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Posts Tagged ‘scales’

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Musix and all things Dix Bruce

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Dix Bruce is a guitar and Mandolin instructor who has published for, “Mandolin World News,” as well as, “Flatpick Guitar Magazine,” and his own publishing company. I highly regard all of his material as well as his authentic playing across many genres. From old-time fiddle music, to hot club gypsy jazz and all across the spectrum.

I learned this tune from a book of his on Gypsy Jazz

His playing is always tasteful and to the point, not a wasted note. A lesson in melody, and that less is often more. The flashy tricks are overrated in music. Tone, clarity, and expression are first priority. I encourage players at all levels to check out his contribution to the acoustic music world. Dix is up there with Steve Kaufman and Happy Traum in his legacy of clear accurate instruction for the self motivated musician.

Dix own website

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Part of, “The Godfather,” suite.

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Below is a video where I explore an exotic scale. An exotic scale being any scale that contains intervals specific to a region or cultural sound. More of these to come. This is a scale I think sounds best in Italian music or even some Eastern, Chinese or Japanese traditional sounds. I can tab out this specific scale and song if people request it.

Also, playing songs in the key of F major is touched on towards the end of the video. More tips and tricks on use of exotic scales. Ie. (Harmonic Minor,) in French hot “gypsy,” jazz. Often pigeon holed as the snake charming sound. This scale’s applications also work really well in flamenco music, specifically a mode of the harmonic minor called Spanish Phrygian. Also, more in depth analysis of playing in F major to come, so stay posted.

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Duke Ellington phrasing, make it swing.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

The chords for this little exercise are as follows:

G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, D7, G
G, D7, Em, D, C, Bm, Am, G

Jethro Burns published this a while ago as a way to get your playing swinging. < - -, < - -,.... < means strong or accented, - meaning weak or not accented, Think: STRONG, weak, weak, STRONG, weak, weak, STRONG, weak, weak, STRONG This can be used with a band or a metronome to accent your favorite melody or any playing one wants to get away from the straight 8th notes feel.

Every player has rhythmic nuances that literally need to be heard to understood. Books and notation can only touch the surface. Think of Clarence White in the bluegrass world, or Wayne Shorter in the Jazz world. Playing right in front, or or behind the downbeat of a tune can really make a song chug along or glide smoothly. Wayne and his band create lots of movement with the phrasing of his horn and the comping of the piano and bass in the backdrop. They don’t change the tempo as much as they play, “around,” the beat not right on top of it. Below Horace Silver really gets it on piano!

In terms of lead playing, Miles Davis as well as guitar greats like Charlie Christian, Pat Martino and Django are great guys to listen to for new poly-rhythmic ideas to wrap one’s ears around. In terms of piano playing and comping, Horace Silver as well as Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett are players with great senses of time. Below is a video of Wayne Shorter playing some Ellington-esque phrasing, as well as some other ideas I must call all his own. Altered timing is a great way to reveal one’s own unique voice, while dodging the ever tempting trap door of playing too many notes. One clear convicted voice is the goal, don’t be afraid to borrow from your favorite players. Use the stepping stones provided, but remember to tread your own path along the way.

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Turnarounds, uses in Jazz and beyond.

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Below is a video where I examine the 1-6-2-5 turnaround, using all dominant chords. Ie. G7, E7, A7, D7. Watch for yourself, they are fun to play and come in handy at jam sessions.

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Musical scales, lessons for the beginner #2

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Just playing through scales never makes much sense to the up and coming student. Reasons for it include understanding the fretboard and having control over note selection. What seems to trump boring scale studies is real music. By altering scales and playing them in new ways we can find musical ideas. Playing what I call, “folded scales,” is a trick I learned from a guitar instructor, but it applies well to musical mandolin scales. Being familiar with my lesson #1 for the beginner will help with this, although I do go over the straight scale first. Below is a video where I show a way to “fold,” the A major scale.

Enlarge the above image to view the tablature

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Skype lessons, giving away one for free!

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

I recently got an HD webcam for recording videos and giving skype lessons. Since I am new to using the web for real time lessons I am giving my first away for free. First come first serve. Click on the contact link in the tool bar and if you are the first we can set up a time for your free lesson.

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Jethro’s Tune, the A part

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Jethro Burns is one of my favorite all time musicians. He really changed what was considered mandolin music for the better. From bluegrass to Swing, to Gypsy Jazz and back. Beyond description. Below is a video of me playing half of a tune he wrote, so this is in honor of the man himself.

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Cattle in the Cane, on new HD camera

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Here is a great old time fiddle tune. My version can be viewed in the video below. Stay posted for slowed down parts and tabs so you can play it at your local jams. Interesting tune starting on A then going to G, so some A mixolydian gets played. Also the B part goes to an A minor making for a nice contrast.

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Isn’t it a Pity, a great song by George Harrison.

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The beauty of this tune is that it has only three chords. The good news is one of those chords is a diminished chord, so chances are it is new to you. If it is not new to you, there is always much to learn about chord groups.

Diminished chords repeat every four frets, watch the video below to get an idea for the sound (tension) that chords of this character evoke.

Diminished chords are get the name from diminishing, or shrinking intervals, similarly tense chords but opposites are…you guessed it augmented chords. Chords where intervals are stretched or augmented to be longer.

Click the graphic below for the tabs and notation in free tabledit files format!

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The Mandolin of Levon Helm

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Below is a video of me playing a riff in the likes of Levon Helm. Best know for his drumming and singing with The Band, Levon also contributed some fantastic mandolin work.

Enjoy! My advice is to take off running with this idea, just like all the others I have taught here. I call this, “making it your own.” Hints: This riff can be applied to many songs, songs in the key of E or over an A7 chord. This lesson is also a great practice for “double-stops,” and rhythm playing. The tabs are at the bottom of this post.


Intro and verse chords.

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