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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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August 12, 2010 | Numbers.

3. 5. 7.

If you were asked to memorize these numbers, it probably wouldn't be much of a struggle. You might be able to commit the sequence to memory just because it's short, just three digits. You might frame them in some categorical way, numerically, like "the first three odd numbers after one." It might be a hotel or dorm room you stayed at once. It might be the numbers of the months your three children were born in, March, May, July.

We think numbers in a "rote" context, and we often comprehend them as relationships.


This would be another set of three numbers you might attack as "the first even numbers." You might think of the third number "6" as being the sum of the first two. Different brains will assimilate these in individual ways.


If we started with these six numbers and asked you to memorize them, you could probably do it. You might think in chunks, three hundred fifty-seven, and two hundred forty-six. You might tack on the previous relationships we already mentioned. Of course, two sets of three digit numbers is easier to assimilate than six individual ones.


That's an easy one. It's only two numbers repeated, but again, what if we asked you to memorize the following sequence of notes:


In this context, it would be tough, but if you'd learned them as 357, 246, and 0101 and put them together, with some kind of number relationship, you could do it and probably quite simply.


This strategy of stringing numbers is excellent for learning and memorizing the notes of a melody. You can think of it as relationships, pitches in a sequence from a scale. Think of them as members of a chord (or non-members). This is also the strategy of the FFcP.

Early in life, a child learns the numbers as individual identities. One is followed by two. Next comes three. At some point, the concept of tens and one-hundreds becomes cognitive, and later mathematical functions develop to higher functions, some all the way to complex geometry and calculus. Inherent in the FFcP are the basic elements of music, the scale itself, pitch relationships of the 3rds and 4ths intervals, an arpeggiated diatonic chord progression (I Maj7, vi7 , ii7, V7), and finally the pull of 4 to 3, 7 to 1, etc..

Playing these and getting them into your fingers is the way you can prepare for advanced melody and chord recognition. You don't think Bb, you think 2 of an Ab scale, you think C, D, Eb, F as the first four notes of a C minor scale, all this of course based on the context of the key you are in. The nice thing is with our FFcP Studies you are mastering the secret of the mandolin. There are only four patterns!

Of course everyone is going to be different. Some will respond aurally, some visually, some tactilely. Just like someone you know who has no problem remembering 10 digit numbers without simplifying word or numbers tricks. You need to discover what works best for you and now worry about how others learn.


Find a familiar song and see what you can do with these sort of elementary analysis. You might uncover tips on how you can learn new music faster!

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Posted by Ted at August 12, 2010 7:32 AM

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