View Full Version : Tremolo

John Bertotti
May-08-2004, 6:21am
I'm new to playing and have several sources of music. I am working through a Mel Bey book I have an etudes book and one of Italian songs.
My question is none tell me how long to tremolo when it is required. It is stated to tremolo during certain types of note but not how long. Do you do it as fast as you can during that time or do you do it aa certain # of times in the remainder of the measure. Thanks all John

John Flynn
May-08-2004, 7:38am
Just MHO: I think this is an area where the creativity and the sense of timing you have developed as a musician comes into playing music. It really comes down to what sounds right for a particular piece. I'd hate to think of someone trying to follow an arbitrary rule and then either trying to play a peice where it didn't fit or trying to do something that is beyond their level to do.

There would only be two absolute rules in my mind: 1) For it to be a tremlo, three pick strokes would be the minimum. 2) The maximum length of time should be the value of the note being played.

So on a given piece, I would start with three strokes and see if I can do that within the duration of the note value and also see how it sounds. Then I would experiement with more pick strokes if I can do them smoothly in time and see how they sound. Pretty soon, the right tremlo for that piece, and for me as a musician playing it, becomes pretty apparent.

John Bertotti
May-08-2004, 2:15pm
That is what I thought but wasn't sure. Unfortunately before my tremolo will work in any song I'll have to practice long and hard. I can do a good, not great triple on a string but switching strings is rugged at best. It's all part of the journey. Thanks jflynnstl, John

May-09-2004, 7:40am
as fast as you need, and as long as it takes........

May-09-2004, 9:42am
Both Ira and MJ have it right, but one other thing to think about is bantered in the classical repertoire - "swell".

Often, a good tremolo often sounds as if it's pulsing. The speed of the tremolo is one thing, but the sound generated is the most important issue. Often, in a tremolo you can hear the volume increase then decrease, many times the swell occurs on the beat. In Pettine's and even Mel Bay books it looks as if they are suggesting a more level sound. Well that works to learn it but there is a bit more to it than what is presented in the books ... so to get past this lump, listen to Richard Walz, Neil Gladd, Katerina von Lichtenburg (very sparing use of tremolo), David Grisman, John Reischman etc. All these players use it to one extent or another, all learned the technique from a level sound approach. Which was what the teachers wanted, to get the sustain of a violin on a long bow. But a Mandolin can do some things which a violin couldn't even imagine - the pulse and the quick decay of the instrument can be exploited with this approach.

Just take your time and think about the rhythm - along with the melody.

May-09-2004, 12:36pm
It would seem to me that, unless you are playing alone, you would follow the music as it is written out of consideration to the other players. Of course if you worked it out with the others ahead of time, you can hold that note as long as you wish.

May-12-2004, 1:19am
Another good thing is to record different ways of playing something and listening back. That way you can catch exactly what it sounds like. I did that and noticed in some songs I was puting way too much tremelo in and it sounded awful. While playing I didn't think it was too bad but listening back I changed my mind.