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Dec-18-2008, 11:15pm
I've been blogging a bit about my efforts to quickly learn and perform Mandolin Fanfare by Norman and Nancy Blake. A co-worker and I worked this up for a performance at our employer's annual Christmas Breakfast this morning. We were only able to practice together once, but both were pretty satisfied with the results. We both choked, though at different times (whew!). I played lead and he played harmony. It was a brief performance, but stood out from what were mostly skits by other departments I know we could've done far better with more practice time individually as well as rehearsal time together. Given that, I'm pretty content with what we produced. It was refreshing to me to play a duet with an old-time flavor to it. For years I've played at jams, a church band, or by myself. The opportunity to really work at listening and working together to perform a duet without the wall of sound of a large group was really quite nice. My 9 y/o son was actually disappointed to hear my partner, Jeff, couldn't make it to our second rehearsal due to bad weather - my son really enjoyed hearing us play. Now that's validating! :)

Anyway, here's a sound clip of me playing both parts once through. It was recorded through my iMac - all on-board equipment through Garage Band and iTunes. My playing sounds rough to my ears. I'd like to polish it up quite a lot and may yet do so. Constructive criticism is welcome.

Danny Packer
Dec-18-2008, 11:47pm
very nice

Dec-19-2008, 11:07am
Thanks, Danny!


El Greco
Dec-19-2008, 11:40am
Not rough at all. Sounds great considering you've only used GarageBand to record. You can tweak the settings instead of your playing and get a "smoother" sound ;)

...Or try thicker pick?

Dec-19-2008, 11:40am
Very nice, Phil and OW #312 sounds great!

Dec-19-2008, 1:19pm
Just got this photo from our HR dept. :)

Jeff's playing a Breedlove, though I don't know what model. It's a very handsome and great sounding instrument. He took his time and asked a lot of questions before spending his money - and it shows. He's also relatively new to the mandolin but puts in his practice time - and that shows, too. :)

Skip Kelley
Dec-19-2008, 1:47pm
Phil, that is very nice. I don't hear anything rough! Great playing!:)

Mark Walker
Dec-19-2008, 2:50pm
Not too shabby at all!

In the grand scheme of things, we can probably do far 'better quality' recording with our PC's, Macs, and shareware applications than what was captured in studios back in Monroe's early days. And we can easily 'tweak' them and smooth out rough edges.

Regardless, it sounds fine to me! Great work!

Dec-20-2008, 7:19pm
Thanks to all for the compliments. I hope to keep up the discipline of practice to help inspire my son to keep up his piano practice. Jeff and I may well collaborate on more tunes after getting lots of accolades at work. :)

Dec-21-2008, 4:28pm
Phil -
Sounds very nice.

Can you direct me to, or send, the music to the harmony part?

I only know the lead. I met a guy at the Cape Cod mandolin camp who knew the harmony and we had a good time playing it together, but I never got around to writing it down.

(And, I'm still enjoying my Spira mandola - thanks again for your assistance!)

Thanks -


Mike Buesseler
Dec-21-2008, 6:55pm
Very nice, Phil! An old friend and I used to play that together all the time. One of the first of many duets we learned. You sound just like US! ;)

Oh, I'm pretty sure the harmony part is available in TAB at Mandozine. I got mine from NBlake's Homespun Video.

Dec-21-2008, 8:22pm
Cedwyn, what MikeB just said! :) It's very much worth getting Norman (and Nancy) Blake's DVD (or tape) from Homespun. I learned quite a lot from that tape and have much more yet to learn. The DVD/tape comes with a booklet including all tunes notated and tabbed. It's a great resource.

By the way, I'm glad to hear you're still working on the Spira (http://homepage.mac.com/philg2/SpiraPix/PhotoAlbum19.html)!


Don Grieser
Dec-21-2008, 10:44pm
Nice job, Phil. That's one I never tackled off the Norman/Nancy DVD. I'm going to have to revisit that one and give it a go.

Dec-22-2008, 12:17pm
Thanks, Don. I can certainly appreciate your efforts at duet and other "ensemble" recordings. :)