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Thread: The mandoline in France

  1. #1
    Registered User carbonpiou's Avatar
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    Default The mandoline in France

    I am French and mandolin player. After having given up this marvellous instrument during more than 40 years to play of the rock'n'roll on an electric guitar, I returned to my first love. Thanks to the site " mandolincafe " I could know much impassioned and nice people
    What has most surprised ego by discovering the site, it is the number of mandolin players on the American continent and also their age (their youth!! ) In France, this day, the mandoline is a species in the process of disappearance. We are fortunately, some people not to want that.
    Personally, I discovered the mandoline in 1953 (I was 6 years old)

    France had discovered the mandoline thanks to Italian immigration and also Greek. Even in very young villages, there were groups of mandolin players.
    These groups were often - not to always say - create and directed by Italian. But French liked the Neapolitan music much (and with the Frenchwomen) because it was in harmony with their embarrassments Latin. French thus became mandolin players.
    In the years 1950 to 1965, it was extremely rare not to see and hear a group of mandoline in each village fête. When these Italian died, the following generation did not follow. The Neapolitan mandoline with round case became an object of decoration.
    This day, it remains in France very few groups of mandolin players. The some "survivors" play for most the Neapolitan music. The group Sul Ponticello based in the town of Sète, at the edge of the Mediterranean preserved this spirit.

    In France, as regards the instrument, it is quite certain that the mandoline with round case (bowlback) remains the symbol of the mandoline. The flat-bottomed mandoline is regarded as an instrument manufactured thus for only reasons of price. This was well the case in the Fifties to 60. The mandolines of the Neapolitan violin makers had a very high price. There existed certain of course models " for the tourists " and intended for the only decoration. The sites of sale Internet in France overflow this day of Neapolitan mandolines of the beginning of the twentieth century to 40 Euros… But, with many chance, you can also found a great mandolin for 70 Euros or less....
    During the period when the mandoline was bought by French to play in the groups, certain European manufacturers had built mandolines with case punt to limit the price and to make it available to the purchaser. But the form did not have anything commun run with the mandolines of Gibson or Epiphone.

    I am thus very happy to give me an account which the mandoline has its unconditional fans and its followers. Even if, in France, the mandoline is still directly and emotionally related to the music Neapolitan or Greek - what is not the case on the American continent - happiness to play on this marvellous instrument is the same one. This is quite essential!

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    It is very nice to have an account of the mandolin in recent French history - thank you.

    I have seen many old photographs, dating from the First World War, of French troops and i found that mandolin was quite a common instrument among the 'Poilu' the french soldiers.

    After that though, i found that there was a big gap with no real mentions of mandolins, until more recent and isolated folk artists, those who play bluegrass - it is played here, and there are a Bluegrass festivals of varying sizes - and of, course Patrick Vaillant and The Melonious Quartet.

    I was looking on the second-hand sites here in France for a used mandolin and it is true that most of the mandolins I saw there were old bowlbacks (in various states of disrepair), after that came the cheap low-end mandolins, but occassionally there was a nice Gibson on offer.

    Of course there are some good shops to buy mandolins - in Lyon i like to visit Pick and Boch to have a look at their restored bowlbacks - and there are some fine contemporary luthiers who make mandolins too - many are listed here at the cafe.

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    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    I travelled to Toulouse for work last year. My hotel was at the Place Jeanne d'Arc. I arrived in the evening, walked out to find some food and drink, and saw that there was some live music in a cafe across the square: a couple of guitar players and a mandolinist! I felt very welcome.

    It's a shame that the mandolin isn't more popular in France right now. But such a beautiful instrument will surely convince people in good time.

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    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Thanks Carbonpiou for your wonderful expose of the history of the mandolin in France. Do you remember a band called Mes Souliers Sans Rouges? There may be a different reincarnation of the band at the moment. There wre from Normandy. The original one had a really good mandolin player who played a flatback mandoliin the band. I dug out my CD notes and he was called François Boros,« Gullivan » : mandoline, podorythmie, chant (jusqu'à fin 2004 où il crée Gullivan).

    In Quebec Michel Bordeleau was a great mandolin and fiddle player - he played with an F5 mandolin. It may not be France anymore but it is still basically French culture. What about the wonderful Cajun culture in eastern USA - it has its roots in French music.

    I remember stumbling across a bluegrass in Southern band on Youtube. There must be more people playing mandolin out there than you suggest there. Peut-etre, we need a mandolin crusade to raise its popularity. There have been a few Gibsons for sale from Paris France at time to time on the café.

