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Thread: Shell Chords on mandolin

  1. #1
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Shell Chords on mandolin

    As I understand it, she’ll chords are chords that omit the fifth and sometimes the root, leaving just the ‘colour’ notes. Jazz guitarists use them all the time. A typical shell chord might be

    1 3 7 with a 9 or 11 or a 13 added. Of course you can play 3739. For example. Or 3 7 3 7.

    So on guitar there’s about 6 shapes. 3 based on an E shape. Three based on an A shape. There are more options of course but these are the bases.

    So I’ve been mucking around on my mando to see if there are repeatable patterns that you can get it a chart together. One of the issues of course is the mandolin lends itself to fifths.

    However I’ve found a few.

    G7

    3
    2
    3
    X

    C7
    5
    2
    1
    X

    A7
    5
    4
    5
    X

    D
    7
    4
    5
    X

    These are all movable of course.

    But am I missing something. I took a brief look through Ted and Dons work but this type of thing didn’t spring out to me.

    Is this a new way to advance jazz mandolin. Or is it so obvious we’ve been doing it for years. Or is it a waste of time on mando?

    Thanks in advance.
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  3. #2
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    I'd recommend that you look into Don Stiernberg's Soundslice video lessons. For $20 you get a great introduction in how to use 3 note chords. You can replay the lessons over and over, speed them up, slow them down, print out tab... Great resource! The other courses are great also!

    https://www.soundslice.com/users/DonStiernberg/courses/

  4. #3
    working musician Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    A simple way to get fancy is to get down your three commonest triads: major, minor, and diminished – three notes means only three inversions. If you know where they go (e.g. a C triad can be an Am7 or an Fmaj9), that covers a lot of territory.

    Here's an exercise based on the diminished triad:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    C7
    5
    2
    1
    X

    .
    I think that should read B7 - not pedantically correcting you - just to avoid confusing people in what can already be difficult enough territory.

    And yes - whether or not anybody else got there first - and of course they have (using those or similar shapes on the lower three strings and adding extensions on the fourth is common practice) - nevertheless you're indeed onto something - it's a nice way of visualising something complex . I tend to work from building up double stops - but your idea is broader and helps with those extensions (b9 #11 etc) that guitarists and pianists love so much.

    Minor7 and minor 7b5 shapes should fit in too eg 3 -1-3 -x & 3-2-1-x
    Last edited by des; Dec-04-2021 at 7:26am. Reason: spelling clarity

  6. #5
    Registered User mandotool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    It would be great if one of you Jazz theory literate folks would share a video that illustrates these shapes..
    or if you can post a link to a video that illustrates them... that would be helpful too..
    Some of us ear-players are a little behind the curve on the nomenclature... but not disinterested in understanding...
    Thanks in advance !
    Thomas Quinn

  7. #6

    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    Afraid I've forgotten how to link to YouTube but look up Don Julin 3 string movable mandolin chords and you'll find some very good stuff to get started.

  8. #7
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    I’ll see what I can do.

  9. #8
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    Since your chords are closed, they’re movable, but your descriptions are odd to me.

    Your G7 is correct starting from the E string, your C7 (CEBb) is fine but an awkward fingering, your A7 is just your G7 moved up the fingerboard and your D is a bluegrass chop chord starting on the G string.

    Each of those shapes can be moved all over the fingerboard but a system might be easier.

    Many folks start by making major triads in each inversion and modifying them, ie, drop the 5, flat the 3, drop the root, add color by taste. Realizing there are 6 inversions of major triads across each adjacent 3 string sets (GDA and DAE) will provide many hours of study if not joy

    As you work this through, you’ll find a triad can have more than one name, but that’s not too important at this point.

    Take your time. I found writing them out on paper (blank fingerboard charts) was quite powerful and provided, for me, a more powerful learning experience than memorizing charts or a series of fingerings.

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  11. #9
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    Thanks for that.

