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Thread: Slurs

  1. #1
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Slurs

    Can you play a 2 note slur on a mandolin by only plucking the first note, and, if so, how is it done?
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    Default Re: Slurs

    Sorry, mandolins don't do "slurs." That is a violin/fiddle bowing term! To execute a slur on the fiddle, you join two (or more) successive notes with the same bow stroke. On a mandolin, you have these picking options, depending on whether you're going up or down in pitch:

    1) Hammer-on (going up)
    2) Pull-off (going down)
    3) Slide (can be up or down)

    All three options, above, involve a single stroke of the pick to start, but two different, successive notes get sounded.

    If you are unsure how to execute a slide, hammer-on or pull-off, you may want to consult a book on the mandolin, or -- better yet -- take a mandolin lesson!

    A bow slur that joins more than two notes on the fiddle has essentially no flat-picking equivalent on the mandolin. A slur over triplets, however, is often be treated with hammers-on (up) or pulls-off (down), or both (up and down).

    Also, in some fiddle tunes, adjacent notes that are usually slurred on the fiddle are nevertheless played as separate notes on the mandolin, with two pickstrokes. It depends on the tune.

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    Default Re: Slurs

    Wow.

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    Default Re: Slurs

    A slur can indeed be played on the mandolin, guitar or many other instruments. Definition is to play the notes without either changing bow direction, or picking additional notes. A slide could be called a slur as long as you only pick once. If you are playing a wind instrument you don't tongue the note, but play both notes without tonguing. Vocalists can also do slurs. You can by definition also hammer on or pull off, but I feel the slide would represent the legato feel that the slur wants to sound like.
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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    A slur can indeed be played on the mandolin, guitar or many other instruments. Definition is to play the notes without either changing bow direction, or picking additional notes. A slide could be called a slur as long as you only pick once. If you are playing a wind instrument you don't tongue the note, but play both notes without tonguing. Vocalists can also do slurs. You can by definition also hammer on or pull off, but I feel the slide would represent the legato feel that the slur wants to sound like.
    Not to disagree too strongly, but strictly speaking, since you have no bow, you cannot use it to slur two notes, based on the definition of a slur, which defines a violin bowing technique. What you can do, instead, on a flat-picked instrument like a mandolin or guitar is a slide, a pull-off, or a hammer-on. None of these things is truly a slur: instead, they are all substitutes for a slur, intended to give an equivalent musical 'feel.' You prefer using a slide to using a hammer-on/pull-off, which is fine. In fact, mandolinists do all three of these things, depending on the context.

    In music, terms like "glissando" and "portamento" refer sliding (i.e., carrying the pitch) from one note to the next. Strictly speaking, vocalists sing portamentos, and these are not usually called "slurs."

    These things are all, of course, ways to get a "legato" feel for adjacent notes. But the word "slur" is considered a bowing technique for the violin. It is not possible, for example, to execute a slur over many adjacent 1/8th notes (say, 6 to 8 of them) on a mandolin -- but this is eminently possible on a violin. It only works effectively on the mandolin for groups of 2 notes, and also of 3 (i.e., triplets). If you see a notation in violin music to slur 8 notes and want to play it on the mandolin, you are out of luck! You can try a "legato feel" with the right hand, but it won't be the same.

    Not everything translates. Different instruments do different things. And vive la difference, I say!

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    Default Re: Slurs

    The phrase marking that we often call a "slur" is used for all instruments, but its basic meaning is about the sound, not the technique. When you see it in piano music the goal is to connect the notes, maybe by using pedal, or by holding the key down into the next note. The more general term is "legato" (tied).

    Wind instruments can slur by changing key combinations without tonguing, but in practice they are casual about that, paying more attention to whether the result it smooth or choppy ("staccato").

    For mandolin, anything that makes it smoother is good, but the same result might be had by playing the first note a bit stronger than the tied note, with both picked.

    It is not necessary to pay any attention to these phrase markings at first--get some simple technique going and let the style come later.
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    Default Re: Slurs

    "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Wm. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

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    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by HonketyHank View Post
    "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Wm. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

    "Stop. Stop. You're both right". Wrigleys Doublemint Gum commercial.
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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slurs

    Not to disagree too strongly, but strictly speaking, since you have no bow, you cannot use it to slur two notes, based on the definition of a slur, which defines a violin bowing technique.
    Baloney. You are stuck with archaic 19th century usage/definition.

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    Default Re: Slurs

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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    Baloney. You are stuck with archaic 19th century usage/definition.
    I probably would have used stronger words... but I completely agree... for example, from a beginning clarinet book----

    "All of the music you have played so far in Beginning Clarinet Songbook has required you to tongue every single note. There are several other types of articulation, though. In this lesson we will learn how to slur notes"......

