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Mandolin Lessons: EMD

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Hi there.
We're gonna attempt to break down this
little tune of David Grisman's,
EMD, and this comes from what I consider
to be one of the most
important LPs to come out for new acoustic
The sort of post bluegrass, genre that
started in many ways
with this album was the David Grisman
quintet's first record,
Tony Rice and Todd Phillips, Darol Anger,
Bill Amatneek and David.
And, while it's bluegrass instrumentation,
these guys were certainly forging new
grounds sort of gave birth in many ways
to, to a lot of things that followed.
So, I was a young kid in Florida at the
time and, got this LP and,
sort of turned my world upside down from
that monum, moment onward.
I ended up joining the group and moving
out to California to play with all these
guys who I considered to be my heroes at
that time, I still do.
So this tune's very cool, it's E-Minor to
Actually pretty simple chord progression.
C7, E-Minor.
C7, it just does that three times.
E-minor, C7, then it goes to an A7.
From a C7 to a B7 to a E-minor.
Lot of different E-minors you can play, of
And I.
Often, sometimes play this E-minor 7
4-2-5, or many of you know the bar
E-minor, it works just fine.
Barring the middle two strings,
playing the third fret on top.
This is a nice C7, 3-2-3-3.
If you're playing that one,
they seem to go well together.
If you're playing this E-minor 7, you can
just flatten the low string,
and keep the D note on top.
That becomes a C9, which works just as
I think one of the things that this band
did, which was kinda groundbreaking,
in many ways, was to start to introduce to
the bluegrass concept of harmony, some of
the upper partials of chords.
So, you don't just have an E-minor that's
just 1-3-5.
You can have the seven up on the top part
of that chord or even the nine.
David used this chord,
which was a beautiful E-minor nine which
is at the ninth fret, 9-9-9 and 10.
And that introduces this,
this ninth note which is really common in
jazz but
hadn't been too common in bluegrass up to
this point.
Debussy and
some of the French impressionists would
use this kind of sounding chords.
Just kind of extended
numbers up above the basic triads.
They're still part of the E-minor scale,
mind you.
But it's the second note from the scale.
So if you play an E-minor like that
barring all three of these,
it has that same effect.
Then, as I said, this C9 is a nice,
is a nice C9, or if you go to this kind of
E-minor 7,
that's the seventh fret, fifth fret,
seventh fret.
Actually puts the D on the bottom, which
is unusual for an E-minor chord, but
for a mandolin tuned as high as we are, it
works great.
I might go to a regular C7.
Just like this.
So basically I'm looking for
ways of going from E-minor to C7 with the
least amount of motion.
Here's an E-minor, 9-9-10, and
the nearest C7 to that is 9-8-10, so
you're only moving one note.
You're moving the B natural to a B-flat.
It's really the only note that changes,
between these two chords.
And this something to keep in mind when
you're improvising on this tune, which
we're gonna get to a little later, is you
try to find the most, all the chord,
the chord tones that are the same and
when, if there's one note that's different
in the new chord, you try to make sure
you're doing that in improv, okay?
But more on that later.
Let's say we were just working with the
upper, three, three strings,
5-7, it can be 5-7-6, would be the nearest
C7, right?
Or if we were holding down.
2-2-3, we could have 2-1-3, would be a C7.
So just looking for all the ways to go
from E-minor to C7.
Just open G and E.
Let's say we're just dealing with the low
two strings.
Sometimes I'll do that.
And then just B-flat and E make a C7, or
enough of a C7 to give you that illusion.
B and E, become B-flat and E.
E and G can stay E and G, all right?
If the bass player goes to a C, this is
gonna sound like a C chord, even though
it was function as an E-minor a second
ago, it's just fine, fine and dandy.
That's still a C, now it's an E-minor.
Now it's a C.
All right?
So things to think about new ways of
thinking about this stuff.
Here's an E-minor 9-12-10.
Where's in there a C, you could keep those
same notes, and
it would still be a C7, okay?
Or you could flip it.
To this kind of C7.
[SOUND] 9-8-10.
Okay, so we're just going back and forth
between these chords, trying to show you
all the different ways to go minor to C7.
Now we need an A chord.
How many A7 chords do we have?
We have this one.
[SOUND] Might be one of the first ones you
learned, 2-2-4-3.
The next one up is 6-5-7.
The next one up is 9-7-10.
The next one up is 9-11-10.
And then as we start to look at the upper
chord, the upper three strings,
we have 2-4-3, and here we have 5-4-5.
Also an A7, 5-7-9, A7.
5, I'm sorry, 7-7-9, is an A.
7-10-9, is an A7, works great.
Sometimes I'll do this, I'll do 10.
I'm sorry, 11-10-0-11-10, open.
