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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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November 12, 2005 | Need a chord?

If you've been playing mandolin a while, you're probably already doing this, but for efficient chord to chord motion, it's a good idea to have several chord variations immediately at your fingertips...

In general, you want to honor the 3 fret rule; try to keep shifts less than this where possible. This means not only quick, smart position changes for the hands, but smooth voice leading for the ears. Many times, it's an elementary matter of one or two notes that shift a half step (one fret!) from chord to chord; never underestimate the harmonic power of such simplicity!

You can go out and get a chord book (we recommend Mel Bay's Deluxe Encyclopedia of Mandolin Chords) if you want a hard copy, but there are some web and software resources that will do you well, too: Chord Library * FREE!
Groveland Software Labs Chord Catalog (MandoMode Explorer) * LISTEN to the chord!
Niles Hokkanen's Guide To Mandolin Chords (and how to use them) * Context is everything!

And check out our own article on Mandolin Chord Economics!

Posted by Ted at November 12, 2005 3:58 PM

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