Page 2 of 6 FirstFirst 123456 LastLast
Results 26 to 50 of 147

Thread: What is a Celtic mandolin?

  1. #26
    Registered User mikeyes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Fond du Lac, WI
    Posts
    954

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    One of the main themes from the RTE clip mentioned above is how the introduction of the bouzouki brought "a brand new way of playing the music" and with it new techniques and sounds. I think that the same thing is happening here. As Dan points out, the carved top mandolin offers new horizons to the musician and the two types of mandolins we are discussing are quite different from one another in both sound and how they are played.
    I talked with Martin Howley about this and he said that he went with the Collings F style mandolin because he was exploring more advanced technical skills that would not work as well on the Shapiro he was playing and in the last year he has had the opportunity to see and hear what his Collings could do both for him and his band, Webanjo3.
    If you look at the video of him playing Vincent Broderick's "The Rookery" you will see some of the technical brilliance he is able to bring to the tune. He has played this tune, which is from East Galway his home area, since he was twelve and has worked with it all that time. I can tell you that in the last year he has developed more technique and explored the possibilities of this instrument (I have the videos to show it, but I never publish them unless I get permission first) and he would not have been able to play at this level with his old instrument.
    I'm not saying that he would not have advanced his technique with the Shapiro, it is after all a fabulous instrument, but it would have taken a different direction just like the bouzouki built by Joe Foley was helpful in the paradigm shift that occurred when the bouzouki came into Irish music. As time goes on we will see a separation between the two styles of mandolin playing and the music will remain.
    The same thing happened to mandolin music in the States 90 years ago - techniques changed with the advent of the carved back instrument. Tastes changed and there were thousands of player who became interested in mandolin bands etc. because this instrument allowed for larger concert venues. Mandolin playing went out of style just about the time that LLoyd Loar did his thing and was old fashioned by 1930 until the folk revival in this country. By then the cheap mandolins were often Gibson A models, hence the monopoly in the States.
    There is no question that beautiful music is made with the flat topped instruments. I think that Nigel is pointing out that there is a choice at this time. One of the economic aspects is that there are more carved topped choices out there that are a value due to the basic construction of carved topped mandolins vs. what you can get for the same price in a flat topped instrument. I'd love to have a Foley or a Sobell but they are fairly priced and out of my range at this point. In addition I would have to learn how to play the instrument as a lot of my technique would not translate as well to the new mandolin - I know this because I have difficulty playing ones that I have borrowed and being satisfied with my playing.
    Basically they are two different instruments requiring different techniques to play at a competent level and have totally different sounds. The techniques for playing the carved top mandolins have been around a lot longer than those for the flat top, at least outside of classical circles which are totally different. It's not surprising that younger players are looking toward the Chris Thiles for inspiration in order to play their favorite music and choosing the carved top mandolins. It is also not surprising when young players look at Andy Irvine and choose a Foley. When the choice is made their paths may diverge a the two types of instruments are not the same thing.

    Mike

  2. The following members say thank you to mikeyes for this post:


  3. #27
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,817

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Boatswain View Post
    Thanks Foldedpath! I also can attest to what you said about the pipes. About 5 years ago I really started to "discover" the online debates about mandolin not having a long history in ITM. I DID follow that rabbit hole and actually began to reconsider my commitment to mandolin and CBOM instruments as my favorite music to play is ITM. I actually called up CJ Dixon and got a set of pipes. After about a year of learning, I realized how much more I still loved to play mandolin family instruments. Put the pipes down in favor of my low-tier Washburn f-hole A style mandolin.
    These days I only concern myself with what I like to play, what I enjoy, etc. Today, that was cracking open the door to let some of the summer air in, enjoy a coffee, and play some reels/jigs on my cittern.
    My Significant Other would dearly love for me to try learning the pipes, because she travels in local Scottish fiddle/piping circles out here in the Pacific Northwest, as well as playing Irish trad. I'm still struggling a little with an appreciation for the pipes, to be honest. I hear a tune in A mixolydian with a short range, and 7 parts with just a few tiny variations... yeah... must have been written by a piper! But I'm too old to start on something like pipes now.

