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Thread: Mandolin at sessions

  1. #26
    Registered User BBarton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Didn't mean to imply that "being heard" was the primary objective -- 'sorry about that, as it certainly isn't (and in some cases it may very well be that others really don't want to hear you anyway!!). I think having a good mix and balance of instruments and having fun are what makes it work, with emphasis on the fun part. I always take my mando to a session and, at some point, invariably take it out and play it, depending on the tune.

    Steve - Point well taken re: guitars -- our regular guitarist does, in fact, play in the John Doyle style (and he's sure good at it).
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  2. #27
    Registered User Bruce Evans's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Yates View Post
    Bruce,
    Does your group play from a tune book? If not, how do you all play the same chords? In a session, I've found that one chording instrument is all that is needed. (Some would say that none is the ideal number.) There are so many different "RIGHT" chords for fiddle tunes and though each set of chords sounds fine by itself, they can sound awful if played together.
    Sometimes some guitar players use printed music, some times not. Most rhythm players stick to triad chords most of the time. When there are several other rhythm players I will occasionaly use a color chord which I know will not clash with the triads, e.g., if the prevailing chord is a G major I might play a G6, or on the dominant chord I might play a 9th.

    And sometimes, I don't play at all. And sometimes, it does sound less than perfect. But nobody is keeping score.

  3. #28
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    UOTE=Bruce Evans;652017]Sometimes some guitar players use printed music, some times not. Most rhythm players stick to triad chords most of the time. When there are several other rhythm players I will occasionaly use a color chord which I know will not clash with the triads, e.g., if the prevailing chord is a G major I might play a G6, or on the dominant chord I might play a 9th.
    [/QUOTE]

    Bruce - This still assumes that everyone is playing the same basic chords and chord changes. Perhaps they are. But this ignores the fact that there are many possible variations - chords that can be omitted, extra chords that can be slipped in, changes that can be delayed or brought forward... The full range of possiblities can only really be explored if there is only one backer - or perhaps two, if they can listen to and watch one another very closely (whilst also listening to the tunes).

  4. #29
    Registered User Bruce Evans's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by whistler View Post
    Bruce - This still assumes that everyone is playing the same basic chords and chord changes. Perhaps they are. But this ignores the fact that there are many possible variations - chords that can be omitted, extra chords that can be slipped in, changes that can be delayed or brought forward...
    I thought I covered that under, "And sometimes, it does sound less than perfect. But nobody is keeping score." It's a session, not band rehearsal.

    The rhythm players are usually listening and watching the others hands.
    Last edited by Bruce Evans; Apr-09-2009 at 1:09pm.

  5. #30
    Mike Parks woodwizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    I bring my mando only ...about 99% of the time. Never had much of a problem being heard. Guess she's a banjo killer But I tell you what... the best jam/session is when you have a group of pickers that know when to back off so others can be heard. Dynamics etc.
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  6. #31
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    At our regular session I don't stand a chance of even hearing myself with a mandolin.I play an old Gibson melody banjo or a Gibson banjo-mandolin.At quieter sessions I prefer my mandolin.

  7. #32
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    The important thing about a session is the playing with other people. I don't take it as a performance where the mix of instruments has to be right. I don't want it to sound bad mind you, and I might do a few things in my power to play where it fits better, but I am not willing to ask anyone else to change anything.

    If it were a performance, I would not have four fiddles, seven guitars, three mandolins, a banjo, a bouzouki, a penny whistle, a wooden flute, and a bodhran all on stage at once.

    When I was in Scotland years back, playing in sessions, often times you could count the total number of stringed instruments, all combined, add the number of woodwinds, and that would equal the number of bodhrans. Great fun, but with all the incessant drumming I was looking around for the elephants.
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  8. #33
    Phylum Octochordata Mike Bromley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Yates View Post
    each set of chords sounds fine by itself, they can sound awful if played together.

    Amen, amen, amen.
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  9. #34
    Registered User steve V. johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    For me, the point is ... ahhhh, how to say ... 'community in music'. For me, a big part of discovering and relishing the stories in the tunes and the spirit of the tunes is playing them in
    community. But I still hope that, as an ensemble it does sound good, balanced and that folks,
    players and punters, can hear/experience the community -and- the innocent and clumsy moments, the experiments, the learning and the virtuosity, too.

    That's a lot to ask, but I think it does happen, and more often than not. Maybe that's just my "pollyanna optimism", of which I've been accused often and regularly. :-) Or that I have the great good fortune to get to play with really great folks, and that I know to be true.

