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"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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May 29, 2008 | GRIP #1

This week's Tip is brought to you by newfound friend and JazzMando Field Research Specialist, Mark Wilson of OnBoard Research who designed and make the Intellitouch tuner (with the lifetime warranty). Mark is also a professional bass who has recently discovered the lure of the 8-strings, and travels a parallel self-inflicted journey on the path to uncover the magic wealth of jazz on the mandolin fretboard.

Thanks, Mark!


Grips
Chord shapes are what Jethro Burns used to call a grip. In other words, a grip is a chord voicing.

Grip.jpg

Grip #1
This is probably the most versatile chord voicing available on the mandolin because it can be used--without alteration--in major, minor, half-diminished, dominant 7(-9) and dominant-7(alt) chords.

This grip, Don Stiernberg says, is his primary chord voicing for a major 7th chord. Don uses this very open sounding 3-note voicing on all his major chords, and it delivers a very open sounding voicing when the 3rd is on the bottom, the 9th is in the middle and the 5th is on the top.

Intervallic Structure
The intervals in this voicing have a fixed intervallic separation. The interval between the bottom note and the middle note is a minor 7th and interval between the middle note and the top note is a perfect 4th. The interval between the bottom note and the top note is a minor 10th.

Relocating Grip #1 to the 6th (or 13th)
The same grip shape also delivers the sound of a major chord if it is played from the 6th of a chord. Relocating the grip to the 6th (the same as the 13th) delivers an open sounding voicing using the chord tones of the 6th-5th-root. The 6th is on the bottom, the 5th is in the middle and the root is on the top.

Relocating Grip #1 to the major 7th
The same grip shape also delivers the sound of a major chord if it is played from the 7th of a chord. Relocating the grip to the 7th delivers an open sounding voicing using the chord tones of the 7th-13th-9th. The 7th is on the bottom, the 13th is in the middle and the 9th is on the top.

Relocating Grip #1 to the Sharp-11th
The same grip shape also delivers the sound of a major chord if it is played from the #11th of a chord. Relocating the grip to the #11th delivers an open sounding voicing using the chord tones of the #11th-3rd-13th. The #11th is on the bottom, the 3rd is in the middle and the 13th is on the top.

Relocating To Other Chord Tones
This grip can also be relocated to other chord tones to deliver chords other than major. It can be based on the:

  • Root of the chord to deliver either a minor-7th chord or a minor 7th(-5) (since the 5th of the chord is not present in the voicing).
  • Flat-7th to deliver a fully-altered sound. That would be a dominant chord with flat or sharp 5th and a flat or sharp 9th.
  • Sharp 9th to deliver either a 7(-9) or a fully altered dominant sound.
  • Sharp 5th to deliver the progressively s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d sound of a major 7th with a #11 and a sharped 5th. Very cool. This makes even major 7th chords sound 'outside.'

Of course, each one of these positions calls for a different scale usage. In the accompanying PDF file you will find a chart with this Grip/Voicing laid out with its position in the chord, its chord tones, its fingerboard placement, its chord symbol, its quality and its appropriate scale and mode usage.

Download Grip #1 Lesson PDF

Mark Wilson
mark@wilson.org

Posted by Ted at May 29, 2008 11:33 AM


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