» Banjo Cafe: a companion site for banjo

Mandolin Cafe News

New Music
Publications
Workshops
Builder News
Announcements
Special Events
Bill Graham
Interviews

News Search

NOTE: you are viewing old, archived Mandolin Cafe News articles. Our news has relocated here.

Exploring Classical Mandolin: Technique & Repertoire

By Mandolin Cafe
June 2, 2015 - 7:30 pm

Email article Email article  Printer friendly Printer friendly

Boston, Mass. — Berklee Press has announced the publication of August Watters' Exploring Classical Mandolin: Technique & Repertoire.

The book, augmented with online audio and video includes the techniques, common practices and essential repertoire of the classical mandolin.

You'll learn techniques from several centuries and worldwide traditions; study articulation, picking, arpeggios, alternate picking, rest strokes, glide strokes, tremolo, trills, more; master fretboard logistics through scales, chords and position playing; explore advanced techniques such as split-string and duo-style playing; more.

Repertoire includes music for solo mandolin and small mandolin ensemble: 25 classical pieces by Fouchetti, Barbella, Denis, Beethoven, Mozart, and others; 14 arrangements of favorites by Bach, Telemann, Puccini, Dvorak, and others; original music composed by the author.

Music is in standard notation only.

About the author

August Watters, Professor of Ear Training at Berklee College of Music, is a multi-stylistic, improvising mandolinist, composer/arranger, and music educator. He has performed with some of the leading figures in today’s revival of this most elegant instrument, and the advancement of its musical traditions. His work as an interpreter, improviser, composer and arranger bridges contemporary classical music, jazz, folk music traditions, and the historical concert mandolin repertoire. He is the founder of the Festival of Mandolin Chamber Music, the New England Mandolin Ensemble, Cape Cod Mandolin Camp and Boston Mandolins.

"This book includes many beautiful etudes, a fun and rewarding way to practice the techniques of classical mandolin. Highly recommended!"

  — Carlo Aonzo, mandolinist.

"A comprehensive and indispensable work for those who, starting from other approaches, want to move to classical mandolin."

  — Emanuele Cappellotto

"August Watters brings together three centuries of mandolin technique and repertoire, starting fairly simply, and leading up to more difficult techniques. A recommended book!"

  — Neil Gladd, mandolinist

"ECM is an indispensable companion for every developing mandolinist who wishes to play in the classical tradition. Watters masterfully evaluates and compares various approaches to mandolin playing as expressed in the major methods of the 19th and 20th centuries, making his work an essential part of one's music library. He provides a wealth of musical examples of the techniques discussed, presenting both numerous musical works incorporating these techniques as well as imaginative and inventive technical exercises, many original... The well-rounded mandolinist should not gloss over any part of this invaluable volume."

  — John Craton, composer

"While it would be both fair and easy to sing the praises of how useful this text is, how helpful in guiding the development of the aspiring mandolinist's technique and artistry, it is perhaps even more salient to speak of how musical it is. No arid, pedantic "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not" in these pages! From gentle glide-strokes across strings to the telling imagery of leaves rustling in the wind, Exploring Classical Mandolin conjures up one, great, melodious Zen Moment. A journey well worth taking..."

  — Victor Kioulaphides, composer

Additional information

---------------------------

Post a Comment

You may leave a comment if you have a Mandolin Cafe Forum account. Clicking "Post a Comment" below will take you to the forum where you can complete this action. Please note that once you have, your comment will appear both on this page and on our forum. YOU MUST BE LOGGED IN to your Mandolin Cafe forum account to comment.

» View Full Version of These Comments

Reader Comments

DavidKOS
June 03, 2015 01:42 AM
This looks good for those starting classical mandolin. It would also be a great addition to books used by mandolin teachers.

