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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February 26, 2009 | An approach that works...

LeRoy could hardly carry a tune in a bucket as they say, but he always wanted to be a bass player. On his 45th birthday, he decided to take the plunge, went into his local music store and purchased a used Vintage Sunburst Fender Precision Bass with hardshell case, and paid for two months of lessons. His first encounter with his new teacher Rufus, had him focusing on what the music veteran considered the two most important characteristics of bass playing, articulation and "attitude." Starting him with the D only, Rufus had LeRoy pluck the string hard in succession, "D. D. D. D. etc."

"D. D. D. D. D. D. D. D. etc."

"Work on that all week and in the next lesson, we'll add another string." LeRoy came back for lesson number two, finger raw from playing three hours a day; Rufus thought he was ready for the next pedagogical concept. "Now play the next open string down and alternate between the two, D. A. D. A. etc." and LeRoy spent the next week practicing four hours a day developing his calluses and was prime for his third lesson.

"D. A. D. A. D. A. D. A. etc."

"Now we're going to push down your first fingers of your other hand on the first fret and try the same exercise, Eb. Bb. Eb. Bb, etc." Rufus instructed. "And since you seem to be getting this down pretty darn fast, try moving you left fingers up frets and try E. B. E. B. etc. If you're really get ambitious keep going up with other combinations, 5th fret G. D. G. D, etc. You'll get the idea, but just stay playing on two strings at a time."

LeRoy missed his next lesson as well as the week after and Rufus was concerned, phoning him "What's up dude? You paid for two months of lessons and you've already missed your last two! You okay?"

LeRoy embarassed, answered. "Ah man. I'm soooo sorry, I would have called, but I've just been WAY too busy the past two weeks."

"All the gigs!"

If you're a connoisseur of bass player jokes, you'll note this is a classic, but hold on--there's a remnant of truth to it. One of our JazzMando staffers took to practicing two pages of 'ii v7 I' out of a piano book by Dan Haerle, "Jazz Improvisation For Keyboard Players" and was actually able to book gigs playing piano with some local players. He had the PA, and the audacity to ask the club owners in town for a chance to play, and actually developed a following, simply because of some rudimentary theory knowledge and some transposable fingerings. (All he need to do to be employed was to surround himself with really good players.)

Sound familiar? Well it should if you're into the FFcP approach to unraveling the easily transposable benefits of the mandolin fretboard. We're not claiming it's the ticket to more gigs, but it certainly could not hurt. Opening the doors to playing keys in Bb or Eb can get you playing in church, and if you're ever working with a Prima Dona coffee house singer that needs you to transpose, the FFcP is your ticket. If nothing else, just the versatility of moving up and down different fretboard zones, and intuitively, no less, is a remarkable ability to have.

Maybe you could get a gig with LeRoy!

FFcP Studies
ii V7 I Home Positions for Mandolin
How do they do that?; Transpositions
About our relationship

Posted by Ted at February 26, 2009 12:23 PM

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