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Thread: Noob question

  1. #1

    Default Noob question

    First time poster, but I've been lurking for a couple of months.

    I started playing mandolin around last Thanksgiving. It's my first musical instrument, and so far I have just been muddling around trying to teach myself how to play (and have a blast doing it). Anyways I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask, and they might be stupid, but again I'm rather green here.

    I'm currently trying to learn to play the Swallowtail jig using TablEdit, and I'm a little confused over this portion of the tab (below). Next to the 2 is a 3 written in a different font from everything else, and it has an arch going over the two numbers. What exactly does that mean?

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    And speaking of arches, what does an image of a chord with an arch going over it mean, as seen in the image below?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Mar 2012
    Florida, USA

    Default Re: Noob question

    Its my understanding that the 3-2 is a pull-off. You put two fingers down on the same string, one finger on the 3rd fret, one finger on the 2nd fret and you pull the string with the 3rd finger, leaving the other finger down on the 2nd fret. The other question I believe is about barring two strings with one finger, in this case barring the 2nd and 4th string at the 4th fret using the 1 finger ( the pointer finger).

  3. #3
    Distressed Model John Ritchhart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Mars Hill, North Carolina

    Default Re: Noob question

    In the first case the 3 to 2 marking is what is called a pull-off, which is a more advanced technique where you fret the string and pull the finger off to the next fret. The second diagram is of an A chord with the first finger barring the fourth fret while the middle and ring fingers fret the second and fourth strings. My feeling is that these techniques and Swallowtail jig are fairly advanced and difficult for someone who hasn't played before. Would you consider starting on something more basic? Do you have a teacher?
    We few, we happy few.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Noob question

    The first represents a very fast slide from the 3 down to the 2 fret. Try it by itself a few times by fingering the 3 and sliding to the 2 immediately (if not sooner!), the emphasis will be on the 2 (F# here).

    The second image shows the 2 strings joined by the arc,meaning that those 2 note are both on the same fret and are played with the same finger. Called a "barre".
    Tips here, for guitar but applicable to the mando


  5. #5
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Boston, Mass.

    Default Re: Noob question

    What kind of an A chord is that supposed to be?
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Noob question

    Thanks for the quick replies. It's much appreciated.

    jbrwky: That A chord is definitely too advanced for me. I was just using it as an example, since I just recently bought the Hal Leonard book, Folk Songs For Mandolin. It has a lot of chords in there that have an arch over them like that A I posted.

    As for the Swallowtail Jig, it probably is too fast for me, but I really like the song, and it's really short and easy to memorize. Which is important for me at this stage in my learning, since I need to memorize a song first before I can start playing it in time with the metronome.

    And no I do not have a teacher.

    Thanks again everyone for the help.

  7. #7
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    Kerrville, TX

    Default Re: Noob question

    As others have mentioned, the notation on Swallowtail Jig is a pull-off (or could be played as a slide, but usually it's done as a pull-off on that tune). Chris Thile's "Essential Techniques for Mandolin" covers that technique on that tune.

    You'll also see that 'arch' for hammer-ons, where you fret one note and then hammer another finger down onto a higher fret. Or as a slide up (instead of a slide down) to a higher note. These are all variations of the same thing: they're called slurs. That 'arch' is a generic sign for a slur. We mandolin players have to do it by getting from one fret to another, whereas fiddle players just slide their fingers up the neck and bow continuously. Theirs will sound more like a real slur, where it's more of a simulated approach with a fretted instrument.

    Oh, and welcome to the Cafe!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Noob question

    When it's an arch like that it's a pull off. If it was a slide it would be a straight line like this:

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  10. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Silver Spring, MD

    Default Re: Noob question

    I believe that's a ukulele A chord, no? That fingering on a mandolin could have several names, but it's not a chord you need to worry about.


  11. #10
    Registered User Toni Schula's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Vienna, Europe

    Default Right hand in jigs

    Take care on the picking hand in this tune!

    Normally you would do alternate picking. That is, if you have eight eighth notes in a bar, you start with a downstroke (D) on the first beat, then an upstroke (U) on the second, a downstroke on the third and so on. This can be written as D U D U D U D U. This way the stronger downstrokes are used for the strong beats. Let's use capitol letters only for the strong beats: D u D u D u D u. If you count "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" the numbers are downstrokes and the weaker ands are upstrokes.

    But Swallowtail Jig is a jig and the measure is 6/8. Jigs might theoreticlly be played as D U D U D U. But in this case you have an upstroke on the 4th beat. In jigs the 4th beat is a strong beat and deserves a downstroke. This can be played as D u d D u d. Again capitol letters indicate the strong beats. Now there are two downstrokes in a row. Playing two downstrokes in a row is a challenge. It took me quite a while to get this down. But the result is worth the effort, as this jig picking pattern can really groove.

    I recommend to practise the jig picking pattern separetly with a metronome. I mean, just practise the pattern with the right hand on the open strings. Put your focus on the right hand and the click of the metronome which should fall on the 1st and 4th beat (both are downstrokes and both are the strong beats).

    I strongly recommend to also practise alternate picking, which is usually used on other usual rhythms. E.g.:
    4/4: D u D u D u D u
    3/4: D u D u D u

    In case you knew this already, please forgive me and take my post as confirmation.

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  13. #11

    Default Re: Noob question

    Thanks Bauzl. I did read somewhere about jigs being DudDud, probably these forums, but thanks for reminding me.


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