Clark JM Jazz Mandolin
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"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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May 16, 2013 | 5-string chord pairs: 'm7b5 V7'

This summer we want to start introducing some 5-string chord combinations. Now wait, before you start saying, "Hey, I don't even own a 5-string," hear us out. We've spent much of the last year looking at 3-note chords and note the transposable nature of this approach, being able to move them up and down the fretboard, so why not move them down a string?

Even if you don't have a 5-string, you might have a mandola, and since we're focusing on the lowest three strings, you'll also be able to apply these concepts to tenor banjo and octave mandolin (tuned CGDA). The strategy will be chord relationships--pairs and trios of tasty chords that can be transported around, so if nothing else, ignore the chord labels and just see how they move from one to the next.

We're also going to do something a bit counter-intuitive and start with the hardest first and work our way back. This week we're going to look at pairs of the 'ii7b5 V7' chords that set up every minor chord. All twelve of them.

We'll give you blocks of 3-note chords based on the lowest three strings of CGDAE tuning. It may start to make more sense with each lesson, but for now, just play the chords as they are written out. There are only three combinations used in the twelve keys.

Just three!

Purchase information: JazzMando 3-note Mandolin "Playing Cards"


In our 4-string playing cards (see above), we offer a 'ii7b5 V7 I' set that shows four ways to play the progression. It's kind of foreign to the folk ear, not so much the simple tonic minor 'i' chord, but the two that go before it. We'll take on of the grips and place it in the lowest strings of the 5-string starting in the key of B minor


If we just focus on the first two notes of the pattern, we can develop skills that hone both ear and finger.


We have a one-page PDF that steers you through all twelve keys of the progression. Your mission is to play through these, but take your time and work them in prayers. Play the first chord four times before the second chord four times. Don't move on until you've done this or they've become comfortable to you. Again, we've only used three variations of these so you'll start seeing the patterns repeat right away.

Download and print PDF: 5-string Mandolin Chord Pairs 'ii7b5 V7'
5-stringChord Pairs _iim7b5V7.jpg

Did you notice once you've finished the last pair, you can start from the beginning and move successively through the Circle of 5ths again?

Take your time with these. Again, if you just have an 8- or 4-string, you can still glean a useful pattern here.

Stay tuned; we'll be covering some more basic chord grips for the 5-string soon.

Free 5-string chord template PDF
Vamps. Minor modal
ii7b5 V7 i Minor Patterns
m7b5 Chords
Applying minor chord blocks--Black Orpheus

Posted by Ted at May 16, 2013 8:42 PM

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