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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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May 2, 2006 | The Ab Position

Stealing (okay, borrowing) from the reigning king of jazz mandolin, let's look at another trick from the playbook of Don Stiernberg.

We approach fingering positions as four distinct moveable closed positions in our FFcP strategy. Don reduces this with a concept even simpler than this with his Ab System . Finger a two-octave scale pattern on the lowest string G, and in essence, you have our 1st FFcP on the lower octave and a 4th FFcP on the second octave (starts with Ab on the 4th finger). Two octaves without moving your hand at all. Do the same thing on an A natural scale, one fret up.

Now, you can play a two-octave Bb Scale this same way shifting everything up one fret. Note you aren't starting on a 2nd finger. Progress your scales up the frets in this manner and you have a whole new and efficient way to conceptualize the fingerboard.

Which tactic is better? We like the versatility of the FFcP, staying in one position, but the drawback is just that, you tend to trap yourself into one position or area of the fingerboard. However, Don's Ab System is not as fluid if you have complex and multiple tonal center changes within a song. You can find yourself jumping mechanically and disjointly from one position to the next.

Try to incorporate both ways!

Posted by Ted at May 2, 2006 7:09 PM

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