Clark JM Jazz Mandolin
Tips & Tricks Mel Bay Mandolin Sessions








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."

« Sins of the Pentatonic | Main | Taking the Cowboy out of the Chord »

May 13, 2007 | FFcP Roundup

About five years ago, we started cataloging a unique approach to mandolin fretboard familiarity. We felt the traditional approach to learning this, one in which the open strings became the anchor for understanding the instrument, each chromatic note regarded as a continuum between, offered far to many limitations for a musician wanting to branch out into keys beyond G, D, and A, let alone the upper frets.

The perfect 5th tuning of our 8-string wonder offers an incredible implementation of a simple tactic in moving a scale or pattern up a string or two, up several frets, and still maintain the relation with only 4 possiblities, a scale based on fingers 1, 2, 3, or 4.

That's it. You can't do this on a saxophone, trumpet, or piano. You can't even do this on a guitar, with that awkward 3rd between the G and B strings. Violins, Cellos, Mandolins, Violas, and Tenor Guitars can do this, but with one minor sacrifice, leaving the safety of open strings. The payoff is huge, however. Building the 3rd and 4th finger give you incredible flexibility and melodic dexterity once developed. Improvisations became tactile and subconscious. (You can read more about these features in the introduction of the first FFcP lesson.)

We've added FFcP exercises since that first inaugural one, and since they are on a couple different websites, we thought it time to regroup and index where you can find them should you decide to pursue these benefits. The following is a summary and URL link to advanced exercises:

FFcP Index

  • FFcP Introduction.
    This is where it all started. It explains the general concept and includes the full PDF exercise. It is also repeated over at the Mandolin Cafe
  • Moving up the Fingerboard
    This is where the system starts to shine, moving the 4 FFcP patterns up the fingerboard and bridging new roads by connecting them in two-octave patterns. The PDF that goes with this is easily memorized if you have had a few months working up the first lesson.

  • Advanced FFcP
    Combining various sets of FFcP, the accompanying Super FFcP PDF file gives you a higher level application to effectively jumping into a second octave of the fingerings. This can help instill melodic "nuggets" into your improvisation, and minimize the fear in leaving the lower frets.
  • Chromatic Mastering, Working Chromatic Descending and Ascending Tonal Centers.
    Believing the 3rd position of mandolin (3rd fret to 9th) is optimum area for mandolin tone, we develop a sense of "belonging" working the FFcP positions into a daily exercise in which each FFcP in moved incrementally up one fret. This is a personal favorite; one to be played at slow tempos so as to develop robust tone. The PDF exercise is very easy to memorize if you're already comfortable with the basic FFcP patterns.
  • Pentatonic FFcP.
    A huge mistake a majority of mandolinists make is learning Pentatonic Scales and never leaving the fiddle tune keys. There is a rich tradition of complex applications of the pentatonic scale, but you will never have access to this until you can mix them up into different keys. Once you do, you have the secrets of improvisation used by the likes of McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, and many others. This PDF is Pentatonics on steroids.

We're considering publishing an entire method book of FFcP patterns, licks, and exercises. Are you interested, and if so, what would you like to see in it? Weigh in on our Contact Form.

Posted by Ted at May 13, 2007 10:01 PM

Bookmark and Share

QuickNav:   Home | Book | Webtracks | Tips | Store | Contact
Feeds: Tips & Tricks | What's New
© 2005-2018 All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: In the 'Information Age' of the 21st Century, any fool with a computer, a modem, and an idea can become a self-professed 'expert." This site does not come equipped with 'discernment.'

Site designed and hosted by No Hassle Design, Development, & Hosting

Tips & Tricks - Listen & LearnMel Bay Mandolin Sessions Articles- check it out!