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    Default Re: Slurs

    I was thinking about music notation...don't piano scores have slurs? Annotation for pedal usage?
    plus there are more nuanced pick control methods to creat smooth sound without slides, and hammer/pulls
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    Default Re: Slurs

    When I played trombone we did slurs all the time, NO bow. It's not just an bowing technique, it can relate to all instruments including voice. It mostly means a legato change between two notes. No tonguing, no picking, a smooth change between notes.
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    Sorry, mandolins don't do "slurs."
    ....

    1) Hammer-on (going up)
    2) Pull-off (going down)
    3) Slide (can be up or down)

    All three options, above, involve a single stroke of the pick to start, but two different, successive notes get sounded.
    and you just explained HOW to do a slur on mandolin

    I am with the others that think you CAN play a slur on mandolin.

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    I was thinking about music notation...don't piano scores have slurs?
    Yes and they cannot really play a slur, but they can do a very legato articulation that gives much the same effect. On mandolin we CAN hit more than one note with one "tongued" attack of the pick.

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    When I played trombone we did slurs all the time, NO bow. It's not just an bowing technique, it can relate to all instruments including voice. It mostly means a legato change between two notes. No tonguing, no picking, a smooth change between notes.
    Correct.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slur_(music)

    " the notes it embraces are to be played without separation (that is, with legato articulation)."

    "For bowed string instruments, the notes should be played in one bow stroke.
    For guitars, the notes should be played without plucking the individual strings (hammer-ons and pull-offs)."

    I assume mandolin would be treated as guitars.

    No bow needed to have a slur - that's just the tool used on bowed strings.

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    Default Re: Slurs

    David, I think you are missing the bigger picture. Face it: there are some types of musical sounds that are simply not achievable on a plucked instrument. Legato pick articulation does not equate to slur. Furthermore, hammers-on, pulls-off, and slides can work for two or three successive notes in a row (and possibly a couple more, if the notes are incredibly brief). But you are not going to pull off an 8- or 12-note slur the way you can with a bowed instrument.

    On the other hand, pizzicato on a violin will never sound as snappy as picking on a mandolin.

    Anyway, I ANSWERED THE OP'S question rather thoroughly -- and also accurately, I'd maintain, in my original response! The closest approximation to a violin slur on the mandolin is to perform a hammer-on, a pull-off, or a slide -- or some combination of these. This technique works well for 2-note slurs, and it can also work for 3-note slurs (e.g., triplets). It does not work very well, however, for longer series of notes, unless they are incredibly brief, due to the lack of sustain on the mandolin, and requirement to pluck a single string once to get all the notes.

    Finally, you and a couple of other posters seem to be confusing/confounding the standard musical notation that consists of a LIGATURE (which is a horizontal tie joining two or more notes) with the interpretation of a "slur", which is instrument-specific! A ligature is not a slur, and a slur is not a ligature.

    Notes joined by a ligature are supposed to be played in a legato fashion. That is what the notation means. Exactly how you manage to do this depends very much on the instrument being played, however! On a violin, this ligature usually means to slur the notes (i.e., use the same bow direction). On a woodwind, this means to play them without using re-articulation. On a trombone, it means to slide them. In voice, it means to use portamento. On a piano, it usually means using a pedal. These are all different, instrument-specific implementations of the legato ligature. They are all different ways of trying to get a smooth, "legato" feel on the particular instrument.

    On a mandolin, guitar, or other plectral instruments, ligatures are usually performed as slides, hammers-on, or pulls-off when they only consist of 2-3 notes. I hope we can agree on that. There is no direct mandolin equivalent to the violin type of slur, which is a bowing method.

    If you are adapting (arranging) fiddle music for the mandolin, and see a ligature indicating a violin slur over 2-3 notes, the thing to do is to see if you can manage to get the notes by sliding, hammering on, or pulling off. This is straightforward, and I do hope we do agree that that is the appropriate approach.

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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    David, I think you are missing the bigger picture. Face it: there are some types of musical sounds that are simply not achievable on a plucked instrument. Legato pick articulation does not equate to slur. Furthermore, hammers-on, pulls-off, and slides can work for two or three successive notes in a row (and possibly a couple more, if the notes are incredibly brief). But you are not going to pull off an 8- or 12-note slur the way you can with a bowed instrument.
    .......
    On a mandolin, guitar, or other plectral instruments, ligatures are usually performed as slides, hammers-on, or pulls-off when they only consist of 2-3 notes. I hope we can agree on that. There is no direct mandolin equivalent to the violin type of slur, which is a bowing method.

    If you are adapting (arranging) fiddle music for the mandolin, and see a ligature indicating a violin slur over 2-3 notes, the thing to do is to see if you can manage to get the notes by sliding, hammering on, or pulling off. This is straightforward, and I do hope we do agree that that is the appropriate approach.
    On one hand your specific technical analysis is quite accurate.

    but in PRACTICE it's a slur, so by being so instrument-specific, you may the one missing the "big picture".

    "These are all different, instrument-specific implementations of the legato ligature. They are all different ways of trying to get a smooth, "legato" feel on the particular instrument."

