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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 30, 2008 | It's a drag...

In our March 2008 "Tips and Tricks" article on swing, we explored three different observable components of often intangible concept of swing, " It don't mean a thing, if it ain't...." We looked at Shuffle, Articulations, and Drag as audible mechanisms in creating the swing feel.

We looked at the meandering subdivision of duple to triple and everything in between. We also examined how different emphases in the pick stroke could alter the ability to control the articulation and attack, "Doo BEE Doo BEE Doo..." What we want to do here is listen to a specific example of the notion of drag, and nobody better to show us than the Doctor of Mando Cool, Don Julin.

Our most recent audio addition to the PROFESSIONAL'S SOUND LAB, has the Michigan multi-instrumentalist and composer offering his interpretation of "Lydia O'Lydia," the first of the five concept tunes out of the "Getting Into Jazz Mandolin" book. Though the lesson itself is introducing the Lydian Mode as improvisation fodder, the audio example also demonstrates quite well the element of "drag."

Listen: Don Julin in "Lydia O'Lydia"

When Don delivers his notes, listen very carefully how he lays back his attacks. There's no strict "ricky-ticky" metronomic sterility in his phrasing; it's very much a "feel" issue, but you can intuitively measure the phenomenon with your own ears. The impact slows the pulse and relaxes the listener. It's very much a mood thing, but not something you can't incorporate in your own playing.

Try taking one of your favorite jazz standards, or really any slow pop ballad and see what you can do phrasing your attacks similarly. Note, we aren't talking about slowing the tempo down, just delaying each attack a little. You still want metronomic precision in the accompaniment; it's the juxtaposition of the two that yields you that marvelous swing feel.

Download free PDF copy of the tune: Lydia O'Lydia

Listen to other artists' interpretations of the concept songs and free accompaniment tracks from "Getting Into Jazz Mandolin"

More about Don Julin

Posted by Ted at October 30, 2008 9:02 AM

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