Clark JM Jazz Mandolin
Tips & Tricks Mel Bay Mandolin Sessions








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."

« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »

October 28, 2005 | Bach to Bach

Check out the Icking Archives for some of the best music written in the last three centuries, the "Bach Cello Suites." Why is the JazzMando staff so keen on this literature?

  • Though completely "longitudinal" (melody only) it is harmonically "complete," and a terrific study in linear "implied" chord progressions.
  • It was written for a "Tuned in Fifths" stringed instrument, so it fits the fingers fabulously.
  • It's pleasing and adaptable music for many occasions, receptions, preludes, offertories, Scrabble Tournaments, really anything that could use artistic background music.
  • You can play it straight, you can "swing."
  • It's Bach...

Now here's the best part, the Icking Archives has this translated on the web for violin (up a 12th and in the treble clef). If you can read standard notation and are moderately proficient on the mandolin, this stuff is for you. Guaranteed hours of entertainment (or your money back...), and believe it or not, great for the jazz chops.

And if your computer reads PDF, and you're hooked up to a printer, the price is right, too!

Free (6) Bach Cello Suite transcriptions for Violin/Mandolin
(60 pages)

Posted by Ted at 4:35 PM

October 18, 2005 | What's UP?

Ever set your mandolin down in its case, get ready to open it, and find the latches upside down? Yes, grown-ups should know better, but it seems to happen more often than we like to admit, especially if you sling a rectangular case.

We've got the answer: the JazzMando Case Lid Sticker!

Put one of these on your case lid by the handle and you'll know instantly which way is up. The price on these is right, two free with a string, pick, or cloth order. Heck buy a Rigel Mandolin and we'll install it for you!

Limited offer: if you'd like two free ones, you can also send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope (US only, please). Email for the address.

Read more

Posted by Ted at 12:03 PM

October 13, 2005 | Is it pretty?

As music "technicians," we often get wrapped up in the mechanics of playing. Faster, louder, more complex, we strive to get more out of the "motor skills" dimension in practice and performing--so much so that we forget music is about beauty. Things like line, expression, tone, get lost like the proverbial forest through the trees developing facility.

Fellow jazzer and electric mandolin pioneer Michael Lampert put it best in a casual conversation, "...I mean if it isn't pretty, why bother?" The context was the subject of players who can reel off a tremendous amount of notes, but either lack melodic direction, or just plain have lousy tone.

Michael's music is VERY pretty, by the way...

Listen through the ears of the musically naive. When listening to music they enjoy, they won't be able to tell you what it is they like about it, just that it's "pretty." Is your playing something a non-mandolinist will want to listen too? You can get exponentially greater appreciation and admiration from your audience by playing more "beautifully" than executing more notes.

Even in rattling off technical exercises, try injecting your own creative phrasing, expression, or random dynamics. Don't just play a bunch of notes.

Make it pretty!

Posted by Ted at 9:29 PM

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