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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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August 10, 2013 | Fighting the brain

Here you go:

Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab

The above sequence of notes would be terrifying to a beginning folk/bluegrass musician, all those notes with flat signatures behind them. "Does my mandolin even come with a Db on it?"

If we stepped back and realized through all the flats, this pattern spells out an Ab major scale, the intimidation level might go down a little, though it's rarely one you'd play in a jam session. Completely foreign.

If you played the following A B C# D E F# G# A, especially knowing it's a basic A major scale, you'd be very comfortable. If we told you to play the same set but move everything down a fret, you'd be okay with that.

Easy peazy.


This simple trick is the essence of our FFcP approach to mastering the fretboard. Open strings are great for beginning fret musicians, but there's a wide open real estate of Ebs and Gbs out there to create beautiful music, and when you focus on the four FFcP patterns, the chromatic world is literally at your fingertips.

The following graphical puzzle illustrates how you can let your brain short circuit. Follow the instructions and say out loud the color, not the text. Not as easy as you might think. Unless you change the way you look at it.


Don't let the expanded world of accidentals (flats and sharps) distract you. There's more simplicity there than you might think. You just have to change your mindset.

Read more about FFcP.


Posted by Ted at August 10, 2013 5:34 AM

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