    Which is why I said that you explained HOW to play a "slur" on mandolin.

    is it the same as on a bowed or wind instrument or voice? No.

    Is it the same effect musically?

    Yes.

    " It does not work very well, however, for longer series of notes, unless they are incredibly brief, due to the lack of sustain on the mandolin, and requirement to pluck a single string once to get all the notes. "

    And finally, depending on how one plays, I find that the musical results are acceptable for playing several notes with one pick attack, so I disagree with that last bit.

    Sorry we disagree.

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    Default Re: Slurs


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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    On a trombone, it means to slide them. In voice, it means to use portamento.
    Technical note:

    A simple slur does NOT imply a portamento, slide, glissando, etc. It only means no added articulations.

    You need to write a slur between notes AND a small line to indicate portamento or glissando.



    simple slur






    examples of other articulation symbols

    also

    http://onlineguitarbooks.com/finger-...ed-techniques/

    "Hammer-ons and Pull-offs both fall into the category of ‘slurs’. While hammers and pulls are specific to guitar (and probably other stringed instruments), slurs are a more universal articulation. "

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slurs

    Language is a sensitive thing. You feel at home with your words and somebody comes along and changes their meaning on you. Bending language is bending thought, it's an act of power (consult Mr Orwell on the details).

    I would have put the answer to the OP like "I assume by "slur" you mean connecting 2 or more notes in one continuous sound. On the mandolin, this can be done with hammer-ons, pull-off, slides or combinations of those etc etc..."

    It's a great temptation to question the question by dissecting language, but it consumes time, and in the end nobody wins because everybody is kind of right.
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  32. #20

    Default Re: Slurs

    Sure you can do slurs on the mandolin. For example: Your mandolin is so ugly it could be a banjo. or Where did you get that mandolin, from theh ugly instrument shop?

    I'll go to my corner now.

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  34. #21
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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Language is a sensitive thing. You feel at home with your words and somebody comes along and changes their meaning on you. Bending language is bending thought, it's an act of power (consult Mr Orwell on the details).

    I would have put the answer to the OP like "I assume by "slur" you mean connecting 2 or more notes in one continuous sound. On the mandolin, this can be done with hammer-ons, pull-off, slides or combinations of those etc etc..."

    It's a great temptation to question the question by dissecting language, but it consumes time, and in the end nobody wins because everybody is kind of right.
    Your answer to the OP is simple and correct.

    But, in music, language is a specific thing when it comes to technical terminology. It's not my meaning nor your meaning of terms, the meanings are universal.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/m...p?15143-sblock is quite accurate in his violin-based terms. I - and the sources I cited - also accept that a slur is also a general term for a sort of legato sound, varying from instrument to instrument in the manner of production.

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    Default Re: Slurs

    BTW you can SLUR a mando, tons of notes in a row
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=w5xnyBbdMjM
    Super cool sound!
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  37. #23
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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    BTW you can SLUR a mando, tons of notes in a row
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=w5xnyBbdMjM
    Super cool sound!
    Nice electric stuff - but I was referring to the acoustic version of the mandolin.

    Lovely prog rock/mando tone, too.

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    Default Re: Slurs

    I would say confront your Tremolo demons, & shape it too or it can be a bit boring.
    Very important in duo-style when playing across the bar with the sustained notes but moving with the leading line, while not revealing the stolen accompanying notes.
    The real art is in making it sound smooth and not like some motorboat putting along, and being able to begin and stop precicely, while shaping the start, internal dynamics and end, no matter how short the slur being done.
    Tremolo is one of those things that demand a shed load of practice to sound right, I think this is why so many players shy away from it, so never get beyond the inevitable rattling racket stage. But hearing a properly use tremolo or arpeggio technique inspires me to seek out the end result. As pointed out above we’re a bit like the pianists, where we create an illusion of continuity, but this is down to very subtle techniques which take a lot of work to master. Remember the apparent continuity of the violin or cello bow is just a very fast repeated snagging and release of the string by the rosin on the bow hairs, this is why we spend so much time on choosing and refining choices of those and the techniques to elicit the required response. In our plectrum techniques we just need to strive harder to join the dots to give the continuity at a small enough resolution like a pointillist artist with our little brush.


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    Default Re: Slurs

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    ...in music, language is a specific thing when it comes to technical terminology. It's not my meaning nor your meaning of terms, the meanings are universal.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/m...p?15143-sblock is quite accurate in his violin-based terms. I - and the sources I cited - also accept that a slur is also a general term for a sort of legato sound, varying from instrument to instrument in the manner of production.
    The second paragraph is already compromising the universality mentioned in the first. Either a term is instrument-independent or it is not - in a really universal language such context-dependent ambiguity could not be allowed.
    The universal language is semantically slurred here, I guess

    But music language is full of such scintillating camouflage - go and ask 3 people what "modal" is, for instance
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