"Music is in standard notation only." Sorry tab lovers but you need to learn staff notation, it's just taken for granted in the classical music world.
August Watters
June 03, 2015 05:38 AM
Thanks for your comments, David. Yes, the starting points for the book assume only a basic level of mandolin technique, so there's plenty for beginners. There's also a lot of new music I've composed using older techniques you don't see every day, so most players will enjoy exploring those possibilities. Advanced concepts include chord/melody playing, duo-style, improvisation and split-string technique — all of these are part of classical mandolin.
Jim Garber
June 03, 2015 05:55 AM
Congratulations, August. That looks like a worthy addition to the method books out there, old and new.
DavidKOS
June 03, 2015 03:39 PM
Quote from August Watters: There's also a lot of new music I've composed using older techniques you don't see every day, so most players will enjoy exploring those possibilities. Advanced concepts include chord/melody playing, duo-style, improvisation and split-string technique — all of these are part of classical mandolin. End Quote

Split-string...yeah, as you say, plenty of "older" techniques.


It's already on my Amazon wish list.
August Watters
June 03, 2015 04:47 PM
Hey, there were some surprises in researching this book — like when I found split-string writing in the 18th-century method of Leone. That's in the book too!
Theo W.
June 03, 2015 04:56 PM
I can't wait to receive your book in the mail, August! As soon as I saw the news post I bought myself a copy. I'll let you know what I think. Thanks!
fernando.f
June 05, 2015 03:00 AM
I tried to take a look at the contents but I found nothing on Amazon or Sheetmusicplus.

May I ask you to please list me the compositions -- and authors -- you include in your book ?

Thank you !


Fernando
August Watters
June 05, 2015 05:39 AM
Sure, here's a partial screen shot of the Table of Contents.

Please note: Part II is music composed for mandolin; Part III has arrangements for mandolin. What's not listed here is Part I (the instructional part of the book) which contains a couple of dozen original etudes, each focusing on a specific technique or skill.

Martin Jonas
June 05, 2015 11:07 AM
Quote from August Watters: Sure, here's a partial screen shot of the Table of Contents.

Please note: Part II is music composed for mandolin; Part III has arrangements for mandolin. What's not listed here is Part I (the instructional part of the book) which contains a couple of dozen original etudes, each focusing on a specific technique or skill.
End Quote

Nice selection, August. The Abel Allegro is presumably the D-minor. I've been looking at the viol original score this week, but the example of the wonderful Youtube rendition by Liza Solovey (Link) is a bit intimidating.... We play the Camidge in Andy Boden's trio arrangement and it's great fun, but I can't quite imagine it as a mandolin solo.

Are the pieces in Part II all in solo mandolin settings as well, or do you reproduce all the parts?

Will be interesting to see the book. US books usually show up on Amazon UK as well with a bit of a delay -- at the moment it has a listing but says "currently unavailable".

Martin
August Watters
June 05, 2015 12:34 PM
Thanks, Martin! Yes, The Abel Allegro is in D major - WKO186. The minor piece you linked is another I play (WKO208) and would have liked to include, but not enough room for everything! The Camidge included in the book is Andy Boden's trio version. Otherwise, all the arrangements are mine. Most of the ensemble pieces are easy, but I also have a few seemingly-simple-but-endlessly-challenging ensemble pieces -- like the Munier Romanzetta (mandolin/guitar duet), and the Beethoven Adagio (trio) -- I have arranged the keyboard accompaniment for mandolin and mandocello (mandoloncello). Ensemble parts are included in the online PDF.

The first four pieces in Part II are duo or trio format, and the rest are solo (except the Beethoven and Mozart). Oh, and one of my solo pieces (The Revenge of St. Patrick's Snakes) is a solo that might instead be played by two mandolins.

Most of my original music is in Part I (with video recordings), in the form of etudes designed for practicing classical techniques. I also have several concert works in the book, for which I'll be releasing recordings in the near future!

RE: International shipping, you could check with elderly.com -- perhaps they will do international shipping.
Martin Jonas
June 05, 2015 03:45 PM
Quote from August Watters:
RE: International shipping, you could check with elderly.com -- perhaps they will do international shipping. End Quote

It's on Amazon UK now (through a third-party seller in the US), so I've ordered it: Link

As usual, the ways of international commerce are mysterious and in this instance mean that it's actually cheaper in the UK than in the US, even with international postage. I've had that before with Mel Bay books, but I don't really have any plausible explanation for why this happens.

