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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April 30, 2009 | Life in the slow lane

We've recently received several inquiries about the tempos of the recorded exercises on the accompaniment CD in the Getting Into Jazz Mandolin" book. Concerned about the tempo being too fast, these poor souls have felt flush with inadequacy, and we want to explain why the tempos seem brisk and issue a license to NOT speed...

Tackle things at slower, comfortable tempos!

In crafting materials for publishing, we have to take into account the demographic of who will be purchasing the book, and what level(s) to aim for on the intensity dial. We really had the advance beginner folk mandolinist in mind, assuming someone with a degree of familiarity of the fretboard. That's not to say a beginner won't find value in its pages, but he/she will have to be a bit patient. There is a ton of fundamental groundwork here to build off of, and tackling things at slower, comfortable tempos is not only "permissible," it's encouraged!

Two schools of thought on audio support. One is to create a "play-along," a track to perform in synch with. This is great for starting, but once the concepts get into the fingers, the recorded tempo will be too slow. The other approach, and the one we've taken is for the track to be "this is what it will sound like eventually." Getting the "gestalt," the big-picture concept gives you a goal to strive for, but that's not to say you have to start at the recorded tempo. Offer tracks at both slow and fast tempos? Perhaps, but in this case we had over two hours of audio that had to be squeezed under 70 minutes. It was a judgment call.

The priority of tone supersedes speed. If you've been around JazzMando long, you've heard this pounded into you. It's got to be "pretty," it must be comfortable, too. Speed will come later, but there is nothing worse than bad tone at fast tempos.

Slow down!

Thinking Good Tone Part 1
Playing musically: Part 4, play with maximum tone
Starting with good tone
Putting on the Squeeze
Enemies of Sustain

Posted by Ted at April 30, 2009 12:47 PM

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