    Hanging out with her friends and lurking in her workshops has widened my musical horizons. I play mandolin in a local session now with two pipers (border pipes and something else.. Reel Pipes?), and I've met piping heroes like Fred Morrison in one of her workshops. Her workshops also expose me to Cape Breton fiddlers like Andrea Beaton and Troy McGilvray, who I've had the honor of sitting next to in an after-workshop session (blew me away, way over my league but super-friendly people).

    Along those lines, and because I don't think this music always fits on the mandolin, I've started learning a little Irish flute. I never really understood some things about this music before trying the flute. "Oh... so that's what a cut is! Oh, so that's a long roll." Those things happen in places where we substitute things like the treble ornament on mandolin and tenor banjo. Pipe-adapted ornaments like crans still baffle me, but all of this has opened my ears. I don't know if it helps my mandolin playing, but it can't hurt. And I still like the ease of doing double-stops and brief chordal things on mandoln -- things you can't do on the fiddle, flute, or pipes (well unless you're playing a full Uilleann set with all the wrist lever thingies).

    So at the end of this long-winded post, I'm going to suggest that if you still have an interest in this kind of thing, then get a tin whistle in D and fool around on it. It costs next to nothing, and it might help cross-fertilize your mandolin playing. It's not pipes, but it's way closer than the mandolin, and you can still play this music on the mandolin. I sure do.

  4. #28
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,817

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by nkforster View Post
    We will just have to agree to agree. It's a marketing term. It's what people type into Google. Love it or hate it, we're stuck with it.
    Yep, and sorry if that was a little heavy-handed in using this thread as a jumping off point. Like I said... pet peeve, necessary evil, etc.

    I think most folk will agree it's "what you play, not what you play it on." That said, the other point I hope people take away from the article is "what you play it on" does effect whether you actually get heard or can hear yourself. As far as I can tell Bluegrass players suffer from this problem less. As things are many "Celtic" mandolins both cheap and expensive, just don't perform well enough.

    Addressing that little issue..... is my job.
    Agreeing 100% here. One other thing that bugs me, is how some people think an inexpensive flattop or one of the not-so-great 20's Gibson A's is the best choice for the music, just from the appearance and not the performance. I've heard mandolin players in local sessions who are good players, but you can't hear a thing unless you're sitting right next to them.

    And it's not just a session thing. A mandolin with a clear voice is much easier to record with microphones for a CD project.

  5. #29
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,817

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    " You just can’t get those rich harmonics and that ringing sustain from a Gibson mandolin. Any Gibson mandolin."

    This quote from Nigel's article is very significant, and goes a long way to explaining the development of 'Celtic' mandolin building in the last 4 decades.
    The danger of over-generalization is that we don't all play Gibson brand or 100% Gibson copies when we play "Gibson style" mandolins.

    I play a Lebeda F5 mandolin with a redwood top. It doesn't sound like a typical Bluegrass mandolin. Sustain up the wazoo, but combined with the "focus" of this design.

    If we only had Gibson and 100% Gibson copy mandolins as a comparison, then this generalization would work. But not after the recent Golden Age explosion of independent luthiers creating their own take on the design. A Collings doesn't sound like a Gibson, and so on...

    Edit to add: "Sustain" is also something that might be essential for interpreting a slow air, but a reel flying past at dance tempo doesn't exactly require sustain. What you want is a clear voice for those notes.

  6. The following members say thank you to foldedpath for this post:


  7. #30
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,817

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    At the risk of over-staying my welcome on this topic with those last few posts by elaborating on my last point...

    Why does "sustain" figure so prominently in a discussion of a good mandolin for playing this music?

    Sure, if all you're going to be playing is Si Bheag Si Mhor and the like, then you're going to want an instrument with as much note sustain after the pick attack as you can get. But how does sustain matter for the rest of the music like marches, strathspeys, reels, hornpipes, jigs, slides, and the rest?

    This is fast-paced, relentlessly note-y stuff. It's the kind of music where a whistle or flute player has to think strategically about taking a breath and dropping notes, because it's not built into the music. The music just keeps going, and it's fast if you're playing up to dance tempos.

    So if we're not talking about a mandolin optimized for slow airs and O'Carolan harp tunes, then where does "sustain" as a quality of the mandolin fit into the equation?

    That's an honest question. I'd like to hear what people think about this.
    Last edited by foldedpath; Aug-14-2014 at 10:08pm. Reason: typo

  8. #31
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 pc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,684

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Why does "sustain" figure so prominently in a discussion of a good mandolin for playing this music?

