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Thread: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

  1. #1
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Is there a rule of thumb for adding double stops to a piece of simply written music, like quarter and longer notes only, for example? Also, is it unreasonable to play in first position only? Any other advice?

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherryc View Post
    Is there a rule of thumb for adding double stops to a piece of simply written music, like quarter and longer notes only, for example? Also, is it unreasonable to play in first position only? Any other advice?
    Hi Sherry! I have no idea what style(s) of music you wish to play. Some of the use of double stops is dependant on genre.

    The rest depends on your taste and ability...and the chord changes.

    "Is it unreasonable to play in first position only?"

    That also depends on style. A lot of popular, authentic, cool, wonderful, etc. mandolin music can be played in first position only (especially if you use finger 4 ). No matter what you do on mandolin, if you cannot play in first position then you need more practice!

    Beyond first position? That's up to you and your style and taste. My taste is that a mandolin can play anything a violin can - from fiddle tunes to classical music.

    Back to your simple question. If you can add a note above or below the melody note that fits the chord or resolves to the next chord, why not? But again, it is style specific.

    Happy picking.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Thanks for your response, David. As far as genre, that's a tough one. I enjoy bluegrass and classical; however, I've been jamming with a group at the senior center. They play primarily classic country and spiritual music. I enjoy those as well. My 2-1/2 year teacher is a professional violinist and long-time teacher of primarily violin and viola. She insisted on 4th finger exercises, so I often opt for 4th finger rather than an open string. We had just started 3rd position when I decided to take on double stops, primarily to make my lead at the jam session more interesting. Now I'm thinking that may be a mistake - that I shouldn't be in such a hurry to do it all.

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    As a basic starter to get the root, third, fifth and octaves sorted:
    If you think of the fretboard as a grid then
    For octaves it’s low to high sounding 2x6 = six frets up, next course higher. There’s also an octave at 4x4.
    Then the other way high to low 3x3 gives you the octave down.

    If you’re on a root note then the third is next course fatter one fret back & the fifth is just the same fret, next course thinner.

    Once you get those 1,3,5 & 8 embedded then you can relate the other flavours to those.
    Eoin



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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Now I'm thinking that may be a mistake - that I shouldn't be in such a hurry to do it all.
    Attempting to further our knowledge and skills is never a mistake, but yes, there's also no need to hurry. In my own playing, the use of double stops was a natural outgrowth of trying to play the melody out of various chord shapes. Double stops are how a mandolin best mimics a fiddle, and fiddle lines are a natural part of classic country songs. Add tremolo to the mix and you get (IMHO) the most mandolin-y of mandolin sounds. Nothing else like it!
    Mitch Russell

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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherryc View Post
    Thanks for your response, David. As far as genre, that's a tough one. I enjoy bluegrass and classical; however, I've been jamming with a group at the senior center. They play primarily classic country and spiritual music. I enjoy those as well. My 2-1/2 year teacher is a professional violinist and long-time teacher of primarily violin and viola. She insisted on 4th finger exercises, so I often opt for 4th finger rather than an open string. We had just started 3rd position when I decided to take on double stops, primarily to make my lead at the jam session more interesting. Now I'm thinking that may be a mistake - that I shouldn't be in such a hurry to do it all.
    You seem to have the basic skills to continue - don't hurry, but keep using your creativity like you are doing.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Eoin, I understand your first phrase, but after that am lost! My teacher will understand, though, so I'll get her help on Monday. I appreciate your input.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Mitch. I love to tremolo. An actual mandolin teacher said my form is good. He suggested I practice until I hate it.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    So, how do you decide when to use double stops; e.g., quarter notes? And do you suggest writing them on the music or just trying to learn what notes go with the written notes?

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherryc View Post
    Is there a rule of thumb for adding double stops to a piece of simply written music, like quarter and longer notes only, for example?
    I would say to let the genre decide. Listen a lot and see what is the tradition in the genre. I do a lot of double top and double stop tremolo, and it is almost always as a decoration here and there based on how the tune feels and what my role is (solo, backup) in the playing.


    Also, is it unreasonable to play in first position only? Any other advice?
    Everything I don't do doesn't get done. That has been and likely will be true at every point in my mandolin journey. I am finding that there is always something just beyond my reach that I need to learn and master.

    I don't mean you gotta do everything. Yes you gotta do everything, but you don't gotta do everything now.

    Its really is a journey, not a goal. In other words, getting off first position really helps me play more expressively and more easily and in more keys. But it doesn't get me any closer to mastery of the instrument. There doesn't seem to be some not as yet achieved point where one can finally say "I can play this thing". It just keep pushing myself further down the road.

    Learning something like FFcP and formal third position has taken the pain out of exploring up the neck, but has opened up whole new worlds of stuff I can't (yet) do.

    My goal is to become mediocre at a much higher level.
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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Sherry, Pete Martin's video (although it references Bluegrass mandolin) could be a very good starting point for adding double stops to your playing of country music. It's worth a watch and listen, anyway.

    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherryc View Post
    Eoin, I understand your first phrase, but after that am lost! My teacher will understand, though, so I'll get her help on Monday. I appreciate your input.
    Pics might help too;it doesn’t matter where on the fretboard you are, these relationships hold for all instruments tuned like a violin, viola, cello etc. Just good for not getting lost or when you want to shift up or down an octave / harmonise with the root note of the current chord

    Octaves
    2x6 Click image for larger version. 

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    4x4 Click image for larger version. 

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    3x3 Click image for larger version. 

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    Root 3rd & 5th
    Click image for larger version. 

