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Thread: Simplifying when notating mandolin music?

  1. #1
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Simplifying when notating mandolin music?

    I generally like to notate fiddle tunes in Finale, and dont include tab, but write just the bare melody lines with the expectation that Ill be filling in, modifying, adding double stops, etc., when playing. I want the fiddle tune to be on one page, too.

    I focus on improvisation, but Id like to start capturing some of what Im doing, and also start working out some interesting arrangements. The problem is just how many notes can be involved in my playing. Drone notes, double stops, hammer ons, pull offs, slides, etc. Lots of notes! That made me wonder about folks who notate solos from recordings. When you do that, are you also leaving out lots of notes? Are you simplifying just to make sure the notation/tab are readable by the average mandolin player?
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Pisgah Wonder open back banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  2. #2

    Default Re: Simplifying when notating mandolin music?

    Depends on who I'm writing it for. For me? I'll write out anything and everything I want to keep as my arrangement. For "the average mandolin player"? I'll write out the basic melody of the tune.

    Lots of grey room in there, of course if I'm writing out something that someone is going to play when subbing for one of my gigs, I suppose what I'd write out would depend on how much time he's got between getting the chart and doing the gig, and how much others in the band are depending on my version (my arrangement) to feel comfortable knowing where in the tune/medley they are.

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  4. #3
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Simplifying when notating mandolin music?

    If you were writing out a solo by a good pro for your use, would you try to get all those little extra notes? Or would that be unreasonable? I can read music well enough (I was a music major before going into engineering), but reading a dense score in real time on mandolin isn’t something I could do very easily. I’m not even sure how doable an “exact” transcription might be. Even with slow-down software, it can be difficult to tell what all is happening, especially if other instruments are in the recording.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Pisgah Wonder open back banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  5. #4
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Simplifying when notating mandolin music?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Brock View Post
    If you were writing out a solo by a good pro for your use, would you try to get all those little extra notes? Or would that be unreasonable? I can read music well enough (I was a music major before going into engineering), but reading a dense score in real time on mandolin isnt something I could do very easily. Im not even sure how doable an exact transcription might be. Even with slow-down software, it can be difficult to tell what all is happening, especially if other instruments are in the recording.
    I think you're sort of answering your own question, Doug. Like you wrote, 'Im not even sure how doable an exact transcription might be.' So, when I'm unable to do an exact transcription I just get as close as I can, or as close as I want to before moving on.

    You also write, 'reading a dense score in real time on mandolin isnt something I could do very easily' - I'm definitely in that camp, in fact I don't sight read, really. I use the notation to learn things or to refresh memory, then play from memory. So if you are transcribing in order to sight read in real time, your answer is to keep it at a comfortable density.

    In general, since I do it for the record for memory's sake and for learning purposes, I transcribe other people's solos as closely as I can get them, including ornaments. When playing them, I play them my way, anyhow, as that is all I can do with them.

    Some things are really difficult for me to transcribe, and so I do the best that I can.
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