Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 29

Thread: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

  1. #1

    Default Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Hey Guys,

    Does anyone else feel bluegrass mandolin playing at high tempos, especially live, often has a large amount of missed notes and can lack "feeling".

    Generally I enjoy guitar, banjo, and fiddle at higher tempos, but mandolin I dislike.

    Mandolin for me at reasonable tempos has such a depth of feeling, tone, and dynamics that all fall flat at high tempos.

    Cheers,

    Brian

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


  3. #2

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    I should say, that while i don't prefer his musical direction, Thile is one for me that can convey the feeling, tone, and maintain dynamics at high tempo.

  4. #3
    small instrument, big fun
    Join Date
    Oct 2021
    Location
    Nashua NH
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Express yourself your way, bro. Play the music the way you like it, 'cause if you don't like it then it won't be music.
    Kentucky KM-250 Mandolin

  5. #4
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lower alabama
    Posts
    605

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    If it were easy, everyone would do it.

  6. #5
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,379
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Technique shows at any speed. The pick striking the string at the precise moment it is noted is incredibly difficult at high tempos. 120 bpm , not a really fast speed. is two strikes a second , 180 is three strikes a second. A muffled tone is the reward for bad timing on a mandolin. A banjo player has three striking surfaces and a fiddler has a bow with the option of slurring tones together each adds possibilities to speeding up your play. Guitars and mandolins require precise timing, and tasteful application. And that my fellow pickers is work. Enjoy the journey. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  7. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to UsuallyPickin For This Useful Post:


  8. #6

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Completely agree on Chris Thile—his mastery allows a ton of feeling to come through even on the fastest passages. For the rest of us mortals, playing at or (worse) beyond our speed abilities usually comes at a high cost to feeling and really everything else. But probably not unique to mandolin.

  9. #7

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    Technique shows at any speed. The pick striking the string at the precise moment it is noted is incredibly difficult at high tempos. 120 bpm , not a really fast speed. is two strikes a second , 180 is three strikes a second. A muffled tone is the reward for bad timing on a mandolin. A banjo player has three striking surfaces and a fiddler has a bow with the option of slurring tones together each adds possibilities to speeding up your play. Guitars and mandolins require precise timing, and tasteful application. And that my fellow pickers is work. Enjoy the journey. R/
    Great points!

  10. #8
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    South of France
    Posts
    1,462

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    All music has feeling, but maybe not the feelings you’re looking for.
    OldTime?

  11. #9
    Resident Hack
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    I think there's two schools of fast playing. There's the classic (Skaggs is a good example) straight bluegrass "I'm going to get my right hand going at the correct tempo and jam all the licks in with my left as well as I can" which gets a classic bluegrass feeling and that's what they're looking for. With that, I somewhat agree with you.

    I think there's more than a few examples of the other side of the coin. Sierra Hull is a great example. Plays at lightning speed but you can see on her face the feeling you hear from her hand and hear from her hands what you see on her face. Yet, every note is clean and perfect no matter the speed. She's the Robin Trower of mandolin.
    What I play
    2021 Skip Kelley Two-Point
    Eastwood 'Ricky'
    Morgan Monroe RT-1E
    Epiphone Genesis guitars
    Various Basses

  12. #10
    small instrument, big fun
    Join Date
    Oct 2021
    Location
    Nashua NH
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    I just started with mandolin, and I fully expect to spend the next six months in front of a metronome.

    Also, there's a huge difference between the extreme edge of what you can do, and what you can do WELL. I might actually get to 180 BPM in my practice room while sitting in front of a metronome, but I doubt I'd ever play over 120 BPM in front of people.
    Kentucky KM-250 Mandolin

  13. #11
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    Posts
    725

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    I like to think I hit one for every two I miss.
    Bren

  14. The following members say thank you to Bren for this post:


  15. #12
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    South of France
    Posts
    1,462

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    I like to think I hit one for every two I miss.
    Me too!
    I’ve been playing whole tunes as a pick hand only exercise recently, I’ve found it makes a huge difference, somehow the pick hand becomes a lot more confident.

