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Thread: Changing the tuning for medieval sound

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    Do you thing that it is necessary to change the tuning to
    Lamento di Tristano" as Roger Landes says to
    "makes the mandolin sound huge"

    http://mandolinsessions.com/apr06/Lamento.html#

    I like the standard tuning but has anyone tried the alternate?

    Next question ... what do you think the bpm should be for this tune?
    It is a 'lamernto' therefore I have played it slow.




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    I really enjoyed this! What other songs use this tuning? Is there a book of similar songs available?
    Collings MT
    Weber Gallatin Mandocello

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    allan alexander has this song in his "medieval music for mandolin" - vol's 1 & 2. he's recorded some of these pieces and made them available on "soundclick" - but for some reason, i can't open the link at the moment.

    although played on a harp, here's the tempo and style of play (more or less) that i first heard the piece:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaX3sLCsv_I

    this is purely a personal opinion - ill-informed and narrow minded to be sure - but i think alternate tunings on the mandolin are a bit like gilding the lily ... of dubious value and unnecessary.

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    I think most of us composers have dabbled a bit with scordatura at one time or another. H.I. Biber was the master of scordatura composing for the violin, and perhaps being intrigued what he did, I've done my part experimenting with alternate tunings. Two of the five "Dioces aztecas" employ alternate tunings, one tuning the G course up to A-flat, and the other resorts to GG BD AA C#E tunings. Makes for some very interesting possibilities, but I also found it inordinately difficult keeping my brain thinking straight while composing them. And of course the fact that neither of these has yet been performed may say something about the degree of success achieved. Nevertheless, scordatura is a fascinating concept, though I would caution about the potential danger of tuning strings up too high. (Strings and fingerboards do have their limits.)
    John Craton
    "Pick your fingers to the bone, then pick with the bone"

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    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (linguist @ Feb. 24 2008, 21:34)
    I really enjoyed this! What other songs use this tuning? Is there a book of similar songs available?
    Glad you liked it! I have two more in that tuning on the same website. Another Medieval tune, "English Dance", here:

    http://mandolinsessions.com/jun06/english.html

    and a Bulgarian one here:

    http://mandolinsessions.com/aug06/Dobrudja.html



    Roger Landes
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    Quote Originally Posted by (billkilpatrick @ Feb. 25 2008, 05:38)
    although played on a harp, here's the tempo and style of play (more or less) that i first heard the piece:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaX3sLCsv_I

    this is purely a personal opinion - ill-informed and narrow minded to be sure - but i think alternate tunings on the mandolin are a bit like gilding the lily ... of dubious value and unnecessary.
    That's about the tempo I play it at.

    Bill - the scordatura I use for those tunes is nothing more than a way to get an open drone note on the tonic below the range of the instrument. I find it really effective for solo playing as it really fills out the sound of the mando. Of course it's "unnecessary", but "of dubious value"? Come on! Have you tried it? Or would you consider playing the "Lamento" on your oud without a low drone string ringing? ;-)
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

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    ... touching parts of ill-informed-ness and narrow minded-ness that others don't reach - that's me!


    no-no-no ... i was speaking only for me; a purely personal opinion. i find the oud, the bagpipe and even my charango sound fabulous with a drone - but that the mandolin sounds best the way it is. maybe if i get to play it for as long as you and get anywhere near as good, i'll feel like experimenting but after a lifetime of "doing it my way" and getting no where, i suddenly feel the need - with the aid of the marilynn mair book - of "gettin' right!"

    ... it'll probably pass.

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    Roger,

    Did you intend the strums along the 6 or 8 strings, like 0-0-0-0, or x-3-0-0, to be played strong or soft?
    What was the original bpm?

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    Quote Originally Posted by (billkilpatrick @ Feb. 25 2008, 12:49)
    ... it'll probably pass.
    ha ha ha! :-)
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

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    Quote Originally Posted by (jk245 @ Feb. 25 2008, 15:29)
    Roger,

    Did you intend the strums along the 6 or 8 strings, like 0-0-0-0, or x-3-0-0, to be played strong or soft?
    What was the original bpm?
    Fairly soft, so that they stay in the background. I'd play this around 92bpm. Maybe 88bpm if I'm in a particularly lyrical mood. ;-)
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

  11. #11

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    I really have to point out, in reference to the thread's title, that whatever a "medieval sound" might be is totally speculative (unfortunately, Richard the Lionheart didn't have his mp3 recorder handy when he penned "Ja Nus Hons Pris") and doesn't necessarily have anything at all to do with modern, high-tension wire strings on modern mandokin construction, whatever the tuning. #There's nothing at all wrong with playing this music and enjoying the playing on whatever you happen to have on hand, but this is much more a question of personal preference than anything at all to do with an effort to emulate medieval music making.




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    Quote Originally Posted by (Eugene @ Feb. 26 2008, 07:54)
    I really have to point out, in reference to the thread's title, that whatever a "medieval sound" might be is totally speculative (unfortunately, Richard the Lionheart didn't have his mp3 recorder handy when he penned "Ja Nus Hons Pris") and doesn't necessarily have anything at all to do with modern, high-tension wire strings on modern mandokin construction, whatever the tuning. There's nothing at all wrong with playing this music and enjoying the playing on whatever you happen to have on hand, but this is much more a question of personal preference than anything at all to do with an effort to emulate medieval music making.
    Eugene, my use of the tuning has nothing to do with trying for an authentic Medieval sound (whatever that might be), but was, as I've said earlier, a way of providing a low tonic drone outside the normal range of the instrument.

