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Thread: Playing Solo..

  1. #1
    Registered User Joey Anchors's Avatar
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    Default Playing Solo..

    Has someone done/or seen a mandolinist play solo without any accompanying instruments.

    I’ve seen classical mandolin done solo and it sounds amazing (Mike Marshall, Chris Thile), but was wondering if it works for other styles of music? (Bluegrass, country, blues/jazz)
    Last edited by Joey Anchors; Jan-12-2020 at 4:29pm.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Quote Originally Posted by Joey Anchors View Post
    Has someone done/or seen a mandolinist play solo without any accompanying instruments.

    I’ve seen classical mandolin done solo and it sounds amazing (Mike Marshall, Chris Thile), but was wondering if it works for other styles of mucus? (Bluegrass, country, blues/jazz)
    Well I wouldn't exactly call BG, country, blues/jazz mucus!

    I've done a bit of it, but I soon went to banjo instead (tenor and eventually plectrum) for more dynamic range. Also, I liked bnj better for what I was playing - ragtime, jelly roll, etc. For me, bnj was a better performing instrument - especially for instrumental work.

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    Registered User Joey Anchors's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    Well I wouldn't exactly call BG, country, blues/jazz mucus!

    I've done a bit of it, but I soon went to banjo instead (tenor and eventually plectrum) for more dynamic range. Also, I liked bnj better for what I was playing - ragtime, jelly roll, etc. For me, bnj was a better performing instrument - especially for instrumental work.
    Thanks for pointing out the typo! Haha (fixed it)

    Instrumental music is what I’m interested in for sure.
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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Check out Brian Oberlin - he does solo mandolin with and without vocals. Swing, BG and classical. Aaron Weinstein - chord/melody swing as recorded in the Jazz, etc section of this forum.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    I've performed unaccompanied in Italian restaurants.

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    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    No official solo gigs, but I’ve done some “busking” around town. (Quotations because I don’t do it to make money) I stick to fiddle tunes and play them unadorned, just try to get a good groove and keep my left foot thumpin’.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    I’ve only ever played solo since I know hardly any other musicians, and therefore never took the time to learn a common repertoire (e.g. fiddle tunes). I play many O’Carolan pieces, old standards with vocals like “La Vie En Rose,” “Smile” (Chaplin), old folk songs like “Shenandoah,” “Wayfaring Stranger,” and I have made up a lot of my own tunes that sound great solo since they were “written” that way. All said though, it would be a lot of fun to play with others, but it’s just not worked out that way for me.
    ...

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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    During the Ken Burns specual Country Music: Live at the Ryman, Marty Stuart did a jaw-dropping vocal/mandolin solo of Johnny Cash's Orange Blossom Special.

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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Mike Compton does some amazing solo work. Also Evan Marshall. I wouldn’t mind hearing Marla Fibish play some unaccompanied Irish tunes.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    You can definitely find examples of mandolin folk musicians playing solo. Check out Ry Cooder playing blues, Sam Bush (see below), Thile does solo numbers that are not classical, etc. etc.

    Has someone done/or seen a mandolinist play solo without any accompanying instruments ... was wondering if it works for other styles of music? (Bluegrass, country, blues/jazz)
    When I wrote above, "folk musicians", I was thinking blues, country, jazz, etc. but I wouldn't include "bluegrass" because to me, Bluegrass as a genre of music is an ensemble form of music. That's not to say that you can't perform some songs that are often played by bluegrass bands, and pull them off, as a solo act. You can do that, and even play a bluegrassy style of mandolin accompaniment, but it would be hard to really call that Bluegrass for very long without the other trad grass instruments and harmony vocals, in my opinion.

    I'm not a grasser, and I do perform solo mandolin numbers often these days.

    Great Sam Bush solo mandolin numbers:

    Girl Of The North Country



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES8tUHUgjLQ

    Sailing Shoes/Crossroads



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEne36YxyKI

    John Soper mentioned Brian Oberlin. Brian's great and a good role model, love his stuff, check out a few samples from Brian on this page: https://www.mandoberlin.com/listen.php
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    I have several tunes/songs that I play solo. Goin down to Cario is one of several I play melody while singing.
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    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Check out "Mandolin Mondays" on YouTube. Everyone plays solo.
    John A. Karsemeyer

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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Baron Collins-Hill has an album of solo old-time tunes on the mandolessons.com site. It's very very good stuff.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Jethro Burns did a whole LP of solo mandolin, "Tea For One".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HBlsBbsEJ8

    The intro is very funny and the playing is... well, Jethro.
    Charley

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Back in my very early days of playing mandolin I wrote a couple of songs that were meant to preformed as just mandolin and vocal, and I had the opportunity to do them live at a couple of local radio station events. I used to enjoy it quite a bit, (although I am not sure if the audiences felt the same way). I have no idea why I stopped performing that way . . . I may have to give it a shot again. Thanks for the new inspiration of putting the notion back in my head!

