In this lesson, Mike refers again to the circle of fifths in explaining what the 1-6-2-5 progression is and how it was derived. The 1-6-2-5 progression is simply playing the root note of a scale, followed by the 6th degree in that scale, followed by the 2nd, and lastly the 5th.
- Okay, we're gonna talk about the circle of fifths for just a second. You'll see here next to me, this beautiful circle. And what that is, is all the keys, all 12 keys, put in a circle in, moving in fifths. So at the top you have C, and to the right of it you have G, and to the right of that, going clockwise is D, and then A, and then E, and then B. So, many many tunes...
We talked about 1, 4, 5. G, A, B, C and D. The five chord. Many tunes will use the five, of the five, of the five. And what in the world is that? And if you look at the circle of fifths here, you'll see that E is actually the five of A. A is the five of D, D is the five of G, and G is the five of C. So many tunes will do this thing where they'll jump on the wheel.
You'll be in one key, and then all of a sudden you can jump to any one of these chords, and if they're functioning as five chords, they will lead you back to where you came. So one of the first tunes we learned in bluegrass that uses this trick, is "Salty Dog Blues". So it's in the key of G. (guitar strumming) And then, it goes to the E chord. (guitar strumming) Couple of notches down on the wheel. And then it goes to the A chord, And of course it's on its way back, and it goes to the D chord.
(guitar strumming) And then it ends on the G. So the G is the tonic, or the root key. E is the five of A, so E is gonna lead you to A. A is the five of D, so that's gonna lead you to D. And D is the five of G, it's gonna take you back home. (dart whooshing) So you guys know "Salty Dog Blues", but this is kind of a nice little theoretical approach to it. So I'm gonna play it, the melody for you with the backing track here and then I'll play some rhythm and you, improvise a solo.
The main thing I want you to think about when you're improvising over this set of chords like this, is that, to really be in the, in the new chord as it happens. Don't just play in G through the whole thing. But play in G and then when it goes to E7, really be in E7. Play your E7 arpeggios, and your tonality of E7 during that moment, and then when it goes to A, really be in A, and when it goes to D, be in D and then back to G.
Let's give it a shot. - [Voiceover] A one, two, three. (guitar playing) So just to explain in a little more detail what I'm doing.
I'm really being in the G chord (guitar strumming) for those first two bars. For two beats I mean. Now I'm really in E7. Then I'm really in A. Then I'm in D. And now I'm back to G. Okay? Okay, now it's your turn.
I'd love to hear you play over "Salty Dog Blues", see what you can do. Again, you know, make it through all those different chords but try to not make it an academic exercise either. You want to find nice melodies that float through the changes. But this is a starting point, a way of getting you thinking about the instrument in a new way so that you're trying to deal with the harmonies that're in front of you but of course you want to make a nice melody that connects through and weaves nicely through those changes.
This course is part two of the Mandolin Lessons series, which includes hundreds of lessons, exclusive performances, and special guest interviews. Make sure to check out the exercise files for downloadable tab, audio samples, and other study materials.
Note: This course was created and produced by ArtistWorks. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- Adjusting your action
- Changing strings and tuning the mandolin
- Playing a 1-6-2-5 progression
- Understanding moveable chords
- Practicing mandolin
- Playing blues on the mandolin
- Playing kickoffs