Martin
John Uhrig
June 23, 2015 05:48 PM
Just received my copy yesterday. Looks like I'm going to be busy for awhile. The book is nicely laid out.
Thanks for all the hard work that you put into it August
Scot63
June 24, 2015 08:00 PM
i am working through it and have really enjoyed its programmatic qualities. Thanks for the clear explanation of tremelo—it has been mystifying to this old guitar player up til now. I used your version of Bach's Prelude to the First Cello Suite in a performance this past weekend.
DavidKOS
June 24, 2015 11:47 PM
Quote from John Uhrig: Just received my copy yesterday. Looks like I'm going to be busy for awhile. The book is nicely laid out.
Thanks for all the hard work that you put into it August End Quote

I just ordered mine and am looking forward to using it for myself and my students.
Martin Jonas
June 25, 2015 06:24 PM
Quote from Martin Jonas:
As usual, the ways of international commerce are mysterious and in this instance mean that it's actually cheaper in the UK than in the US, even with international postage. I've had that before with Mel Bay books, but I don't really have any plausible explanation for why this happens.
End Quote

I got my copy just over a week ago, but I have been away on business since then until today. It's a very nicely made and very comprehensive book and fabulously good value (especially at the Amazon UK price I paid). The techniques and example pieces range from fairly straightforward to very advanced indeed -- it's somewhat telling that the only pieces in the book that I have already played and recorded are the early (and easy) ones in Parts II and III: the Barbella Allegro, the Vivaldi Andante, the Fouchetti Menuette and the Camidge Gavotte.

Thanks, August!

Martin
DavidKOS
July 01, 2015 06:08 AM
Wonderful book!

I just got mine, and Mr. Watters won my heart with some of the comments about the history of the mandolin in America, lost levels of skill, the relationship of the older Italian and Classical mandolin music to folk music and Bluegrass, etc.

The musical examples are excellent, the technical info of great value, and I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
objectsession
July 28, 2015 11:36 PM
Hey, August (or anyone else that has the book). A couple questions: First, what is in the audio and video examples? Second, how would you compare this to other books, e.g., Complete Mandolinist (or any other book you think is similar - I don't own any at the moment)? Where is there overlap or differences, what books you'd consider good companions, etc.?

I'm fairly new to mandolin, and I am learning on my own for now (despite much advice against it), but I know how to read music and know some basic music theory and some about classical music.

And congratulations on the book. It's kind of neat to be searching for books on Amazon and then realize the book I was wondering about is by someone I've already seen on here.
Beanzy
July 29, 2015 01:21 AM
I got mine just over a week ago, like Martin says they are ridiculously good value in the UK at the moment.
We normally pay in pounds what you'd pay in dollars for a U.S. import of anything, to the point where I wonder if they left a 1 off the front of the price here.
I wasn't going to bother adding yet another method book to my arsenal, when I'm still years off really extracting all the juice from the various methods and studies I already have on the go. But for £9.84 including £2.80 postage it was a non-decision for me.
That would definitely skew the bang for yer buck equation well in favour of this book by comparison with anything else.
Like I say it's possibly some anomaly of a bulk trade or some pricing algorithm thing the importers use.

Anyway, even assuming I'd paid £15-£20 or so I would rate this as a worthwhile addition to the shelves. Yes all the techniques will be covered elsewhere across the spectrum of classical mandolin methods, yes many will be familiar with any number of points raised and historical insights revealed. But we live in an information rich bubble here on the cafe, so we get aufait with such a wide range of resources and facts. However there are blind spots that are often swamped by the linguistic focus of most of our communications on the cafe. This book pulls together many of the strands from outside the normal range of that lens and gives us a series of paths we can follow and in doing so a better understanding of the pathways already available to explore. Once you have begun exploring any of the techniques through the pieces covered you can understand better the intentions of the old, sometimes very dry methods of previous times.
In short a worthwhile book that should give a lot of learning pleasure and perhaps new perspective on the breadth of the mandolin world out there.
DavidKOS
July 29, 2015 03:48 AM
Quote from objectsession: Hey, August (or anyone else that has the book). A couple questions: First, what is in the audio and video examples? . End Quote

