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Thread: Memorizing the neck

  1. #26
    pickloser Laura Cauble's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    I was off the forum for a good long while and my password expired. it was just easier to re-register.


    ...I did love being Pickloser though.

  2. #27
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    I don't know that its necessary to memorize the neck as a technical exercise.
    It is important to me to know the positions & names of all "chop" chord structures, and
    how to play "melody lines" in the same position. The highest note in a chop chord is the
    second finger on the root note and the first finger plays the 3rd [scale note] on the next lower string.
    If I play those 2 notes with my 3rd and 4th fingers and barre the root & 5th on the G & D strings,
    that is another useful position. These positions plus knowing all key fingerings in "open" or
    "root" position covers the instrument pretty well. You don't need to know much, but you
    need to know where to put it and what to call it. :^)

  3. #28

    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    I agree! I studied the clarinet as a kid and young man from 4th grade to 12th and was fortunate enough to live in the D.C. area and had private leassons with clarinetist from the U.S. Army Band. I can read notation and at 67 can still recall some music theory but not much. Chords are new to me. How in the hell can you play a chord on a clarinet? When I retired I wanted to learn a different instrument that would enable me to pick up a score in notation or tablature learn the base melody and then improvise it or use ornamentation. When I started playing the Mandolin I was introduced to tabs, then shapes to play two finger chords and now patterns to learn “licks”. All alien to me. Ive figured that to be able to improvise I need to learn the chord of each measure and It’s notes. But to utilize chords for ornaments or instrumentation I need to know WHERE the individual notes are on the fretboard. I feel like I’m learning the Mandolin backwards. I feel like I’m trying to build a house by starting on the 2nd floor instead of the foundation! My teacher feels that the good ole boys on the front porch with the styrofoam “spit cups” didn’t need to know notation or music theory why should I? “Just memorize shapes and patterns and don’t worry yourself over the “Why” it will all come together later”. That’s his methodology. No! No! no!. I can’t learn that way. First things first like building blocks, that’s how I rock. You mentioned “Method Books”, can you recommend any? I’ve found tons of Method Books for every other instrument except the Mandolin.
    Last edited by Duigiud; Jan-25-2019 at 1:38am.

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  5. #29

    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    I would recommend a method book. Those books have a progression that gets you playing and understanding the notes very quickly. Watch for codes here for Mel Bay, sometimes they offer up to 30% off, a great investment.

    Some will tell you don’t bother to learn reading music or theory or memorizing notes and such...I say it’s a great investment in your future playing and understanding of how music works. Theory unlocks the fretboard, and allows you to move about. It’s an additional skill to have not some horrible task to get through.

    Add a few moments of theory to your practice routine, the mandolin tuning is so user friendly that once you learn something it applies all over the fretboard. Look into the FFCP stuff here and check out some of the other theory things like Tommy Norris, Marilyn Mair...so many to choose from.

    Last spend some time on YT and check out places like Mandolessons, Banjo Ben, Pickin’ Lessons, tons of stuff out there. Have fun!
    I agree! I studied the clarinet as a kid and young man from 4th grade to 12th and was fortunate enough to live in the D.C. area and had private leassons with clarinetist from the U.S. Army Band. I can read notation and at 67 can still recall some music theory but not much. Chords are new to me. How in the hell can you play a chord on a clarinet? When I retired I wanted to learn a different instrument that would enable me to pick up a score in notation or tablature learn the base melody and then improvise it or use ornamentation. When I started playing the Mandolin I was introduced to tabs, then shapes to play two finger chords and now patterns to learn “licks”. All alien to me. Ive figured that to be able to improvise I need to learn the chord of each measure and It’s notes. But to utilize chords for ornaments or instrumentation I need to know WHERE the individual notes are on the fretboard. I feel like I’m learning the Mandolin backwards. I feel like I’m trying to build a house by starting on the 2nd floor instead of the foundation! My teacher feels that the good ole boys on the front porch with the styrofoam “spit cups” didn’t need to know notation or music theory why should I? “Just memorize shapes and patterns and don’t worry yourself over the “Why” it will all come together later”. That’s his methodology. No! No! no!. I can’t learn that way. First things first like building blocks, that’s how I rock. You mentioned “Method Books”, can you recommend any? I’ve found tons of Method Books for every other instrument except the Mandolin.

  6. #30
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by Duigiud View Post
    ... “Method Books” ... recommend any?
    While there are books geared toward specific genre's (at least bluegrass & classical, probably others) one of the best general books is "Mandolin For Dummies", by frequent Cafe contributor Don Julin. It's written so that the raw novice won't be intimidated, and the more experienced won't be bored stiff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duigiud View Post
    ... feel like I’m learning the Mandolin backwards.
    As did most of us; you just have enough experience to recognize it! Unlike band instruments and probably piano, that almost always come with a designated teacher, "folk-ish" instruments like mandolin, guitar, harmonica, fiddle (as opposed to the vaguely similar "violin"), etc. are more often learned from friends & family, and in far-from-formal settings (kitchen, bedroom, dorm room, basement, backyard, maybe over a 6-pack). So we each learn whatever we need or can use at that particular moment, OR, more likely, the best that our friends or Uncle Joe are able to impart to us at that moment. And I assure you from personal experience that the learning curve can be highly erratic. While that might not seem overly sensible to the more mature among us, thousands of bands of every genre (other than, ya know, marching or classical), and of every success level, have been launched on nothing more.
    - Ed

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    I'm a better man for just the kowin' of you."
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  7. #31
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Laura Cauble Good to see you back …. Play on!
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  9. #32

    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Hi Duigiud, I too played the clarinet still have my blue Rubank’s books and of course...Klose, fun times indeed! I was neighbors with a USA Field Band clarinetist and would listen to her practice when out in the neighborhood, I thought, geez I should dust off my Buffet and knock on her door but alas, the mandolin has my heart now.

    Anyway, there are method books available from Mel Bay, Alfred, and Hal Leonard. While basic they do layout a ummm, method...for learning to play and read music. Mel Bay has 30% off this weekend so the online book with video is $10.50. Spend a few moments at each practice session with it, with your background you’ll be thru it in no time.

    I’d also recommend Google and checking out YT, there are tons of free resources out there that go over music theory. If you have access to a music store locally see if they do workshops or classes on theory. If you’re in the DC area check out CABOMA, they have jams and I know they welcome newbies, I was one a few years ago and they couldn’t have been nicer and more accepting.
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  10. #33
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Regarding computers and method books, I have to say that I highly value this training software as much as any book.

    This directly addresses how to learn the fret board. And I can't speak highly enough for how it has helped me in my studies. The designers really understand my situation and offer very clear and understandable steps where I can be in control of how I progress. I seem to use it more as a reference tool nowadays but it does offer step wise methods that really force you to respond and have fun learning. (They now have a whole suite of learning software apps. And you can switch between mandolin and mandola, or guitar, or banjo.)

    Absolute Fretboard Trainer
    I have no 'connection with them'. I'm just a happy customer.

    http://www.absolutefretboard.com/


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  11. #34

    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    I think AFT is poorly designed. It tracks your progress, but does not schedule reviews based on your progress. On top of that, it’s expensive.

  12. #35
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by Laura Cauble View Post
    I was off the forum for a good long while and my password expired. it was just easier to re-register.


    ...I did love being Pickloser though.
    Pickloser’s guide to doublestops and repeating patterns really excellent! Clear and interesting reading, not dry at all and explained in a way that it is easy to remember. Thank you Laura.

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  14. #36
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    [QUOTE

    The next big break-through for me was discovering double stops. Once again, a very incremental process. The way it works in my head (self-taught theory) is that I can take any 3 or 4 finger chord, and break it down to any of the 2 notes on adjacent strings in that chord. That 2 note pair will function as a double stop that substitutes for the larger chord. Take a 4 finger G "chop" chord, 3-2-5-7 (from the E course coming down). 3-2-x-x, x-2-5-x, and x-x-5-7 are all G double stops. And they move in patterns just the same as the full chords. The next step was figuring out ways to move from one double stop to the next in a melodic fashion. This has all happened in the last 3-4 years, but it's made a world of difference in my melodic playing.

    [/QUOTE]

    Thank you for this. I start learning a tune with a single note melody, Then I build from there by sprinkleing in two, three, or if I have to four finger cords, double stops, and tremelo while not straying too far from my basic single note melody. I always struggle finding workable double stops. Your logical explanation, I think, just broke a mental barrier for me.
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  16. #37
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    When I got started on the guitar almost 62 years ago I approached the fretboard systematically in open position, using strict chromatic fingering, starting with C, and progressing along the circle of fifths in both directions: C, F, G, Bb, D, etc. I then realized that the C and F scales use only three fingers, whence it was eay to transport these scale forms to higher positions, e.g., Eb and Ab off the 3rd fret, F and Bb off the fifth, etc. In time I realized that I was just playing out of C and E forms transposed to higher positions; after that I freed my approach, combining chord formations and boxes with figures along the fretboard, etc.

    On the mandolin, ten years later, I got a very useful piece of advice: while learning, don't use open strings at all. That was all the instruction I ever had (on the guitar I had none) , and it made things easier, as I didn't have to revise my fingering when tranposing scales to higher or lower positions. I never adopted the "one finger-two frets" approach that people so often suggest on this forum. Instead, in a purely diatonic context my approach is "next scale note, next finger". By that approach my fingering in Ab in 1st position is exactly the same as in A, only pulled back one fret. By the other method I would use four fingers for A, and three for Ab, although the frets are farther apart! I've checked with two violinists, one a classic player, the other active in country and Bluegrass, and that seems to be their approach, too.

    Whenever chromaticism enters the picture every situation has to be handled ad hoc, intuitively. Don't ask me what I'm doing then.

    I don't believe chord formations are equally useful on the mandolin, but it sems the G chop form is used a lot.

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  18. #38
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    I have found an app called “fret tester” to be a helpful memorization tool to learn the notes on the fretboard.

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  20. #39

    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    I learned where the notes are when I tried to teach myself how to play the violin. The notes are in the same place for the mandolin. The violin book said to practice scales, and I did that a little bit, but once I knew where to put my fingers I wanted to play tunes right away, so I did that. I learned to play tunes by ear. I learned how to do this by trying to find notes that went with the chord changes, then find another note in between, then another, then another. It took years but over time I learned a lot of tunes and I can just play stuff. I can tell you what note it is I'm playing but I don't think about naming them. My fingers just know where to go to play the melody. It took me a while before I felt like I could put little double-stop chords in. Now I am starting to put bigger chords into what I play. I've never played chords other than as a sort of augmentation to the melody. I'm not a chord person, I'm a melody person. I've been trying to learn more chords through the ukulele. For me the mandolin is a pickin' fiddle, a melody instrument.

  21. #40
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    I don't know about apps but the work of learning scales, arpeggios, chord forms is part of my life.

  22. #41
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    In addition to the mandolin I play the dobro and took a class with Billy Cardine called "How to Memorize the Neck".

    Start by using the circle of fourths as your guide. B E A D G C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb

    Begin with B and play a B note everywhere that it occurs on the neck, one note at a time. Do not use other known notes to find the B, such as "oh, there is my A note, the B is two frets up!" Know where it is on its own. Say the note out loud as you play it and move randomly through the B notes on the neck.

    When bored move on to the next note, E. Don't rush through the circle of fourths, just do a few notes a day as part of your practice routine.

    He told me that if in one month of doing this I did not know every note on the neck that he would buy me a beer, and if I did know them all I would owe him one.

    I owe him a beer.
    willi

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  24. #42
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    interesting... any reason circle of 4ths instead of circle of 5ths (or any other method?)

    I would have guessed circle of 5ths because of the 5ths tuning.

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  25. #43
    Registered User mandowilli's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    He told us but it escapes me.

    Maybe just an excuse to learn the circle of fourths while we were at it?
    willi

  26. #44
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl23 View Post
    interesting... any reason circle of 4ths instead of circle of 5ths (or any other method?)

    I would have guessed circle of 5ths because of the 5ths tuning.

    C
    It's all the same. Once you see where the notes are, it's just whether you are moving from bass to treble or from treble to bass side on the fingerboard.
    All the same!
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  27. #45
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    I made a similar post to the OP a while back, maybe prior to New Year's Day 2018 ... I tried using an app recommended by JonZ for awhile, and a few other things. What I've found over time, though, is that as you continue to work on chord building, understanding music theory, working scale patterns and transposing tunes, the knowledge of fingerboard note names just begins to sneak up on you without much fanfare over time.
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  29. #46
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    It's all the same. Once you see where the notes are, it's just whether you are moving from bass to treble or from treble to bass side on the fingerboard.
    All the same!
    Yep, "Perfect Fourth" and "Perfect Fifth" intervals ... they make a perfect circle. A descending fifth is the inversion of an ascending fourth, and vice versa. Sounds complicated, but it's not at all complicated once you grasp the mechanics of it.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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  31. #47
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    The connection of the conversation in the last few posts is:
    the CONSTANT relationships on the fretboard.

    Example: If you look at the front of the mandolin as you point the headstock to the ceiling,

    Pick any note, say the note of G. Immediately to the left of the G(the 1) is the C (the 4). And just to the right is D (the 5).
    THIS IS ALWAYS TRUE, ANYWHERE ON THE FINGERBOARD.

    Different example? How about Eb? To the left is Ab(the 4 of Eb) and to the right is Bb (the 5 of Eb). ANYWHERE ON FB!!! WORKS FOR ANY NOTE.

    So when you learn ONE note somewhere on the FB, you should
    immediately know TWO MORE NOTES, one on each side.
    And it should be that you already know the 1, 4, & 5 notes for the keys you commonly use, right??


    (It's hard to stop) Add all sharps or all flats to the examples above and you instantaneously add 6 more notes' locations to your brain! (I'm stopping now.)
    Phil

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  33. #48
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    It's all the same. Once you see where the notes are, it's just whether you are moving from bass to treble or from treble to bass side on the fingerboard.
    All the same!

    I agree. I was wondering if the book "How to Memorize the Neck" says anything about why 4ths? Is there any particular reason?

    There are 4 ways of moving through all keys (plus a 5th hybrid)

    4ths, as he chose, would move you "up" the strings (from the bottom of the neck to the top) or out 5 frets. (circle of 4ths)

    If you chose 5ths, you move "down" the strings, or 7 frets out. (circle of 5ths)

    Circles of 4ths and 5ths are the same circle, just different directions.

    You could also go chromatically; move up 1 fret, or by major 7ths (same thing really) up 11 frets (or do the math across strings)

    A trick I like is to alternate 4ths and 5ths by adding a sharp, then adding a flat, so start with G (1 sharp) go to D (2 sharps) then C (no sharps, or +1 flat) then A (3 sharps) F (1 flat) etc until 7 sharps and 7 flats (which are ridiculous keys to begin with :-) )

    In each case you would be learning the fret-board from a different angle. I was wondering if Billy C. said anything about 4ths in particular?

    Now that I think about it, you could apply any of these to anything you would like... individual notes, scales, chord shapes, arpegios... anything! (great, another entry for the blog I am not working on) :-)

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  34. #49

    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl23 View Post
    7 sharps and 7 flats (which are ridiculous keys to begin with :-) )
    I play an instrument where it's super common for the tuning to be some version of C#. Mine is C# major. This makes it hard to play with other people. I cannot retune the instrument. Only people with malleable brains (and tunable instruments) can figure out what to do.

  35. #50
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing the neck

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl23 View Post
    I agree. I was wondering if the book "How to Memorize the Neck" says anything about why 4ths? Is there any particular reason?....

    A trick I like is to alternate 4ths and 5ths by adding a sharp, then adding a flat, so start with G (1 sharp) go to D (2 sharps) then C (no sharps, or +1 flat) then A (3 sharps) F (1 flat) etc until 7 sharps and 7 flats....
    you could apply any of these to anything you would like... ......

    You can practice any changes that you like and it might make your brain more malleable and might help you play SOMETHING/SOMETIME.

    But.... in western music, generally speaking, and accepting many exceptions (this is the art of writing music), music tends to start on the tonic, then jump to some other chord before trying to progress BACK to the tonic by some phonically acceptable route.

    This route TENDS to be a movement from 'a five' to its 'one' (e.g. A to D), and then may act as if the key has momentarily changed so that it can further progress from "another 5" to its "one" (e.g. D to G), etc., etc., etc., until the tonic is reached and the tension is resolved.

    Many tunes are simplistic or trivial: think: 2 chord songs or 3 chord songs.
    Jazz standards often change the tonal center many times, and many times moving from a "5" to 'its one'. The ii-V-I progression often seen is one simple example of this, with the ii to V being the first 5 to 1 change.

    The point is that being very familiar with moving from V to I, redefining the I as the 'new 5' and repeating over and over is very helpful in playing lots of music types.

    Try playing "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue"

    YMMV
    Phil

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