• Aaron Weinstein On His Mandolin Chord Melody System Book on Mel Bay


    Aaron Weinstein's Chord Melody System isn't so much a method book as it is a concise "strategy." It's a peak behind the curtain of what every mandolinist assumed from watching his YouTube videos was some kind of magical wizard operating byzantine levers and adroit pulleys, far beyond the comprehension of mortals and us common folk musicians.

    What is perceived from the outside as mystery and complexity is merely a handful of concise tricks and tools.

    In this book, Weinstein avoids the charade of soul-eating, complex music theory and exposes the dirty secret of what master mandolinists have known all along — the instrument's 5th tuning was wired for chord mobility and comprehensible transposition, pun intended. Through brief explanation and an astute series of straightforward etudes, he unlocks the gate to a world of self-contained aesthetic instrumental satisfaction. Chord Melody mastery is truly the ultimate solo experience.

    This will be the best 52 pages of education any intermediate or advanced beginning mandolinist will encounter.

    Ted Eschliman
    Author and Industry Consultant
    JazzMando.com

    What was the inspiration for your new book Mandolin Chord Melody System on Mel Bay?

    Well, on a fairly regular basis I'd receive notes from people in response to my chord melody YouTube videos, and they'd often ask if I had transcriptions of my chord melody arrangements, which I don't. But because it seemed like there was interest in chord melody mandolin playing, I figured, why not put together a guide to help learn this style and give mandolinists the tools to create their own chord melody arrangements.

    I brought the idea for the book to Bill Bay who was terrifically enthusiastic. So I sharpened my pencils and went to work.

    Playing bass lines on mandolin is just one of the concepts some are going to have to wrap their brain around.

    Maybe it's the idea of associating bass lines with a soprano instrument like the mandolin that seems odd. But in a nutshell, while the bass lines we might play on the mandolin are going to be a few octaves higher than where they'd be played on a double bass, bass lines played on a mandolin can function in the same way as they would on a upright bass.

    You allude to musical similarities between Bach and solo mandolin in the book. Tell us about that.

    I think the Bach violin sonatas show us just how much can be implied on a single instrument. I mean, turn to just about any page of the sonatas and you'll often find a melody, harmony, implied bass lines — it's all there.

    We found the use of the single melody you build on throughout the first half of the book to be a great way to connect with what you were teaching. Can you walk us through that process?

    Essentially, in the book we take a single melody line and turn it into a chord melody arrangement, one step at a time. We start by deciding what of the melody to play as single notes and what to play as chords. Then we decide on specific chord voicings. And then we just need to get our fingers to do what we want them to.



    In our previous interview you mentioned studying the guitar playing of greats like Bucky Pizzarelli who you've performed with, Carl Kress, George Van Eps, and Howard Alden. For someone new to hearing solo jazz guitar could you recommend three recordings for a student new to the solo concept?

    Wow. Just three? Well, these are by no means "the best" cause in music, there is no such thing as, "best." But as far as great solo jazz guitar albums, I'd say, there's nothing better than:

    Joe Pass: Virtuoso
    Any of Bucky Pizzarelli's solo guitar albums on the Arbors label
    Frank Vignola: Blues for a Gypsy

    Have you given thought to a solo mandolin recording?

    Well, I'll tell you what. You find a record label dying for a solo jazz mandolin album and I'll consider it. Deal?

    Deal. We're serious! Aside from the book, as a professional musician living in New York City, what kind of work are you taking on, performing or otherwise?

    I do lots of different kinds of performing — with my own trio, and as a guest with other soloists and singers as well as writing arrangements. I know that's kind of vague but really, every week is so different, it's hard to generalize.

    Will Mel Bay host video content of any parts of the book?

    There are no plans at the moment but it's probably best to check with them. But I'll likely make videos of some of the etudes.

    Anything else you'd like to add about the book?

    I'd just like to say that I'm really happy with the book and hope that it'll be a helpful resource for those interested in learning chord melody on the mandolin. And it not like I kept the good stuff secret. Really, everything you need to know, all the "tricks" — if you want to call them that, are in the book. All you have to do is read it.



    A few non-music related questions. You're a self-proclaimed "bow tie rights activist." What exactly does that entail?

    Well, I'd rather leave that one alone cause I mean, really, if you have to ask...

    In a recent publicity photo, Chris Thile was wearing a bow tie, hand tied, not a clip-on. Your response?

    There's a reason he is a MacArthur genius.

    For visitors to New York City where would you recommend they shop for a fine bow tie?

    Paul Stuart, Madison Avenue at 45th Street.

    Aaron, best of luck with the book and we'll be watching for you on YouTube.

    Thanks.

    Additional information

    Comments 42 Comments
    1. J Walsh's Avatar
      J Walsh -
      Yes!! This is great news!
    1. Scott Tichenor's Avatar
      Scott Tichenor -
      Kudos to Don Stiernberg who wrote a really great intro for the book. I've had an electronic copy for awhile in preparation for the interview and spent quite a bit of time working through the material. What an eye opener. A really great resource.
    1. Tommcgtx's Avatar
      Tommcgtx -
      Cool, I can't wait to get my hands on one!
    1. JH Murray's Avatar
      JH Murray -
      If you Google 'bow tie rights activist', you will see Aaron's photo. Well done!
    1. Perry's Avatar
      Perry -
      Very much looking forward to this!
    1. JeffD's Avatar
      JeffD -
      In a recent publicity photo, Chris Thile was wearing a bow tie, hand tied, not a clip-on. Your response?
      There's a reason he is a MacArthur genius.
      Cracked me up.
    1. Beanzy's Avatar
      Beanzy -
      I'm not the type to normally splash out on something unseen, but had no qualms about buying this ebook.

      The content looks good at a first browse (apart from a text mashup on page 4 of the PDF)
      Aaron W definitely has a good way of explaining things to make them clear.

      Looking forward to working through it.
    1. Scott Tichenor's Avatar
      Scott Tichenor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
      I'm not the type to normally splash out on something unseen, but had no qualms about buying this ebook.

      The content looks good at a first browse (apart from a text mashup on page 4 of the PDF)
      Aaron W definitely has a good way of explaining things to make them clear.

      Looking forward to working through it.
      The folks at Mel Bay asked me to share this:

      We noticed the customer comment about the text on page 4. The issue has been corrected on the eBook and all they need to do is re-download the eBook to get the corrected version.
    1. Beanzy's Avatar
      Beanzy -
      Thanks Scott I've just done that and all sorted.

      Pretty quick out of the blocks, great to see such attentiveness.
    1. Rick Jones's Avatar
      Rick Jones -
      Just curious - was there any prediction when this will be available in printed form?
    1. Tommcgtx's Avatar
      Tommcgtx -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rick Jones View Post
      Just curious - was there any prediction when this will be available in printed form?
      Well, at Elderly, it says "on order, expected arrival date 10/26/15". I ordered one directly from Mel Bay, and my order status is "backorder". I imagine if Elderly expected them today, it shouldn't be too long.
    1. Scott Tichenor's Avatar
      Scott Tichenor -
      When I was having a discussion with my contact at Mel Bay last week they said they thought Nov. 1 would be the print availability date. I suppose that could have changed since then but I think unlikely.
    1. Ted Eschliman's Avatar
      Ted Eschliman -
      My experience as both writer and retailer for MB, they have 21st Century printing technologies that produce books VERY quickly, but you still have the 20th Century infrastructure of shipping (& receiving) and purchasing agents to deal with. Nov 1 would be admirably quick.
    1. Scott Tichenor's Avatar
      Scott Tichenor -
      My contact at Mel Bay just answered an email at 7:15 a.m. and told me 11/1 was still the date they were looking to have it in print.
    1. Flattpicker's Avatar
      Flattpicker -
      So, the e-version is ready to download now? And I can print from that if need be?
    1. JonZ's Avatar
      JonZ -
      As usual, there are not enough sample pages on the Mel Bay website to evaluate the book.

      Perhaps Mandoline Cafe can coax the author into sharing a little more here.
    1. Scott Tichenor's Avatar
      Scott Tichenor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Flattpicker View Post
      So, the e-version is ready to download now? And I can print from that if need be?
      Someone above noted purchasing the eBook from Mel Bay yesterday. Believe it's just a PDF so should be able to print from it if desired.
    1. JonZ's Avatar
      JonZ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Scott Tichenor View Post
      Someone above noted purchasing the eBook from Mel Bay yesterday. Believe it's just a PDF so should be able to print from it if desired.
      I know that one could print after purchase. I would like to see one complete sample lesson before purchase.

      It seems like with most other books you can read whole chapters online before buying. But it seems that with music books, you often have no idea what the teaching method is, and how the book executes it.

      I suppose it has something to do with royalties to the music publishers. Even if the actual music was blacked out, it would be helpful to read the discussion of how the piece is approached.

      I guess that if there is a money back policy on the e-books that would solve it.
    1. Mando_Zeek's Avatar
      Mando_Zeek -
      I just bought this yesterday...as I was kinda having blah practice sessions and wanted a new challenge. What got me interested was the new beatles chord melody book just released. So I have these both to work on now. Its an exciting new challenge. For $15 bucks and a pdf download, its pretty high yield I would say. I knew not much of Aaron beyond watching his videos on youtube and what was mentioned by Don Stiernberg to introduce the book. Which was enough for me to make the purchase, again $15 bucks is pretty cheap compared to some instruction books. I would say that the lesson/structure of the book is challenging in a good way. Concepts are explained well, yet not so much as to spoon feed you...which is challenging. I'm not real familiar with a lot of the chords in the book, which is also exciting and challenging, forcing me to move my fingers is different ways. Aaron shuffles along like some sort of fretboard ninja, its incredible. Chapter One goes something like this: What makes up a chord, Whats a chord voicing and how do we make it, chord voicings. Chapter Two gets into the left hand techniques a bit. Thats all the further I am at this point. Seems, just as the title says, an intelligent and thoughtful system/approach for learning this technique. For myself, its more than that, its challenging me to learn the fretboard and million chord shapes on it. I would say go for it...if you're afraid you wont like it, purchase the print version so you can resell it on the classifieds. I should note, I am not a jazz mandolin player. Hope this helped?
    1. morganpiper's Avatar
      morganpiper -
      I was hoping for an accompanying CD, or some YouTube demo's, especially for the etudes section. Any plans on that end? Love the book! Brett