Setting in.
You're just concentrating on the upper
three strings.
11-10-12 is another one.
So, these are all A7s.
So to go back to the chord progression.
C, well it's C9.
Then A, C7, B7, B-minor.
Okay we all know where C7 is because we've
playing them for
a long time, all through this tune.
Here's one at the 5-5, 7-8, and B7 is a
half step below it.
So no matter what C7 you choose.
The B7 is gonna be a half step below it.
So this is, it's the one David plays,
pretty often.
Which just becomes 2-1-2.
To end on E-minor, after that, okay?
So let's look for all the C7, B7.
That's one.
The next one might be this.
That's 3-5-7,
that's a C7 even though there's no C in
3-5-7-4-5-7, it's an E-minor cuz this is a
That's, when it's a B-flat, it's a C7.
The next
set would be this one we already showed
C7 to B-minor, and you'd go to the nearest
you might bar up top, so that you keep
that melodic line in the upper voice
moving, or it could be that.
Try to make the, the melody that
you're suggesting even though you're
playing chords,
you're still playing kind of a melodic
It's nice if you can keep it moving and
keep its own tension and resolution
And not just grab things randomly that
break up that, the sound of that.
Here's another C7, 5-8-7.
So down a half step,
to 4-7-6 there's a B7 here, and then you
go to an E-minor.
any E-minor you like, here I got 4-5-7.
Here's another C7, 9-8-10.
Bring it back a half step, it's a B7.
then the nearest E-minor seven is this,
So you got 9-8-9-8-10-7 I'm sorry, 8-7-9.
Then 7-5-7 okay?
I think that's probably plenty for now.
there are other ways to play the chords to
this thing.
Let me go through a little bit of it just
E minor.
E-minor, C9.
E-minor, C7.
A7, C7.
B7, D-minor 9, C7.
E-minor 9, C7.
E-minor 9, C7.
Okay, what am I doing here?
I'm actually playing two different
Because it's held for so long,
there's room to play E-minor,
a different E-minor, C7, a different C7.
E-minor, another E-minor.
C7, another C7.
E-minor, another E-minor.
C7, another C7.
E-minor, another E-minor.
C7, another C7.
A7, A7.
C7, B7.
Those are just different voicings.
Great way to practice moving from.
You know, you should really just.
There's an argument for just jamming on
one chord for a long time,
cause then that gives you the chance to
I'm just on E-minor now.
I'm looking at all different E-minors.
Just on the bottom of three strings.
And I'm practicing moving from one version
of E-minor to another version.
Now I'm going to C7.
I'm gonna stay on the C7 for awhile,
until I get really cozy with all these
Now A7, A7.
Do you hear I'm
actually kinda creating little melodies.
With my top note, my top voice.
C7, D7, E-minor, 'kay, now we're back to
the tune.
So next, we're gonna look at the melody,
okay, last but not least.
First, we gotta learn the chords,
and then we'll learn the melody, right?
Very simple little tune really.
And in typical David fashion, it plays off
of this E-minor pentatonic.
E, G, E, D, E.
Now here
he's reaching all the way up to the eighth
fret, [SOUND] and to the second fret.
[SOUND] That's a very big stretch.
[SOUND] I'm playing open afterwards.
[SOUND] Then the seventh fret, then the
fifth fret.
So it's a real mandolinistic.
Then sliding up to the A.
That's it.
Okay, so David uses a lot of what I would
call ghost notes, you know.
He plays notes that are not really super
But they're part of the rhythmic, 16th
note subdivisions of what he's doing.
So it's.
he's accenting real hard the B-flat notes.
And the other notes back here are kinda
muffled ever so slightly.
They're not really speaking as clearly.
It's not.
You know, it's really.
That's why we call them ghost notes,
cuz they're kinda shadowy.
They're there, but
the real accent happens on the upper voice
of that little triad, as he walks down.
I always keeping the hand going.
Now that little turn around, because it's
groups of threes, one,
two, three, one, two, three, one, two,
three, one, two, three.
[SOUND] And the rhythm of the piece is
Dadada dadada dadada dadada dadada dada.
So it's one, two, three, one, two, three,
one, two, three, one, boom.
So it's groups of three going across a two
beat pattern, so
that's why it takes a while for it to
kinda eat its tail to come back to
the down beat, but it eventually gets
[SOUND] Boom.
That's what's happening, rhythmically to
that little moment.
Right here.
Then we go back.
Then the A chord.
Sliding up to the A note from the G.
First ending.
Again, some ghost notes in there.
That one is not.
Those are all real clear.
But here on the B7, on the B.
If you wanna try and
be super clear about it, it would be D,
D-Sharp, D-Sharp, B.
But, he kinda goes, one of those notes.