    Good to have you on board. A bientot!
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    Michael Reichenbach
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    You might be interested in this article from Music Trade Review from 1911 which I have added recently to my website:

    Mandolins in France

    I my opinion the mandolin in France is in a phase of growth. There are some very good teachers around, like Vincent Beer-Demander, Florentino Calvo, Fabio Galluci, or Didier Le Roux et Jean-Paul Bazin of the Ensemble Gabriele Leone.
    There are some good mandolin orchestras in France like the Estuidiantina d'Argenteuil, and there is a great mandolin festival every year.

    There are also summer schools for mandolin every year.

    You can check my google map of mandolin orchestras in France as a reference. (let me know if you know other mandolin orchestras which I can add to my map)

    I am very convinced that the mandolin will continue to grow in France for the next years.
    Homepage: www.mandoisland.de / Blog: www.mandoisland.com / Freiburg / Germany

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Quote Originally Posted by NG53 View Post
    Peut-etre, we need a mandolin crusade to raise its popularity.
    Such as this?

    Le front de liberation de la mandoline!

    http://www.mandopolis.org/
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Dagger, I like your sense of humour.

    We need some earnest French mandolin players to create 'Le front de liberation de la mandoline'. It is good news that it is becoming more popular. Way back in the 1970s and 1980s t la groupe Malicorne used mandolin family instruments to create their unique sound. There must be more bands out playing some good mandolin music.
    Nic Gellie

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Actually if you look closer at the top left corner under the Mandopolis logo you will see that is indeed what they call it!

    The driving force behind it is Patrick Vaillant of the Melonious Quartet (which is a mandolin group) from Nice.

    http://melonious.mandopolis.org/?page_id=165
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    There is indeed a growing popularity of mandolin in France - and, maybe because of the language difference it seems to be developing along it's own route. I have found it often enough in folk music or folk-pop hybrids... three off the top of my noggin.

    Thomas Fersen - a young, contemporary, and popular enough performer makes liberal use of the mandolin in his recordings.



    Moussu T et Les Jouvents are another group that use a bunch of instruments, tenor banjo is one of their main sounds but mandolins have also been known to creep in.



    The group 'La Bergere' also make use of the mandolin, and bozouki, on their albums http://www.labergere.net/disques.html and even if they did not i'd still reccomend them as they have a lovely sound


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    Registered User Londy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    Such as this?

    Le front de liberation de la mandoline!

    http://www.mandopolis.org/

    We also need a crusade in ITALY! Being Italian, I'm embarrassed to even have to say that.
    "Money is a complication man created that the universe doesn't care about."

    Amateurs practice until they can play it right.
    Professionals practice until they can't play it wrong.

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Quote Originally Posted by Londy View Post
    We also need a crusade in ITALY! Being Italian, I'm embarrassed to even have to say that.
    Under way. Io sto col mandolino.

    Keep the pressure on.....

    Mick
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Well, I'd like to move to the Languadoc region of southern France after I retire in a few years. I'll definitely bring along my mandolins as well as a hunger for the local food and a thirst for the terrific red wine of the region.

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    Registered User carbonpiou's Avatar
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    A thing is certain: I do not regret having launched this discussion!
    Thank you with all to have answered. That encourages has to give again with the mandoline the place which it deserves. I know that there exist very good groups of mandoline and very good mandolin players in France but my regret changes on the very small number of anybody which plays of this instrument this day, compared to the former years to 1965. When I speak about mandoline to people who are older than 60 years, almost all had a mandoline in the hands in their youth and if all did not play, only or groups some, they have one day had a mandoline at the house, often inherited from a father, of a mother or an uncle who had played.
    My other regret is the little of interest of the young musicians for this instrument. Speak about mandoline to young French in 2013 and at once you pass for old-fashioned.
    M.Marmot which lives Vienne, in France and which I thank much for its comments on this forum judiciously quoted a store in Lyon - Pick et Boch - which works much to preserve these instruments disaster victims of the French new generation.

    However, I can speak about it in all full knowledge of the facts. I left the mandoline, in my very first childhood - 6 years - for then leaving on other instruments following this way the musical modes and the desires of the public.
    I have now returned to the mandoline for some month only by listening to CD of the group Sul Ponticello which moved my directions at the point to buy again a mandoline the very same day. It took a few days to find my reference marks. But happiness, it, returned instantaneously. The mandoline is the prolongation of my hand and the reflection of my sensitivity, things which I never knew with another instrument.
    I think that is due to the fact that I started to play of the mandoline very early, in my childhood.

    In any case, thank you with all for your comments and your ideas, by hoping that we will still continue the conversation still and!
    I wish to be pleased to meet one M.Marmot day in Vienne or Lyon and to conclude " le front de libération de la mandoline " with Dagger Gordon!
    And sorry for my baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad english !!

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Quote Originally Posted by carbonpiou View Post
    And sorry for my baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad english !!
    No worries, amigo. As my mama often said: "Poor English is excusable, but not bad scotch."

