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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October 9, 2008 | Sneaking Theory

We hope to include in our weekly JazzMando Tip of the Week column, answers to very good questions we get from our Contact feature. We're serious about responding, and when we feel there will be benefit to a multitude of students, we'll share these with you. This one is about the initial FFcP exercises, from Marcus in Iowa. Note these are also available as a free download here on the website: FFcP lesson, and PDF. (Repeated in the Mandolin Cafe Lessons resource.)

I've started the book. My pinky is quite stout already, lucky me. So what are these designations vi7, ii7, and the like that I'm seeing for individual measures in the early exercises? (I might have typed these designations incorrectly since I'm doing this from work, but I think there are four of them).


These are chord designations, and we go into a little more detail on these page 53 of the book. You're basically spelling out chords, the six (vi7), the two (ii7), the five (V7). It's our way of "sneaking in" music theory through the physical. The intent is that after several weeks of working through these, getting them into the fingers, and ultimately the ears, an "Aha!" moment will happen. "Oh, I've been playing the "Doo wop" chords all along, and I didn't even know it!" (Think the chords to "Heart and Soul" or "Why do Fools Fall in Love?")

We didn't want to confuse people with too much theory early in the book, but it's important to at least give it a little lip service. Again, the important directive at this early stage is firmly establishing the "tactile." Through repetition, the fingerings become intuitive, so that eventually, the brain can start attacking the more cerebral aspects of harmonic/melodic construction.

Once these "labels" mean something, you'll have developed a higher brain concept that will enable you to repeat key improvisational discoveries, licks and nuggets from one tonal center to another, consciously and intuitively.

Hey. Buy the book!...
Getting Into Jazz Mandolin

Posted by Ted at October 9, 2008 9:35 AM

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