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Thread: Love Bluegrass but....

  1. #1
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Love Bluegrass but....

    I'm afraid that my fingers will never be fast enough to play it with a group.

    I guess as I get older I slow down to include my fingers. Been playing about 2 years and most of my folk/bluegrass/old time music is played at a much slower pace.

    Just ran across this one....maybe this is more my finger speed.




    You can find the tab here if you are interested:

    http://www.mandolintab.net/tabs.php?...20Air&id=08396
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Speed is overrated imho.

    Show me to the slow-jam section please.

    Ok,yes,I'm old but started playing mando in my early 40's. Never was really fast and no prospects of getting any quicker now.

    That "Lark in the Clear Air" is beautiful. He gets the most out of every note!

  3. #3
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Tone > Speed
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  4. #4

    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    I’m not fast by any means, but once you can play fiddle tunes at a danceable tempo, no mean feat, faster is rarely more musical. In fact I find many fiddle tunes pleasing at slower tempos. Sometimes it’s hard to play slowly, like many O’Carolan tunes. They have to be spot on. Speed needs to be incremental, hence the metronome. But really, to avoid constant disappointment, one should only compete with oneself.

    Andrew Marlin is a favorite of mine. When does he ever play fast?
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  5. #5
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    B381, that was lovely! Thank you. I'm a bluegrasser but I'm definitely in the slo-jam circle.

  6. #6
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Speed is partly illusion. Yea the other part is playing fast, but playing fast ain't the whole thing.

    So much brilliancy is good techniques. Techniques that can make everyone "play faster" without extreme finger athleticism. I am convinced that many of the greatest mandolinners are not gifted with faster twitch responses or greater finger speed, but rather with greater musicianship, greater technique, and greater commitment to practicing and working at it.

    Things like keeping fingers down, always having the hand near where the fingers need to go, keeping fingers down, clever choices of whether and where up the neck this particular series of notes is MUCH easier to play, keeping fingers down, right hand technique, and...

    Playing so beautifully, so musically, that speed is irrelevant.

    I think illusion is especially apparent in playing breaks and improvisation. I mean, when the notes are written out and programmed, one has fewer choices as to what to play. But in improvisation, IMO approximately nobody plays note combinations they find difficult or that they can't do speedily. As one gets better, with practice and tenacity more and more note combination become second nature and so the offered improvisation gets more wild. But everyone improvises only within what they can do fast at that point in their mandolin progress. I know this seems obvious, but think about it. It is the musicians guilty secret. We give the illusion that we can do it all, while only doing what we can.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  8. #7
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    I’m not fast by any means, but once you can play fiddle tunes at a danceable tempo, no mean feat, faster is rarely more musical. In fact I find many fiddle tunes pleasing at slower tempos. Sometimes it’s hard to play slowly, like many O’Carolan tunes. They have to be spot on. Speed needs to be incremental, hence the metronome. But really, to avoid constant disappointment, one should only compete with oneself.

    Andrew Marlin is a favorite of mine. When does he ever play fast?
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Try mountain music. Same notes, but not as many.

    Bluegrass is to folk what death metal is to rock. Loud, fast, and relentless. Kentucky has racehorses, the rest of Appalachia had work horses. The difference shows up in the pace of the music. You won't often hear a bluegrass band play "Barbara Allen."

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    Registered User Joe Dodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Years ago Norman Blake taught at Steve Kaufman's Kamp and told his classes (klasses?) that he was there to give them permission to play slow.

    If it's good enough for Norman, it's good enough for me.

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  14. #10
    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post

    Bluegrass is to folk what death metal is to rock. Loud, fast, and relentless. Kentucky has racehorses, the rest of Appalachia had work horses. The difference shows up in the pace of the music. You won't often hear a bluegrass band play "Barbara Allen."
    I blew some coffee through my nose reading this! Thank you, that is about as clear and concise an explanation as I've ever heard. I love folk music and have struggled because sometimes I think a large majority of mandolin players gravitate towards BG.

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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Try mountain music. Same notes, but not as many.