    Sure, if all you're going to be playing is Si Bheag Si Mhor and the like, then you're going to want an instrument with as much note sustain after the pick attack as you can get. But how does sustain matter for the rest of the music like marches, strathspeys, reels, hornpipes, jigs, slides, and the rest?
    Well, without sustain, they sit you down in a session between the two bodhrans (the one with a neck and the one without).

    We are competing against instruments that make what is generally perceived as "Irish" sound, such as fiddles, flutes, boxes; even a solo tin whistle will instantly be recognized as sounding Irish. All these instruments have sustain, i.e. the kind that stands out not only in slow pieces but all the time, the kind that gives you room for ornaments, and I am always trying to reach as much of that as I can.
    There is another thing - Irish music today lacks a traditional instrument that has practically become exctinct: the wire-strung harp; I think the mandolin has a chance to take that place, but only with a ringing sustain.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  9. #32
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,817

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Well, without sustain, they sit you down in a session between the two bodhrans (the one with a neck and the one without).

    We are competing against instruments that make what is generally perceived as "Irish" sound, such as fiddles, flutes, boxes; even a solo tin whistle will instantly be recognized as sounding Irish. All these instruments have sustain, i.e. the kind that stands out not only in slow pieces but all the time, the kind that gives you room for ornaments, and I am always trying to reach as much of that as I can.
    No, that's not what I'm talking about. The fact that the tradition is based around sustaining instruments, which is where we get all these "ornaments" from, is beside the point.

    I'm asking why sustain is always put on a pedestal as a valuable quality for the "Celtic" mandolin, when it's irrelevant if you're playing the vast majority of tunes in the instrumental tradition outside of harp music. The dance tunes. The fast ones. The ones the fiddlers, flute players, whistlers, box players, and pipers have no trouble playing at full speed.

    There is another thing - Irish music today lacks a traditional instrument that has practically become exctinct: the wire-strung harp; I think the mandolin has a chance to take that place, but only with a ringing sustain.
    Sure, but that's a different, "sideways" tradition to the dance tunes. I play a couple of O'Carolan tunes on mandolin, but that's not what I'm asking about. And frankly, I think a guitar played fingerstyle is better suited for this, if you're going to use a fretted instrument to enter that territory. More notes under your fingers, and a deeper bass line.

  10. #33
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Invergordon,Scotland
    Posts
    2,242

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    At the risk of over-staying my welcome on this topic with those last few posts by elaborating on my last point...

    Why does "sustain" figure so prominently in a discussion of a good mandolin for playing this music?

    Sure, if all you're going to be playing is Si Bheag Si Mhor and the like, then you're going to want an instrument with as much note sustain after the pick attack as you can get. But how does sustain matter for the rest of the music like marches, strathspeys, reels, hornpipes, jigs, slides, and the rest?

    This is fast-paced, relentlessly note-y stuff. It's the kind of music where a whistle or flute player has to think strategically about taking a breath and dropping notes, because it's not built into the music. The music just keeps going, and it's fast if you're playing up to dance tempos.

    So if we're not talking about a mandolin optimized for slow airs and O'Carolan harp tunes, then where does "sustain" as a quality of the mandolin fit into the equation?

    That's an honest question. I'd like to hear what people think about this.
    I can only speak for myself, but I think of the ringing strings (particularly the open strings which will continue to sound for some time after you have played them) as a sort of drone under the main melody, in fast tunes as much as slow ones.
    Perhaps I should give an example:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR4M22Vrfrg

    In any case, I think the notion of 'ringing strings' is certainly part of 'Celtic' music.
    Tom Anderson from the Shetlands had a tune book called that, and I think it has also to do with the popularity of open tunings in Celtic guitar and cittern playing, and indeed the harp (as Bertram notes - and I agree with you there Bertram) and another rarely seen (in the UK) instrument the hammered dulcimer - although my impression is that it does feature a bit in US Celtic bands. These are instruments where ringing strings are part of the sound.
    In the case of open or partially open tuned guitars and bouzoukis, we see the capo being used a great deal. This seems to me because players are seeking to retain that open ringing sound which is lost if there are a lot of closed chords.
    David A. Gordon

