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Thread: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

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    Default What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    The electric guitar has multiple points where the role it played in music moved ahead. Jimi Hendrix broke a lot of ground but I think Wind Cries Mary was a seminal performance in putting rhythm guitar into a melodic role without being a constant lick-fest. Sultans of Swing is ripe with tasteful fills and a melodic solo emphasizing chord tones. Going further into the electric guitar library there are solos like Kid Charlemagne where genres merged into a sublime combination of jazz and blues-rock phrasing.

    I realize mandolin music can be kind of a narrow in scope but there still has to be not just genre defining songs but also moments where it evolved in a way that changed it going forward. I'd love to learn some more rhythmically dynamic songs.

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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Maggie May, for sure.
    David A. Gordon

  3. #3

    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Rise by Eddie Vedder
    Losing My Religion REM
    The Godfather theme
    and something by Mandolin Orange

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Quote Originally Posted by BillytheB View Post
    I realize mandolin music can be kind of a narrow in scope .
    Really? Narrow in scope? you have all sorts of mandolin genres:

    Classical
    Italian
    Irish Trad
    other "Celtic" and British Isles music
    Greek music
    Russian/Eastern European
    Klezmer
    Choro
    Afghan, Pakistan and Indian style

    and of course

    Bluegrass
    Old-time music
    American "roots" music
    blues
    jazz

    So how is mandolin music narrow in scope?

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    David kind of hit the nail on the head in the post above. The answer to your question depends on what genre of music you are you talking about. From the above post I am assuming that you mean ground-breaking mandolins in rock/pop music?

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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Really? Narrow in scope? you have all sorts of mandolin genres:


    So how is mandolin music narrow in scope?
    I'm very sorry that my somewhat incomplete statement might have sent you in a different direction. Narrow in scope that a mandolin cannot produce much in the way of bass frequencies. Narrow in scope that it has dynamic power of high amplitude but not much in the way of energy sustenance without constant input. I am aware that certain mandolin designs have different dynamic properties but small instruments in general lack the mass to store enough energy for prolonged sustain. Compare a C1 on a 9 foot grand to a console piano.

    As for the other part of my question, I am primarily exposed to western music. It is true that Mediterranean, eastern european and south asian ethnic styles can creep into western music. Generally there is an exotic quality in the rhythmic and intervalic choices that bend against the generally major scale, 4/4 and 3/4 foundation of western music. For example, purely harmonic minor compositions in western music are more rare than simply borrowing a bit of harmonic minor to drive a melody back to the tonic in a more or less minor key composition. Even melodic minor is pretty challenging to the western ear and could be referred to as a seasoning rather than a main course in the western music menu.

    Since western music in a mostly contemporary sense is a hodge podge global influences, I'd probably lean on that as the areas where certain performances or players influenced other western music mandolin players. If there is something exotic that had a particularly strong influence unique to the mandolin that carried into western musicians I'd like to know that.

    I didn't mean to imply that the mandolin music is limited or whatever. The instrument has physical limitations that are based on physics. All instruments have them.

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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeZito View Post
    From the above post I am assuming that you mean ground-breaking mandolins in rock/pop music?

    Not necessarily, maybe not at all. From my post I leaned on highly influential guitarists that reach a lot of other guitar players and shaped the vocabulary. Guitar has been my main instrument for over 40 years. Looking back on the last 60 or so years of music there are some major turning points on the instrument in a contemporary sense. Les Paul, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan to name a few. Some of those are derivative of others on the list before them.

    When I was learning to play the guitar there were certain songs that made me think differently after I learned them. Either a harmonic element or technical element opened a door that I could walk through in other genres as well. When I'm teaching guitar students on electric guitar there is a point where I will show them how to play things like Layla for hammer-ons and pull-offs, Wind Cries Mary for sliding chord shapes around and for using tones other than the root in the bass. Soul Man for using 6th intervals and sliding them around. Sultans of Swing for bending one pitch against another static tone in a double stop. Some of these are fairly advanced concepts but each of those songs bring something to the electric guitar table that can also travel onto acoustic guitars in many cases (maybe not so much bending).

    For all the mandolin legends out there, what are the defining moments? Bill Monroe invented a genre on the mandolin. Even with that accomplishment it was others that followed that evolved his influence. Jethro Burns seems to have been influential to many but I don't really know how. I don't doubt it but I don't know where to look. I wish I could name more but I don't really have the experience.

    Thanks for kind of challenging my initial post and getting me to focus my question. It's a hard one to express. Hopefully I've made more sense of it.

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    Registered User Steve Lavelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    E.M.D. from The David Grisman Quintet (1977) if I have to pick one song from his catalog, but the whole record puts the instrumental Dawg music stake in the ground.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    The Monroe Bros. recordings.
    The "classic quintet" postwar Blue Grass Boys recordings with Earl, Lester, Chubby and Cedric.
    Dave Apollon.
    Homer and Jethro.
    Howard Frye.
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    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    I think that Jethro Burns' solo on Back Up And Push was a game-changer for a lot of "swing-curious" bluegrass mandolinists.
    Solo at 4:05 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlaUOXgN_P0
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    The first album by the Irish band Planxty - with its innovative use of mandolin type instruments by Andy Irvine and bouzouki by Donal Lunny - changed EVERYTHING in Irish music, and subsequently had an enormous influence on folk bands around the world. I really don't think that's too big a claim.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planxty

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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    +1 for Planxty. David Grisman first Quintet album certainly changed a lot of things for us listeners...