    The title of this thread notwithstanding, "authenticity" (or someone's notion of it) is not really what we were discussing here, so I see no need to take exception to it.

    That said, the use of drones in historically informed performances of Medieval music is pretty well accepted... ;-)



    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

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    Really, all I wanted to know was if I should spend the time to re-tune from standard to something else.

    That being said, if you take a look at the Lamento di Tristano on youtube, it was said to have been played on a facsimile harp, not a mandolin or mandolin family instrument.

    If we take the playing in the context of the either historical or reproduced instruments and then it is fair to try to duplicate the sound. As Roger says he want to change the feel, using what we have at hand. Changing the tuning, the type of strings, selection of a different kind of, in this case a fretted instrument, is appropriate.

    I think Roger did his best with available materials to make this work.
    By the way, I have enjoyed playing Roger's interpretation using standard tuning.




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    I have been playing around with alterntate tunings a bit, mostly for old time fiddle tunes. I hadn't tried it for this kind of thing. Really neat. I can get it the Lamento to sounding pretty impressive!

    I really don't like changing the tuning on my mandolin that much that often. So I am considering getting another mandolin just for that purpose - (also justifies MAS).
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Eugene @ Feb. 26 2008, 07:54)
    I really have to point out, in reference to the thread's title, that whatever a "medieval sound" might be is totally speculative (unfortunately, Richard the Lionheart didn't have his mp3 recorder handy when he penned "Ja Nus Hons Pris")
    I think Eugene has an important point here. It goes deeper than different string tension and different instruments. Even if we had the technology to recreate medieval music 100% faithfully (I don't know how you would verify that), it would sound to us different than it sounded to the people of the time.

    We have different ears, different musical expectations. We cannot "unhear" our inheritance of hundreds of years of western music with all its innovations to hear the medieval sounds with the musical expectations of the time.

    All that being said, these pieces are a rip to play, and the music, if not authentically medieval, is hauntingly ancient sounding.



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    Quote Originally Posted by (zoukboy @ Feb. 26 2008, 17:36)
    Eugene, my use of the tuning has nothing to do with trying for an authentic Medieval sound (whatever that might be), but was, as I've said earlier, a way of providing a low tonic drone outside the normal range of the instrument.

    The title of this thread notwithstanding, "authenticity" (or someone's notion of it) is not really what we were discussing here, so I see no need to take exception to it.
    Indeed. I took no exception at all, which I had tried to make clear. "The title of this thread notwithstanding, 'authenticity' (or someone's notion of it) is not really what we were discussing here" is a near-perfect and near-exact restatement of my point.




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    i've been looking for some serfs to form a blues band but no luck so far.

    i wish someone would put together an early music instruction book for the mandolin - treating it more as a solo instrument, a 4c. plectrum lute than an adjunct to the banjo or a member of a mandolin ensemble. i've asked allan alexander - who better? - but ... no luck so far.

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    I helped throw a party for some Rennaissance recreator musicians. I collected a bunch of apples from a friends orchard, the rejects that had already fallen to the ground. I put bags of these apples in the corners of the cabin in which we had the party. The sweetish sickish smell of rotting apples is reportedly what the plague smelled like.
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    The costumed clan of "recreators" tends to be quite a different breed from the historically informed performance (HIP) clan; the latter doesn't usually involve showy costumes or aping cockney. Frankly, any approach to early music criticizing the other for what it's not is equally prescriptive and, in my view, equally in error. Play early music however you'd like, acknowledge how it might differ from performance contemporary to its composition (because it all does), and enjoy.

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    The same title is listed as being in 3/4 on another webpage. They are both in dorian mode and same similar.

    http://www.leeds.ac.uk/music/info/RR.../00000d99.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Cuba Ridge @ Feb. 27 2008, 09:53)
    The same title is listed as being in 3/4 on another webpage. They are both in dorian mode and same similar.

    http://www.leeds.ac.uk/music/info/RR.../00000d99.html
    That's an interesting transcription but it seems a lot more "square" than the recorded version I was working from. The only other transcription I'd seen was one without bar lines.
    Roger Landes
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    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

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    Sorry for butting in here where I don't belong, but is there a utube of this piece, or similar, Roger?

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Cuba Ridge @ Feb. 27 2008, 09:53)
    The same title is listed as being in 3/4 on another webpage. They are both in dorian mode and same similar.

    http://www.leeds.ac.uk/music/info/RR.../00000d99.html
    Allan Alexander's book also has it in 3/4. Looking at it, I think it fits better in 3/4. Thinking back, I think I actually played it in 3 even though Roger had it in 4. In 3 (w/ pickup), all the chords fall on the 1st beat which is a natural emphasis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Eugene @ Feb. 27 2008, 08:47)
    the latter doesn't usually involve showy costumes or aping cockney.


    Don't make me splort my coffee.

    You are correct.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Dave in Tejas @ Feb. 27 2008, 11:48)
    Sorry for butting in here where I don't belong, but is there a utube of this piece, or similar, Roger?
    Who says you don't belong here, David? ;-)

    Sorry, no youtube clip of this, though that is a good idea...
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

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