  11. The following members say thank you to Dagger Gordon for this post:


  12. #34
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1996
    Location
    Norfolk, England
    Posts
    5,783

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Sometimes it is easier to illustrate with sound than words. I used to do recorded "Tastings" of various mandolins. Here's a jig written by my friend Chipper on snakehead 71261:

    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound...st_october.mp3

    And on an F5:
    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound...st_october.mp3

    And finally here's "The Lark in the Morning" in duet form, Loar F5 76547 + Tim's Collings/Nugget A5.
    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/dan/0...he_morning.mp3

    Tim is playing it quite "spare" here, in the style you'd commonly hear in sessions in Ireland. I'm hitting the dynamics and rhythm a bit more and providing most of the diddlyums..
    The Mandolin Archive
    my CDs
    "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead"

  13. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to danb For This Useful Post:


  14. #35
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 pc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,684

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    The dance tunes. The fast ones.
    Yes exactly those are the ones I am talking about. These do make a difference with or without sustain. This music has often been called "deedlee-eye" for a reason, it's not been called "pck-t-pck". The ratio of noises vs tone.

    Dagger's example video says it all. Compare it to this.
    Last edited by Bertram Henze; Aug-15-2014 at 4:06am.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  15. #36
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1996
    Location
    Norfolk, England
    Posts
    5,783

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Also worth noting: the Sobells and similar are most popular in the north of the UK and in Scotland. They also made it quite big to the USA, though they are less commonly seen in Irish sessions in London/Ireland that I have experienced. "Celtic" as referenced in the original post refers mostly to Scottish & English players it seems!

    Dagger & Kevin do wonderful work with their Sobells. Kevin's I have played myself and can quickly confirm it is a lovely instrument.

    Some well-known players and what I know of their gear:
    Andy Irvine has recorded many things on various Gibson a models, also on Sobell citterns & guitars
    Gerald Trimble recorded his Green linnet CDs on 2 different Sobell Citterns (one long & one short scale), eventually played a monteleone 10-string, and later moved to playing primarily viola de gamba and other similar violin-family instruments.
    Roger Landes recorded Dragon Reels with a variety of Stephen Owsley Smith Instruments
    Zan McLeod has a Steve Owsley Smith octave mandolin
    Seamus Egan of Solas has played a large variety of mandolins. One album cover shows a 3-point f4.
    Phil Cunningham frequently plays a Sobell OM tuned like the top 4 strings of a guitar
    Brian McDonagh of Dervish used Gibson H1 & H2 mandolas for years. Michael plays Phil Crump flat-top bouzoukis
    Mick Maloney recorded several of his disks on an older Orville Label A model
    Paul Kotapish had a very nice-sounding Flatiron f-hole model in "Open House", and later a very nice F5 on "Wake the Dead" recordings
    Marla Fibish of the SF Bay Area has a Gibson A
    Terry Woods of the Pogues plays a very early (the first?) Stephen Owsley Smith mandolin, used Sobell bouzoukis circa "If I Should Fall From Grace With God", and now has various electrics by a builder I am not familiar with
    Alec Finn of DeDannan used mostly a greek 3-course bouzouki. A gibson mandocello appears on "Star Spangled Molly"
    Tim O'Brien played a very early nugget f-holed A-model for years, recently has used a nugget/collings Tim O'Brien model

    Also.. this is a good thread on similar subject from last year

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ndolin-Playing


    And one last random bit of blather.. Vega Cylinderback mandolins are often great trad instruments. They have the systain and clarity, but are more on the bassy side than the brighter ringing Sobells.
    The Mandolin Archive
    my CDs
    "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead"

  16. #37

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by danb View Post
    Also worth noting: the Sobells and similar are most popular in the north of the UK and in Scotland. They also made it quite big to the USA, though they are less commonly seen in Irish sessions in London/Ireland that I have experienced. "Celtic" as referenced in the original post refers mostly to Scottish & English players it seems!

    Dagger & Kevin do wonderful work with their Sobells. Kevin's I have played myself and can quickly confirm it is a lovely instrument.

