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Thread: Turns and Mordents

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Turns and Mordents

    I'm working on a piece of music with turns and mordents. Does mandolin observe these notations?

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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Sherry, my first thought about this question was 'it depends who you ask'. A glib answer and not helpful I suppose. So a more responsible answer is that certain types of music on mandolin do use ornaments like turns and mordants. (I'm guessing that your score is a violin score. Right?) Also there are alternative ornaments like trills or tremolos, and that is idiomatic to the style and interpretation.

    Others more experienced in classical mandolin can explain more.
    Good luck. What is the piece you are working on?
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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    As Doug says, I imagine you are reading a violin/fiddle score, Sherry. I play a lot with fiddlers, mainly Scottish/traditional music and I use hammer-on and pull-off techniques in my interpretation of many of the tunes, as well as trying to emulate some of the ornamentations that are used by bagpipers! As far as classical (if this is what you are looking at) I too would seek advice from those who play this genre.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    As usual, it always helps to mention the specifics of the piece you are playing.

    In general, I would say that these ornaments add much flavor to the music and the same could be said for tremolo or non-tremolo. When approaching the piece in the early stages I might forego these ornaments but I would think them to be pretty necessary for the most part.

    In the baroque era music i have played in Carlo Aonzo's workshops, he would forego much of the tremolo but would have us play all the ornaments. However, the other question is how to play them. Violins have the bow so the sustain is built in. In folk mandolin styles we often would hammer on or pull off on these quick notes. Carlo had us pick all the notes for each ornament. Other conductors or teachers might have a different approach even within the classical mandolin world.

    Also, in other musical eras, there may be other ways of playing these. I hope that helps.

    I just looked through Marilynn Mair's The Complete Mandolinist but I don't see any reference to ornaments at all. Maybe not completely complete? I have to look at some of my older methods and see what they say.
    Jim

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Here's some excerpts from Mike Marshall's Calace Method in English. This is from part 4, op. 40. There's more to it. It might be a good idea to get hold of some of the classical *mandolin* methods. You can download for free the whole Calace method in Italian and French here. Scroll down to Section 14. Of course, you can download from the entire printed works on that page.

    Also, take a look at the translator's note on the first scan here. That is what I was talking about when we are looking at different eras or interpretations of music. There follows a whole section on trills. Also, note the mention of ornaments that are specific to the mandolin.

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    Jim

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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    What is the piece you are working on?
    I posted the sample page in a pick direction post. Here it is again, with an excerpt from page 2, which starts at measure 15. The symbols in question start at measure 8. I highlighted them on my copy, but I see they didn't transfer.

    As to the spelling, my teacher wrote "mordant" on my music. When I googled it, this came up:

    "mordant is sometimes confused with mordent." Definition of "mordent:" "a rapid alternation of a note with the note immediately below or above it in the scale (sometimes further distinguished as lower mordent and upper mordent ). The term inverted mordent usually refers to the upper mordent."
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Two Part Invention No. 11 in G Minor, Sample 2.pdf  

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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I'm working on a piece of music with turns and mordents. Does mandolin observe these notations?
    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    Sherry, my first thought about this question was 'it depends who you ask'.
    If you ask me, the answer is "of course, yes."

    But be aware what are the composer's suggestions, the editor's suggestions, and where your own interpretation would use such ornaments.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Your teacher, I am sure, told you the notes that those symbols indicate. So, are you just asking how to translate that for piano (in this case) to mandolin? For Bach I would say pick every note vs. the folk style of hammering or pulling off. That’s how Carlo wanted us to play it for all the Bach pieces.
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Your teacher, I am sure, told you the notes that those symbols indicate. So, are you just asking how to translate that for piano (in this case) to mandolin? For Bach I would say pick every note vs. the folk style of hammering or pulling off. That’s how Carlo wanted us to play it for all the Bach pieces.
    She told me what they mean for violin, but doesn't know about mandolin. She suggested maybe tremolo.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Nah. I would play them if possible. Maybe at first dispense but try to incorporate them into the music. Listen to someone play it on piano. Maybe slow it down a but to hear the ornaments since generally the piece is played rather briskly. In some respects a mandolin is closer to piano than violin, more percussive.
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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

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    This is a page I got somewhere that I use as a reference. I have had private lessons & attended workshops & used method books. The take away is, there is no one absolute answer. This could be maddening, but I find it freeing. I first will play through a piece or section with little or no ornaments, then go back & try a few approaches to see how best I can execute the ornaments. It may vary over time. Start simple. Sometimes I will pick each note, sometimes hammers & pulls. What works & sounds best to you. I have played some Bach 2 part inventions with a Guitar player. Some have passages of trills over several bars. I ended up playing tremolo (yes, tremolo in Bach!) across the bars. It sounded good, I could execute it consistently, & the Guitarist liked it. It smoothed out the flow.

    Joe B
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopops View Post
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    This is a page I got somewhere that I use as a reference. I have had private lessons & attended workshops & used method books. The take away is, there is no one absolute answer. This could be maddening, but I find it freeing. I first will play through a piece or section with little or no ornaments, then go back & try a few approaches to see how best I can execute the ornaments. It may vary over time. Start simple. Sometimes I will pick each note, sometimes hammers & pulls. What works & sounds best to you. I have played some Bach 2 part inventions with a Guitar player. Some have passages of trills over several bars. I ended up playing tremolo (yes, tremolo in Bach!) across the bars. It sounded good, I could execute it consistently, & the Guitarist liked it. It smoothed out the flow.

    Joe B
    What a great resource! Can't wait to show my teacher. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    QUOTE=mandopops;1790635]Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a page I got somewhere that I use as a reference. I have had private lessons & attended workshops & used method books.
    Joe B[/QUOTE]

    Observe that one type starts on the 'note above' and the other (the one you are looking at in measure 8) starts on the 'note below'.

    Another aspects to consider: Going from piano to mandolin. (find a classical mandolinist with her version).

    Time period. This is Baroque music. (Bach BMV 782) And it is a good idea to understand the style, and phrasing, tempo etc. from recordings. Many folks play this stuff like classical music (or worse...). There is a difference. Can you hear it?
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    The wikipedia entry for Ornament (Music) is useful to add to our general knowledge and also has some sound examples.

    And to further keep you all busy, here is another entry of a long list of ornaments with links to other entries.

    And here is an in-depth article on Baroque Ornamentation.
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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Turns and Mordents

    Yes, like Doug says, time period is important. I’m all for being idiomatically correct. Usually for Baroque/Bach it is recommended to start a trill from the note above the melody & avoid tremolo etc...I’ve been to Carlo & CMSA workshops. Yes like Jim says, Carlo, or section leaders, will have the section play passages in a uniform pattern. Of course, they want the ensemble to sound together. If you are playing solo or in a duet, you may approach the piece or passages differently. I agree, listen to various recordings.

    Joe B
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