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August Watters

  1. Improvisation in Classical Mandolin

    “Bach was the first jazz musician.” “Mozart was a great improviser.” “Paganini thrilled his audiences with improvised cadenzas.”

    These anecdotes are often heard around the classical music scene, and they hint at some of the improvisational languages within classical music traditions. It’s well-documented that improvisation was an essential part of a classical musician’s toolkit, through the 18th century. Yet somehow, today, the word “classicist” is sometimes used to describe someone ...
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  2. The Language of Mandolin Notation

    In thinking about the best ways to notate mandolin music today, it can be helpful to consider some mandolin music that was very specific about where notes are to be played, and by which finger -- a century before the rise of mandolin tablature. The following excerpt is from Calace's first prelude (op. 45), included in his Metodo per Mandolino volume 6a:

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    Perhaps the most interesting part about the notation is how seldom Calace indicates ...

    Updated Jul-18-2015 at 9:03am by August Watters

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  3. Big-Tent Classical Mandolin

    Seems like great range of meaning, in how people are using the words "classical mandolin" -- and yet parts of classical mandolin traditions often go overlooked. Often people are referring to classical music that's been adapted to mandolin -- for example the violin music of JS Bach. It's wonderful to play, and a great learning exercise to explore fingering possibilities. Arranging other music to mandolin is a proud tradition -- check out the concert programs of Munier, Calace, or any of ...

    Updated Jul-30-2015 at 8:54pm by August Watters

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