View Full Version : "Bleeding"

Jun-03-2004, 6:35am
On many instruments, legato is more often than not an illusion, a make-believe. Think of keyboards, think of lutes and guitars... (Ah, ye lucky wind-players!)

Organists and organ teachers, for example, speak extensively of the practice of "bleeding" one note into the next, whereby TWO keys are depressed simultaneously —if only for a split second— so that the note of departure and the note of arrival sound perfectly, seamlessly connected.

As part of my schooling on the double bass (Frederick Zimmermann: A Contemporary Concept of Bowing Technique for the Double Bass), we were taught similarly that, for a perfect legato string-crossing, the bow rests on and plays two strings at the same time, again for a split second, so that the note of departure (on one string) and the note of arrival (on another, adjacent one) will be smoothly connected.

So, my question to the mando-savvy is: Is there a mando-equivalent of "bleeding" legato on the mandolin, vis a vis tremolo? When, that is, we carry a tremolo legato from e.g. the D-course to the A-course, do we run, slide, glide, etc. the last pick-stroke of the tremolo on the D onto the first pick-stroke on the A, or are the mechanics on the two courses treated as entirely separate, self-standing processes?

Jim Garber
Jun-03-2004, 6:46am
Bearing in mind my rank amateur status, let me venture to say that techniques on the mandolin are often (pardon the expression) a slight of hand. Primary among those is the duo style which sounds amazing but in actuality is not what it appears, more of a quick flick of the pick in the midst of tremelo. Sort of like the musical equivalent of a flip-book animation. Put it all together and you have the illusion of continuous self-accompaniment.

I would say that string crossing and strategic fingering to utilize adjacent strings as well as open strings with upper positions is (I think) what you are referring to.


Jun-04-2004, 7:30am
To clarify:

Imagine a measure in 4/4 meter, with two half-notes in it, one an open D, one an open A, meant to be played legato, as perfectly connected as possible.

Imagine, then, for the sake of pedantic accuracy, that each half-note gets 16 32nd-note strokes of tremolo, as per the tempo. Then my question becomes as dryly academic as it gets:

Is the first tremolo pick stroke on the note "A" just an A, OR is it a double-stop of D and A? The latter effect would be, by definition, "bleeding". That is precisely what I am talking about. My question is whether this practice is common/current/usable on the mandolin as it is on bowed string instruments, keyboards, etc.

Bob A
Jun-04-2004, 8:41pm
Victor, I know you're hoping for an answer from someone who actually knows something; sadly, I don't fall into that category. I would have to say that the essence of the pudding is in the eating, and the essence of legato is in the earing. Whether or not you bleed, it seems to me, depends entirely on how it sounds when you do so. I could go further and say that it depends on what you like, but that's hardly rigorous.

I suspect there are players here who can perform a creditable legato on a plucked instrument. Personally, getting most of the notes nearly where they should be is my goal. I salute your efforts to raise the bar; I'm afraid I'll soon be unable to belly-up to same.

Jun-05-2004, 4:50am
Victor, I would not play the double stop. On a bowed instrument (I surmise this, I don't play one) bleeding works because the bow simultaneously touches both strings for an instant. On a plucked instrument this is not possible with a pick. If you play the double stop the second note (A) will sound after the beat. The illusion of legato on a plucked instrument is created through sustain which is why all those old methods admonish the performer (when stopping a note with the left hand) to hold down the finger until the last possible instant.

Jun-05-2004, 10:23am
Depends if the two 'to be bled' notes have a harmonic or melodic (rhythmic) function. The technique of fading one note out and the other bled in can be done on either bowed or plucked instrument, the latter by means of sustaining the previous note by not releasing the finger (or tremolo through). As in everything, it all depends.... In the melodic context, it may or may not interfer with the rhythmic clarity, but this too is matter of how it is executed and how important it is.