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Thread: How to enhance mando for legato piece

  1. #1

    Default How to enhance mando for legato piece

    I'm working with a trio including viola, flute and mando on Gustav Holtz's Jupiter from The Planets. This should be really simple, but when I add my Mando work, it's really thin compared to the other two. Any suggestions? Do I need to trem on all quarter and longer notes?

    Hope to hear back!

    Jim Mueller
    Franksville, WI

  2. #2

    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    ps. I was hoping NOT to resort to tremolo. I'm playing violin2 on this one. Maybe chording for 1/4's and 1/2's. I'm sure Gustov wouldn't mind if I added some extra notes, would he? Has anyone else out there worked on this one?

  3. #3
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimjim6136 View Post
    I'm working with a trio including viola, flute and mando on Gustav Holtz's Jupiter from The Planets. This should be really simple, but when I add my Mando work, it's really thin compared to the other two. Any suggestions? Do I need to trem on all quarter and longer notes?
    For Classical style playing, I would be using tremolo on all longer note values unless specifically notated as senza tremolo.

    Any particular reason you want to avoid tremolo? German school that uses a lot less tremolo than us Italian players?

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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    That’s a cool project! Are you playing the entire piece or part of it? The entire piece does not look easy. In the Violin 2 part on IMSLP, some places are marked as tremolo. I agree with David that tremolo is most fitting for those places and perhaps other long notes. Since we don’t have bows, it is common to use tremolo for sustain. As you point out it sounds thin without.
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    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    The phrase "resort to tremolo" sounds rather as though tremolo was something distasteful to be avoided, rather than the joyful experience it can be.

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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    There are a few issues to clarify the word "thin. "Are you asking if the audio mix needs better reverb, EQ, or closer distance to the mic?
    Can your mandolin create a sustained note that sounds the way you like? (I play with a clarinet and accordion and need some electronic 'boost' to be equal to the others.)
    And then the other stylistic considerations, adding double stops or other notes, or tremlo.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Quote Originally Posted by ToyonPete View Post
    There are places in the video which sound like human voices singing.

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  14. #9

    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    It's probably my trem technique that I'm finding distasteful in contrast to the other instruments, and I'm seeking tips. I'll work on it!

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  16. #10

    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Picking further up the fretboard (15th fret or so) can result in much more sustain and more perceived legato tone due to less sharp attack. I basically never use tremolo to try to get sustain, I see it as more of a texture thing than a way to get sustain. I come from a violin background and I feel that having some space between the notes ain't a bad thing from time to time. You can do a lot with phrasing to build tension and tremolo isn't necessary to communicate that a note is longer than others. I am not a classical mandolin player, so I'm not steeped in that tradition or trying to tell anyone else how to play their own repertoire. Just saying what works for me.

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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Have a listen to the Largo/ larghetto sections on here https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BUOFA7W

    Similarly here. https://www.amazon.fr/Musique-f%C3%A.../dp/B005LL3SZC

    Shaping the phrases, note entry & exit are crucial. Also embracing the space between the notes so you don't hurry in or out of the spaces. Make the ear wait & savour the transitions
    Eoin



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  19. #12

    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Hi. I'm working with two others (one doing viola other on flute playing violin 1 and i'm covering V-2). We're using using the Accapella app on our moble devices to prepare for some day actually playing in front of live people for the first time! Perhaps can be fixed in mix, but we won't have mixing when live. I liked my single note rendition on its own, but it just didn't match well with the other players. I tried trem and didn't like. Probably me/my technique. I'll keep at it with all the encouragement I've picked up here! Thanks much!!

  20. #13

    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Thank-you. I'll listen and give that a try. Yes, I'm right with you on phrasing and shaping notes and I'm sure I can improve there and also in my use of trem. We're a new trio trying out our first piece during covid lockdown and using the Accapella mobile app to practice with.

  21. #14

    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Beautiful! Thanks for introducing me to this beautiful and inspiring work!

