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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."



« Lesson Hub from Mandoberlin | Main | Best of JM: More m7b5 (from the Pros!) »

December 20, 2012 | Best of the year 2012: Tips and Tricks

We did some reorganizing on the site this summer, some index refreshing and general housecleaning, but we wanted to take the time in December to review highlights from our weekly Tips and Tricks 2012 column. We think these are some of the best we've offered!

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In January we explored a specific intellectual ingredient the concept of theory vs. intuition in improvising. There's a continuum in the approach to how to create melody starting on one side with calculation of formulaic scales, modes and arpeggios and reaching the other side with blind, reckless intuitive spontaneity (just blow), and we looked at the notion of notes that set up the harmonic structure in short passages we call "Turnarounds," including a transposable PDF Exercise . The next month we broaden the art of improvising mapping the "tell a story" approach to creating a better approach in Building a solo .

March gave us a peak at Left hand techniques, a review on Chord economy, and even more thoughts on The Muse Continuum--Improvisation and Inspiration. We started the second quarter with a retrospective on thoughts from the late John McGann, and a review of our own FFcP studies and strategies .


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We tried to understand how basic music theory concepts would make understanding music faster and more effiecient in May's Complexity leads to simplicity, and later in the month explained Why is an E# not just an F. June began a closer look at applying inversions of 3-note 7th chords in real life .

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Sadly, 2012 was the end of our nine year tenure with the now defunct Mel Bay Mandolin Sessions . We took the time to digest many of the cool tricks in our articles of Tips on improvising from the Pros . In late June we added to our FFcP library of exercises with two articles on Two Octave FFcP , including a two page
Two Octave FFcP PDF.

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We took some time to apply some analysis and FFcP patterns to two classic jazz standards, Bluestte and xxxx. The proof is in the pudding as they say, more appropriately in this case, the put-ing.

Arguably our crowning glory was our series on Vamps in which we mapped out some common 3-note comping patterns you can apply to a myriad of tunes. If you do nothing else on the site, at least make sure to dig into these. Amaze and impress your fellow musicians:

Vamps Pt 1. Creating energy with Diatonic triads
Vamps Pt 2. Expanding the Diatonic triads
Vamps Pt 3. Scurry Dominants
Vamps Pt 4. Circle of fifths
Vamps Pt. 5 Minor Modal

These were even placed into permanent history as a Lesson Archive at the Mandolin Cafe

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Along the same lines was our series on 7th Chord Streams, Major and Minor. If you haven't already, be sure to print out the two page PDFs of the chords there. They are especially good for the 5-string mandolinist or tenor guitar/mandolaist.

It was a great year and we look forward to new stuff we'll bring you for 2013!

Posted by Ted at December 20, 2012 3:27 PM


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