Over 2020 and 2021 I found myself, like many others, displaced. Akin to music, one change is often paired with another. So there I found myself, living in another state, clocking up a good number of hours on the baritone ukulele.
It is a very limited instrument that resists extended technique. Even with percussive taps and different articulations, harmonics are generally weak on the nylon strings. But, to paraphrase myself, limitations are the sugar-free energy drink of creativity.
Being such a comfortable instrument, it lends itself well to absent-minded improvisation - a kind of musical automatic writing. Around the time of the January 6th insurrection, I captured my musical response to the news unfolding in realtime. A recording I then titled “Duet for Baritione Ukulele and the Passing of Time”.
Being a bassist, I chose the instrument due to its comfortable scale and its correct number of strings (four). After experimenting with a few different string gauges and tunings, I settled on the stock strings tuned in 4ths from a low B (B, E, A, D). This resembles the lowest four strings of a five-string bass, in a middle-of-the-piano kind of range. It continues feed my seeming proclivity for plucked strings, struck mallets, and arpeggios.