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    The first album by the Irish band Planxty - with its innovative use of mandolin type instruments by Andy Irvine and bouzouki by Donal Lunny - changed EVERYTHING in Irish music, and subsequently had an enormous influence on folk bands around the world. I really don't think that's too big a claim.
    Indeed ... Celtic mandolin music before there were Celtic mandolins ... evidently one had to get one's instrument from Portugal or Greece at the time.
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    I don't think the mandolin has evolved at all. And probably never will. Depending on your definition. I don't equate popularity with evolution. A handful of rock songs from a span of almost 50 years ? A couple of unique artists ? To me the mandolin is such a unique instrument that while it can play any type of music, it's still mandolin music. And I hope it stays that way. The electric guitar evolved into a synthesizer. The most influential mandolin recording IMHO was, the first.

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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Quote Originally Posted by BillytheB View Post
    I'm very sorry that my somewhat incomplete statement might have sent you in a different direction. Narrow in scope that a mandolin cannot produce much in the way of bass frequencies. Narrow in scope that it has dynamic power of high amplitude but not much in the way of energy sustenance without constant input. I am aware that certain mandolin designs have different dynamic properties but small instruments in general lack the mass to store enough energy for prolonged sustain. Compare a C1 on a 9 foot grand to a console piano.

    As for the other part of my question, I am primarily exposed to western music. It is true that Mediterranean, eastern european and south asian ethnic styles can creep into western music. Generally there is an exotic quality in the rhythmic and intervalic choices that bend against the generally major scale, 4/4 and 3/4 foundation of western music. For example, purely harmonic minor compositions in western music are more rare than simply borrowing a bit of harmonic minor to drive a melody back to the tonic in a more or less minor key composition. Even melodic minor is pretty challenging to the western ear and could be referred to as a seasoning rather than a main course in the western music menu.

    Since western music in a mostly contemporary sense is a hodge podge global influences, I'd probably lean on that as the areas where certain performances or players influenced other western music mandolin players. If there is something exotic that had a particularly strong influence unique to the mandolin that carried into western musicians I'd like to know that.

    I didn't mean to imply that the mandolin music is limited or whatever. The instrument has physical limitations that are based on physics. All instruments have them.
    Thanks for the thought-provoking clarification.

    I suggest starting with the recordings of Dave Apollon. He was a popular vaudeville act before Bluegrass was even invented.

    "but not much in the way of energy sustenance without constant input"

    hence the essential tremolo technique for any real sustain

    "If there is something exotic that had a particularly strong influence unique to the mandolin that carried into western musicians I'd like to know that."

    When the mandolin gained initial popularity in the USA in the latter part of the 1800's, the Italian community first associated with the instrument was considered "exotic".

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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Rosett View Post
    I think that Jethro Burns' solo on Back Up And Push was a game-changer for a lot of "swing-curious" bluegrass mandolinists.
    Solo at 4:05 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlaUOXgN_P0
    "swing-curious" ....love that term, and will use it in the future.

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    Registered User Scotter's Avatar
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    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Do you mean pushing the musical and technical boundaries of the instrument itself? Your examples of Les Paul, Barry, Hendrix, Van Halen, and SRV, did help popularize those styles of playing but they would probably be the first to admit that there were folks who had already broken those musical and technical boundaries before them. I think an argument could be made that The Wizard of Waukesha was a true pioneer and innovator in music production and recording. I'm a big fan of all of those guys but I just don't think that they were pushing the boundaries of the instrument in the same way that maybe Earl Scruggs, Bill Keith, or Bela Fleck did with the Banjo, or Jerry Douglas with the Dobro, or even Django Reinhardt with the guitar.

    But, I really like the question in general. I'm certainly not knowledgeable enough about Mandolin to answer and I'd love to read the thoughts of some of the experts here at Mandocafe. Bill Monroe did seem to help redefine the role of mandolin within ensemble playing. Sam Bush helped to expand the rhythmic repertoire of the mandolin as well as help start a whole new genre known as "New Grass." Chris Thile seems to be expanding the role of the mandolin not only within Bluegrass but outside of it as well. I think one could argue that what Aaron Weinstein is doing with his chord melody arrangements are redefining how people think of the role of the mandolin in jazz and redefining how mandolin can be played in general.
    Play that which you feel is groovy, get down with your bad self, and shake your money maker if it makes sense for you to do so.

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  27. #18

    Default Re: What mandolin recordings are definitive to evolving its role?

    Definitely Bill Monroe's work on his instrumentals, Rawhide, Big Mon, Bluegrass Breakdown, Bluegrass Stomp and Jerusalem Ridge.

    Jethro Burns especially Playing It Straight and Ain't Necessarily Square. I remember being blown away by his Django and Chet influenced jazz. I could not believe this was the same guy doing all the silly comedy and parody songs.

    Grisman's Dawg Music. He continues to evolve and push it forward even yet. EMD kind of blew the lid off but every bit of it is unique and interesting.

    Sam Bush on the Newgrass Revival recordings. I still like Sam better live though. His energy in shows has to be experienced to be believed.

    Chris Thile's work starting with Nickel Creek. His romps through Bach are amazing but he pretty much plays whatever he wants to.

    If Sierra Hull continues to develop the way she did with her Weighted Mind cd then she will be the next boundary breaker.

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