  16. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    1,201

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    "style is based on limitations" - John Hartford,
    To play "classic 1940s Monroe Bluegrass" is a fairly disciplined art form. While melodies and chord progressions appear somewhat basic, the timing (of all the instruments) is essential to maintaining that "feeling". I agree people like Thile and Sierra as well some of the masters like Grisman, Marshall, Reischman, Bush, Burns and Apollon make it seem easy, but that's exactly why anyone is reading this.
    Right hand is arguably more complex than the left, but obviously you need both to work in synch.
    I find when I focus on left, right can suffer and vice versa. Relaxation and slow playing (focus on accurate tone and timing slow, then working up to speed) helps for me.
    "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"

  17. The following members say thank you to tmsweeney for this post:


  18. #14
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Forest Grove, Oregon
    Posts
    1,986

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    "style is based on limitations" - John Hartford,
    ……….
    I’ve heard it often attributed to Andres Segovia.
    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow Jazzbo
    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Gibson F5L
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

  19. #15
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lower alabama
    Posts
    605

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    No matter how well you are playing the mandolin, you won't get true feelings out of it unless you are actually having some true feelings. So I recommend using all the normal practice techniques to hone your speed and facility, and then, just before you want to play and really display some emotion, stub your toe on a piece of furniture. Alternatively, get someone to pinch an earlobe while you're playing.

  20. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to lowtone2 For This Useful Post:


  21. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    1,201

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I’ve heard it often attributed to Andres Segovia.
    Hartford uses it in the song - "Tryin' to Do Something to Get Your Attention"

    "And I tried real hard not to make this song sound like some other song that I might have
    Written before
    And if I did, that’s because it’s my style and style is based on
    Limitations"

    he may have lifted it from Segovia
    "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"

  22. #17
    Registered User Paul Cowham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    manchester uk
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    For me it isn't the speed which is the issue, but lack of pulse or groove, actually there is a thread on the techniques section about this now. https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ulse-of-a-tune

    I don't like lots of notes played fast with no sense of pulse or groove which bluegrass can sometimes be - a wall of notes. Irish trad music seems to have of a definite pulse. Of course bluegrass playing can be (and often is) wonderful and awe inspiring, and I love the groove of bluegrass played well such as this (although this is just a fiddle lead)

  23. #18

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Cowham View Post
    For me it isn't the speed which is the issue, but lack of pulse or groove, actually there is a thread on the techniques section about this now. https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ulse-of-a-tune

    I don't like lots of notes played fast with no sense of pulse or groove which bluegrass can sometimes be - a wall of notes. Irish trad music seems to have of a definite pulse. Of course bluegrass playing can be (and often is) wonderful and awe inspiring, and I love the groove of bluegrass played well such as this (although this is just a fiddle lead)
    This is played with a Bluegrass interpretation (no claw hammer banjo, mandolin chops, etc.), but this is an old time tune, which I think explains the pulse. Old time songs are often constructed to be dance songs, so IMO they typically have more of a swing to them than Bluegrass.

    I think the feeling the OP has is ultimately rooted in the fact that traditional, bluegrass mandolin playing is (I think, by construction) a bit "sloppy". You don't hear every note. The mandolin is struck with a lot of force. High tempos are often played by strumming multiple courses of string instead of picking out the string the melody note will be played on.

    But many of the modern American mandolinist (Grisman, Marshall, Thile, Hull, being the most prominent, but there are countless others) play cleanly at high tempos.

