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Thread: Aloha. hawaiian mandolin?

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    I was messing around with the ukulele over the summer and learned some chords. Truth be told, it is naturally a very charming instrument. Transposing a few tunes I know over to the mandolin, I was struck at how the easygoing vibe transferred over. I was wondering if the mandolin is ever used in Hawaiian music. It seems like a natural complement to the uke ... bright and brassy chords to go along with the ukes unique sound. Any experience or insight?
    Gene Jusrag

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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Do a search here, get plenty stuff.

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    Cambridge Mandolinist Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    It used to be a bit more popular in Hawaiian music than it is now.

    I had a sit-in with the Brown Family of Maui at a friend's house a few moths ago. They really dug the mandolin. I think it has a lot of potential.

    Come to think of it, mandola may have more. A lot of the slack-key tunes are played in C, F, and G. They're almost too easy to play on the 'dola.

    One of my New Year's resolutions is to explore Hawaiian music more.

    Best,
    Daniel

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    Hey there,
    I play Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Somewhere over the rainbow on the mando and it sounds (IMHO) great!
    I know it's not an authentic Hawaiian tune but from a great uke player all the same.

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    Registered User Keith Miller's Avatar
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    Try this site lots of free stuff and he plays a mean Uke
    Gerald Ross
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    and beauty is free (runrig)

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    I just bought a thick music book titled "King's Songs of Hawaii" from an antique store. #It has about 100 authentic songs with hawaiian and english lyrics, and all the uke chords too. #I was wondering myself if the music would translate nicely to the mandolin... We'll see...




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    Quote Originally Posted by (DNestler @ Dec. 25 2006, 16:24)
    It used to be a bit more popular in Hawaiian music than it is now.

    I had a sit-in with the Brown Family of Maui at a friend's house a few moths ago. #They really dug the mandolin. #I think it has a lot of potential. #

    Come to think of it, mandola may have more. #A lot of the slack-key tunes are played in C, F, and G. #They're almost too easy to play on the 'dola.

    One of my New Year's resolutions is to explore Hawaiian music more.

    Best,
    Daniel
    Hello. I wonder how your experience playing Hawaiian music on the mandola has been. Any unique things done with the C course? I just procured a mandola but never thought of this genre when I got it.

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    Registered User MikeB's Avatar
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    Whoa, Keith! Gerald Ross (almost) makes me wish I'd taken up uke instead of mandolin! Man, that is some beautiful stuff! Thanks for the link.



    --Mike Buesseler

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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    I wish it could be said that there was any appreciable history to the mandolin in Hawaiian music, but it ain't so. You see an occasional old photo where one is being played, usually in a power-pop band like Benny Nawahi's. But you never hear a trace of it on any recording. I think it was more a stage prop than a musical ingredient.

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    That's a cool picture, Paul. Handcolourised black and white photo?

    I wonder about the instrument on the left: is that a second mandolin, or a double-strung uke?

    Martin

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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    The instrument to the left is a taropatch, a double strung uke.

    Quote Originally Posted by
    I wish it could be said that there was any appreciable history to the mandolin in Hawaiian music, but it ain't so.
    I suppose this statement would've come as quite a shock to John Kameaaloha Almeida, a key figure in Hawaiian music history. His mandolin playing spanned several eras and is featured on many recordings.

    While I agree there isn't any known recorded first-generation Hawaiian mando playing, passing off mandolins in old photos as being merely stage props is a bit of a stretch for me (at least to the extent I'm not passing off the appearance of 3 harp guitars as mere theatrics either, LOL).

    King Bennie is supposedly playing mandolin in contests/vaudeville - but whether these stories are true or apocryphal, who knows. There are other well-known photos of Newahi with mandos and tenor guitars, but he's not actually playing them... I wish I could find someone who actually knew the guy; he didn't die very long ago, and he lived fairly close to me. I'm still looking.

    There are lots of old photos of Hawaiian (and Filipinos-passing-as-Hawaiian) stringbands showing interesting instrumentation, including mandos, taropatches, multi-stringed Portuguese thingamagiggies, bandurrias, all kinds of bass-like instruments, harp guitars, etc... All props? I tend to think otherwise - that all these instruments were played, we just don't know how they were played because there's no recorded evidence.

    My best guess is the presence of mandolins in Hawaiian stringbands was tied to the (semi-contemporaneous) mandolin craze, and that their disappearance coincided with mandolins' general loss of popularity. Only the true diehards (and multi-instrumentalists) like Newahi and Almeida continued to play mando. But I'd love to hear from someone who really knows.

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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    More evidence of the mandolin's non-importance in Hawaiian music...



    OK, so it's a mandocello. Interesting tailpiece too... One of the first National tricones...

    Actually this backs up my point a little. This band, the Times Aloha Quartet, is playing on KJH radio in 1927. They supposedly played "music and airs of the day." Notice their instrumentation, guitar, mandocello (from parlour music/mando orch), steel, and uke (from the islands). Kind of a mish-mash of the instruments of the recent muscial trends, all brought together in LA. I don't think it's that much of a stretch that mando family instruments got played in Hawaiian contexts. Unfortunately not much/none of this survives in a recording, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

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    Several years ago, I was at Duke's on the Huntington Beach pier and there was a killer Hawaiian band playing and I had my mando with me. I sat in all night, got heaps of drinks bought for me and had a blast. It fits very well...but I play bebop and think the mando fits with everything well...only, I have this damn problem remembering the names of bluegrass tunes...and the head of the tunes for that matter...so it seems that's where I have the hardest time fitting it in...go figure.

    Kia Manuia,

    Dale

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