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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Simon Mayor.

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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Jesse Cobb has an album called Solitude

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pu...s_001588.shtml
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Jethro Burns did a whole LP of solo mandolin, "Tea For One".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HBlsBbsEJ8

    The intro is very funny and the playing is... well, Jethro.
    Thanks for the link to that classic Jethro.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Joey: Check out Tim Connell's book, Mandalone. He has videos of solo playing search YouTube.

    Cafe article here https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/c...nell-Interview



    https://youtu.be/7mpcO0WAlUE
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  33. #21
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Foss View Post
    Mike Compton does some amazing solo work.
    I got to see Mike Compton play a solo show a few years ago and it was incredible. With that kind of power you don't need anyone else, jaw dropping.
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  34. #22

    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Quote Originally Posted by Joey Anchors View Post
    ... wondering if it works for other styles of music? (Bluegrass, country, blues/jazz)

    Instrumental music is what I’m interested in for sure.

    Maybe it goes without saying, but.. As all the examples show, lots of folks employ all manner of styles in solo mndln. As you build a solo repertoire and performing experience, it may aide to employ a diversity of mandolins and/or styles. Depending on venues and what you want to haul, the spectrum ranges from a single acoustic mndln to electricity and any number of effects and sound supports. If your interest is basically blues and country, you may need to implement some kind of variety, such as vocals, to perform for an hour.

    I didn't have an hour's worth of instrumental banjo material, as I inevitably played lots of standards (jazz) that compelled me to sing. If your chops are such that you can do it without singing, cool - easier to travel that way with just an instrument. I really enjoy that about instrumental performing.

  35. #23

    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Hall View Post
    During the Ken Burns specual Country Music: Live at the Ryman, Marty Stuart did a jaw-dropping vocal/mandolin solo of Johnny Cash's Orange Blossom Special.
    Although Johnny Cash frequently performed OBS, it is not really Johnny Cash's song. Cash did feature the lyrics, while it had been mainly preformed as an instrumental, continuing to this day.

    The song was actually written by Ervin Rouse in 1938, when Cash was 6 years old. There were dubious claims by others to have written the song. Many years later, Cash invited Rouse to perform at one of his concerts in Miami.

  36. #24
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    I have played in public with no accompaniment, many times. The trick is to find someone that wants to play with me in public.

    I came from a woodwind tradition, not a guitar tradition. The woodwind prejudice is that one plays the single note melody, and harmonies and chords are other peoples' responsibility. And for years i did that with mandolin. It wasn't till someone pointed out that there are 8 strings for a reason and I could be the whole orchestra. So these days my playing is heavy with double stops and chords (or suggestions of chords). I sound much better on my own than I used to.

    I am working on a technique of playing light chords to back up my voice. Not singing, but I have recently taken to the genre of "tall tales" which are stories with a growing ridiculousness that end in something like a punch line. Not a joke necessarily. (Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce and more recently Utah Phillips are heroes of the genre.) And I thought it might be fun to back myself up with mandolin. No melody, but just some pleasing chord progressions that can sound deliberate, and glue the whole thing together.

    Folk singers sometimes do this, for a different purpose. They might explain the arcane words and references in the song they are about to sing, and they often enough, as they are cradling a guitar anyway, have some light backup. Also country music used to have songs with recitations in them. I am listening a lot to this kind of stuff to figure out how it works.

    So I will be a solo mandolinner with dissociative identity disorder, talking and playing at the same time.
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    Default Re: Playing Solo..

    Quote Originally Posted by JAK View Post
    Check out "Mandolin Mondays" on YouTube. Everyone plays solo.
    Exactly. David Benedict has gifted us an incredible selection of solo mandolin playing.
    I really look forward to Mondays!
    David A. Gordon

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