    Bluegrass is to folk what death metal is to rock. Loud, fast, and relentless. Kentucky has racehorses, the rest of Appalachia had work horses. The difference shows up in the pace of the music. You won't often hear a bluegrass band play "Barbara Allen."
    It's funny that you compare metal and bluegrass, Andrew Marlin did the same thing when MO was recording at Audiotree. Turns out he was a metal guitarist in high school.

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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Another suggestion is to study transcriptions of Bill Monroe solos, particularly fiddle tunes that existed before he did, and feel the difference between how he fingered the phrases vs. the way a fiddler would do or the way someone trying to imitate the fiddle literally would do. It can be a revelation to hear and feel how the tune can sound quite full and ringing and fast when you’re really not doing anything terribly intricate or fast-twitchy at all. Devices like doubling notes, various slides and pull-offs/hammer ons, arpeggios, having a store of go-to licks and playing out of closed chord positions can all contribute to making bluegrass more accessible for the older or slower player, I think. At least that’s the direction I’m trying to go, as someone who just started a couple of years ago in my early 60s.

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  20. #13
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    ...You won't often hear a bluegrass band play "Barbara Allen."




    Jus' sayin'...
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  22. #14
    Registered User Joe Dodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by WaxwellHaus View Post
    It's funny that you compare metal and bluegrass, Andrew Marlin did the same thing when MO was recording at Audiotree. Turns out he was a metal guitarist in high school.
    Billy Strings and Bryan Sutton were both into metal too.

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  24. #15
    Registered User swampy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Dodson View Post
    Billy Strings and Bryan Sutton were both into metal too.
    That was my path as well!

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  26. #16
    Registered User EvanElk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    Dang that Sullivan mandolin sounds good!

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  28. #17
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    I too am not particularly impressed by speed - I would much rather hear uniqueness of style, nice tone and/or clarity if notes, any day of the week. Most of all, I want to hear playing that accentuates the song, not the player.

  29. #18

    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post




    Jus' sayin'...
    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: What I don't know could fill a book. Thanks!

    In fairness to me, "won't often," isn't "won't ever." Now skyooz me while I give those links a listen. . . .

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  31. #19
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Yeah, Charlie, I have the Hylo Brown Bluegrass Goes to College LP, and was surprised to find Barbara Allen as one of the cuts...probably had something to do with the early-'60's "folk revival," when a bunch of bluegrass bands adopted "folk" material and went after college bookings. First time I saw the Osborne Brothers -- as a trio with Benny Birchfield on guitar -- was at Club 47 in Cambridge, the quintessential "college coffeehouse," and Joan Baez's original home base.

    Not bad versions of the old ballad, either one.
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  32. #20

    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    Boy howdy, I thought I’d watched every Mandolin Orange YouTube clip there ever was.
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  33. #21
    Howling at the moon Wolfboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Butch Baldassari (RIP) used to say "There are plenty of guys who can play faster than I can...and I don't care."

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  35. #22
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Boy howdy, I thought I’d watched every Mandolin Orange YouTube clip there ever was.
    That one is in my top five MO clips. For more speed, there's some Pickathon clips ("Mailman" and "Rocky Island") where Andrew burns a few. Also playing the Sullivan.

    And Evan's right - that Sullivan really shines. Seems like it gets better the more attack it gets. Caleb Klauder's is another that displays that quality.
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  36. #23
    Spencer Sorenson Spencer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....



    Bluegrass Gentlemen aka Red Cravens and the Bray Brothers. Not a mandolin, but a
    Guitalin

  37. #24
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by B381 View Post
    I'm afraid that my fingers will never be fast enough to play it with a group.

    I guess as I get older I slow down to include my fingers. Been playing about 2 years and most of my folk/bluegrass/old time music is played at a much slower pace.

    Just ran across this one....maybe this is more my finger speed.




    You can find the tab here if you are interested:

    http://www.mandolintab.net/tabs.php?...20Air&id=08396
    Great job and beautiful !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  38. #25
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love Bluegrass but....

    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    Great job and beautiful !
    Not me....
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

    Kentucky KM-150
    Eastman MD-404
    Eastman MD-305
    Morgan Monroe MFM-300 (passed on to a new player)
    Rover RM-75

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