    Some well-known players and what I know of their gear:
    Andy Irvine has recorded many things on various Gibson a models, also on Sobell citterns & guitars
    Gerald Trimble recorded his Green linnet CDs on 2 different Sobell Citterns (one long & one short scale), eventually played a monteleone 10-string, and later moved to playing primarily viola de gamba and other similar violin-family instruments.
    Roger Landes recorded Dragon Reels with a variety of Stephen Owsley Smith Instruments
    Zan McLeod has a Steve Owsley Smith octave mandolin
    Seamus Egan of Solas has played a large variety of mandolins. One album cover shows a 3-point f4.
    Phil Cunningham frequently plays a Sobell OM tuned like the top 4 strings of a guitar
    Brian McDonagh of Dervish used Gibson H1 & H2 mandolas for years. Michael plays Phil Crump flat-top bouzoukis
    Mick Maloney recorded several of his disks on an older Orville Label A model
    Paul Kotapish had a very nice-sounding Flatiron f-hole model in "Open House", and later a very nice F5 on "Wake the Dead" recordings
    Marla Fibish of the SF Bay Area has a Gibson A
    Terry Woods of the Pogues plays a very early (the first?) Stephen Owsley Smith mandolin, used Sobell bouzoukis circa "If I Should Fall From Grace With God", and now has various electrics by a builder I am not familiar with
    Alec Finn of DeDannan used mostly a greek 3-course bouzouki. A gibson mandocello appears on "Star Spangled Molly"
    Tim O'Brien played a very early nugget f-holed A-model for years, recently has used a nugget/collings Tim O'Brien model

    Also.. this is a good thread on similar subject from last year

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ndolin-Playing


    And one last random bit of blather.. Vega Cylinderback mandolins are often great trad instruments. They have the systain and clarity, but are more on the bassy side than the brighter ringing Sobells.

    Brilliant! Thanks for the list, very informative. To be honest I was a little concerned about the "non Irish" content of the piece, but at some point you just have to stop and publish. In the end I could only include those who responded to the emails I sent, and unfortunately the Irish and Irish-American musicians I wrote to as yet have not replied. But if they do I can always add their quotes or write another piece specifically about the mandolin in Irish music.

    On your second point - I'm fascinated by anything "cylinder", as some of you will know from my writings and videos about the cylinder top instruments I make based on the old Howe Orme design. In you experience do the Vega mandolins perform well in a session?

    What I've come to realise is the carved top "Celtic" mandolins for want of a better term are great for recording but few have the projection to cut it in a session. I think this is the direction my research has to be directed...

    Nigel
    www.nkforsterguitars.com

  17. #38
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1996
    Location
    Norfolk, England
    Posts
    5,783

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by nkforster View Post
    On your second point - I'm fascinated by anything "cylinder", as some of you will know from my writings and videos about the cylinder top instruments I make based on the old Howe Orme design. In you experience do the Vega mandolins perform well in a session?

    What I've come to realise is the carved top "Celtic" mandolins for want of a better term are great for recording but few have the projection to cut it in a session. I think this is the direction my research has to be directed...
    You can make a lot of noise on most mandolins with the right technique, but that only gets you so far. Kevin's got a nice trick with the resophonic mandolins

    The Vegas sound great but are maybe a bit softer than a gibson A.

    A good Loar cuts just fine in a sesion, but that's not always a great option
    The Mandolin Archive
    my CDs
    "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead"

  18. #39
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Cornwall & London
    Posts
    2,577
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by nkforster View Post
    and unfortunately the Irish and Irish-American musicians I wrote to as yet have not replied.
    I think many Irish mandolin players will probably feel they lack the experience to comment on something called a Celtic mandolin. They don't play "Celtic" music, which is a catch-all term that glosses over the differences between the disparate styles it tries to encompass, they play Irish music. It's a useful header for a CD collection, but without going straight to the style or type of tunes being played, then trying to define the 'right' mandolin for the job would be a wild goose chase.

    The mandolin is still very much an unknown quantity in Irish music and has yet to find it's place in sessions. Without being too hard on the players I've heard, they tend to do better on their tenor banjos or banjo-mandolins, than when they pick up a mandolin and try play it as if it were a little wooden banjo.
    Eoin



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

  19. #40

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    I think many Irish mandolin players will probably feel they lack the experience to comment on something called a Celtic mandolin. They don't play "Celtic" music, which is a catch-all term that glosses over the differences between the disparate styles it tries to encompass, they play Irish music. It's a useful header for a CD collection, but without going straight to the style or type of tunes being played, then trying to define the 'right' mandolin for the job would be a wild goose chase.

    The mandolin is still very much an unknown quantity in Irish music and has yet to find it's place in sessions. Without being too hard on the players I've heard, they tend to do better on their tenor banjos or banjo-mandolins, than when they pick up a mandolin and try play it as if it were a little wooden banjo.
    The questions as posed to the musicians I asked wouldn't have presented the problem as you see it, I just think it's an issue of the people I asked either being too busy or not interested. And almost everyone who did answer expressed a dislike of the term Celtic at some time or other. Fair enough.

    Nigel
    www.nkforsterguitars.com

  20. #41
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Posts
    1,154

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Well, the original National Guitars company were I suppose trying to answer the question of volume, and came up with the cone solution, and it is still very serviceable. You do need to work out how to "control" resonators, as they are different, but, as my fiddling pal John Martin is quick to point out (pointedly!) at sessions, they are very loud. I think there is room to create slightly different sounding resonator mandolins - my tricone and single cone tenors sound very different. I've never heard, or seen the tricone mandos that National made briefly in the 20s', but they could be very sweet.

    The new RM1 is a great instrument, very well built and designed, and playable, off the shelf. The hotplate pickup roars through a good combo.

    Kevin

    kevinmacleod.co.uk

  21. #42
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1996
    Location
    Norfolk, England
    Posts
    5,783

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by nkforster View Post
    On your second point - I'm fascinated by anything "cylinder", as some of you will know from my writings and videos about the cylinder top instruments I make based on the old Howe Orme design. In you experience do the Vega mandolins perform well in a session?

    What I've come to realise is the carved top "Celtic" mandolins for want of a better term are great for recording but few have the projection to cut it in a session. I think this is the direction my research has to be directed...
    You can make a lot of noise on most mandolins with the right technique, but that only gets you so far. Kevin's got a nice trick with the resophonic mandolins.

    The Vegas sound great but are maybe a bit softer than a gibson A.

    A good Loar cuts just fine in a sesion, but that's not always a great option
    The Mandolin Archive
    my CDs
    "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead"

  22. #43
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 pc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,684

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by danb View Post
    A good Loar cuts just fine in a sesion, but that's not always a great option
    A session is hard going for a mandolin - to sound good AND loud is the ultimate challenge. There's this man in our sessions with a cheapo carved-top f-hole, and you hear him clearly through the din, but it's all ticketicketicketick...
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  23. #44
    Registered User Niall Anderson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    I've played Kevin's RM1 acoustically, and it nearly deafened me... I can't imagine what it would be like through a PA...



    (hands out earplugs...)

  24. #45
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Halifax, Yorkshire, England
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    I just realised I have been playing 'celtic' mandolin for 50 years (I should improve soon) so should have some sagatious pearls on this topic by now.

    I started in Birmingham (England) playing on some pretty dismal old mandolins, mostly German or Italian made but I was lucky to find a cheap Gibson A4 in a local furniture auction and ever since have been a convert to the carved-top and back USA-style mandolin for 'celtic' music. I have also played some pretty good flat-tops along the way (I owned a cedar-topped Oakwood for a while) and I had a cedar-topped large-body Sobell mandolin for a few years. I sold it because the 'ringing forever' resonance became annoying and bled over into other notes too much - too mushy for my taste (perhaps conditioned by now to the more percussive Gibson A sound). Having said that it is interesting that Simon Mayor finds enough resonance in his Gibson-style instruments (made in Scotland) for his more gentle playing approach.

    One structural development not mentioned so far is the increased height of bridges on modern mandolins compared to older models. My early second-hand mandolins had very low bridges allowing very little room for digging into the strings. I think the increased height of Gibson bridges has influenced all of the players and makers of 'celtic' mandolins and allows flat-tops also to be played more loudly and so compete with their carved-top cousins.

    Kevin
    Anglocelt
    mainly Irish & Scottish but open to all dance-oriented melodic music.
    Mandos: Gibson A2, Mike Black A4, Taran Springwell, Shippey Rosewood; TM and OM by J E Dallas (London) & Davidson.

