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Thread: I'm beginning to want to play classical

  1. #1
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default I'm beginning to want to play classical

    I have played around with mandolin for several yearsl

    I love its sound and the way it plays and now I would like to enter, a little, into the world of classical mandolin.

    But what are the outlines? I never see any chords, how do you picture, in your head, the structure of the piece?

    Does one ever just fill-in, based on the chord structure, the key, etc?

    How do you start?

    thanks

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    I assume that you have listened to classical music played on mandolin. There is lots of it on youtube, of course. I believe that there are a few re cent threads on a similar topic, people wanted to play classical.

    The music is not really different from other styles, melody and harmonies and even chords are built in. Do you read standard notation? That is your first key. There are reams of free music online. Check out IMSLP.org for instance. There is a fair amount of strictly mandolin music but violin and flute pay in the same range so if you can decipher the notation system you can play those pieces as well as many others. Usually you play as written but there is room for interpretation within a piece. Check out various players renditions of the same piece and you will see what I am taking about.

    Checkout CMSA for more info. They have yearly conventions usually in the fall in different parts of the US.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    Jim's advice is spot on, particularly with getting in touch with CMSA. They will be able to help you get in touch with other mandolin players/teachers/societies in your area or state.
    I've also recently been bitten by the classical mandolin bug. I'm in Australia, but our national mandolin association helped me make contact with a great teacher. There are some fundamental things re posture, right and left hand techniques etc that are much easier to absorb by watching someone sitting directly in front of you.
    Also, we were lucky enough to have Carlo Aonzo visit us in Sydney last week for a workshop and concert. What a great player and teacher he is. His next camp in the U.S. will be in Milwaukee next September. I think some of his exercises and drills have been posted here on the cafe.
    Have fun on your journey!

  5. #4

    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    I’m sure about the question, but I’ve often wondered what Classical impro would be like. I guess it could be done using written variations or learned variations on a theme and using certain chord structures, a bit like a sort of extended, themed blues. They probably already do this, I don’t know enough about the genre.

    -though I’m also thinking that Classical musicians may not want to do this because of the risk of jumping into impro during a conventional recitation?

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    Registered User Martin Ohrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    I've never heard of improvisation in a "classical" setting... Although during the baroque era this was very common and musicians were expected to be able to improvise, nowadays "classical" music is normally only played as written.
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  8. #6

    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    Sorry, typo, I meant to write, ‘I’m not sure about the question’.

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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Bryant View Post
    But what are the outlines? I never see any chords, how do you picture, in your head, the structure of the piece?

    Does one ever just fill-in, based on the chord structure, the key, etc?

    How do you start?

    thanks
    One starts by 'learning how to read'. If you are reading this, I assume you know how to read English. There was a time when people did not know how to read but could talk very well. This is my metaphor for classical music vs folk music.

    One 'pictures in your head, the structure of the piece" in a similar way as reading text. Topic sentences, paragraphs, titles, footnotes etc. The same holds true for reading music. It has ending notes, key signatures, time signatures, clefs.

    There is a very organized way of doing things in classical music. And I'd say it may drive you nuts if you don't have the patience...

    There is a lot of 'improv' in modern classical music. However it is relatively unknown, being such a small part of the field. It is also technically difficult and it is shared among the elite.

    Music schools often challenge students by requiring them to play a classical piece in another style. For example they would be asked to play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" in a Baroque style, or with a Ragtime rhythm.
    Last edited by DougC; Feb-01-2020 at 11:16am.
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  11. #8
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Bryant View Post

    How do you start?
    Start by getting some classical music and reading it on your mandolin. Honestly it's that simple to begin.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Bryant View Post
    But what are the outlines? I never see any chords, how do you picture, in your head, the structure of the piece?
    The outline of the piece is the score, like all classical music. Chords are not specified by letter name but by writing out the chord in the inversion needed. After playing the piece, you learn the form from the music itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Bryant View Post
    Does one ever just fill-in, based on the chord structure, the key, etc?
    Well, yes, when you get to things like making your own arrangements and transcriptions of classical pieces NOT written for mandolin.

    Another situation where you may add "fill-in" lines is playing Renaissance and Baroque music, where there is stylistic use of divisions and improvisation.

    But in most situations just playing what's on the score itself is quite enough!

    I suggest looking online for some of the older public domain Classical mandolin methods.

    I also recommend this book by a forum member:

    https://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Cla.../dp/0876391625


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  13. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    Not improvisation in classical but improvisation on a classical piece:

    Jim

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Start by getting some classical music and reading it on your mandolin. Honestly it's that simple to begin.
    It really is. It also helps to be willing to be overwhelmed on a regular basis.

    I also recommend this book by a forum member:

    https://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Cla.../dp/0876391625

    I totally agree. Great book.
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  17. #11

    Default Re: I'm beginning to want to play classical

    My own preference is for music actually written for mandolin. That said, I do play/make a lot of arrangements because (1) people only actually want to hear classical music in the act of getting married and (2) general-population brides aren't particularly familiar with dedicated mandolin compositions. Fortunately, the opening movement of Vivaldi's RV 425 is readily recognizable and makes a good recessional.

    Improvisation was once common among classical soloists, right up into the Romantic era, including improvising cadenze in concerto settings. There are/have been a few renowned modern practitioners. On guitar, e.g., one of Roland Dyens' novelties was to open his classical recitals with an improvisation. He had a few passages that he could work into the mix, but the essence was still improvised. I once heard him two nights in a row: two different improvisations (but maybe he was deliberately putting on a show to maintain the mystique, knowing I was at both). For example:


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