Original articles, lessons plus the "best of the web" brought to you by mandolin enthusiast/teacher Bruce Bernhart
The Bernhart Mandolin Webpages explore the history of the mandolin, buying and building mandolins, the various makes and models of mandolins available on the market, basic chord structures, different styles of playing, practice exercises and performance.
First Position Flats and Sharps
Review how to tune the mandolin- EADG. Use tuner and know the 7th fret method.
Know the major scale on the mandolin- see illustration #1.
An "interval" is the distance between notes. Review what a "third" interval is. As an example, look at where the C note is on your diagram, and move up four frets to the E. A "third" is actually four frets up.
Bernhart says note the interval pattern of whole notes and half notes on illustration #1. The major scale always climbs two frets at a time except between the 3rd and 4th notes of the scale and between the 7th and 8th notes of the scale. Between those two pairs, you climb only a half step (one fret).
Review your first position major scales for D and A (see the handout). These two scales include the most number of open strings.
Know where the "root" note is, both at the start of the scale and at the end of the scale. The root notes are in red. The circled notes are "bluesy" notes.
That's because they are flatted. The 3rd, the 5th and 7th notes are all flatted notes or "blue" notes.
Practice the A and D scales up and down until you can play them smooth. Make each note clear. No dead notes!
Practice the tab for Old Joe Clark on the Bernhart tab sheet, part A only. Play slow, make each note clear and clean.
Understanding The Twelve Steps Of Key Construction (theorylessons.com)
Key construction in its most basic sense is simply to give a name to each one of the chromatics in any chosen key. Since there are twelve chromatics there will be twelve steps in key construction. These twelve steps must be memorized in order, and again there is no way around this. If you look closely at them, you will see a pattern in their order, and this makes them fairly easy to remember.
*note : if you do not know what an "interval" is, refer to the glossary for a definition of the term.
What we have here is a collection of intervals, each with their own name. Every chromatic note in the key we are in will have its own name as well as some type of designation as to what kind of note it is. You'll see that we have some major notes, some minor notes, two are called perfects, and we have one called diminished. The perfect 4th and the perfect 5th ARE major intervals.
We've talked about Figured Bass. Figured Bass was developed in the early Baroque period. It was a system of musical shorthand that made the writing of keyboard parts easier. It was customary for the composer to write out the bass line and to place Arabic numerals above or below the figured bass to indicate the harmonies. The keyboard part was called the continuo, which was improvised by the player.
Bernhart on Low Humidity Issues, Affect on Wood.
Fine crafted, solid wood instruments need extra care in regards to humidity and temperature. Acoustic guitar owners should be knowledgeable and aware of the danger of wood shrinkage and cracking with low humidity. We must reserve the right to decline warranty repair involving temperature and humidity damage.
Ideally an instrument in a low humidity environment should be built in that humidity and never leave that environment, but in reality there is quite a range of humidity that a solid wood instrument can safely live in. For our instruments it is between 40% to 80% relative humidity. The lower the guitar goes below 40% the greater probability cracking will occur and that the top and back plates will flatten and even go concave. Humidity of 30% is a bit low for safe storage. The signs of excessively low humidity are: action buzzing, fret end protrusion, fretboard hump at the body joint area, fretboard extension drop off, concave top and back, grain of the wood telegraphing through the finish, and eventually cracks.
Case humidifiers, says Bernhart, are helpful but a dedicated room with a humidifier is by far the best. When the humidity is low you should purchase and use a room humidifier. Room humidifiers are inexpensive and only cost pennies to run opposed to a de-humidifier, which is like an air conditioner energy wise and used to reduce high humidity Be sure to get a good hygrometer that confirms that the humidity in the room is above 40%. It is entirely conceivable that in some very dry locations a combination of a room humidifier and a case humidifier will be necessary to achieve 40% relative humidity for the instrument.
Maintaining even humidity is as important as keeping it above 40% relative humidity, because wood looses or gains moisture at a very high rate like a sponge. If you travel with your mandolin, the sound hole and case humidification devices are imperative. Always use a quality hardshell case when traveling by air and never a soft "gig bag". Airlines are notorious for low humidity at high altitude. If you are traveling by car and the humidity is above 40% a case humidifier is not necessary. Always keep the instrument in its case when not playing and prevent hot/cold shifts. An instrument kept at temperatures of 60 to 90 degrees is a good temperature range.
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