And the second ending to that same section
instead of doing this business,
he instead starts on the high C note.
Okay, plays a C note.
C, B, C, B, A, G, B and B,
B flat, B flat, B, B flat, A.
G, E again, even though it's a B chord.
then he's back in the little A section.
[SOUND] All right, so I hope this [SOUND]
clarify how David might finger this
cause when you listen to it on the CD,
it's easy to get confused.
I've seen a lot of people play it.
Try and play this B-flat on the A string.
But then you don't have this, the beauty
of this.
This sort of spinning triplets that you
get by playing it all on one string.
so the other aspect to this tune I'd love
to go into is how to improvise on it.
And the main point I want to make is
the difference between an E-minor chord
versus a C7, is what?
And as I said earlier, the only note that
changes is the B.
The B note on an E minor is natural.
But on a C7 it needs to be B flat.
So, I'd like you to think about just
that note when you're improvising over
these two chords.
That that's the note you're gonna change.
All the other notes are gonna stay the
And that's sort of like the,
the heart of this.
So if we're playing in E minor, and.
And then we go to C.
want this B note to change from B natural
to B flat.
That was in E minor, now it's in D flat,
cuz it's.
Now it's at B natural.
Now it's B flat.
Even the low B-flat.
Now it's B natural.
Now it's B-flat.
Now we're in an A chord.
And it's at this moment that I want to
hear C sharp notes, because A.
An A major scale needs to have a C sharp.
The Gs can still remain, cuz they're,
they're part of the A7, and they were part
of the E minor too.
But this C sharp note is gonna kinda be
the, the heart and blood of that A
It's gonna make the A sound like an A.
A lot of times what you'll see people
doing over a tune like this is just
playing in E minor the whole time and
just not even dealing with any real chord
Every once in a while, they'll stumble
upon the B flat.
But it's not super conscious.
And I'd love for students to really start
thinking about.
And this'll be kind of the doorway out of
bluegrass, the idea of modal
playing in one key the whole time, and
just making one step into jazz.
Cuz once you go all the way into jazz,
then you're dealing with a lot of this.
And each chord has its own set of scale
tones, and harmonic information.
Sometimes lots of notes will change in
a very short time in order to make your
way through a set of jazz changes.
But rather than diving into the whole
rat's nest of it this is a great tune for
stepping off into that reality, and
starting to explore.
And, and then, to keep the concept really
simple, that,
E minor you're thinking B natural.
C7, you're thinking B flat.
E Minor is a B.
C7 is a B flat.
B naturals, B flats.
Now, C sharp over that A chord.
C chord here is gonna be B flats.
What happens very quickly,
it goes to a B7.
Now we have to introduce a new tonality
for this B7, and that's the D sharp.
All right,
you can hear it, It's part of the chord.
And it resolves us to the E minor.
So practice playing just from
the C7 to the B7 to the E minor.
And over the C7, really make this.
Then the B7.
Really make that D sharp.
And then you're back to E minor.
A good way to practice is just a straight
Not that you would ever play it.
Although you might.
Here's a B7 arpeggio.
B, D sharp, F sharp, A, B.
Here's a C arpeggio, C, E, G, B flat, C.
Half step lower.
Really want you to be able to make
that change.
E minor, just practice arpeggiating these.
Here's up the neck, C7 arpeggio, right?
C, E, G, B flat, C.
You've gotta, it grows out of a C scale.
But it has a flat seven.
Then a B.
Two, four, six, seven,
two, four, five, seven.
That should be seven scaled.
So the arpeggio is 1-3-5-7.
1-3-5-7, and eight.
So C.
E minor.
to starting from each of the three tones
of the arpeggio.
On the C chord, start on the, instead of
always starting on the root, the C note,
try starting on the E note.
And the B chord.
Try starting on the D sharp.
And the E minor.
The, start on the G note,
the third of that chord.
Try starting on the fifth of each of
Here's the fifth of the C chord,
is a G note, right?
C, E, G.
Make up a lick that starts on the fifth.
Then, as you know, it all comes down a
half step, for a B7, right?
Starting on the F sharp.
Then for the E.
Start on the fifth of the E, which is B.
1-3-5, and seven.
Do it all off the sevenths.
So on the C7, play off the B flat note.
Cuz that's the flat seven.
On the B7, play off the A note.
Then off the E.
Play off the D note.
Hope this gives you a little insight into
how to make your way through this
lovely number.
And I hope that it opens a little doorway
into how to think about
making your way through chord changes,
because we're gonna do more of this as we,
as we open up little bits of swing and
jazz for you.
So I've included a version of myself
improvising over, over the,
over the tune EMD, which you could check
And hopefully it provides a little
inspiration for you.
We'll see you next time, thanks.