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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 27, 2012 | Best of JM: More m7b5 (from the Pros!)

Enjoy the popular archive material below.
From March 12, 2009 | More m7b5 (from the Pros!)

We promised this last week, so here we go. Some of our favorite Jazz Mandolin professionals weighed in with their stock m7b5 Stock Chords. Remember, these "grips" can easily be moved up and down the fingerboard, so try moving them up and down a couple frets at first. Develop your transposition skills further by going even higher up the fretboard for even more versatility; nothing like being able freshen 30 chorus of comping with multiple variations of the chords. Next step is to put them in context with a subsequent V7 chord, but we'll leave that for some other time.

Here're three from Texas Swingmaster Paul Glasse:
Em7b5.jpg Bm7b5.jpg Gm7b5.jpg

Two more by Paul he says he uses less frequently (a little more awkward), and a third chopbuster from Bruce Clausen. These are probably not "quick change artist" chords, but might be useful depending on song tempo and what comes before and/or after:
Dm7b5.jpg Am7b5.jpg Bm7b5_2.jpg

Will Patton throws in this strange one on the right, but again, one with the capacity to move up the fretboard.

We mentioned "context" and two different artists explored three-note chord versions that left out one of the chord voices, which is a very common thing to do in comping. (Good to learn these variations if you ever want to get into 5-string playing.) Bear in mind, using your lower three courses in comping can give you a chunkier percussive "crunch" to your chording.

The first is from Chicago jazzmaster, Don Stiernberg who opted to drop the minor 7th (keeping the root), which gives him a voice leading E into an E# on a Dominant chord variation A7Aug. Again, context is everything:
Em7b5_2.jpg A7Aug.jpg
West Coast fiddler/mandolinist extraordinare, Pete Martin uses 7th (no root) and migrates to the V7 chord with a voice leading of D to C#. Then, he follow with an intriguing resolution to a Minor chord with a Maj 7th):
Em7b5_3.jpg A7b9.jpg Dm(maj7).jpg

Have some fun learning these. If transposition is not your thing yet, feel free to download our FretboardTemplate and write these out for your own library. Sometimes physically writing them out can be a way of integrating them into your memory, both muscle and brain.

m7b5 Chords
Jazzed Pentatonics
Mark Wilson's Grips
Mandolin Cafe discussion

Posted by Ted at December 27, 2012 6:59 AM

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