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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May 15, 2006 | Mind the Gap

Riding the London Tube (Subway) on our European vacation this last month, we chuckled every time we exited the car, admonished by the strident recorded public announcement "Mind the Gap!" (The wife was moved enough to bring home a souvenir mug with the phrase...) The reference is to the critical space between car and landing when you first step off onto the platform, a potential dangerous thing, getting caught between moving train and solid concrete. It's easy to mentally coast so the warning is one to be taken seriously.

The sonic playing space playing note to note on the mandolin requires attention, too. Good tone is all about what goes on between the notes--that magical intersection of the release of one note and the attack of the second. It's just as easy taking this for granted, "coughing" or hacking notes, verses "breathing" a continuous sequence of notes or phrase. How can you make this a conscious thing, and then integrate into your subconscious playing and concept of line?

We suggest the following (PDF) exercise from our Free Downloads Page:

Lydian DUDU

This is an excellent warm-up for RH wrist and LH fingers. Focus on creating maximum, full tone with crisp, bell-like snap of the pick, a full stroke of the wrist, and a sustained duration connecting every note. Work on an even, smooth tone, especially between string crossings. Keep the left hand fingers close to the fingerboard so as to connect each note.

And always, Mind the Gap!

Posted by Ted at May 15, 2006 10:45 AM

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