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Thread: Mandolin "Slurs"

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Mandolin "Slurs"

    I just received Wohlfahrt Violin Studies Arranged for Mandolin, which I ordered from Mel Bay. My teacher is a professional violinist and asked me what slurs (which appear in the book) indicate in the context of a mandolin. Can anyone tell me?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Maybe best to give us an example. I might guess that these are two notes played in sequence with the same pick direction but that may just be a guess. In more general terms slur marks indicate some phrasing.
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I just received Wohlfahrt Violin Studies Arranged for Mandolin, which I ordered from Mel Bay. My teacher is a professional violinist and asked me what slurs (which appear in the book) indicate in the context of a mandolin. Can anyone tell me?
    The exercises in Wohlfahrt are of course written for violin, and there is no equivalent un-picked long phrasing possible. For pickers, an occasional hammer-on or pull-off is the limit.

    I would mainly ignore the slurs. In piano music they indicate connected phrasing, by either use of pedal or just overlapping notes. Some of that can be done on mandolin but seems a bit on the advanced side. Violinists have to learn slurring as a sound production technique. You don't.

    If you are comfortable with a passage you can try for a connected ("legato") effect. Otherwise, forget about those marks. Wind players take slurs, phrase marks, as suggestions and tongue (articulate) or not, according to personal taste.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    The exercises in Wohlfahrt are of course written for violin, and there is no equivalent un-picked long phrasing possible. For pickers, an occasional hammer-on or pull-off is the limit.
    "The etudes have been adapted for mandolin," so surely the slurs have some significance for mandolin???

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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    "The etudes have been adapted for mandolin," so surely the slurs have some significance for mandolin???
    You'll have to scan the page and post it so we can see the slurs in question.

    The Mel Bay web page shows three sample pages, none with slurs. My distant memory of fighting through Wohlfahrt on violin doesn't call up anything tuneful requiring expression.

    How many notes are under the slur?
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    If the fingering is amenable to a slide, that will create a suitable slur.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    You'll have to scan the page and post it so we can see the slurs in question.
    I'm going to try this, but I don't know what I'm doing. I know there are instructions somewhere but my search wasn't successful. What type of file should I save my scanned document as? If I get that right, maybe I can figure out the rest.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Wikipedia defines "slur" for violin:

    "Slurring means that you change notes with your left hand but your right hand (bow hand) doesn't change direction. Once learned it becomes second nature, but can give beginner violinist a headache. Slurring is often used in pieces or movements meant to sound peaceful, calm, and tranquil."


    On your violin, you can slide your left-hand finger up or down from one note to the next on the same string during the same bow stroke, or you can start on one note and on the same bow stroke bring a second finger down on another note during the same bow stroke. Either way, the notes blend into each other. Keeping in mind that you can't sustain long notes on the mandolin, both these techniques are commonly used while picking mandolin -- certainly while playing blues or blues-influenced music, but not necessarily "to sound peaceful, calm, and tranquil."
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    People that don't use slurring, opting instead for the (dreaded) "every-note-with-a-pickstroke", aren't really in a position to say what the technique(s) add or doesn't add.

    As far as I'm concerned, it is what allows the music to breathe. And you can certainly use it more than an "occasional" hammer-on, pull-off or slide. All those techniques, alone or in combination, can be used for multiple note slurs. to slur notes separate strings, the technique is a "pick glide". Two-handed tapping is also a slurring technique, as well a using a finger to pluck the string rather than the pick.

    I've posted on the subject innumerable times over the past 15 years on the subject. Here's an old one.
    https://Slides-hammer-ons-and-pull-offs-when-to-use-them

    Here's the way to search the Cafe Forum for multi-word phrases etc. on Google. You can get far more specific than using the Cafe search function.
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...rd-phrase-quot

    There's probably something on the subject in the old Comando/Mandozine interview linked below.

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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I'm going to try this, but I don't know what I'm doing. I know there are instructions somewhere but my search wasn't successful. What type of file should I save my scanned document as? If I get that right, maybe I can figure out the rest.
    After saving a scan, either pdf or jpeg, start to post and choose "Go Advanced". On that page, pull down and find "Manage attachments". At top right you will see "Add files", and then you can select Upload from your computer. (A bit clumsy, yes.)

    Then you have to drag the uploaded image into the lower box and choose "Insert inline" down at the bottom. I don't know how to do this on tablet or phone, the drag and drop doesn't work except on laptop or desktop.

    You could also describe the particular slur, how many notes, it happening throughout the etude?
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    Registered User MB-Octo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Kym Warner uses slurs to great effect on his tune "Great Falls". The version on tenor guitar (in mandola tuning) shows the slurs very well:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGn2...7vPeA&index=31
    Last edited by MB-Octo; Aug-25-2020 at 10:56pm. Reason: Clarification
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    When I got back into playing guitar my teacher had me use the Fiddler’s Fakebook - violin version - a slur on a violin involves drawing the bow and playing notes which we cannot do. The closest equivalent seems to be a hammer on. It’s just an inherent difference between playing the violin and mando...tremolo is another, you just have to adjust. Many times we just ignored the slur but tried to play legato, do what you think sounds good.

    Here’s a thread of yours from 2018 with alot of discussion of slurs, and a link to a broader search on slurs and mandolin. Have fun.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/threads/137942-Slurs

    https://www.google.com/search?q=viol...iw=768&bih=912
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Most “slurs” round here are about banjos and accordionists! LOL
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    Most “slurs” round here are about banjos and accordionists! LOL
    Lol! I hope you guys don't add me to that list. Seems I regret most of my posts after I realize I've embarrassed myself!

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by MB-Octo View Post
    Kym Warner uses slurs to great effect on his tune "Great Falls". The version on tenor guitar (in mandola tuning) shows the slurs very well:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGn2...7vPeA&index=31
    Thanks, Monte. I enjoyed listening to this. Are the slurs those slides he was doing? If not, maybe I can figure it out as I study the responses to this post.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    You'll have to scan the page and post it so we can see the slurs in question.
    Tom, your instructions were great! Let's hope the execution is as good.

    Sherry
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Sherry Cadenhead; Aug-26-2020 at 10:23am. Reason: Sorry. Wrong image! Can't figure out how to delete it.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Trying this again.Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    When I got back into playing guitar my teacher had me use the Fiddler’s Fakebook - violin version - a slur on a violin involves drawing the bow and playing notes which we cannot do. The closest equivalent seems to be a hammer on. It’s just an inherent difference between playing the violin and mando...tremolo is another, you just have to adjust. Many times we just ignored the slur but tried to play legato, do what you think sounds good.

    Here’s a thread of yours from 2018 with alot of discussion of slurs, and a link to a broader search on slurs and mandolin. Have fun.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/threads/137942-Slurs

    https://www.google.com/search?q=viol...iw=768&bih=912
    It seems I continue to be too anxious to post my question. Thanks, BSG, for the reminder to do my research.

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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Excellent scan, and I think we can answer yes, do try to play those slurs. The first three are going to be pull-off and the fourth one is hammer-on.

    There is a way of "almost" slurring, in which you try to pull off or hammer on but still pick lightly. But it's worth working on these. You may want to shift to strong fingers in the second line. I never try to pull of with pinky, but a half-step move, to use ring finger for the Bb 6th fret note is feasible. Work with your teacher to pick the notes on which to shift. Alternately, stay in first position and don't try too hard for the slurs from pinky. To me, this exercise is really a bowing exercise, in which you would have practiced reversing the pattern each group, and trying for speed. I would still aim for the graceful speed over the slurs but a good exercise either way.

    In general, there is a lot of musical technique that is not "general" but specific to the notes in question. My experience is that nearly everything is specific, local, even if we can talk generally. Technique and style questions always need the example at issue.
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    Trying this again.Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Wohlfahrt Study 6.pdf 
Views:	81 
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ID:	188125
    I would play the slurred 8ths as a slight pull-off, and it is a recurring pattern throughout the exercise...and I do use 4th finger pull-offs too, like measure 5, to avoid a position shift.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    I agree with the folks above on their approach. In my humble estimation of this little piece of music, the key is the slurred notes (played legato) in contrast with the staccato notes. For phrasing I might also suggest a dynamics difference—maybe play the slurred notes a bit more forte and the staccato ones more piano. Or even try vice versa for fun.

    I checked my edition of Wohlfahrt for violin and frankly, with the exception of the mandolin TAB, it is marked identically. Personally, I find little need to get a mandolin version and would prefer working from a violin book but generally ignoring the fingerings unless they make more sense. For those who are not afraid of TABless notation, free downloads here. Most of the standard violin etude collections are available for free downloads and are fun to explore.
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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    You guys are way out of my league!

  30. #23

    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    You underestimate yourself. This is a case where "playing" music actually becomes play. You can play with different ways of doing the tied notes.

    Pull offs can be done in more than one way. A very good banjo player friend told me once that pull offs should actually be push offs. My own opinion is that they can be done either as pull or push and one or the other might sound better depending on the situation. Timing can be varied slightly as you speed up or slow down the pull part of the slur, you can bend the note as you push off, you can pull off then pick the second note, you can hit it harder or softer. Try these and other tricks and see what sounds best to you.

    Try slides. The Clarence White guitar book that Roland White wrote teaches at least half a dozen ways to slide as you go through the songs. They can be started from a fixed note, from an indefinite note, from open, sliding then letting off to open, have hammer-ons or pull offs incorporated, switch fingers in the middle and probably a few I am forgetting. There again play around with it and see what fits.

    On the Doc and Dawg version of Bluegrass Stomp there are places where Grismann does hammer ons, pull offs and slides as he tremolos. It is really cool sounding at least when he does it.

    On guitar you can bend the note up half a step or so and let it down though on mandolin that usually takes gorilla fingers.

    The good news is there is no one right way to do this. The bad news is there is no one right way to do this. There is not a fixed recipe or formula except to sound good. Try different ways and see what you discover. Your teacher should be able to help also. This is where expression and individual voice come out in the music.

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    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    I'm curious why this etude was included in a mandolin version of Wohlfahrt. As I remember from a bunch of decades ago, this particular exercise is primarily a right-hand study, learning to play the staccato notes at either end of the bow.

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin "Slurs"

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    I'm curious why this etude was included in a mandolin version of Wohlfahrt. As I remember from a bunch of decades ago, this particular exercise is primarily a right-hand study, learning to play the staccato notes at either end of the bow.
    Staccato is also a mandolin technique. It's a left-hand technique - cutting short the notes by immediately lifting the (fretting) finger after it is sounds instead of letting it ring. (You can also do a staccato by palm muting - better for chords.)

    On guitar you can bend the note up half a step or so and let it down though on mandolin that usually takes gorilla fingers.
    ??? 1/2 step bends only get tough at 4th fret or lower and you may need 2 LH fingers to bend. Of course, bending a C natural (3rd fret) half-way/quarter tone to the neutral third/seventh (depending on the key) l is good for blues intonation. (And I'm playing D'addario steel .011 - .040, not some ultra-lights)

    The higher you go up the neck, the easier bending becomes.

    Variety (or even awareness) of articulation is something a whole lot of mandolin players are lacking. 40 years ago, I decided I'd rather have a Clarence White/Richard Thompson/Swarbrick "sound" instead of one derived from Skaggs (who really was at his best when there was a lot of Grappelli and swing in his playing) and Jethro.

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    Last edited by mandocrucian; Aug-27-2020 at 10:47am.

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