Clark JM Jazz Mandolin
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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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March 16, 2006 | Thinking in Sentences

Remember the first time you ever tried to chord your mandolin? Even if you weren't masochistic enough to attempt a G-chop, you still labored on a G Major, "Uh let's see, 3rd finger; 1st string, 3rd fret, and over here, 2nd string, 2nd fret, um, 2nd finger. Oh, yeah open string 3rd string, etc..."

Point being, you struggled with each incremental element of putting the sound of the chord, with a concentrated effort to accurately place each component into place; proper finger posture and position, NOT covering the wrong other strings, strumming once it was all put together, holding the sound, let alone putting it in the context of a song.

If you're reading this page, chances are likely this rudimentary chord conquest is long behind you. You are so beyond all those little things so that you can chord (literally) with your eyes closed. Likely scales have become just as autopilot for you. You've graduated from G, A, B, C, etc, to just thinking "G scale." (Fingers in place, Bam!)

Spoken and written language is like this. We start our vocabulary with key, meaningful words, and we learn to string them into sentences, paragraphs, treatises, each a larger, higher level of communication. Other than correcting spelling, you're beyond thinking individual letters.

This is why we study and master the rudiments of scales and arpeggios. We wan to know these so well that we "forget them." Good improvisers will let the music come to them through creativity only if these fundamentals are intuitively automatic.

Go to our FFcP page for exploring such elements. Begin the quest for the ability to think your music in sentences.

Posted by Ted at March 16, 2006 9:18 AM

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