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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Another thing to remember is that it's not just you who has to learn to play with them, they must learn to abandon preconceptions of their own instruments and learn to play with the mandolin part too. Just because they can fill every note length with noise does not mean they should. They need to shape their notes and phrases to make space for this to happen. The note duration is merely the space given to that note, different approaches will determine how much of that space is used and at what level. Each note will be either moving away from the previous or towards the next one. It will be responding to or instigating the musical progression of the other instruments. Doing this seperated by time and technology will not be an easy challenge. It will be made easier if the other instruments understand why this is not a typical demand of their skills, they need new techniques too. Best of luck as you go.
    Eoin



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  24. #16

    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    I felt that was the way to approach this piece and kept stictly to the note ties, which requires playing up the neck. I liked my sound as a solo, but when combined with the other instruments, I was not so happy. This is our first effort and we're learning via remote means. I can't wait for an opportunity to play live with humans again!

    Thank you for your encouraging comments! I'll keep at it!

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  26. #17

    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Absolutely - I'm eager to get together in person and in real time so we can truly play this as a trio instead of stacked tracks.

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    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimjim6136 View Post
    Absolutely - I'm eager to get together in person and in real time so we can truly play this as a trio instead of stacked tracks.
    Yes, playing together is a different experience to combining separate recordings. Both can work and give productive results, but the live situation allows for what I might call 'breathing', each player can fade in and out somewhat, in a dynamic way, adjusting for one another as things progress. That's why I love playing with others so much, each performance is a new, individual creation.

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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    I basically never use tremolo to try to get sustain, I see it as more of a texture thing than a way to get sustain. I come from a violin background and I feel that having some space between the notes ain't a bad thing from time to time. You can do a lot with phrasing to build tension and tremolo isn't necessary to communicate that a note is longer than others. I am not a classical mandolin player, so I'm not steeped in that tradition or trying to tell anyone else how to play their own repertoire. Just saying what works for me.
    Well I would say that you can use effective, expressive tremolo AND have space between notes. Just saying...

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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    I tremolo everything greater than an eighth note, unless it just doesn't fit. (Sometimes quarter notes just sound better with a percussive down down down.)

    Tremolo does not have to connect between notes, it depends on the effect you want.


    One thing I have practiced and learned in the last several years, is to modulate the speed of my tremolo with the intended volume. The resulting expressiveness is so wonderful.
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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Interesting thread; I use tremolo combined with double/triple stops a lot, probably more than normal bluegrass players, but I play chord melody style most of the time for roots music including bluegrass, folk and early jazz. My whole mandolin setup and technique is centered around chord melody work.

    From a sustain standpoint, playing away from the bridge, up near or over the fingerboard increases sustain a lot, it should help.

    And for tremolo, especially for double and triple stop tremolo, the attack angle of the flatpick to the strings is crucial to the tone and volume that the stroke produces. If you consider your tremolo to be too coarse sounding, try a different flatpick attack angle...

    Producing higher volume tends to require a flat-on hit of the face of the flatpick against the strings in tremolo. Angled pick strokes tend to produce more of a soft, dark tone. Also angling the flatpick so more length of it hits the string increases the stroke breadth and helps with double and triple-stops.

    These angle techniques take a while to develop and they may require you to reconsider how you hold your flatpick. The goal is to be able to go from single-picking to tremolo (and double/triple stops) with as little attack transition as possible, so there's almost always room for growth with this.

    Another thing that I typically do, which may be pretty weird, is for single picking (including cross picking) I lead with the down stroke. For tremolo, I lead with the upstroke. This again is related to my chord melody work. For single picking melody, leading with the down stroke has more power and clarity. Leading with the upstroke in tremolo allows me to consider hitting the first course of strings first, which helps clarify the melody line with higher, more audible notes.

    All just some things to experiment with if you haven't already tried them. There's a world of variations out there.
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    Question Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    Just curious, you ensemble playing with others or layering a multi-track home recording?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to enhance mando for legato piece

    For baroque music, my exeperience is that tremolo should rarely be used. However for Holst, a piece that is more string-based and orchestral, to have that sustaining tone seems necessary especially if played as a trio.

    Here's a different approach that the video above, a little more laid back, I suppose. Still lots of tremolo which does make it sing especially in ensemble,

    Jim

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