  12. #10
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    For the moveable 7th, I find this shape (for example) , which also works as a diminished chord, more adaptable:

    G7
    x
    5
    3
    4

    Then you can use the 3-2-3 , or in this case, 5-4-5, shape to lead into it, for example D7-G7:
    x
    5
    4
    5

    to

    x
    5
    3
    4

    which could lead nicely to C6 (which is also Am7 in this shape)

    x
    3
    5
    2

    A little more jazzy would have the D7 as Dm7 so
    x
    5
    3
    5

    which leads into the G7 with only one finger move

    Those are some of my simple ideas, being an untrained noodler.
    Bren

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  14. #11
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    I’m with Bren, that rootless dom7 shape on the bottom strings (serviceable also as a dim chord shape) has become a mainstay for much of my comping. I found it by flatting the root to m7 in this chord, the Gmaj with 3rd in the bass, 4-5-5-7 to 4-3-5-x … G is the example but of course the is movable.

    I see these chords as a group from which to choose a few different voices, sticking with Gmaj as an example you have:

    5th in bass:
    7-5-5-7
    3rd in bass:
    4-5-5-7
    Rootless dom7 on three strings:
    4-3-5-x
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  15. #12
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    Following on, when the augmented chord is required, that shape lends itself easily to the augmented 5th like this:
    4-3-6-x
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  16. #13
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    The other common shape Bren mentions, using the dominant D chord (5-4-5-x) simply flats the bass root of this common D5 chord, 7-4-5-x, to the m7 C note in the bass.
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  17. #14
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    I like this autocorrect in your OP David:
    As I understand it, she’ll chords
    Seeing you're in Sydney, we can call them "she'll be right, mate" chords.

    Here are a couple more of my simple "she'll be right" chord favourites:

    (Key of G)
    Not quite sure of the correct names , hence the (?)


    A7 (9th?)
    x
    2
    5
    6

    to

    D7 (13th?)
    x
    2
    4
    5

    to any form of G

    Once again, you can flatten the C# (6th fret) to a C nat (5th fret) for the first chord for a more typical jazz harmony, and you just keep your first finger on the A-string 2nd fret throughout.
    Bren

  18. #15
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shell Chords on mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    As I understand it, she’ll chords are chords that omit the fifth and sometimes the root, leaving just the ‘colour’ notes. Jazz guitarists use them all the time. A typical shell chord might be

    1 3 7 with a 9 or 11 or a 13 added. Of course you can play 3739. For example. Or 3 7 3 7.

    So on guitar there’s about 6 shapes. 3 based on an E shape. Three based on an A shape. There are more options of course but these are the bases.

    So I’ve been mucking around on my mando to see if there are repeatable patterns that you can get it a chart together. One of the issues of course is the mandolin lends itself to fifths.

    However I’ve found a few.

    G7

    3
    2
    3
    X

    C7
    5
    2
    1
    X

    A7
    5
    4
    5
    X

    D
    7
    4
    5
    X



    But am I missing something. I took a brief look through Ted and Dons work but this type of thing didn’t spring out to me.

    Is this a new way to advance jazz mandolin. Or is it so obvious we’ve been doing it for years. Or is it a waste of time on mando?

    Thanks in advance.

    C7 you may have meant 6 3 2 X EADG. D6 is 7 5 4 X so I assume you mean that. I use these plus your G7 and A7 a good bit.

    In my study, the term “shell voicing” in theory textbooks means 1, 3, 7 (Or 6). Freddie Green and Bud Powell used these all the time. Bill Evans, Red Garland and Wynton Kelly were some of the first to substitute something else for the 1 to get rootless voicing. This would often be (depending on chord type) 9, 11, 13 or something altered if dominant (#11, b9, #9, etc). I go into these in a lot of detail in my book Jazz Chording for Mandolin.

    When I comp, I use a combo of shell voicing, drop 2, rootless, McCoy Tyner style fourth voicings and Barry Harris’ sixth diminished chord scales depending on the piece and how people around me are playing. When I teach chords, I start with 4 string voicing so students learn how to hear how the 4 voices move. Helps them to learn better voice lending chord to chord.
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