Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

  1. #1
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    My heart is in The South.
    Posts
    496

    Default How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    I’m not sure I know what to ask for or whether I know what I’m asking for, but…

    I’m primarily an acoustic guitar player with some mandolin and banjo on the side. I have a 2011 Weber Gallatin A octave mandolin; D-hole, spruce/mahogany. Great instrument, but it’s just been languishing in its case. Because of guitar, I really haven’t looked for ways to fit in the octave since, tonally, they’re pretty similar. It’s quite probable that I’m not realizing the octave’s potential, but I look to the mandolin when adding musical depth and color to a song within a group setting where there’s another guitar or two.

    I’d like to use the octave more.

    Just as background, for over 50 years my musical focus has been country-folk/Americana and Laurel Canyon. Lately, though, I’ve been dabbling more in American folk – the type of music that’s found in Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music.

    All that said, I guess it’s important for me to first state that my approach to using the octave is much as I would the mandolin: providing fills, some lead, and rhythm (usually open chord on octave instead of closed/three-finger on mandolin). So, I guess here are my questions. What do I do/what can I do to maximize the octave? Am I able to use the octave as a solo instrument that supports vocals without it being a “novelty?” How can I use the octave to add color and depth in a group setting? Some American folk songs don’t seem to have the same flavor when using the octave as a solo instrument; is that just my ear or should I look at a different approach? Do I need to explore other musical genres such as Scottish or Irish folk? What else should I be considering and/or trying?

    Thanks for any guidance.
    Last edited by NursingDaBlues; Jun-04-2020 at 12:01pm.

  2. The following members say thank you to NursingDaBlues for this post:


  3. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    874

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Bill Cameron Explores that nicely here https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...n-Octave-Mando

    There are others on many of these forums doing "cool" things with Octaves. Timmy O'Brien is certainly a great octo player to look for inspiration

    To me the octave is a vehicle for "open chords" and low double stops - ringing A and E open stings
    never say never bu octave can be challenging when trying to mimic bluegrass chop or lead run for example.
    Chord shapes are mostly the same as mandolin but some creativity is needed here and there.

    So keep it simple to start I always say.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to tmsweeney For This Useful Post:


  5. #3

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    I’ve been playing the octave for about a year now and have deliberately tried to play just melody -and metronome melody at that. I know where the double stops are but I wanted to be firmly on the melodic side first before adding harmonies and strumming. So I’m asking similar questions, what more can an octave mandolin do? I’m just starting to be able to play a tune automatically, so maybe it’s time to learn harmonies for these tunes too...
    The easiest way I guess would be to find a dozen or so top octave mandolin performers and try to decipher their work.
    Here’s one fun exercise for example:

  6. The following members say thank you to Simon DS for this post:


  7. #4

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    I only recently dove down the mando rabbit hole but have played guitar for a few years. I'm not a stellar player but I have fun. I love bluegrass & TIM and dabble with both but my passion is blues. Perhaps it's the 7 years of violin as a kid but I've been able to figure out scales quickly. Noodling melodies over backing tracks or working out arrangements of traditional blues songs I know well has been really fun on both the mandola and octave mandolin. My OM is a short scale so the reach is easy for me and I love the dark tone. The longer scale can make some mandolin chord shapes difficult to impossible but there are charts with common alternatives as well as one of the chord bibles. The same is true for some tabs but that's an arrangement opportunity akin to the design opportunities I encounter while playing in my woodshop And, though I'll have to settle on a luthier, it's only a matter of time before I have an electric octave to explore my pedals with...the mandolin rabbit hole is real I tell you!! We are through the Looking Glass here people!!

