the new Katana-friendly labeling.

Anyway, it took only a few hours to set up the FX as I'd want them for next week's band rehearsal. You need to plug the USB into a computer and run software to edit the FX in any detail - eg. delay time, mod depth, etc. The disadvantage is you can't edit those detail parameters onstage, away from your computer. OTOH, this design compromise keeps the physical panel of the amp uncluttered and super simple. I do have some physical FX pedals that are quite nice (eg. EHX DMM550TT, Eventide H9 Max, etc.) but it's nice to have 8 preset locations onboard the Katana for multi-FX, and be able to just grab-and-go for a quick jam.

Learning how to use the GA-FC took next to no time at all - you can select from 4 presets at a time, and hit the Effects switch to turn individual FX off and on within the preset - fast and simple. Learning to set up the EV-5 to control wah also took no time - once I selected Pedal Wah as an effect, it worked immediately for that purpose. There are several variations to choose from under the Pedal Wah category btw. If you don't map the EV-5 to anything, it's automatically assigned to volume control.

The Katana requires Roland's USB driver for use with software, which is a bit of a bummer. Anyway, there are two software choices - the official Boss Tone Studio, and an editor by a guy who goes by "Gumtown" that unlocks more FX, more amp types, more flexibility for chaining FX, etc.:

So far I've only worked with BTS. The latest version(s) of BTS/Katana firmware is flexible enough for me. I might delve into Gumtown's 'ware later. Again, I had all this set up in just a few hours. I probably would have been even faster if I'd read the instruction to "keep" the .pkg file during installation of the driver, and didn't start with a defective USB cable. The longest holdup that I'd blame on Boss is the effects loop routing - they haven't updated their knowledge base yet to mention that they moved the send-return settings out of the system global page, so that you can now set stuff like parallel vs. serial, levels, etc. per patch.