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    With double stopping I drop them in where I want to make more of a phrase or highlight some aspect of the tone, or just because with some notes you can make a scrunchy harmony.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Good reading here - Pickloser's Guide to Double Stops:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    If the thumbnail shows up as just a big black rectangle, that's normal. Just click it to download it.
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    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

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  18. #14
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Wow! You guys are the best! Can't wait to study this stuff.

    One of my problems is wanting 3 new tunes for each week's jam session. I only get to practice an hour each day and much of that time is practicing the tunes for the jam. I may start a new thread on prioritizing.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    I haven't downloaded the book yet but watched Pete Martin's video, which I think is excellent. So a drone note is an open string note? I've been adding lower notes of a chord to make a double stop, which appears to be in error. Can someone clarify the difference between old time and bluegrass? Where do classic country and spiritual fit in, do you think? Maybe some of this will make more sense when I can get to my desktop and print some of the material.

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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Hi Sherry. If you mean, learning three new tunes from scratch every week, with only 1 hour practice time each day, for me that would be too ambitious. Maybe not so for you, and variety is the spice of life.

    Adding a lower note of a chord to the melody note in order to make a double stop is not in error - there's more than one way to skin a cat. The video shows a good system for someone who is learning and wondering where to put a double stop, and what note to add to the melody note, and teaches a good "rule of thumb", but that's not the only way or the only right way to do it, so don't fret over that. I'm glad you found the video helpful.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    You can use double stops to add harmony to a melody. One convention, used by harmony singers as well as by musicians, is to play a 3rd, a 6th or a 10th above the melody, note for note. (Changing one of a pair to fit with a current chord change is usually obvious.) This is easier to do on guitar than it is on mandolin because the intervals between the strings are smaller on the guitar. A lot of the time on the guitar every other pair of notes is on the same fret, and the other pairs are one fret apart. On mandolin the pairs tend to be one fret apart or two frets apart.

    Here is a harmonised scale of G. It is harmonised with 6th above. I generally find this stuff easiest to do if I don't change strings. This of course means going beyond 1st position.
    Code:
    E╓───────────────────2──3──┬─3──5──7──8──10──12──────┐
    A╟───────2──3──5──7──0──2──┼─2──3──5──7───9──10──────┤
    D╟─5──7──0──2──4──5────────┼─────────────────────────┤
    G╙─4──5────────────────────┴─────────────────────────┘

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Or you can play a sixth below your melody, which is like a third above it, only an octave down. Thirds and sixths are the upside-down versions of each other. ;-) But with the sixth added below, you keep the melody on top. Sixths are generally a bit easier to play than thirds, I think, because of the finger positions are less contortionist when you're new to it. You can put them in wherever you think parts of the melody need more fullness or emphasis. Across the fretboard, there are quite a few of them! Here's a G major scale in sixths that stays in first position:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    bratsche
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Well I get the joke if nobody else does. These two are the same up to the high B. You decide if you read it as having the 6th above or below. Or to put it another way, you decide if the melody is the top note or the bottom one. They are still a 6th apart. Harmonies like those of the Everly Brothers had the harmony on top. The sound of a high harmony will not be unfamiliar but you can have it either way.

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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    . My 2-1/2 year teacher .. you have been playing for 2 1/2 years,? With all due respect,IMO you probably should have started exploring with double stops about 2 years ago ..

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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Double stops are used to introduce a coming chord changes arrival, walking in, and as punctuation da da da da DA DA in musical phrasing. I concert with the right hand as cross-picked phrases they are particularly useful. As apart of a kickoff they are attention getters. As with any tool in a box of players choices overuse can reduce their melodic impact. Play on! R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    Quote Originally Posted by RonEllison View Post
    Well I get the joke if nobody else does. These two are the same up to the high B. You decide if you read it as having the 6th above or below. Or to put it another way, you decide if the melody is the top note or the bottom one. They are still a 6th apart. Harmonies like those of the Everly Brothers had the harmony on top. The sound of a high harmony will not be unfamiliar but you can have it either way.
    No joke was intended - if they are the same, my apologies, but now they are there for all posterity, in both tab and notation. (I don't read tab easily, so didn't even try to decipher your "code"... ;-)

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  28. #23
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    OP Sherry doesn't read TAB either; she reads standard notation. Nothing wrong with exploring double stops at 2.5 years in either. Some people pick up an instrument and 2.5 years later it's gathering dust. Sherry is an awesome newbie who's been instructed solely by a violin teacher in the past. She's now an active member of the cafe Newbies group and in the past few months courageous enough to go out and play at a weekly senior center jam, thanks to the encouragement of her violin mandolin teacher.

    All great ideas for exploring double stops here, Sherry, and the main thing is that you are starting somewhere. The more you experiment, play and practice with anything the easier it will get over time.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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  29. #24
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    When I started trying doublestops, I tried picking an adjacent course, either open or with easy fingering, along with a given melody note. If it sounded good, I stuck to the recipe (GDAE is the realm of moveable shapes so what you find for one case might work for similar ones).

    Only later I would analyse what chord(s) lie underneath, and it may be several of them - harmonic ambiguity is one of the benefits in a world where guitar players around you do full chords.

    Bottom line (or rule of thumb, if you like): if it sounds good, keep it and use it more often.
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  30. #25
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Double Stop Rules of Thumb

    The very best rule of thumb for double stops is:





    ....don't use it!

    ....er.... your thumb, that is.

    (*ducking*) ... sorry! That one was a joke....

    bratsche
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