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Thread: Adapting violin music for mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Adapting violin music for mandolin

    First time posting! I just picked up Bärenreiter's urtext edition of Telemann's fantasias for unaccompanied violin. There's a lot of really great material in here, and I'm sure it'll keep me busy for a long time.

    I'm relatively new to the headier violin repertoire, having mostly played Irish folk, ragtime/old-time, and a few classical pieces here and there. (I'm really enjoying John Goodin's arrangements of Oswald's divertimenti.)

    Does anyone have any recommendations/general rules of thumb/etc for adapting violin music for mandolin, specifically right-hand technique? I'm thinking of the way in which violinists interpret articulation marks in the score as specific bowing techniques, many of which are less applicable to mandolin. Are there ways of simulating some of those techniques on the mandolin?
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Adapting violin music for mandolin

    Some initial and superficial thoughts: Take advantage of how plucked strings and plectra work wherever possible. Don't be afraid to do things (like take advantage of open strings to facilitate smooth position shifts, stop multiple strings with a single left-hand finger, alternate pick where appropriate, learn and use standard plectrum patterns for arpeggios and triplets, etc.) that violinists simply don't. Keep humbly seeking advice as specific issues arise.

    . . . And check out the recordings of mandolinists Caterina Lichtenberg (no.1), Sebastiaan de Grebber (no.9), and Alon Sariel (excerpts from no.10) who have all admirably committed some of Telemann's solo-violin fantasias to mandolin-centric or solo albums. I don't know your thoughts on the early-music movement's approach to violin playing (it grates on some folks: not me), but Andrew Manze's baroque-violin recording is a decent reference for the whole set.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Adapting violin music for mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    Some initial and superficial thoughts: Take advantage of how plucked strings and plectra work wherever possible. Don't be afraid to do things (like take advantage of open strings to facilitate smooth position shifts, stop multiple strings with a single left-hand finger, alternate pick where appropriate, learn and use standard plectrum patterns for arpeggios and triplets, etc.) that violinists simply don't. Keep humbly seeking advice as specific issues arise.
    All very good points, and I'll keep those in mind. I'll probably end up posting examples of specific issues as they come up. By "standard plectrum patterns," are you referring to pick direction?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    . . . And check out the recordings of mandolinists Caterina Lichtenberg (no.1), Sebastiaan de Grebber (no.9), and Alon Sariel (excerpts from no.10) who have all admirably committed some of Telemann's solo-violin fantasias to mandolin-centric or solo albums. I don't know your thoughts on the early-music movement's approach to violin playing (it grates on some folks: not me), but Andrew Manze's baroque-violin recording is a decent reference for the whole set.
    I'll definitely check those out. So far, I've listened Augustin Hadelich's recordings of the full set on violin, and this video of Ferdinand Binnendijk playing No. 1.:


    I'm honestly not familiar with early musicians' approach to violin. (I'm actually more of a pianist than a string player.) That said, I do occasionally listen to period instruments, so I'll definitely check out Manze.
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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Adapting violin music for mandolin

    At the risk of blowing my own horn (or plucking my own string), I edited several movements from the Bach sonatas and partitas specifically for mandolin. I'm sure not every mandolinist would agree with all my technical suggestions on these - when do two performers ever completely agree? - but perhaps they would be a start. https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title...music/17471717
    John Craton
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  8. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Adapting violin music for mandolin

    Such nice pieces. Thanks for reminding me of their existence. That Barenreiter Verlag urtext edition mentioned by the OP I believe is the same one available for free download on IMSLP on this page (along with many others).
    Jim

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  10. #6

    Default Re: Adapting violin music for mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by standing.wav View Post
    By "standard plectrum patterns," are you referring to pick direction?
    Yes, especially regarding arpepggios and triplets. You'll find some decent discussion of such in early method books, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by standing.wav View Post
    So far, I've listened Augustin Hadelich's recordings of the full set on violin, and this video of Ferdinand Binnendijk playing No. 1.
    Ferdinand and Sebastiaan mentioned above are from the same school.

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  12. #7

    Default Re: Adapting violin music for mandolin

    Peripheral, but regarding violin in modern performance vs. the recent early-music movement, the latter tends to use a flatter bridge, gut strings, different bow type, usually applies a different pitch standard (often A = 415, about a half-step below modern pitch), and tends to only use vibrato as an occasional deliberate ornament. Note, e.g., the differences evident even in the first seconds between Manze:




    . . . (featuring all the things described above) and Hadelich:




    . . . (with near-constant vibrato, especially in slow passages, as status quo.) Most striking to me are the differences in timbre (largely driven by string material and tension), pitch (which, given its relationship to tension, also contributes to timbre), and the use of vibrato. Personally, I can't say that I prefer one approach over the other. They're simply different, and I would enjoy them both as the mood took me.

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  14. #8

    Default Re: Adapting violin music for mandolin

    Thanks for sharing the Manze recording!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    the latter tends to use a flatter bridge, gut strings
    My understanding is that the flatter bridge facilitates polyphony. And because mandolins also have flat bridges, I'm inclined to think that Baroque violin music is more transferable to mandolin than say, the violin music of Franco-Belgian romantics like Ysaye...

    And speaking of string material, I recently switched from D'Addario Phosphor Bronze to GHS Silk & Bronze. The silk and bronze strings aren't nearly as powerful (which is fine), but they really sing on those opening lines of the first fantasia!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    Personally, I can't say that I prefer one approach over the other. They're simply different, and I would enjoy them both as the mood took me.
    Agreed. As a pianist, sometimes I like listening to modern instruments, sometimes I like fortepiano, and sometimes I like harpsichord. I'm no purist by any means.
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  16. #9

    Default Re: Adapting violin music for mandolin

    Oh, and welcome, standing.wav. Enjoy your time here and with the mandolin.

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