    Mick
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Carbonpiou, your English is fine and I wish I could speak French. I'm studying hard though and maybe someday... ;- )

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    I am a frequent visitor to France, primarily Toulouse and Paris. I would just like to say that there is an excellent mandolin orchestra in Toulouse, "orchestre a plectre," and in Paris, an orchestra called Pizzicatis. I know of other orchestras throughout France, for instance in Albi and St. Jean de Luz. Every year there is an international mandolin festival in Lunel, which brings together world class performers from all over, ranging from classical mandolinist Avi Avital to Choro composer Hamilton Holanda, to France's Feloche -- for performances and workshops. I recently attended this festival and was amazed to see that none of the workshop participants (all French) had a bowlback mandolin. Blue Grass and flat mandolins seem to be all the rage.
    Anne

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    CarbonPiou,

    You are most welcome to give your response in French and in English. Some of us here can read and write in French, and yes speak it too! That could invite more French people who visit the café website to get your message.

    I am thinking that ' le front de la liberation de Mandoline' needs to invite Mike Compton or Chris Thile to some of your big festivals. Perhaps Maria Fibish and Norman Blake for the Celtic Festivals. You have such great festivals in France. That would help give more exposure to the 'Mandoline en France'. Anne aka asrivera mentioned the international mandolin festival in Lunel - you are already on the way there.
    Nic Gellie

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Quote Originally Posted by NG53 View Post
    CarbonPiou,

    You are most welcome to give your response in French and in English. Some of us here can read and write in French, and yes speak it too! That could invite more French people who visit the café website to get your message.

    I am thinking that ' le front de la liberation de Mandoline' needs to invite Mike Compton or Chris Thile to some of your big festivals. Perhaps Maria Fibish and Norman Blake for the Celtic Festivals. You have such great festivals in France. That would help give more exposure to the 'Mandoline en France'. Anne aka asrivera mentioned the international mandolin festival in Lunel - you are already on the way there.
    I do believe that they, the FNLM, have had The Punch Brothers at a festival just a few years ago, and Mr. Gordon, who posted above, was invited to perform at the last festival... they invite players from all over the world.

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    Registered User carbonpiou's Avatar
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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Je vais suivre la suggestion de NG53 et poursuivre la conversation en français. Mais, la prochaine fois, je répondrais en anglais, car je dois aussi me servir de ce super forum pour me perfectionner. Oui et heureusement, il y a, aujourd'hui, de très bons groupes de mandolines en France et aussi des festivals très connus. Celui de Lunel, où je suis allé très récemment en est un. Dommage que cette version 2013 n'est justement pas laissé plus de place à des "petits" groupes français. Je rêve de pouvoir, un jour participer à un rassemblement de mandolinistes sans que quelques "grosses têtes" ne viennent jouer les troubles fête, comme cela a été le cas une fois, en Corse.
    En ce qui concerne le blugrass en France, je respecte. Mais le blugrass n'est pas dans la culture naturelle française et ça se ressent terriblement. Ecouter du blugrass joué par des musiciens français donne franchement l'impression d'écouter une copie du blugrass à l'américaine. C'est, bien entendu, un point de vue personnel et je ne demande à personne de le partager. Pour ceux qui souhaitent savoir sur quoi je joue, vous pouvez aller voir ma dernière fabrication sur ce forum, dans la rubrique "postez la photo de votre mandoline"
    A bientôt tout le monde et poursuivons notre riche conversation.

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Quote Originally Posted by carbonpiou View Post
    Je vais suivre la suggestion de NG53 et poursuivre la conversation en français. Mais, la prochaine fois, je répondrais en anglais, car je dois aussi me servir de ce super forum pour me perfectionner. Oui et heureusement, il y a, aujourd'hui, de très bons groupes de mandolines en France et aussi des festivals très connus. Celui de Lunel, où je suis allé très récemment en est un. Dommage que cette version 2013 n'est justement pas laissé plus de place à des "petits" groupes français. Je rêve de pouvoir, un jour participer à un rassemblement de mandolinistes sans que quelques "grosses têtes" ne viennent jouer les troubles fête, comme cela a été le cas une fois, en Corse.
    En ce qui concerne le blugrass en France, je respecte. Mais le blugrass n'est pas dans la culture naturelle française et ça se ressent terriblement. Ecouter du blugrass joué par des musiciens français donne franchement l'impression d'écouter une copie du blugrass à l'américaine. C'est, bien entendu, un point de vue personnel et je ne demande à personne de le partager. Pour ceux qui souhaitent savoir sur quoi je joue, vous pouvez aller voir ma dernière fabrication sur ce forum, dans la rubrique "postez la photo de votre mandoline"
    A bientôt tout le monde et poursuivons notre riche conversation.
    I'll reply in English as my french is terrible and i am about to run out to work -though i will try and reply in French in the future.

