View Full Version : Lookin to start old time mando

Oct-06-2004, 7:27am
First I would like to ask Is there a good web site to learn about old time mandolin playing?(beside here) How different is it from bluegrass mandolin? Also what are some of the standard tunes that I should learn, and who should I listen to?

John Flynn
Oct-06-2004, 7:44am
You have come to the right place! Attached is a list of tunes we brainstormed on this site under the heading of "Must Know Old-time Tunes." Don't be intimidated by the length of the list. I'll bet there are few individuals who know every single one of these tunes. But it can be a "wish list" to get started on. What tunes will get called at any jam you go to tends to be regionalized. What gets called in your area, might not get called in mine. You can find sheet music, tab and MIDIs on most of these tunes on this site, alltabs.com and hetzlersfakebook.com, as well as other sites.

There are some CDs I can recommend, if you can find them. If you can't, send me a PM and I may be able to find them for you.

"Little River Stomp" by the Buckhannon Brothers

"Laugh and Grow Fat" by the Ill-Mo Boys

"Good Old Time Mandolin Music" by Clyde Curley and the Oxymorons

Anything you can find by Kenny Hall and Sweets Mill String Band.

John Flynn
Oct-06-2004, 7:47am
In answer to your question about the differnces in bluegrass and old-time, the attached file has my take on it.

Oct-06-2004, 2:26pm
Thank you for the help jflynnstl. I will look for the CDs around town but here in Ohio it will be hard to find and I hate ordering on-line, but I will see what I can do. I have been playing bluegrass for a few months and thought that if I want to be good at bluefrass I will have to learn old time and blues before I am good a bluegrass. I hope that will work if not at least I will be able to play a different type of music. If anyone else will chime in with more help I would appericate it.

Jim M.
Oct-06-2004, 2:38pm
Johnny gave you as good a primer as you're gonna get on what tunes to learn and the difference between OT and BG. As for other suggestions of listening, a lot of Norman Blake's stuff is old time. There are some good young groups playing old time (Reeltime Travelers, Crooked Jades to name a couple), and they include mandolin but do not feature it a lot. If you want to get better at bluegrass, practice bluegrass. But the more types of music you can play, the more fun you'll have and the better musician you'll become.

Oct-07-2004, 10:10am
Sirmando, if you recall, last time we jammed I ran through the A part of Angeline the Baker. If you're looking into OT, I think this song is great for getting started (though I'm hardly an authority). The melody and chords are about as easy as it comes, and it's a fun tune. There are words to it, so you could put that voice of yours to good use.

Paul Kotapish
Oct-07-2004, 11:37am
The Foghorn String Band out of Portland, Oregon, are one of the hot young old-time string bands, and they have a great mandolin player. Two CDs of real good old-time music with mandolin right in the heart of it.


Oct-07-2004, 2:16pm
Well Jeff we can start some old time music but you know I have to hear the music because I can not read music. So I am game if you are with old time music. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Oct-09-2004, 5:18pm
sirmando I think some old time music you will like get the CD O BROTHER WHERE FOR ARE,T THO from the movie with JEORGE CLOONEY it gots some great tunes to learn and if you learn by ear they are somewhat easy

John Flynn
Oct-09-2004, 9:47pm
I will look for the CDs around town but here in Ohio it will be hard to find and I hate ordering on-line, but I will see what I can do.

I am a bit phobic of ordering online also. I have no financial interest, but I can personally vouch for these two sites, based on experience:

For the Buckhannon Brothers' CD:

For the Clyde Curley CD:

Oct-10-2004, 8:30pm
What would you choose as the top ten Must-Learn Tunes?

Oct-11-2004, 8:14pm
I would learn some old time tunes that crossed over to bluegrass, like:

Angeline the Baker (D)
Soldiers Joy (D)
Arkansas Traveler (D)
Salt Creek (A)
Billy in the Lowland ©

Here are five of my favorites, but I don't know how common they are...the best thing to do I think is get into a local OT jam. Folks in different areas play different tunes with strange names.

Barlowe Knife (G)
Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies (Am/A)
The Boatsman (G...I think)
Johnny Don't Get Drunk (D)
Quince Dillions High D (D)

Norman Blake is I think the best OT mando player out there. Of course, take that with a grain of salt, because I think Norman Blake is the best musician out there.

There is a WV group called the Bing Brothers that gives a good taste of what Old Time music sounds in the area I live, West Viriginia. They have a really good mandolin player.

One key difference between OT and BG is OT is melodic, sometimes almost strictly, and not improvisational hot-lick music...at least in its "pure" form.

OT Appalachian instrumental music is typically played with 2 or more melody instruments playing in unison. Sometimes there is a guitar playing rythm, sometimes there is nothing playing rythm. Bass fiddles are rare. Lead guitar in a OT group context is rare, but it pops up from time to time. Clawhammer, or frailing, banjo is preferred to Skruggs style, or jackhammer, banjo. OT is typically very fiddle-centric.