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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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April 24, 2008 | Graphic Swing

In working on final mixes of some of the sound tracks for the upcoming "Getting Into Jazz Mandolin" book from Mel Bay due out in June '08 (crossing fingers), we've experienced a very graphic revelation in swing...

Let's explain. As we exploit modern technologies, the band and many of the guitar parts were recording by good buddy and mandolinist/guitarist extraordinaire, John Eubanks and some of his amazing session friends down in New Orleans. Piano, bass, drums, guitar (and some of John's mandolin) were recording in a professional studio, post-Katrina, an interesting experience, no doubt, but long distance from JazzMando Headquarters. Some additional bonus tracks are in the works from arguably the world's greatest jazz mandolinist, Don Stiernberg next week in a recording studio in Chicago. Music is being exchanged through PDF in email, and audio transferred back via FTP.

PDQ. (pretty darned quick...)

The humble author has never professed the greatest mandolin chops, but the recording does call for mandolin demonstration in the exercises. Painstaking efforts were made to produce a quality recording in the JazzMando Lab, and because of the miracle of dice and splice digital technology, we should have a pretty good recording, despite the playing inabilities and natural imperfections of the author.

What's happened though is interesting. Recording jazz, you aren't going to have even straight, eighth notes; you want a recording that isn't metronomic, it needs to swing. This makes computer editing very intriguing when you see the splash of bars and graphs of digital audio on a monitor screen, all the discussion of our most recent entry on swing comes to light, in a very literal way. (See It don't mean a thing if it ain't...) Of course, a downbeat is a downbeat; you want starting notes to be on time, but if it truly swings, you don't line up exactly with the subdivisions of perfectly divided time.

If you ever have chance to use a digital audio editor (we used Steinberg's Cubase and SoundLab), take it. Not only is it amazing in editing out mistakes, you get a visual education and conception of swing--a fresh look under the hood.

Posted by Ted at April 24, 2008 4:40 PM


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