View Full Version : beginner books
I am sure this has been asked a thousand times, but what do you recommend for a biginner to learn blues and/or jazz on the mandolin? Who has the best books or dvd's?
I love blues but hadn't thought I'd like it on the mandolin...but then I have been listening to some of the mp3 clips on the site and I love it. I am not going to quit playing bluegrass, but I'd like to learn the blues and jazz licks. I love the classical sound too but lets take it one step at a time.
For Jazz, buy some fakebooks, like the Real Book
Real Books (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0634060384/002-2595901-2924810?v=glance&n=283155)
Although not for beginners, a good jazz improvising study book is CONNECTING CHORDS WITH LINEAR HARMONY By Bert Ligon.
Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony (http://www.music.sc.edu/ea/Jazz/books/Connecting.html)
nothing to say on the topic, just excited that the 3 top threads in this section have the word-blues in the heading!!http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif
The Steve James DVD is good for Yank type blues. And there is always the Jethro Burns method. Both available at Elderly I'm sure.
And ditto what Ira said...
I am working thru the Andy Statman jazz mando series . It is not for beginners and is a fairly theoretical compendium of all the techniques one would ever want to know. (i was disappointed to find there are NO songs in this book...) (same for the Jethro Burns jazz mando - book. My progress so far is :1) having learned to read classical musical notation ,(2) I got the Fretboard roadmaps so i could do all those weird chords like Dim 7ths, etc in the jazz keys like E flat then (3) got some Cds of old jazz classics like body and soul and 4) tried to figure out the starting notes and chords then 5) checked my ear-melody playing against the real chords in the jazz fake book.....Lots of work, but lots of fun !!!!
Hey, glad to chime in with my monthly vote for Rich DelGrosso's Jug Band mandolin book and tape. (and waiting for his new blues book too!) Good and blusey stuff.
I personally got more out of it then the Steve James video,
but that is also well done. I just prefer books over video anyway.
I think it is really helpful to first learn how to read music before studying jazz theory....then you have thousands of books to study.
For that old blues sound I think the best way to learn it is to listen to it.....it's really not so much the note selection as much as the technique and feel. When you listen to guys like Yank, Carl, Johnny it's all feel. They are not playing complicated passages at all. You can never get that feel from a book. I think you just need to attempt to mimic it right off the stereo and just listen to the stuff over and over until you absorb it.
Once you start studying jazz they often begin by expanding the blues but those old dudes never really tricked it up with jazz substituitons and fancy harmony. It was all feel and very simple (in a good way).
I heard an interesting workshop where guitar player Steve Kimock was talking about how the old blues guys sounded out of tune but in reality they had the right minor third zoned in on on their instruments and today if you tune up to a tuner your minor thirds are going to be a little sharp and not quite right. The discussion was over my head but it is available on archive.org. I can't seem to locate it right now but I think the latest Guitar Player has him discussing the concepts.
For jazz books here's a good starting place:
If you can read standard notation you may want to try these Blues Fiddle books :
Blues Fiddle 1 (http://www.elderly.com/books/items/49-695612.htm)
Blues Fiddle II (http://www.elderly.com/books/items/02-95159BCD.htm)
They can easily be adapted to mandolin !
Why take only one step at a time? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
Mandolin Anthology by Bud Orr (http://www.elderly.com/books/items/02-93952.htm)
Over 100 pieces, including classical & international pieces, jazz, early country, bluegrass, rags, swing, dixieland, rock & blues, plus - music fundamentals, many exercises, studies & techniques, fills & endings, & a chord & rhythm background section. Note/tab, 224 pp.
I have this book and highly recommend it. The blues section is somewhat short, but it teaches you about blues - moveable scale and chord patterns, progressions, etc, as well as having a few (but not that many) blues songs. It has a *lot* of music and information in a lot of genres.
Whatever I know about jazz (or music for that matter!)
has accumulated over
a long time and from a great variety of sources.
Mostly it's been connected with my first
instrument, the guitar. Regardless of idiom -
do you want to learn swing, bop or some more
contemporary (ill-defined) idiom? - I advocate
the study of EXAMPLES. Notated examples, or things
you've transcribed yourself. Even if the latter process
is slow it's more rewarding because you're much more
aware of why somebody plays that lick and what
exactly it does in relation to the harmony
or the overall structure of the song.
About 36 years ago I bought a book of transcriptions
of Charlie Christian's Minton sessions. However,
much of it was in the wrong key (C instead of Db
maybe) and often in the wrong octave - all 8va
signs were missing - so I decided to throw away the book
and transcribe from the records. I learned something
about Christian's use of the major ninth and thirteenth!
I've done the same with some of Lester Young's
solos (check out the Commodore
sessions if you can find them)
and other striking things that made my cry out,
how did he do that? So much for late swing.
(Incidentally, there is today a huge web resource
of Christian solos. I may post a link later)
As for bop, my most instructive activity has been to
decipher Monk's compositions; a very good way to
learn some uses of the flatted fifth and unorthodox
variations on II-V patterns. Ruby My Dear, Pannonica,
Monk's Mood, are especiallty rewarding.
Now, jazz is really more about phrasing and rhythm,
and I believe the best cats to listen to are
saxophonists (the next best are violinists,
One of the most beautiful CD:s
in my possession is Benny Carter's Further
Definitions + Additions to Further Definitions
(2 LP:s on one CD). Not only is there
beautiful writing for a saxophone ensemble;
the soloing amply illustrates various approaches to
saxophone phrasing on a continuum
from swing to bop.
This applies especially to the first half,
with Phil Woods and Benny Carter on altos,
and Charlie Rouse and Coleman Hawkins
on tenor (easily identified; the boppers are
to the left, the reformed swingsters to the right).
The material is fairly basic, with songs like
Honesuckle Rose and Cherry, making it easier to
concentrate on melodic and rhythmic ideas.