  8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to urobouros For This Useful Post:


  9. #5
    Registered User Todd Bowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Crystal Beach, FL
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    Bill Cameron Explores that nicely here https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...n-Octave-Mando

    There are others on many of these forums doing "cool" things with Octaves. Timmy O'Brien is certainly a great octo player to look for inspiration
    .
    Agree -- I would also check out players like Sarah Jarosz, Sierra Hull, I'm with Her band (for different voicings). All master players and worth listening to!
    ========================
    2012 Gibson F5 Master Model
    2019 Northfield F5 Artist 5 Bar
    2019 Northfield Arched Octave Maple
    2020 Northfield F5 4.0

  10. The following members say thank you to Todd Bowman for this post:


  11. #6
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    My heart is in The South.
    Posts
    496

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Although I enjoy listening to some bluegrass, it really isn’t in my repertoire. And while I do watch (primarily for the sheer enjoyment of their craft) to learn how others approach the octave, I am most definitely not anywhere remotely close the to the same league as Sierra Hull, Tim O’Brien, Eva Holbrook, or Sarah Jarosz. I’m simply trying to see if the octave can be a part of the music I enjoy playing.

    Keeping it simple is always something that I need to keep in mind. Thank you for re-emphasizing that.

    Being deliberate with melody using a metronome is also very wise. The metronome is something I tend to neglect.

    Irish traditional music is fascinating to me – much of what I have heard is spellbinding to the point of being hypnotic. I don’t know if they are considered an ITM group, but the Four Winds is a group that I truly enjoy listening to and watching. However, I think I need to spend a considerable amount of time exposing and educating myself to the nuances and character of a particular ITM style before I would feel comfortable enough to attempt it.

    Thanks to each of you for your comments and suggestions. It’s much appreciated. And I look forward to other guidance as well.

  12. #7
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Ardnadam, Argyll, Scotland
    Posts
    1,576

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    I love the octave for playing Scottish music, particularly pipe marches and a lot of Scottish and other fiddle music, where the octave's extra sustain is a valuable tool - it works quite well on slow airs, for example. You can listen to examples of such tunes on my YT channel which is noted below and you might find something of interest re your question about finding Scottish or other Celtic-flavoured music that you might like to try on your octave.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

  13. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to John Kelly For This Useful Post:


  14. #8
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    My heart is in The South.
    Posts
    496

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    I love the octave for playing Scottish music, particularly pipe marches and a lot of Scottish and other fiddle music, where the octave's extra sustain is a valuable tool - it works quite well on slow airs, for example. You can listen to examples of such tunes on my YT channel which is noted below and you might find something of interest re your question about finding Scottish or other Celtic-flavoured music that you might like to try on your octave.
    With only a quick visit to your YT channel, I came away quite impressed. Heroes of Longhope was beautiful. As was Over The Waterfall with mandolin and octave mandolin. I do believe I'll be visiting your channel with some regularity. Thank you.

  15. The following members say thank you to NursingDaBlues for this post:


  16. #9
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,897

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    Am I able to use the octave as a solo instrument that supports vocals without it being a “novelty?”
    What's wrong with novelties? The OM is at least as good for song accompaniment as the guitar, it can be fingerpicked, it can be wet-tuned.

    How can I use the octave to add color and depth in a group setting?
    Melody playing with lots of doublestops is what I do. You always can tell the OM apart from the guitar.

    Do I need to explore other musical genres such as Scottish or Irish folk?
    Well, not "need" as such, but it adds so much to life that would otherwise be missed. I am partial, as you can see from my examples.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  17. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Bertram Henze For This Useful Post:


  18. #10
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    My heart is in The South.
    Posts
    496

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Well, not "need" as such, but it adds so much to life that would otherwise be missed. I am partial, as you can see from my examples.
    Well, because of the subtle recommendations from you and others in this thread, I'm going to give it a try. But since I don’t know a lot about folk music of the Isles, I thought it was prudent to start with music that I do know. So I dug out my old Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, and early Richard Thompson albums this weekend and spent a little time just listening to their approach to various songs. I gave “Matty Groves” considerable play and began mentally working out a solo octave mandolin arrangement to it. Sometime this week I’ll spend some time with Old Blind Dogs and Pentangle, specifically their respective treatments of “Cruel Sister.”

    My constant challenge is to clear my mind of preconceived tendencies to hear and then arrange for guitar instead of listening for ways to arrange for an octave.

    It’s only a start. If I can encourage myself to go slow and simple (for me, that’s easier said than done) with familiar music, then maybe I can progress a little deeper in more genre/area-specific traditional tunes.

