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Thread: getting into the Italian style

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    Question getting into the Italian style

    I have been playing mandolin for about 6 years now. Only in the last few years have I taken it seriously. Mostly I listen to, and attempt to emulate, American bluegrass and some weirder meandering jazz stuff. Yesterday I was listening to the Godfather theme and realized I have never taken the Italian style seriously and that I am surely missing out on some great music. The only player I know is Dave Apollon so I'd love to hear your recommendations.

  2. #2
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

    Quote Originally Posted by fern.m View Post
    Yesterday I was listening to the Godfather theme and realized I have never taken the Italian style seriously and that I am surely missing out on some great music. The only player I know is Dave Apollon so I'd love to hear your recommendations.
    Benvenuto a bordo.

    Welcome to the world of the original mandolin players! Italians!

    Dave Apollon was Russian (Ukrainian?) Jewish, though ; one of the best! but not Italian.

    I've played several of the pieces from "Godfather" movies over the years at Italian restaurants and functions, and those tunes are indeed part of the American Italian experience.

    But what I suggest is learning about the various forms of Italian folk music and about the Ballo Liscio tradition, along with the Italian classical tradition of mandolin artistry.

    Sheri has an ongoing thread on this forum with links to a lot of great Italian music.

    "https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/threads/107621-Drop-Box-is-now-available-for-Italian-ballo-liscio-sheet-music"

    Also, if you search this forum many people have posted videos of Italian players of all styles.

    Finally, there are some books on the subject if you also do a search, w/ some links below.

    BTW, as a mandolin player, and with all respect, your "never taken the Italian style seriously " comment somewhat mystifies me, as in how can one play mandolin and not be aware that it was an Italian instrument with a rich tradition?

    Some links:

    http://www.zighibaci.com/

    "the old ballo liscio dance music, Italian and Neapolitan songs dating back to the 1850s, "

    https://www.johntlabarbera.com/

    https://www.amazon.com/Traditional-S.../dp/078668996X

    https://www.amazon.com/Italian-Folk-...H4KW729MBZ81BZ

    https://www.amazon.com/Northern-Ital...V2RC546NNHEKN4

    https://www.amazon.com/Italian-Class...V2RC546NNHEKN4

    A final thought, that like most of us, you may also wish to improve your mandolin playing and this book would assist:

    https://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Cla...QMW46PTXXC3MTW

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

    I would add this link to the playing of one of the Italian American mandolin masters Matteo Casserino, originally from Sicily. He played in various cafes in San Francisco in the 1970s through the 1990s (at least that’s when I used to hear him play). He played a great deal of the Ballo Liscio repertoire that David mentions. This link is from Bruce Zweig’s website who played with Matteo. Some of the other musicians on these recordings are Gino DiMichele (who has passed) and Tom Marion who is still very active. Happy listening and I hope you decide to explore Italian music!

    http://brucezweig.com/music/matteo/index.html

    http://duopizzicato.com

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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

    Hal Leonard's Mandolin Play Along Volume 7 Italian Classics has sheet music and tabs of tunes like Santa Lucia, O Sole Mio, Vieni sul Mar and others. https://www.halleonard.com/product/1...alian-classics

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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

    I recommend the CD, "Italian String Virtuosi - Banjo, Mandolin, & Guitar". Indeed it is.
    It features several big names of the Italian Mandolin. Giovanni Vicari (another shameless mention of one of my Mandolin teachers), Giovanni Giovialle, Bernardo De Pace, Mario De Pietro, & Frank Fazio (wonderful Tenor Banjo player). Vicari & De Pietro each have a Tenor Banjo track in addition to Mandolin.
    There are a couple of other groups featured, but the aforementioned players are the highlights for me.
    It was released on Rounder Records so it may be available. I didn't see it on Itunes.
    Joe B
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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

    Without wishing to derail the thread, how much of this music was played on a (tenor) banjo? I bashed out the Wedding Tarantella on mine on Monday, since the TB was what I had with me.
    - Jeremy

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  14. #8
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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    Without wishing to derail the thread, how much of this music was played on a (tenor) banjo? I bashed out the Wedding Tarantella on mine on Monday, since the TB was what I had with me.
    From my studies, it seems a fair amount of the music recorded and performed in the pre-WWII era by Italian and Italian-American performers was on tenor banjo. There are a few reasons:

    Tenor banjo was tuned in 5ths, w/ steel strings, and played with a pick. It was the outcome of the "regular" 5 string banjo and the mandolin, both popular at the turn of the 20th century. In a way, it was a mandolinized banjo, and thus easy to adapt to Italian music.

    Tenor banjo was both LOUD and "state of the art" of musical instrument technology of the period. Thus, unlike our current image of old-style music played on tenor banjo, understand that in their own time period, tenor banjo players were at the forefront of popular musical technology.

    Tenor banjo recorded well, particularly on those old acoustic recording devices.

    I also wonder about crossover between the Italians playing traditional music and the many Italians that played jazz - the very first recorded jazz band was fronted by a New Orleans born Sicilian-American. I assume those musicians shared musical ideas, including the "new" tenor banjo.
    Last edited by DavidKOS; Feb-06-2019 at 8:43am.

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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

    Yes, it appears fairly common for the Italian Mandolin players to also play Tenor Banjo. In my post on the Italian CD, I mentioned several of the players having Tenor Banjo trax, Vicari, De Pietro, Fazio. I have other CDs with Fazio on TB, I don’t have any with him playing Mandolin. There is a download CD of Giovanni Giovialli on Dawg’s label of him playing Mandolin & TB. I love their single string picking & wonderful Tremolo.
    Vicari kept his Banjo in his studio & sometimes I’d prompt him to pull it out. I have a tape of he & I playing 12th St Rag, I’m on Mandolin & he on TB. To David’s point on the Jazz influence, Vicari said while he was still a teenager in Sicily, while he was playing Violin with the Opera, he got the Jazz bug & started the first Jazz band in Sicily. He got some local builder to fashion a Tenor Banjo using a drum head. That was quite a story.
    Joe B
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    Default Re: getting into the Italian style

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopops View Post
    Vicari said while he was still a teenager in Sicily, while he was playing Violin with the Opera, he got the Jazz bug & started the first Jazz band in Sicily. He got some local builder to fashion a Tenor Banjo using a drum head. That was quite a story.
    Joe B
    Thanks for sharing that story!

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