The book includes a serial number and a link to the musical examples and audio, you download them from Hal Leonard.
objectsession
July 29, 2015 10:34 AM
Thanks for the info, Beanzy. The book is also cheap in the US and I like what I've heard about the book so far, so I will probably get it. Although I am trying to avoid the temptation of buying every mandolin book. (I've been fighting *Book* Acquisition Syndrome for a very long time.)

Quote from DavidKOS: The book includes a serial number and a link to the musical examples and audio, you download them from Hal Leonard. End Quote

Thanks. I knew they were online (which is a plus for me since I don't even have a CD drive on my computer). But I was wondering what is in them. Is it audio and video of every piece? Anything else?
DavidKOS
July 29, 2015 10:43 AM
Quote from objectsession:

Thanks. I knew they were online (which is a plus for me since I don't even have a CD drive on my computer). But I was wondering what is in them. Is it audio and video of every piece? Anything else? End Quote

I'm not sure if it's every pice but there are a lot of them in the zip file.
Beanzy
July 29, 2015 11:19 AM
There are "mix minus" play along tracks too but I have only downloaded a few of the videos.
My main focus wouldn't be buying it for the access to the audio tracks or video.
It stands strongest as a print publication.
objectsession
July 29, 2015 11:36 AM
Just bought it! smile
August Watters
July 30, 2015 05:51 AM
The main point of the audio and video is to demonstrate my original etudes (found mainly in Part I). There are also a few accompaniment tracks so you can play along with the several duets and trios included, but these are intended only as a bonus.

Part I of the book is instructional. Specific techniques from across the classical mandolin spectrum are introduced, with new music so you can practice these techniques while playing music, instead of just exercises. Page 75 has a summary of these etudes -- I include sets of these etudes in my own practice routine, for maintaining technique. I love practicing exercises, but they're endless -- and it's fun to have some real music to play that accomplishes the same purpose.

Part II contains a sampling of music written for classical mandolin. You will likely find the well-known pieces elsewhere, but these are all my own new editions. Some of the pieces you won't find anywhere else -- such as my own concert works, or a fun Golden Era piece I recovered (by William Moyer) that (to my knowledge) was until now lost. There's also plenty of interesting, obscure stuff that I hope gets more attention.

Part III has my own arrangements of music not originally written for mandolin. Most are solos arranged chord-melody style, and again, you won't find these elsewhere.

My hope is that any one of the three parts of the book will be more than worth the cost of the book. It's possible that the pricing of the book doesn't make clear that this is an extensive and ambitious project -- for example one Amazon review says "this is not a pamphlet-type book," as if they'd expected much less. For comparison, the only other mandolin book on Berklee Press was written by my late colleague John McGann -- his book is the same price, and a third as many pages.

Someone asked about comparisons to other methods -- that's not my place, but I will say that the instructional component of this book is designed to set out a conceptual framework for serious study of the mandolin -- rather than being a collection of specific exercises to work through, it takes a more conceptual approach to help organize the information which inundates us, and help you to build a productive and rewarding practice routine. Along the way, I make specific recommendations for studying other methods (including the Marilynn Mair method, and several historical methods) -- in order to provide more examples for study.

If you haven't seen them yet, there are some quotations about the book from Carlo Aonzo, Victor Kioulaphides and other prominent musicians.
objectsession
July 30, 2015 07:11 AM
Thanks for the description, August. I'm definitely looking forward to getting the book. Hopefully, in time, I'll be able to make good use of all three parts of the book. smile
Kentucky MandolinsMorgan MusicThe Mandolin StoreMandolin World HeadquatersFolkMusician.com - Acoustic Instrument OutfittersEastman MandolinsWeber MandolinsThe Music EmporiumAcoustic Music CompanyEllis MandolinsElderly InstrumentsJustStrings.comD'Addario Strings