    It's always really nice to have a mandolin in the mix.

    stv
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  10. #35
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    On the subject of being heard, I was hoping my friend John L. from Houston would chime in here. He used to play a Sobell at a regular, big session down there, but he couldn't be heard. He acquired a National Resonator mando, put flatwounds on it and plays it with only a medium attack and I gotta say, it sounds great! It blends in very well with the other session instruments, it doesn't sound "reso-brassy" at all, and it can be heard clearly around the room, even when the session is going full tilt. It doesn't hurt that he's a really good player, either.

  11. #36
    Registered User liestman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Thanks John (Sorry, I have been too busy for a while to read the Cafe). Yes, I and I think my session mates love the tone and volume I am getting from the wood bodied National, with Jazzmando strings. Sounds incredibly wooden, just loud, so I can play moderately and retain dynamic abilities and not just slam it hard all the time. My long time favorite Sobell is sitting in the case mostly these days. I recommend the National to almost anyone wanting to play Irish and related music on mandolin who does not want to resort to one of those drums with a neck and strings. (The metal bodied Nationals are not at all the same tone - for me it has to be the RM1.)
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  12. #37
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    I'm mainly an old-time player (and some bluegrass) but I've been getting interested in ITM. I played in a session last night that was great fun. Me on an oval hole A-style, two whistles, two guitars, one fiddle, and one bodhran. You could hear the mandolin just fine. It also helped that these folks have a great understanding of dynamics and it's not a volume contest. I'm definitely looking forward to learning some of their tunes and playing with them again!!

  13. #38
    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    These days I much prefer just to take my mandolin to sessions and in most of the sessions I go to it works well. If, however, I know beforehand it is a rowdy session with other very loud instruments, or is in a venue or pub prone to a large amount of background noise, I will reluctantly take my tenor b***o but mainly so I can hear myself play to join in.

  14. #39

    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Evans View Post
    I thought I covered that under, "And sometimes, it does sound less than perfect. But nobody is keeping score." It's a session, not band rehearsal.

    The rhythm players are usually listening and watching the others hands.
    I play my mando, primarily. Although, I bring along an OM, or Zouk when I want to just kick back and comp.

    When playing mandolin I try to sit with the whistle, or pipe players, and blend the really cool mando mojo with them. For me, I feel I am contributing more when blending rather than standing out.

    I also bring a guitar along for just the situation Jim mentions above: If there are one, or two other guitarists that have some seasoning under their belts and know how to orchestrate their playing with the other 6 stringers and OM players in the ensemble it can be a blast.

    There was a monthly Kitchen Party I used to attend, and there were a couple other guys I did this with. We would switch off guitars, OM's, and just have a blast mixing it up, yet all of us knew not to step on the tune. These KP's were highlights of my seisiun experience.

  15. #40
    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    It's been several months since I've gone to a session but I brought both a guitar and mandolin last time. I flatpick melodies on guitar, just as I do mandolin. The guitar cuts through better and flatpicking melody is unusual enough in Irish sessions that it seems to get a positive reaction. To my surprise, at that last session, there were 4 other mandolin players, about half of the folks there! Its portability and pleasing voice make mandolin a great instrument for Irish music but they can get overpowered by other instruments as we all know. I have an old Regal/Dobro that is both sweet and loud but I've never brought it to a session. I can only lug so many with me and guitar and mandolin is quite a handful right there.
    Bob DeVellis

  16. #41
    Registered User steve V. johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Hey Gerry,

    Which mandolin do you take to sessions? Is there one of yours that works better for that, or do
    you take whichever one strikes your fancy at the time?

    Kitchen sessions are the cream.

    Thanks,

    stv
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by sliabhstv View Post
    Hey Gerry,

    Which mandolin do you take to sessions? Is there one of yours that works better for that, or do
    you take whichever one strikes your fancy at the time?

    Kitchen sessions are the cream.

    Thanks,

    stv
    Hi Ya', Steve,

    KP's are definitely my fave. A little less formal with room (and patience from others! ) for a little experimentation. Usually to the Top O' the Morn...

    I usually grab whatever strikes my fancy. If one of 'em hasn't been out of the case for a little while I will take it just to get it some playing time. If it's a big seisiun, I'm gonna get buried anyway, so I don't let that add too much to the decision of what to bring along.

    I can't wait to get this Arches Flat Top out to a seisiun. I think I may have the same experience your friend did with theirs. You, my friend, need one of these. You will put it to good use, and me thinks youse will enjoy!

