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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 21, 2010 | More fretboard geometry--Maj7 arpeggios

We mentioned the notion of geometric patterns on the mandolin fretboard in last week's Tips and Tricks column, "Fretboard Geometry." It's the idea that there are visual as well as tactile patterns we can use to incorporate in familiarizing the mandolin fretboard. One might even suggest the symmetry of the 5ths tuning almost makes it so simple, it's like we're cheating. Up frets, down strings, all over you have a block movability that's unsurpassed in other musical instruments. Why not take advantage?!

BbMaj7.jpgOne of the neatest tricks is in arpeggiated 7th chords. We'll look at a Maj7 in an exercise we've already made available here on the site in a moment. The simplest, most visual is starting it on your first finger. Next note is up four frets with your third finger. Move up a string and repeat it, and voila, Major 7th arpeggio. No matter where you put your first finger on the lowest three strings, you'll still be able to play a Maj7 arpeggio with this geometric shape.

Why is this an important block? These are the meaty chord tones. When you are soloing, you want to know where they are. Conceptualize your soloing as this block of notes, and add the ones in between, above, and below. These are your temporary goals or resting points as you play them, and all the notes surrounding. When you move this geometric shape up the fretboard, you have this as your tactile rest stops, and your aural harmonic message.

Move it up!...

GMaj7.jpg EbMaj7.jpg

This is very easy to visualize, but it shouldn't be that much harder to take the same approach to starting a Maj7 arpeggio on a different finger. The following exercise does this, and gives you a chance to mix the FFcP patterns up a bit. Enjoy!

Download one page PDF: pdf_sm.gif Major 7th Arpeggios

What we do in the GiJM book is take this a step further and drill three other chords, V7, m7, and m6. Notice how close they are visually. That should make the task of developing familiarity very efficient.

Bb7.jpg Bbm7.jpg Bbm6.jpg

Have some fun with this! Bet you never thought geometry could be so fun...

Improvising: Throwing mud on the wall
Tetrachordal Approach to Major Scale Modes
Intentional Improvisation
Playing musically: Part 2, play the chords.

Posted by Ted at October 21, 2010 2:03 PM

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