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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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October 10, 2013 | Tim O'Brien on mandolin warmup exercises


In the following D'Addario produced video, mandolin royalty Tim O'brien demonstrates a theoretically simple approach to a scale warm-up using the simple notes of the A scale. He plays the scale starting on different notes, and keeps the music theory simple by not mentioning what more advanced students will recognize as modes (dorian, mixolydian, lydian, etc.) because the intent is to get you to move the scale up the neck.

Sometimes labels only confuse...

Video Link: Tim O'Brien On Mandolin Warmup Exercises

He makes it look simple, but don't worry about speed right away. Aim for precision, and take advantage of his tip on using the A notes as reference points in the scale. He's in essence splicing a 1st FFcP scale in the bottom with a 4th FFcP in the second octave, so if you're fluent in the FFcP approach, this may very well come easy.

He also breaks it up into chords (AKA arpeggios), which can also be the basic building blocks of your improvisation. He breezes through them toward the end, but don't let that intimidate you. It might take a few days (or weeks) before you can get up to speed with them.

Another very good tip is his suggestion to start the exercise from the top note of the scale and work your way down. This would be an excellent way to run your FFcP exercises. We don't play our melodies down to up all the time, and it's good to develop your own mental reference points practicing this way.

Review FFcP


Posted by Ted at October 10, 2013 5:49 AM

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