    I have not, yet, been to one of the mandolin festivals in France but i hope to have the chance to attend one next year. Perhaps Lunel - why not?

    You are right, of course, about Bluegrass not being naturally from France but if there is one thing i know about France is that it has always shared an affinity - a bond - with the U.S. Twentieth century French culture is deeply indebted to American culture - this can be seen everywhere - from the rock and roll beginnings of Johnny Halliday to the graffiti and urban music cultures of french rap and hiphop. These music genres have developed their own identity in France, they have become more French, but it took time and effort - perhaps the development of Bluegrass in France needs this time and effort too?

    Afterall, you have pointed out that the history of the mandolin in France owes all lot to influence and immigrants from Italy - and all that happened before the Internet. Maybe now it maybe easier to adopt new musical genres anywhere in the world?

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Thank-you M.Marmot !!
    Your analysis of the problem is judicious and sticks perfectly to reality. Our musical culture is largely influenced by that of the American continent, rock'n'roll, latino, etc… Put except for the accordion music, we do not have great a deal to offer to the other countries. Even if I never waited to play of the music to make live my family, I played of the rock'n'roll during years and years and American southern music when it was the fashion quite simply to be in phase with until the public waited.

    The large advantage of the musician amateur compared to the professional musician, is that the only person has who it music which it cheek must like is him even. Too many musicians want to resemble the others and want to play in the same way that the others.

    Without claiming least to teach a lesson, I want to say that happiness to play what is resulting from its own personality is something of fantastic. If this music likes the others, it is even more formidable. But one should not sell its heart under the pretext only the music of the neighbor more success has….

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    I listen to quite a bit of music by French musicians - although admittedly there's not too much mandolin.

    I am a huge fan of Thierry 'Titi' Robin, who plays guitar, bouzouki and oud. He basically plays 'world' music, for want of a better description, but is great.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Titi-Robin/34957733869

    I also like a band called Lo Jo, although no mandolin.

    http://lojo.org/

    I had a great time at St Chartier festival in Central France in 2007. Fantastic to hear French bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies (la vielle) blasting away.

    http://www.rencontresdeluthiers.org/...teaser2013.flv
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    Quote Originally Posted by carbonpiou View Post
    Je vais suivre la suggestion de NG53 et poursuivre la conversation en français. Mais, la prochaine fois, je répondrais en anglais, car je dois aussi me servir de ce super forum pour me perfectionner. Oui et heureusement, il y a, aujourd'hui, de très bons groupes de mandolines en France et aussi des festivals très connus. Celui de Lunel, où je suis allé très récemment en est un. Dommage que cette version 2013 n'est justement pas laissé plus de place à des "petits" groupes français. Je rêve de pouvoir, un jour participer à un rassemblement de mandolinistes sans que quelques "grosses têtes" ne viennent jouer les troubles fête, comme cela a été le cas une fois, en Corse.
    En ce qui concerne le blugrass en France, je respecte. Mais le blugrass n'est pas dans la culture naturelle française et ça se ressent terriblement. Ecouter du blugrass joué par des musiciens français donne franchement l'impression d'écouter une copie du blugrass à l'américaine. C'est, bien entendu, un point de vue personnel et je ne demande à personne de le partager. Pour ceux qui souhaitent savoir sur quoi je joue, vous pouvez aller voir ma dernière fabrication sur ce forum, dans la rubrique "postez la photo de votre mandoline"
    A bientôt tout le monde et poursuivons notre riche conversation.
    Merci pour votre response. Je considere la mandolin est un universal instrument. On joue beaucoup de musique mondiale sur elle. J'aime beaucoup aller aux festivales and joue avec autres la musique Celtique, Francaise, Balkan, 'bleu-herbe', the blues, petit soupcon de Jazz etc. On a besoin de jouer cette musique avec differents modes qu'interesse le jeunesse.

    Bluegrass isn't part of Australian culture originally. It is just that we enjoy playing it because it is fun to play with other musicians. the repertoire is well known. I think if French people can embrace other people's music and the mandolin be part of that, it will enrich your music there. I have no issue with any nationality wanting to hold onto their traditional music. The Bretons have done well to incorporate other musical styles into their music. Having been to Galicia in Spain quite a bit recently, I have enjoyed listening to their bands mixing up the bagpipe with bouzoukis and mandolins. Great music to dance to. I am sure there are the equivalent bands in many parts of France. A band called Sirocco did much the same here back in the 1980s and 1990s.
    Nic Gellie

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    We need a mandolin crusade in SA and I am proud to be heading it up! <big smile>

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    Default Re: The mandoline in France

    long live the crusade for the mandolin and may I say: the French is exquisite!

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