• Aaron Weinstein On His Mandolin Chord Melody System Book on Mel Bay


    Aaron Weinstein's Chord Melody System isn't so much a method book as it is a concise "strategy." It's a peak behind the curtain of what every mandolinist assumed from watching his YouTube videos was some kind of magical wizard operating byzantine levers and adroit pulleys, far beyond the comprehension of mortals and us common folk musicians.

    What is perceived from the outside as mystery and complexity is merely a handful of concise tricks and tools.

    In this book, Weinstein avoids the charade of soul-eating, complex music theory and exposes the dirty secret of what master mandolinists have known all along — the instrument's 5th tuning was wired for chord mobility and comprehensible transposition, pun intended. Through brief explanation and an astute series of straightforward etudes, he unlocks the gate to a world of self-contained aesthetic instrumental satisfaction. Chord Melody mastery is truly the ultimate solo experience.

    This will be the best 52 pages of education any intermediate or advanced beginning mandolinist will encounter.

    Ted Eschliman
    Author and Industry Consultant
    JazzMando.com

    What was the inspiration for your new book Mandolin Chord Melody System on Mel Bay?

    Well, on a fairly regular basis I'd receive notes from people in response to my chord melody YouTube videos, and they'd often ask if I had transcriptions of my chord melody arrangements, which I don't. But because it seemed like there was interest in chord melody mandolin playing, I figured, why not put together a guide to help learn this style and give mandolinists the tools to create their own chord melody arrangements.

    I brought the idea for the book to Bill Bay who was terrifically enthusiastic. So I sharpened my pencils and went to work.

    Playing bass lines on mandolin is just one of the concepts some are going to have to wrap their brain around.

    Maybe it's the idea of associating bass lines with a soprano instrument like the mandolin that seems odd. But in a nutshell, while the bass lines we might play on the mandolin are going to be a few octaves higher than where they'd be played on a double bass, bass lines played on a mandolin can function in the same way as they would on a upright bass.

    You allude to musical similarities between Bach and solo mandolin in the book. Tell us about that.

    I think the Bach violin sonatas show us just how much can be implied on a single instrument. I mean, turn to just about any page of the sonatas and you'll often find a melody, harmony, implied bass lines — it's all there.

    We found the use of the single melody you build on throughout the first half of the book to be a great way to connect with what you were teaching. Can you walk us through that process?

    Essentially, in the book we take a single melody line and turn it into a chord melody arrangement, one step at a time. We start by deciding what of the melody to play as single notes and what to play as chords. Then we decide on specific chord voicings. And then we just need to get our fingers to do what we want them to.



    In our previous interview you mentioned studying the guitar playing of greats like Bucky Pizzarelli who you've performed with, Carl Kress, George Van Eps, and Howard Alden. For someone new to hearing solo jazz guitar could you recommend three recordings for a student new to the solo concept?

    Wow. Just three? Well, these are by no means "the best" cause in music, there is no such thing as, "best." But as far as great solo jazz guitar albums, I'd say, there's nothing better than:

    Joe Pass: Virtuoso
    Any of Bucky Pizzarelli's solo guitar albums on the Arbors label
    Frank Vignola: Blues for a Gypsy

    Have you given thought to a solo mandolin recording?

    Well, I'll tell you what. You find a record label dying for a solo jazz mandolin album and I'll consider it. Deal?

    Deal. We're serious! Aside from the book, as a professional musician living in New York City, what kind of work are you taking on, performing or otherwise?

    I do lots of different kinds of performing — with my own trio, and as a guest with other soloists and singers as well as writing arrangements. I know that's kind of vague but really, every week is so different, it's hard to generalize.

    Will Mel Bay host video content of any parts of the book?

    There are no plans at the moment but it's probably best to check with them. But I'll likely make videos of some of the etudes.

    Anything else you'd like to add about the book?

    I'd just like to say that I'm really happy with the book and hope that it'll be a helpful resource for those interested in learning chord melody on the mandolin. And it not like I kept the good stuff secret. Really, everything you need to know, all the "tricks" — if you want to call them that, are in the book. All you have to do is read it.



    A few non-music related questions. You're a self-proclaimed "bow tie rights activist." What exactly does that entail?

    Well, I'd rather leave that one alone cause I mean, really, if you have to ask...

    In a recent publicity photo, Chris Thile was wearing a bow tie, hand tied, not a clip-on. Your response?

    There's a reason he is a MacArthur genius.

    For visitors to New York City where would you recommend they shop for a fine bow tie?

    Paul Stuart, Madison Avenue at 45th Street.

    Aaron, best of luck with the book and we'll be watching for you on YouTube.

    Thanks.

    Additional information

    Comments 44 Comments
    1. AaronWeinstein's Avatar
      AaronWeinstein -
      I just wanted to chime in for a moment to thank you all for the nice comments I've received about this book. Also, if anyone has questions as you're working through it, feel free to post them here or in the forum and I'll do my best to answer. Thanks again!
    1. Scott Tichenor's Avatar
      Scott Tichenor -
      Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
      I know that one could print after purchase. I would like to see one complete sample lesson before purchase.

      It seems like with most other books you can read whole chapters online before buying. But it seems that with music books, you often have no idea what the teaching method is, and how the book executes it.

      I suppose it has something to do with royalties to the music publishers. Even if the actual music was blacked out, it would be helpful to read the discussion of how the piece is approached.

      I guess that if there is a money back policy on the e-books that would solve it.
      I've seen you repeat this same opinion enough times that it's getting a bit tired. We get it. Instead of continuing to fill up the forum space with the same comment over and over suggest you contact the publishers and take your concern directly to them.
    1. Tom Haywood's Avatar
      Tom Haywood -
      I bought the online version a couple of weeks ago. Certainly worth the money. I'm not much interested in jazz mandolin, but I think these lessons will have broad application. They have quite a lot of info compressed into a concise space, and they make it all look pretty simple. I would like what my students ask from me: suggested fingerings, an audio file to hear the music as written and to slow it down, and a short video to watch the hand techniques.
    1. JonZ's Avatar
      JonZ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Scott Tichenor View Post
      I've seen you repeat this same opinion enough times that it's getting a bit tired. We get it. Instead of continuing to fill up the forum space with the same comment over and over suggest you contact the publishers and take your concern directly to them.
      If you get it, an interview that delves into the methodology in adequate detail would be another solution.
    1. Scott Tichenor's Avatar
      Scott Tichenor -
      Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
      If you get it, an interview that delves into the methodology in adequate detail would be another solution.
      Well, good then. Glad you said that. We've ironed this all out then and won't need to discuss further. You don't think publishers include enough free samples for your personal tastes for a $15 product, and you don't like the work I do on interviews for products such as this.

      Carry on.

    1. mandroid's Avatar
      mandroid -
      How does this differ from the Chordal melodic motion of Trad Jazz Tenor Banjo players techniques ?
    1. Manfred Hacker's Avatar
      Manfred Hacker -
      Quote Originally Posted by Scott Tichenor View Post
      Someone above noted purchasing the eBook from Mel Bay yesterday. Believe it's just a PDF so should be able to print from it if desired.
      I have purchased many so-called eBooks from Mel Bay, and against better knowledge I may buy this one too. (TBAS - tune book acquisition syndrome)

      eBook:
      I think we should stop calling their simple PDF files "eBooks", and they should do that, too.

      Printing:
      With some of the PDF files I have bought Printing did not work. I had to use special software to get it printed.

      Several emails I sent in that regard have never been answered.
    1. bigskygirl's Avatar
      bigskygirl -
      Manfred, I too have sent emails about the printing issue and not received a response. A dumb, dumb, dumb policy and until they remedy this I will no longer buy ebooks from MelBay.

      If I want to print I can always take a screen shot and print that way, a pain but one way to get around the print issue. Seems this is an issue with iPads and tablets, one can print from Adobe on a PC.

      Also, the book is 20% off thru 11/30...Aaron is the featured author.
    1. Manfred Hacker's Avatar
      Manfred Hacker -
      bigskygirl, it is not just a tablet issue. While it worked ok with some, with other files I have tried everything: Laptop, PC, they would not print from Adobe. I used a pdf-editing software (not Adobe) to export the content and then print it.
      Screenshots !!! OMG what a pain.
    1. bigskygirl's Avatar
      bigskygirl -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
      Manfred, I too have sent emails about the printing issue and not received a response. A dumb, dumb, dumb policy and until they remedy this I will no longer buy ebooks from MelBay.

      If I want to print I can always take a screen shot and print that way, a pain but one way to get around the print issue. Seems this is an issue with iPads and tablets, one can print from Adobe on a PC.

      Also, the book is 20% off thru 11/30...Aaron is the featured author.
      I wanted to update this...

      This morning I receved an email from Mel Bay saying that these files are supposed to print from any computer using Adobe...I then asked about tablets and iPads and I have not yet received a response on that.

      I was provided with a way to print my purchases so I would encourage anyone with a print issue to contact Mel Bay for resolution.

      I'll update post when/if I receive word about printing from tablets/iPads.
    1. bigskygirl's Avatar
      bigskygirl -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
      I wanted to update this...

      This morning I receved an email from Mel Bay saying that these files are supposed to print from any computer using Adobe...I then asked about tablets and iPads and I have not yet received a response on that.

      I was provided with a way to print my purchases so I would encourage anyone with a print issue to contact Mel Bay for resolution.

      I'll update post when/if I receive word about printing from tablets/iPads.
      Below is the response (posted here with permission) from Mel Bay on printing from tablets, thanks Gerald for a prompt, helpful response.

      Our system is not as stright forward as it could be when working directly from a tablet, but you can download, print and listen to the audio straight from your iPad. In order to work directly from your iPad you must first download a unzip app that allows you download and open our download files that are in a .zip folder, iZip is a free app available in the iTunes store. If you have any trouble downloading or printing the eBooks you purchased directly from your iPad let us know and we'll be glad to help.

      Regards,

      Gerard Lammert
      Mel Bay Publications, Inc.
      Gerard@melbay.com
      www.melbay.com
    1. meow-n-dolin's Avatar
      meow-n-dolin -
      Quote Originally Posted by AaronWeinstein View Post
      I just wanted to chime in for a moment to thank you all for the nice comments I've received about this book. Also, if anyone has questions as you're working through it, feel free to post them here or in the forum and I'll do my best to answer. Thanks again!
      Well, first off, I downloaded the PDF version with no problem at all.

      And, I want to thank you for this book. I am not a Jazz musician, and my occasional clumsy forays into Swing don't make me one, even if I do know a couple of Bebop scales.

      I have been looking for ways to incorporate more Jazz voicings into the tunes we play, which means everything from Pink Floyd to Floyd Cramer to Bob Wills, but whenever I pick up a book on Jazz, it seems I need a BA in music as a primer.

      This is different. I LOT different, and I have learned more applicable theory since I bought this (yesterday), than I have in -- I don't know how long.

      This might be the most useful music book I have purchased since Pete Seeger's book back in the 1960's.

      So, again, Thanks!

      Al
    1. AaronWeinstein's Avatar
      AaronWeinstein -
      I'm so glad you're getting something out of this text. Thanks for letting me know.
      Quote Originally Posted by meow-n-dolin View Post
      whenever I pick up a book on Jazz, it seems I need a BA in music as a primer.

      This is different. I LOT different, and I have learned more applicable theory since I bought this (yesterday), than I have in -- I don't know how long.

      This might be the most useful music book I have purchased since Pete Seeger's book back in the 1960's.

      So, again, Thanks!

      Al
    1. bohemianbiker's Avatar
      bohemianbiker -
      Quote Originally Posted by Manfred Hacker View Post
      I have purchased many so-called eBooks from Mel Bay, and against better knowledge I may buy this one too. (TBAS - tune book acquisition syndrome) ... [snip]
      Manfred, I too have TBAS, altho I tend to call it MBAS (mandolin book acquisition syndrome) because it's not just "tune" books I've purchased. I've been frequently disappointed with my purchases, and it's taken me way too long to realize that it's not a lack of books that's holding me back. So I haven't gotten any books in some time, although I did get this one on Christmas, and I'm hopeful I'll learn to be able to incorporate chord melodies into tunes/breaks.

      I believe you and I have jammed together at a now defunct jam in Arlington, corner of Glebe and Washington Bvld. bb
    1. geoffreymbrown's Avatar
      geoffreymbrown -
      The value of this book would be greatly enhanced by a few mp3 demonstrations. Overall, a good, but somewhat terse book -- more like a great outline for the book I'd like to see.
    1. John Flynn's Avatar
      John Flynn -
      One bit of advice: I recommend strongly against buying the Amazon Kindle version of the book. It would not even download to my Kindle Reader apps, such as the one on my laptop. The Amazon site said they were "unsupported" even though I download to them all the time and I have never seen that problem before except with this book. It would only open on Kindle Cloud and my actual Kindle. On the Cloud Reader, the page size was so small, I couldn't read it. It would not let me enlarge it or can't print it. It was completely useless IMHO. I immediately "returned" it and ordered the paperback version, which has shipped.

      I am looking forward to getting it.
    1. CHASAX's Avatar
      CHASAX -
      Waiting for the book via
      Amazon.
      Meanwhile I will be looking for my bow ties.
    1. CHASAX's Avatar
      CHASAX -
      Quote Originally Posted by meow-n-dolin View Post
      Well, first off, I downloaded the PDF version with no problem at all.

      And, I want to thank you for this book. I am not a Jazz musician, and my occasional clumsy forays into Swing don't make me one, even if I do know a couple of Bebop scales.

      I have been looking for ways to incorporate more Jazz voicings into the tunes we play, which means everything from Pink Floyd to Floyd Cramer to Bob Wills, but whenever I pick up a book on Jazz, it seems I need a BA in music as a primer.

      This is different. I LOT different, and I have learned more applicable theory since I bought this (yesterday), than I have in -- I don't know how long.

      This might be the most useful music book I have purchased since Pete Seeger's book back in the 1960's.

      So, again, Thanks!

      Al
      +1 Maybe after Weinstein's book I can go back to those jazz books that are gathering dust.
    1. JH Murray's Avatar
      JH Murray -
      And for those seeking to emulate Aaron's amazing choice of bowties here is an EBAY option
    1. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
      Mandolin Cafe -
      Noting that today is the one year anniversary of this fine publication!