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Notes from the Field

Sometimes my enthusiasm for this little eight string marvel just boils over and I have to tell someone. I figure this is a safer way to do it, than to yet again bore my friends.

  1. The Mandolin in America

    I recall, a long time ago in a grade school far, far away, a teacher attempting to take us into the very distant past and get us to imaginatively appreciate ancient history in the first person. As if we were there, in ancient times, living it. This must have been fifth grade, or likely earlier. A class mate raised his hand and offered the observation that, “it was much easier to go to school back then. Kids didn’t have as much history to learn.”

    I think this is a very American observation. ...

    Updated Jan-27-2017 at 9:46am by JeffD

  2. Musical Heroes Take Three

    I have shared my thinking regard super star mandolin performers. Here and here.

    Well let me relate a recent experience and share with you a new thought, or at least a new way of saying it.

    The other night I was sitting around playing with some friends. I was the only mandolin, and I was sitting with two guitars, four or five fiddles, two banjos, and a church bass. Adult drinks were in attendance as well.

    We were collectively and individually having the time ...
  3. An Interactive Story

    I am going to tell you a story, the last lines of which you will please supply in the comments below. It’s a fictional story. Any resemblance between anyone in the story and any flesh and blood person is the result of a heck of a lot of work. Something like this has happened, and other things have happened too. The discrete experiences we collect throughout our lives are like individual notes. With enough of them you can write just about any tune.

    A cold snowy day, a warm inviting ...

    Updated Dec-05-2016 at 4:09pm by JeffD

  4. Its a tonic I recommend.

    I sat down the other afternoon, with my mandolin, just me and myself, and played and played and played. Missed dinner and played until bed time.

    The rip-snorting great time I had took me far away from the issues of the day, national, local, social, political. It transported me way beyond whether Sierra Hull can be considered a bluegrasser, or whether or not one should be admonished for using a capo, whether an octave mandolin is a mandola or a tenor mandola or a tenor mandolin, or whether ...
  5. Electric Mandolin - A New Context

    In this posting I wrote about finding a context in which my messing around with electric mandolin makes some sense.

    The jamming opportunities I naively sought out have been dead ends. It seems that, for the most part, jamming is not what one does on an electric mandolin.

    What I am finding is that as an electric I am an outsider to the mainstream of mandolin and as a mandolin I am an outside the mainstream of electric guitar. I am forced to figure something out on my own. ...

    Updated Oct-16-2016 at 3:21pm by JeffD

  6. Kerman mandolin and the end of MAS

    Hey everyone. I played a Kerman mandolin the other day. And it has taken me a little while to absorb the experience. Actually, Jacob Reuven, before a rehearsal for FMCM VII let me play his Kerman.

    I knew already that it is one of the greatest mandolins in the world. What I didn't know, if the one I played is typical, Kermans are the greatest mandolins in the world.

    The experience was characterized by two things. Amazing sound and amazing responsiveness.

    The ...

    Updated Oct-21-2016 at 10:42am by JeffD

  7. Everything I Know Might Be Wrong!

    Elsewhere I wrote about the hierarchy of hard. I think I can explain at least one of those hierarchies better.

    I have this idea that one of the reasons many folks pursue technical excellence is that it is easier to pursue than musical excellence. Yes, easier. It’s easier to pursue playing at blistering speeds in all keys up the neck, with intricate double stops and four finger moveable chords, than it is to learn to play beautiful music beautifully such that it moves people.

    Updated Jul-18-2016 at 8:48am by JeffD

  8. Uncle Charles and the Root Beer

    I knew him as Uncle Charles. He wasn’t my uncle. He had no nieces or nephews. Everyone just always called him Uncle Charles. He was in his mid 80s when I knew him, and he lived with his wife Elizabeth, in an earth bermed house that you couldn’t see from the road. You just had to know where to turn. The easiest way was to drive to the T intersection at the end of the road, turn around and drive back exactly 1.8 miles. Exactly.

    had to take this long unpaved driveway down and around ...

    Updated Jul-16-2016 at 11:13am by JeffD

  9. MAS This

    A recent thread about MAS inspired my thinking a bit. But I didn’t want to go on about it in the thread, and sound like I was “justifying” or “defending” what could be looked upon as conspicuous consumption.

    In terms of numbers I do not have as many mandolin as some of the real accumulators out there, but I do have a few. I have more mandolins than I can play at the same time, and I don't think it’s a crazy number. As you read this you will, I hope, realize that it is even kind of ...

    Updated Apr-14-2016 at 7:13pm by JeffD

  10. Hierarchy of Hard

    It seems there might be a hierarchy of hard, and being human we get stuck at one or other rung of this ladder. But, wanting to be "doing something" we keep at it. And, like a marble in a bowl, we are active but not productive.

    And perhaps I am totally mis-reading some of this.

    A classic example I experienced while exploring electric mandolin. I have met a lot of adult electric guitar enthusiasts and it really hit home when one of them showed me the most beautiful ...

    Updated Jun-02-2016 at 4:09pm by JeffD

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