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


  25. #19

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    Technique shows at any speed. The pick striking the string at the precise moment it is noted is incredibly difficult at high tempos. 120 bpm , not a really fast speed. is two strikes a second , 180 is three strikes a second. A muffled tone is the reward for bad timing on a mandolin. /
    Isn't it worse than that in reality? My experience has been that when a Bluegrass player says "120 bpm", they mean to play 2 downs and 2 ups in a single beat, which is what (before I started learning bluegrass) I always interpreted to mean 240 bpm.
    Last edited by joh; Oct-28-2021 at 8:00pm.

  26. #20
    Registered User Paul Cowham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    manchester uk
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by joh View Post
    This is played with a Bluegrass interpretation (no claw hammer banjo, mandolin chops, etc.), but this is an old time tune, which I think explains the pulse. Old time songs are often constructed to be dance songs, so IMO they typically have more of a swing to them than Bluegrass.

    I think the feeling the OP has is ultimately rooted in the fact that traditional, bluegrass mandolin playing is (I think, by construction) a bit "sloppy". You don't hear every note. The mandolin is struck with a lot of force. High tempos are often played by strumming multiple courses of string instead of picking out the string the melody note will be played on.

    But many of the modern American mandolinist (Grisman, Marshall, Thile, Hull, being the most prominent, but there are countless others) play cleanly at high tempos.
    Hi Joh,
    Thanks for this and I certainly take your point. Ignoring the fiddle though, I think that the rest of the band have an amazing bluegrass groove/drive on this tune (to my ear anyway). I accept that this is getting away from the opening post which is about lead playing though and please do educate me if I've misunderstood this..

  27. #21

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Cowham View Post
    Hi Joh,
    Thanks for this and I certainly take your point. Ignoring the fiddle though, I think that the rest of the band have an amazing bluegrass groove/drive on this tune (to my ear anyway). I accept that this is getting away from the opening post which is about lead playing though and please do educate me if I've misunderstood this..
    I do agree with the central point you made!

    > For me it isn't the speed which is the issue, but lack of pulse or groove

    But I think if one were to take the the rest of the band and have them play something very analogous at a similar tempo, but to some traditional bluegrass song (random example: "I've Waited as Long as I can" as played by Tony Rice), then I would lose my urge to dance; I wouldn't feel a groove, and thus I wouldn't hear any "feeling" in the music. To my ear, there is something about the melody itself that conveys a groove that a lot of bluegrass music lacks.

    And if I had to apply a taxonomy to that particular rendition, I would call it old time music played by a bluegrass band (which I think is a wonderful combination :-)).

  28. #22
    Stop the chop!
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    europe
    Posts
    1,484
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by joh View Post
    Isn't it worse than that in reality? My experience has been that when a Bluegrass player says "120 bpm", they mean to play 2 downs and 2 ups in a single beat, which is what (before I started learning bluegrass) I always interpreted to mean 240 bpm.
    The usual confusion- You can't specify speed by bpm alone; you must also specify the time signature. Most bluegrass is in 2/2, not 4/4. 120 bpm in 2/2 implies 60 bars per minute, 1 bar per second, 4 eighth notes per beat. It's the same speed as 240 bpm in 4/4. 240 bpm in 2/2 is inhumanly fast to player and listener alike.

  29. The following members say thank you to ralph johansson for this post:

    Tony S 

  30. #23
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lower alabama
    Posts
    605

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Mike Compton is the only writer/transcriber i know who puts it down in 2/4, with the 16th note being the basic element. All other fiddle and bg tunes I've seen are written in 4/4. The BG players I've played with never mention a BPM, and might count a tune off in either 4 or cut time.

  31. #24

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Timing and musicality -- my wife has a CD of Bill Monroe and Doc Watson duets (Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40064). When I listen to it, I always wonder why Doc doesn't take Monroe's mandolin and smash it over his head. To my ear, Monroe is RUSHING THE BEAT. It comes across as an ugly form of musical bullying, which Doc appears to ignore.

  32. #25
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,917
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Speed: Missed Notes and feeling

    Musicality is everything. Whether its slow or fast.

    I don't play a tune faster than I can play it musically.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

Posting Permissions

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