  18. #43
    aka aldimandola Michael Wolf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    I nearly always bring my Mando and my Reso-Tenor to Sessions. Sometimes the Bouzouki instead of the tenor. I bring my A5 and not my A4 anymore. The A5 is very good to hear in most cases, except on these evenings when we have five fiddles. Then it sounds like a fiddle orchestra. But I have several sets that only I and one fiddler do play. One mando and one fiddle is nice.
    I had the new National mando at home to try for two weeks. That was a great opportunity, but to my big surprise I didn´t like the sound, though I´m a big reso-fan and really love my tenor. I also didn´t found it to be very much louder than my A5, which is loud and also sounds nicer to me. The things I play on the tenor are fairly good to hear and can also lead a set.
    I´m always surprised that when I play a solo-tune-set on the mando sometimes that the mando can fill the room quite good and isn´t such a quiet instrument like it seems sometimes in the mix.
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  19. #44
    Registered User steve V. johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Hey Gerry,

    We had an Old Group session, they all played together for about a decade and so experimentation happened whenever, wherever and we still integrated new folk pretty well, too. Then retirement and success took some of our elder (musically elder) players off over the horizons, so now, yeah, the K's are a fine treat and the public sessions are different. Alas. The cycle will come around again.

    My lust for an Arches is completely unreasonable, and I'm scrambling to see if I can cash out on some audio stuff and hire out for jobs I wouldn't otherwise take ;-) to fill the bag with $$ for one.
    Chris rocks.

    Let us know how that Arches does in the thick of a rollicking session?

    stv
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  20. #45

    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by sliabhstv View Post
    Hey Gerry,

    We had an Old Group session, they all played together for about a decade and so experimentation happened whenever, wherever and we still integrated new folk pretty well, too. Then retirement and success took some of our elder (musically elder) players off over the horizons, so now, yeah, the K's are a fine treat and the public sessions are different. Alas. The cycle will come around again.
    Yeah, it kinda evolves for all of us, huh? I left an outstanding group of friends, and musical kin when I left Az. Still working on creating the latest version here, in Va. There looks to be a great group of folks. I just haven't been able to get out and meet them yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by sliabhstv View Post
    My lust for an Arches is completely unreasonable, and I'm scrambling to see if I can cash out on some audio stuff and hire out for jobs I wouldn't otherwise take ;-) to fill the bag with $$ for one.
    Chris rocks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sliabhstv View Post
    Let us know how that Arches does in the thick of a rollicking session?

    stv
    It's going to it's first seisiun this very evening. It's my first visit with this group, so I'm not sure just how much playing will be happenin', but I'll give it my best.

  21. #46
    Registered User Rick C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin at sessions

    Quote Originally Posted by liestman View Post
    Thanks John (Sorry, I have been too busy for a while to read the Cafe). Yes, I and I think my session mates love the tone and volume I am getting from the wood bodied National, with Jazzmando strings. Sounds incredibly wooden, just loud, so I can play moderately and retain dynamic abilities and not just slam it hard all the time. My long time favorite Sobell is sitting in the case mostly these days. I recommend the National to almost anyone wanting to play Irish and related music on mandolin who does not want to resort to one of those drums with a neck and strings. (The metal bodied Nationals are not at all the same tone - for me it has to be the RM1.)
    I'll second that, and this is the only reason I own a National- bought it in 2006, s/n 012. I called National about the tuners (they kept the mando in tune but were hard to turn, even with adjustment/oil, have since replaced them with Grovers), and they were very surprised someone had bought a National to use for Irish music.

    The RM-1 can sound strident and metallic if played close to the bridge, particularly on the E strings, but if played up near the neck it has a very nice, ringing tone.

    The biggest problem to me in playing mandos in sessions is that many people start playing harder in order to be heard (or to hear themselves), become fatigued, lose all the diddlies, and resort to a thick pick in order to gain volume-- which loses articulation in the tradeoff.

    With the National I use a .50 white Clayton (which I've since learned both Scahill and Moloney use) and play with about the same force as I use on a Telecaster-- a welcome relief. I just use the factory recommened Pearse strings (M2500 maybe, I'd have to go look) and they work well.

    On the Fylde I recently got (and really like), I've just about settled on the normal J-74s and a yellow Clayton .72, though that's still being sorted out.

    A couple of years ago I was in a Mick Moloney workshop in Atlanta and had the National-- which he eyed with great interest/suspicion during the workshop without saying a word. At the end I handed it to him and asked if he'd like to give it a whirl. He played about 10 seconds, looked up, and said, "I want one".

    He may have one now, I don't know.

    Sorry to be coming to this party so late, I've been slammed at work.


    Rick

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