  25. #46
    Registered User Mike Anderson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    London, Ontario
    Posts
    560

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    I can only speak for myself, but I think of the ringing strings (particularly the open strings which will continue to sound for some time after you have played them) as a sort of drone under the main melody, in fast tunes as much as slow ones.
    Perhaps I should give an example:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR4M22Vrfrg

    In any case, I think the notion of 'ringing strings' is certainly part of 'Celtic' music.
    Tom Anderson from the Shetlands had a tune book called that, and I think it has also to do with the popularity of open tunings in Celtic guitar and cittern playing, and indeed the harp (as Bertram notes - and I agree with you there Bertram) and another rarely seen (in the UK) instrument the hammered dulcimer - although my impression is that it does feature a bit in US Celtic bands. These are instruments where ringing strings are part of the sound.
    In the case of open or partially open tuned guitars and bouzoukis, we see the capo being used a great deal. This seems to me because players are seeking to retain that open ringing sound which is lost if there are a lot of closed chords.
    This all rings true (sorry) for me, and I for one am hardly going to take issue with the man who wrote "Da Slockit Light."
    Last edited by Mike Anderson; Aug-15-2014 at 5:28pm.

  26. #47
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,817

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Thanks everyone, for the response to the sustain question. This has always puzzled me, when discussions about a proper mandolin for this music come up, and the discussion shifts towards instruments with more sustain.

    It's important for airs and slow reels, although an argument could be made (and I've made it) that there are some of these very slow and irregular tempo airs that just aren't mandolin material. But for a reel like Cooley's, even at a relaxed session tempo of around 105 beats per minute, each note you're playing in most of the phrases is follwed by another note just over a 10th of a second later. And that's not even getting into things like pull-offs, hammer-ons, or treble ornaments where the time interval between notes is even faster. Or some of those very short and very fast runs one encounters in Scottish and Cape Breton strathspeys as a rhythmic break in the music.

    So my question has always been -- how does sustain matter, in the typical ways we talk about sustain, if it's only there for a 10th of a second? Or even less, for the ornaments and runs?

    And the answer, from all these posts (including my own experience) seems to be that it's not really about sustain considered in isolation, but how sustain combines with the overall timbre of the instrument. And then it's down to how each player thinks a mandolin "should" sound for this music.

    So we're back to personal preference in tone again, and not some isolated factor like sustain. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it
    Last edited by foldedpath; Aug-15-2014 at 10:30pm.

  27. #48
    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Leicestershire, UK
    Posts
    1,376

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    The mandolin is still very much an unknown quantity in Irish music and has yet to find it's place in sessions. Without being too hard on the players I've heard, they tend to do better on their tenor banjos or banjo-mandolins, than when they pick up a mandolin and try play it as if it were a little wooden banjo.
    I've been playing in sessions in the UK (mainly London) and Ireland since around the mid-70s and the mandolin has always been present in sessions I've been involved with in that time.

    So my question has always been -- how does sustain matter, in the typical ways we talk about sustain, if it's only there for a 10th of a second? Or even less, for the ornaments and runs?
    Well... I tend to let some strings ring like a drone while I'm playing melody on others and, for that purpose, sustain is something I look for. So I suppose it depends on one's individual style.

  28. #49
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 pc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,684

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Trying to chase down what "authentic" means on the level of individual instruments in this music is a fool's errand anyway. Because if you fall far enough down that rabbit hole, you'll end up learning the pipes.
    ...and you'll have to have seen it to know what that means:

    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  29. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Bertram Henze For This Useful Post:


  30. #50
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Cornwall & London
    Posts
    2,577
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: What is a Celtic mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    I've been playing in sessions in the UK (mainly London) and Ireland since around the mid-70s and the mandolin has always been present in sessions I've been involved with in that time.
    They've always turned up and been welcome, as long as the players had done their 'homework' and new the tunes well, but they've yet to find their place. I'm convinced there is a place which can be found, possibly by fiddle players who play well enough to really work one.
    At the moment it's a bit like guitars, it's sort of ok to tick along 'as long as no one notices' attitude.
    The people at CCE seem game to work on it, but they're in uncharted waters and seem to be treating it as another banjo.
    I'd like it a lot if they were found a real place in Irish Traditional Music but it's mostly Irish or general folk sessions where they seem to fit without 'bother'.
    Eoin



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

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •