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Thread: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

  1. #1
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    The late great jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth has a unique approach to jazz. He was essentially self taught. Instead of learning all the chords and scales in patternshe mapped out all the notes of a given key on the neck. So all the notes in C for example. He then approached the notes by any chord that is diatonic to C could have any of these notes played. So Dm, G7 Em etc. that meant he could play all kinds of inversions and substitutions.

    I may have oversimplified it.

    But my question for consideration is

    Would this approach be a good one? If I took my jazz machine- my solid body and did this? Would it work? Would it work for you? Has it worked for you?why or why not?
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    Registered User mmuussiiccaall's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Here’s a vid of Jens Larsen and a transcription of the first phrase.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQGEh29gAoU

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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Every brain is wired a bit differently IMO. What worked for A.H. may work for you or it may not. All a student of any craft or art may do is take a look at different paths to grasping the needed information and taking a bite. If it works then great if not keep looking. Yet like a book you have to give the author sixty or so pages before throwing in the towel. Patient practice . . . . . R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    This is exactly how I learned the fingerboard. Works for scales, double stops, chords, etc.

    I believe any serious player does this in some way eventually.
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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Thanks Pete. I’ve used your books to great personal enrichment.

    What you might find interesting is that Holdsworth eschews modes, or st least the names of them, and just plays what he sees as the chord. So over a Dm, he’ll play the notes of the C scale, as they are diatonic. However the orders and stacks in which he does this are fairly unique.
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    So over a Dm, he’ll play the notes of the C scale, as they are diatonic.
    Dm is also diatonic to the keys of D minor, G minor, A minor, Bb major, and F major.

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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    He's a complicated player to try to follow,,he has his own way of naming chords and even has his own scales,,

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    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    I believe improvisation is easier for most folks when we think about less.

    Anything that occurs in a key I think that key only. Because the chords CMaj7 Dm7 Em7 FMaj7 G7 Em7 F#m7b5 are derived from the major scale of C, I just think C major when playing over these. I tried thinking modes at one time, but found it easier to just think key.

    Always remember there are many ways to invent the wheel. Go with the way that works for YOU!
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Holdsworth definitely had a distinct style. Mike Stern often talks about using scales comprised of two distinct triads, one based on the "standard" harmony plus a second that was often non-standard. Interesting effect
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Martin View Post
    I believe improvisation is easier for most folks when we think about less.

    Anything that occurs in a key I think that key only. Because the chords CMaj7 Dm7 Em7 FMaj7 G7 Em7 F#m7b5 are derived from the major scale of C, I just think C major when playing over these. I tried thinking modes at one time, but found it easier to just think key.

    Always remember there are many ways to invent the wheel. Go with the way that works for YOU!
    Pete,,,wouldn't the vi chord be Am7 and the vii chord Bm7b5?

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    Dm is also diatonic to the keys of D minor, G minor, A minor, Bb major, and F major.
    I should have out an eg. but you are correct.
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Martin View Post
    Anything that occurs in a key I think that key only. Because the chords CMaj7 Dm7 Em7 FMaj7 G7 Em7 F#m7b5 are derived from the major scale of C,
    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    Pete,,,wouldn't the vi chord be Am7 and the vii chord Bm7b5?

    F#m7b5 is not in the C major scale, no F# in the key signature.

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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    While Holdsworth is widely admired and respected, his approach hasn’t been widely adopted. This makes it neither good nor bad, but indicates that most people believe another path is more effective for learning to play Jazz. However, if you want to sound like Holdsworth, studying his theory and technique would be the most direct route.

    A lot of his sound was the result of his technique, some of which may not translate to mandolin.
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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    In my humble opinion,his technique was all over the place...

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    While Holdsworth is widely admired and respected, his approach hasn’t been widely adopted. This makes it neither good nor bad, but indicates that most people believe another path is more effective for learning to play Jazz. However, if you want to sound like Holdsworth, studying his theory and technique would be the most direct route.

    A lot of his sound was the result of his technique, some of which may not translate to mandolin.
    You're absolutely correct re: the take-up of Holdsworth's technique. I think there's a couple of factors: 1) The sheer difficulty of his chordal work - if you've learned in the 'standard way', your fingers are resistant to six and eight fret stretches for maybe half a beat. (This of course works much better on mandolin, sort of...)

    2) I think that he removed a lot of technical jargon from his lexicon - any note that fitted in a C chord (for example) could be called a C chord, as far as he was concerned. He eschewed mode names, finding them a distraction, as G Mixolydian was just a variant of the C Major scale. Jazz 'traditionalists' prefer to label everything. That's not a criticism.

    3) There is a lot of 'outside' playing, which can alienate the audience.

    And, yes, I absolutely agree some if not all of that technique may not translate to mandolin. He loved legato lines, as a saxophone might play - it's why I think my solid body Mando (perhaps with a touch of overdrive for sustain and hammer-on ease) might be the way to try and approach it.

    I learned my jazz through many books, not least Pete Martin and Ted Eschliman's books. Joe Carr, Don Stiernberg, Jethro Burns also helped. There were others too. All of them have been marvelous. I found it Holdsworth an interesting approach, and was just interested in what you all thought? There's been terrific discussion, which I hope will keep going...
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    Registered User mmuussiiccaall's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    for those of us who are not aliens

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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    It is hard for me to understand even simplified descriptions of Holdsworth's approach. Would his approach to chords even translate to a four-stringed instrument?
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    “Take what you can, and leave the rest ...”
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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    It is hard for me to understand even simplified descriptions of Holdsworth's approach. Would his approach to chords even translate to a four-stringed instrument?
    I think so. A lot of the time he’s on,y playing four strings anyway. But the beauty of modifying is that you can adapt or even make up rules.
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    It appears you have a good foundation, so explore what interests you. Even if it doesn’t become your go to system, you are sure to expand your creativity.
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  36. #21
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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    If you want to change guitar chords to mandolin chords leave the first string as this, make the note on the second string two frets higher and flip the third and fourth strings around.

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    Default Re: the Allan Holdsworth guitar approach on mandolin

    His style of playing is very unique,,you need excellent sustain,and he does a lot of lagato,,he plays and holds down one note while superimposing other note's over the sustained note,,he does this technique in many ways,I learned from him also that he doesnt play anymore than 3 or 4 notes in one direction before switching directions,,a difficult person to copy.

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