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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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December 25, 2008 | Doo Wop and FFcP: 'I vi7 ii7 V7'

Speaking of Christmas, we just received an interesting obeservation from JazzMando Research Assistant, Tom Weisman who has been working on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." He observes"the first part of the song goes: C Am7 Dm7 G7), (I) realized this part of thesong is the same progression as that in your super FFcP exercise (i.e. I iv ii V7)."

Excerpted from the "Getting Into Jazz Mandolin FFcP Exercises:"
Excerpted from 'Getting Into Jazz Mandolin' FFcP Patterns
Click for better view

That beginning chord progression is a very common one; think 50's "Doo Wop" genre as in "Why do Fools Fall in Love?" or "Heart and Soul." It's a great progression that never leaves the key, and there is a very strategic reason for inserting it in the FFcP catechism.

First, we think it's a good one to get into your ears because it is so common, and spelling the chords out linearly is good for associating the music's harmonic structure with improvising. It's also very healthy voice leading; you don't want to arpeggiate your chords with the root note in the bass all the time. Jumping from CEGB to ACEG to DFAC to GBDF is far too disjunct melodically; much better to keep closely related chord tones in the same vicinity, and spelled above is CEGB, CEGA, DFAC, DFGB. Thinking theoretically the whole chord in an inversion like this takes years of experience, but this is a healthy way to get the sound of this progression into an "auto-pilot" proficiency in your fingers.

If you've been able to get proficient all 12 keys with the FFcP regimen, this pattern is now (literally) at your fingertips. You can do variations on this by just taking the last two measures and working the 'ii7 V7' cadence all over the fretboard. Try playing these last two measures in other inversions:


The simple 'ii7 V7' is such an important progression to be able to communicate melodically; it's very much worth the time to teach it to your fingers in all keys, and the FFcP approach can get you systematically down that road.

Posted by Ted at December 25, 2008 8:44 AM

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