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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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September 8, 2006 | Third Position

Violinist refer to regions on the fingerboard as "positions." If they had frets, they would designating placing the first finger on the 3rd fret as "Third Position," 5th fret as "Fifth Position," etc. The concept of movable scales like this is centuries old, but if you are new to mandolin, you might not have made that leap out of the lower frets, trapped by the comfort of open strings.

Hopefully, you've already discovered our FFcP lessons, and if so, you are prepared to make this jump into the upper regions of your fretboard. We suggest something practical to start, using the 3rd position as a starting point.

Move FFcP up a couple frets by starting the 1st FFcP on the 3rd fret (Bb), and subsequently, the 2nd FFcP with your second finger on the 5th (C). Getting familiar with this region gives you a consistent timbre; notice the way closed strings postion gives you better control over the way the notes sound, as well as the opportunity for occasional vibrato.

Instead of thinking of your pinky as the open string replacement, the 3rd finger becomes the "conceptual" open string.

Pick literature you are familiar with and play it in 3rd position. We recommend doing Real Book tunes, melody only, although Fiddle tunes can work as well. The idea is to make this position comfortable for you in sightreading.

This is a great way to get started, and you'll find the move to 5th and 7th position much less intimidating as you explore even further up the neck.

Posted by Ted at September 8, 2006 6:54 AM

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