  19. #11
    Registered User Jim Roberts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    704

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    A course on the octave by Mr. Natural:

    https://www.mandolinshealtheworld.co...ories/20200601

  20. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jim Roberts For This Useful Post:


  21. #12

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Talking of Mattie, here’s a cracking song with banjo, I think he’s alternating to the fifth of each note whenever it’s a quarter or more, or maybe it’s my imagination!



  22. The following members say thank you to Simon DS for this post:


  23. #13

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    My constant challenge is to clear my mind of preconceived tendencies to hear and then arrange for guitar instead of listening for ways to arrange for an octave.

    It’s only a start. If I can encourage myself to go slow and simple (for me, that’s easier said than done) with familiar music, then maybe I can progress a little deeper in more genre/area-specific traditional tunes.
    I'm going to recommend that you actually learn that familiar music from guitar on OM.

    As an example, let's say you put on a greatest hits album from the Doobie Brothers' guitar-centric era. Get some chord charts, learn the mando/OM chords up and down the neck for those songs. Learn the guitaristic phrasings from the rhythm guitar work, including the rhythmic suspensions of the fourths and so on. Sing along at the top of your lungs. Take a solo, and learn how the pentatonic scales are laid out on the OM neck, and all over the neck.

    Because of the difference between OM and guitar, it's still going to sound unique. You'll learn how to accompany singing. You'll learn to build solos.

    Then, if you decide to learn a new tradition which is actually calling your interest, or even just one from which you want to borrow technique, you'll have a basis upon which to add that stuff.

    In my own mando journey, I never really felt a call to learn any Irish or Scottish music. I started from a rock context mostly on mandola, went to chord-melody, and only later added medieval/Renaissance and English country dance music. I did hear some interesting ideas along the way regarding drones, and learned it while not really learning any of the Celtic stuff.

    Whatever path you take, good luck!

  24. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Explorer For This Useful Post:


  25. #14
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    7,961

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    I have brought both my mandolin and octave mandolin to play in church music groups for about 15 years. The church music I've played has been really diverse, from classical, to spirituals, to contemporary Christian. This may be too simplistic an answer for you, but I always ask myself what a tune needs based on both the feeling the ensemble is trying to get across and the instrumentation the ensemble has available that week. I use the mandolin for melody and harmony, single note lines and double stops and tremolo, when that is what the tune calls for. I use the octave for rhythm, both strumming and cross picking. Every now and then, I will cross those lines, but most of the time, it doesn't get any more complicated than that. There seems to always be plenty of opportunity to use both instruments.

  26. The following members say thank you to John Flynn for this post:


  27. #15
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,897

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    So I dug out my old Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, and early Richard Thompson albums this weekend and spent a little time just listening to their approach to various songs.
    Not the worst point to start. Steeleye Span comes to mind...
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  28. The following members say thank you to Bertram Henze for this post:


  29. #16
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,897

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Roberts View Post
    A course on the octave by Mr. Natural:

    https://www.mandolinshealtheworld.co...ories/20200601
    It does not play to me - apparently, Mr Natural does not want to put up with European General Data Protection Regulations.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  30. #17
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    My heart is in The South.
    Posts
    496

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Not the worst point to start. Steeleye Span comes to mind...
    At the risk of derailing this thread, that era introduced us to some truly excellent groups with some truly excellent music.

  31. #18
    Registered User Jim Roberts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    704

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?


  32. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    No. California
    Posts
    837

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    . What do I do/what can I do to maximize the octave? Am I able to use the octave as a solo instrument that supports vocals without it being a “novelty?”
    Tim O’Brien uses an octar really effectively to support his vocals, but those tend to be more percussive than regular OM’s.

    still trying to turn dreams into memories

  33. The following members say thank you to Marcus CA for this post:


  34. #20
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Cornwall & London
    Posts
    2,684
    Blog Entries
    4

    Default Re: How Do I Maximize An Octave Mandolin?

    Ask Olga ! She's wonderfully enthusiastic about using her Octave in DuoRo & solo.







    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

  35. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Beanzy For This Useful Post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •