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Thread: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

  1. #1

    Default Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    Hi all,
    I am completely new to the mandolin and I am looking to play bardic background music for my role playing games (d&d like).
    I found the tabs for the bannered mare (too difficult for me), Bighorn River Sunset arranged for a mandolin (mandolin for dummies, I'm almost there!). Do you know where to find more tablatures in this genre?

    In addition I would like to know if there are chords or other tips to tell stories or legends to my players (to set the mood).

    thank you in advance

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    Check out Allan Alexander's mandolin publications via

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    Thanks, i'll check it out now.

  6. #4

    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    His publications feature ease. It still might take some effort for an absolute beginner to work to, but they can perhaps serve as something to aspire to.

  7. #5
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    "Bard" is a Gaelic word for a poet or singer. A Gaelic-speaking cousin of my grandmother in Cape Breton was known as Dan Alex "the Bard" MacDonald. He made folk songs about his home and neighbours (e.g., "Oran do Cheap Britain "). He spent his life as a farmer, and his songs, often composed while he worked, were sung unaccompanied. The mandolin is an Italian instrument, invented in the 19th century, which probably made its way into the Celtic-speaking world well into the 20th century. Bards and mandolins have nothing to do with each other, and since you're playing fantasy games, whatever you fantasize "bardic music" to be, go for it. I suspect so-called Celtic music will be to your taste. Try the tunes of Turlogh O'Carolan (not really for beginners) -- but don't think this has anything to do with historical bards.


    Here's bardic music:

    Last edited by Ranald; Sep-14-2020 at 8:02pm.
    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.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    So, depending on what one is willing to call "mandolin," instruments with related names began appearing in the early Baroque era, around 1600. Those first mandolins were much more soprano-lute-like than anything modern players would recognize as "mandolin" (I myself play a 2004 copy of a 1736 original by Smorsone). The first incarnations of the modern mandolin began to appear in the mid 1700s (there are instruments dated to the 1730s, and dedicated repertoire began appearing in the early 1760s). Yes: the instruments themselves were developed in Italian-speaking places (however, with the modern mandolin's earliest literature almost entirely published in France), and yes: pretty far removed in place and time from bardic traditions (which probably did use forms of harp [clarsach] or lyre [I once spent hours of my life in a recital hall watching early-music specialist Benjamin Bagby recite Beowulf in the original old English to drone patterns on a 7-string lyre . . . without intermission!]). Still, I wanted to clear up a bit regarding mandolin history.

    Alexander's books, to which I'd made previous reference, are deliberate in setting actual medieval and renaissance tunes for modern mandolin. He's not making any assertion that doing so would in any way represent period performance. For what it's worth (not much), some of Europe's late Medieval and Renaissance instruments (e.g., citole, gittern, mandora/mandore, etc.) are at least similar to what developed into mandolin.

    Striving to recreate period musical performance is a pretty specialized endeavor, and the associated, specialized tools tend to favor expensive. In contrast, mass-produced modern mandolins are easy to come by relatively affordably and so represent a degree of accessibility. Personally, I'm much more into the history than the fantasy. However, I take no issue with those who'd like to indulge fantasy so long as acknowledged.

    If you're really pining to read of the origins of mandolin (and I doubt many are), here's some recommended literature:

    Addesi, A. R. 2017. The mandolin in Naples in the second half of the 18th century: a research project. Lute News 123:14.

    Berglund, L. 2017. A Swedish gentleman's souvenir from the Grand Tour: the Gimo Collection of mandolin manuscripts. Lute News 123:11–13.

    Ferraris, G. 2012. Early mandolin in historical iconography and modern practice. Lute News 104:24–27.

    Herre, S. 2012. The mandolin in relation to the lute: a historical survey. Lute News 104:9–23.

    Morey, S. 1993. Mandolins of the 18th century. Editrice Turris, Cremona.

    Rebuffa, D. 2017. The mandolin in the 17th and 18th centuries: organology, stringing and tunings, repertoire, luthiers, surviving instruments and iconographical sources. Lute News 123:15–30.

    Rebuffa, D. 2017. The mandolino in Rome in the time of Corelli: a concert program. Lute News 123:31–40.

    Sparks, P. 1995. The classical mandolin. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

    Sparks, P. 1999. An introduction to the eighteenth-century repertoire of the Neapolitan mandolin. Plucked String, Inc., Kensington, MD.

    Sparks, P. 2017. The mandolin in 18th century London. Lute News 123:8–10.

    Tyler, J. 1981. The mandore in the 16th and 17th centuries. Early Music 9(1):22–31.

    Tyler, J. 1981. The Italian mandolin and mandola 1589–1800. Early Music 9(4):438–446.

    Tyler, J., and P. Sparks. 1989, 1992. The early mandolin. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
    Last edited by Eugene; Sep-14-2020 at 11:19pm.

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  10. #7
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    I'll second the music from Allan Alexander. I have several of his books. They are easy enough and you can get the idea enough to add ornamentation if that's your thing.

    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    Wonderfull, I've just bough one of Allan Alexander's book. Just have to wait fot it to cross the Atlantic^^
    And, celtic music seems very hard at mandolin (i have to work more ^^).
    For the video, be a story teller like that will be great for me, i'll try to find good tune on mandolin to go with this.


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  13. #9

    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    I'm late to the party, but wanted to comment that the OP should look up the band Steeleye Span. Their early extensive recordings are now available as three compilations. They cover more than a few old ballads, and inspired many Renaissance Festival musicians I've known.

    In the same vein, a lot of them also owned the Jethro Tull recording, Songs from the Wood. Their frontman has stated that he always strove to write songs that sound like anyone could sit down with a guitar and do them, and it often works.

    Armed with a chord book and a willingness to dig in using your ear, you'll probably find these to be a starting point.

    Wherever you start, good luck!

  14. #10

    Default Re: Bardic inspiration for role playing games.

    I'm a big fan of folk-rock. Steeleye Span was, of course, a splinter group from Fairport Convention (via Ashley Hutchings departure from Fairport Convention to form Steeleye Span in 1969). Both are still around. Fairport Convention has made fairly frequent use of mandolins. Oddly, I'm most fond of the first 20 years of Fairport Convention's career (especially Liege and Leaf through In Real Time: Live '87) and the last 20 of Steeleye Span's (their last two albums, Dodgy Bastards and Est'd 1969, are particularly awesome).

    Songs from the Wood was the first of prog band Jethro Tull's so-called folk-rock trilogy of albums, followed by Heavy Horses and Stormwatch. That's among my favorite of Jethro Tull's output, although I'm really a fan of Jethro Tull throughout their career. Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull shared a bassist, Dave Pegg, for a while following the death of John Glasscock (who was the bassist for this "trilogy" of studio recordings).

    But this is all pretty far afield, certainly far afield from the Cafe's "classical" forum. To bring it back in, at least a little bit, also look into the work of somewhat-recently deceased Owain Phyfe (claimed too young by pancreatic cancer in 2012). He played renaissance and medieval music but with a decidedly folk-like style, most notably recording with his New World Renaissance Band but also with L'Ensemble Josquin and ensembles assembled to support him billed as soloist. His career was really built around playing the Renaissance/Fantasy Faire circuit.

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