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Thread: A little help with alternate voicing?

  1. #1
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default A little help with alternate voicing?

    I'm playing more and more gypsy jazz and bossa nova these days and I find myself pretty stuck in 1st position. I'm the only mandolin player at the jams I'm going to, so I have no one to cheat off of to learn new chords. I was hoping that someone who has more experience can show me some alternate voicings that I can try out.
    I'm currently learning Elena's Bossa in Am. This is how I play it:


    Thanks for any help you can provide with some variations and to get me playing up the neck!
    Al
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    Registered User Jean-Pierre WOOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Hi ! It's a good fingering.
    I have an other one: (from G string to E string):
    Am: 2-2-3-5 and a little change: 2-2-3-4; 2-2-3-3; 2-2-3-2
    F6: 2-0-3-1 --> 5-3-5-5
    Bě: 4-3-5-5
    E7: 4-2-5-4
    Am7: 2-2-3-3 or Am6 2-2-3-2
    A7: to go to the B part, i play mostly A7(b9): 3-2-4-3 --> 6-5-7-6
    Dm7: 7-7-8-8
    G7: 7-5-8-7
    C∆: 5-5-7-7
    F∆: 5-3-7-5
    Bě: 4-3-5-5
    E7: 4-2-5-4
    Am7: 2-2-3-3
    E7 (for back to the A part ): 7-6-7-7
    That's the way I do it...

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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Nice job Al,

    In my opinion that is perfectly fine as is although I think I get what you are after. I rarely go up the neck much myself...but when I do I take the chord charts I am already using and key off of the bass notes to develop inversions while staying away from the G string (emphasis on the bass notes on the D strings). For me it involves sitting down and physically writing out chord structures on paper looking for efficient and nice sounding changes based around the lower part of the chord.. I am sure other (and much more proficient) players will have better input, but that is how I approach it.
    Have fun!
    Tony

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  6. #4
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jean-Pierre WOOS View Post
    Hi ! It's a good fingering.
    I have an other one: (from G string to E string):
    Am: 2-2-3-5 and a little change: 2-2-3-4; 2-2-3-3; 2-2-3-2
    F6: 2-0-3-1 --> 5-3-5-5
    Bě: 4-3-5-5
    E7: 4-2-5-4
    Am7: 2-2-3-3 or Am6 2-2-3-2
    A7: to go to the B part, i play mostly A7(b9): 3-2-4-3 --> 6-5-7-6
    Dm7: 7-7-8-8
    G7: 7-5-8-7
    C∆: 5-5-7-7
    F∆: 5-3-7-5
    Bě: 4-3-5-5
    E7: 4-2-5-4
    Am7: 2-2-3-3
    E7 (for back to the A part ): 7-6-7-7
    That's the way I do it...
    Exactly what I was hoping for! Thanks! I like the way it sounds the way I am playing it, but having some variation is really nice, especially in a jam situation where 10 other people are all taking their turns at the lead.
    I'll give those a try tonight.
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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Sounds good, Al! Good voicings and nice smooth voice leading from chord to chord.

    For jazzy rhythm playing I'll usually be using three-note voicings. For triads (major, minor, augmented) 1, 3, and 5; for sevenths (including major7, dom.7, m7, and half-dim.7) usually 1-3-7 or 3-5-7. For 9th chords and up we can never get all the notes anyway, so you have to decide on which are the important ones.

    So, just looking for 3-note voicings with easy stretches in low positions on the neck:

    A minor triad: 223x, 577x, x235, x778
    F major triad: 233x, 578x, x335, x588
    A dom.7th: 254x 657x, x243, x545
    etc. etc.

    For finding new chords, it's a good exercise to start with a major triad, then alter it to minor, augmented, and diminished. Likewise, for each dom.7th voicing you can produce the other kinds of 7th chord-- though they won't all be equally useful.

    Often the root isn't really necessary, especially if there's a bass or other instrument supplying it. So B half-dim.7 could be played as a Dm triad, with the B coming from elsewhere in the texture. But if not, it's good to have it there (as you do).

    Nice to see you here, J-P!

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    For jazzy rhythm playing I'll usually be using three-note voicings.......

    Often the root isn't really necessary, especially if there's a bass or other instrument supplying it. !
    Good points. Sometimes even a double-stop may work as a "chord", but 3 note voicings are a mandolin players' friend.

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    Registered User Jean-Pierre WOOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Hello Bruce... a long time ago...
    You are right, 3 notes voicing are very useful.
    But... I don't know why I don't like that when I play (gypsy swing) "la pompe" ...

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    I see what you mean, J-P. But I don't think you'll ever get the real Hot Club sound with mandolin alone pumping out the chords. Django usually had two rhythm guitars, plus his own chording. Maybe the best a mandolinist can do in that situation is to play strong rhythm, but stay low in pitch; I don't use the E-string at all for that kind of playing.

    Or show up with a guitar!

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  14. #9

    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    I'm playing more and more gypsy jazz and bossa nova these days and I find myself pretty stuck in 1st position. I'm the only mandolin player at the jams I'm going to, so I have no one to cheat off of to learn new chords. I was hoping that someone who has more experience can show me some alternate voicings that I can try out.

    Thanks for any help you can provide with some variations and to get me playing up the neck!
    Al
    Maybe it's cheating, but the way I approach playing in a jazz ensemble is to know the three-note inversions up the neck. There are only three ways to play a triad on the mandolin, and once you know the major, minor, and dominant (OK, you should probably know augmented and diminished as well), you are good to go. I let the guitarist add all the color tones and I just play the basic three note chords on the bottom three strings and let my ear be my guide if something doesn't sound quite right. I think the mandolin is better at providing a nice rhythm sound and a little bit of voice leading. I don't aspire to outplay the guitarist, who is a lot better than me anyway.

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    For further chord study, might want to check out my book "Jazz Chording for Mandolin". Free PDF download at
    www.Jazz-Mandolin.com
    -----------
    Pete Martin
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    I see what you mean, J-P. But I don't think you'll ever get the real Hot Club sound with mandolin alone pumping out the chords. Django usually had two rhythm guitars, plus his own chording.....
    Or show up with a guitar!
    Solo on mandolin and add to "le pompe" on guitar.

    You are right, a mandolin can NEVER get the low-range chord sound of the Gypsy jazz guitar.

    But - if you listen to that style you can make your mandolin rhythm much better.

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    Registered User Jean-Pierre WOOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    I play gypsy jazz on mandolin for +/- 15 years... and, frequently, with authentic gypsy musicians (two, tree or more guitars, bass, violin...).
    I have a problem to solve: what do I do when i take a part in la pompe ? I can do the same rhythm pattern than the guitars, but, that is unimpressive.. or not to play anything (sometimes a good idea), or playing some "shops" here and there to accentuate... Mostly, I chose that last way: in that case, I have to chose fingerings for substitute, drop or complexe chords. In my view, it's very important to produce a "secondary" chord-melody (take a look at my fingering for the B part of "Elena's Bossa" here above). I can do that using four fingers chords, I'm not capable using tree notes chords.

    And, finally, I think I am too old to change... (LOL)

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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Don Stiernberg's Soundslice classes have helped me a lot with understanding different voicings and options for chords outside of my standard bluegrass stuff. I really like the presentation format of the classes there as well.
    Drew
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    Don Stiernberg's Soundslice classes have helped me a lot with understanding different voicings and options for chords outside of my standard bluegrass stuff. I really like the presentation format of the classes there as well.
    I have Don's Apitizer book which has three chord studies on 'I've got rhythm'. I learned a lot from them.

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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    I also have a book by Pete, not chord book but very good.

  22. #16
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with alternate voicing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jean-Pierre WOOS View Post
    I can do the same rhythm pattern than the guitars, but, that is unimpressive.. or not to play anything (sometimes a good idea), or playing some "shops" here and there to accentuate... Mostly, I chose that last way: in that case, I have to chose fingerings for substitute, drop or complexe chords.

    And, finally, I think I am too old to change...
    I think that makes good sense, J-P, playing rhythmic "shots" like the horns often do in a big band behind a solo.

    (Long ago I saw Dizzy Gillespie sitting in at Monterey with the Gerald Wilson band; during solos he would mouth a little idea to the other trumpets, and next thing you knew the whole section was playing terrific harmonized background riffs like the old Basie band. It's a great sound.)

    For this kind of thing I'll often go to two-note chords, usually the 3 and 6 or the 3 and 7 of each chord. I find I can really dig in and project those fragments, and rhythmically I'll fit them into holes left by the other rhythm players.

    Too old to change? No need! (As one grandfather to another.)

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