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Scarpology - Mapping the Mandolin Fretboard and Introduction to Improvisation

By Mandolin Cafe
September 30, 2013 - 12:00 pm

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Scarpology - Mapping the Mandolin Fretboard and Introduction to Improvisation

Scarpology - Mapping the Mandolin Fretboard and Introduction to Improvisation

Scarpology - Mapping the Mandolin Fretboard and Introduction to Improvisation is the title of a new self-published study by author Steven Horn.

According to the author's notes, Scarpology is a book on improvisation and mapping of the fretboard or fingerboard, written for players of musical instruments tuned in perfect fifths such as mandolin, violin, cello, mandola, viola, tenor banjo, etc.

It helps to be able to read music even if just a little but not totally necessary if you have a good ear. This book acknowledges the need for further reading and exploration as that is a large part of its purpose. The goal is to expand a musicians ability to use their creativity and to encourage them to do so.

While the primary purchase availability is in the eBook format, a print version of the book is perhaps the best medium and is available from the author (contact through his web site) with current suggested retail price at $30 plus shipping.

The author is working to bring the print cost down and may be able to quote a reduced price. He also is willing to deduct EBook price if you choose to try it out electronically first before the printed version.

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Reader Comments

September 30, 2013 12:44 PM
Strange choice of words for this book title.

"Scarpology: The science of determining characteristic traits by examining a persons shoes."
- Grandiloquent Dictionary

September 30, 2013 01:17 PM
Another music book that has no online samples of the teaching methodology.
September 30, 2013 01:48 PM
I will be watching for reviews on I have two fretboard mapping books and both are only marginally helpful.
September 30, 2013 02:51 PM
there is much more information on the author
September 30, 2013 04:50 PM
Thanks for the quick replies from Mandolin Cafe viewers and also thanks to Scott Tichenor for posting the notification.

reply to bratsche: Yes, that is interesting. I coined the phrase without knowledge of the science of behavioral studies related to the appearance of one's shoes and learned about that later. If you took a look at my shoes, it would be obvious that I spent a lot more time writing music tutorials than managing stock portfolios.

reply to JonZ: You're right, I didn't show samples but I do go into a long discussion of what is in the book and I have some video demonstrations (I'm not a class-act videographer). I hope this helps at least a little.

reply to lorrainehornig: The book is pretty new and so my guess is that the users are still working through the material. I have sold roughly 20 digital copies and one printed version. I have heard good input from a couple of recipients as well as positive reviews from Ted Eschliman and Don Stiernberg. There was one talented musician who had doubts about the book which I tried to address here: link returns 404 error

I hope to be encouraging in the book. So much hinges on how players feel about themselves at the beginning and at every step along the way. Much of what I say in the book addresses just that. The approach focuses on progress: both making progress and, more importantly, recognizing progress as it comes in the accumulation of small steps.
October 01, 2013 11:40 AM
Thanks for the reply Steve and welcome to the Cafe!
January 06, 2014 11:03 PM
Finally got around to downloading it, Im lazy so here's my amazon review:

"I had read about this book on mandolin cafe awhile back. It interested me, but I was working through other study material at the time (and on top of that I did not realize how easy it was to view kindle books from my computer without a kindle). For the price I was expecting something similar to Mike Marshall's improv book, a great supplement to other material and reference to glance at to see key points, but not a stand alone method book. I was blown away when I started looking through it; almost 80 pages and by far more writing than diagrams (still plenty of diagrams). I have not dived too deep into Scarpology yet, but from the beginning it is easy to tell it is unique from other mandolin improv books. Jesper's and Nile's books are among some of my favorites, but all of them (like many mando improv books) seem to be working towards he same idea and just have different exercises to get there. Scarpology on the other hand uses a very original approach by introducing "scarps" (mix of a scale and arpeggio). I look forward to working through this book. Even though I've yet to go deep into it, I already know it was money well spent."

As I touched on in the review I have yet to really start practicing the material, but I gave Scarpology 5 stars at first glance because for under $5 you can't go wrong with the amount of material alone. On top of that it is very original material. Skimming through the first part of the book I am already confident that I will be able to better understand modes by using "scarps".
Ron McMillan
January 07, 2014 01:21 AM
I too bought it, but quickly became disillusioned with a very poorly thought-out product/service. Buyers of printed versions get a CD of the vital audio practice tracks. People like me who opt to download the book to Kindle/iPad are stuck with a webpage whose performance and reliability has been, in my experience, seriously dodgy (I have had multiple attempts to access the files foiled by problems with the server or whatever else the author was trying to blame).

The difficulties with the web page are only a part of the issue. The real problem is that the author, quoting frankly laughable fears about 'piracy', makes it impossible to download the simple synthesised audio files (the ones that anyone who buys the more expensive printed version of the book receives on a CD). Who would want to steal them? This means that the only way you can practise along with the vital audio files is when you have access to the internet. How inconvenient is that? And THEN you still have to hope that the extremely unreliable page is actually working.

I exchanged emails with the author and got nowhere. He is seemingly not interested in delivering a working product (with downloadable audio files) to this paying customer, so he gets no praise from me. One to avoid.

ron mcmillan
January 16, 2014 06:20 AM
Ron has a legitimate complaint. Originally the web page's servers were being migrated (back in December) and there was significant down time. Ron and I are halfway around the world from each other, but today, in Texas, when I visit the page, it works for me.

I put a monitoring service (Pingdom.Com) onto the page but that only pings the server and doesn't monitor continuously. It shows that over the past 2 weeks, the site has been up 97% of the time, yet that data must be looked at with discretion.

The sound files are public at this page so you can see how it works yourself. Sound files are embedded, not downloaded. I don't distribute them and I can't either with the EBook or publicly for free. They come on a disc with the print version.

The sound files themselves really aren't much to write home about. I hope I've acted and addressed this reasonably. I continue to watch and listen.
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