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Thread: the mandolin in bluegrass?

  1. #26
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by bjewell View Post
    and more than a few of the names above got their start in bluegrass. If you can play bluegrass you can play anything. It is the furnace that hardens the steel of an accomplished musician.
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    blue steel!

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    Registered User bjewell's Avatar
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Originally Posted by bjewell
    If you can play bluegrass you can play anything. It is the furnace that hardens the steel of an accomplished musician.

    Mick replied: "This is a load of caca de vaca, of course. I don't buy it for a second, but, man, I love the way you put it..."

    Mick You're kidding, right? To even get into the ground floor of a decent Bluegrass band, you must be able to sing one part of a four-part harmony, play rhythm and lead at blistering speeds while singing the aforementioned harmony singing. Playing C&W -- which I did for a living on the pedal steel (you're welcome to have a go at it), and stringbender Telecaster is a walk in the park compared to playing "Rawhide" at speed or singing "Angel Band" in perfect harmony. R&R is a snap, R&B a bit more trouble.

    Or maybe you think Tony Rice, the McCoury family and a few others are duffers. In that case, please post some of your own work on youtube. I'm all ears! ;- )

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    First Bluegrass, then Rock/Pop, then Bach...ask Chris Thile
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    According to my wife, it is also responsible for that tedious but signature "deedle-deedle" noise, along with a fair bit of "plinky-plinky".
    I didn't know you were married to my wife!
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    That plinky-plinky stuff can get you in trouble...

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    You need to give that number-one reed block pull on the Le Capitaine some little blue pills Captain...

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by bjewell View Post
    Originally Posted by bjewell
    If you can play bluegrass you can play anything. It is the furnace that hardens the steel of an accomplished musician.

    Mick replied: "This is a load of caca de vaca, of course. I don't buy it for a second, but, man, I love the way you put it..."

    Mick You're kidding, right? To even get into the ground floor of a decent Bluegrass band, you must be able to sing one part of a four-part harmony, play rhythm and lead at blistering speeds while singing the aforementioned harmony singing. Playing C&W -- which I did for a living on the pedal steel (you're welcome to have a go at it), and stringbender Telecaster is a walk in the park compared to playing "Rawhide" at speed or singing "Angel Band" in perfect harmony. R&R is a snap, R&B a bit more trouble.

    Or maybe you think Tony Rice, the McCoury family and a few others are duffers. In that case, please post some of your own work on youtube. I'm all ears! ;- )
    Whoa big fella, whoa.

    I love Tony Rice, and Ronnie McCoury. They are great musicians and I listen to them often. What would make you think from anything that I wrote that I thought lesser of them? My concern with the post was "if you can play bluegrass, you can play anything." Basta cosi. Simply not so. The post at hand said: "If you can play bluegrass...." Not if David Grisman can play bluegrass, or Mr. McCoury or Sam Bush or whatever. "If you can play bluegrass." That was the comment I was commenting on. Nothing more, nothing less. If that chaps your behind, find some salve for it.

    If you can play bluegrass you can play anything: Maybe you can, but maybe you can't. Can you read music? Can you play Bach like Mr. Thile? (You going to learn that by ear?) Maybe you can. But maybe you can't. There is nothing inherent in Mr. Thile's skill at playing bluegrass that suggests he can rock Bach. It has far more to do with his dedication as a musician. How many mandolin players who play Bach can play bluegrass? Is bluegrass "harder"? Come on. Why even go there? Nothing in my post suggests any thoughts on the relative merits of different musical types. I've certainly played a share of bluegrass. I'm certainly no McCoury. I certainly can't play anything.

    You can play bluegrass and be an excellent, top notch musician. You can play classical (or swing, or Italian, or French, or Mandopolis) and be an excellent, top notch musician. Again nothing inherent about an obvious cross over between any of them. Each has there own challenges, opportunities, demands, nuances and beauties. Those (few) who can do it are even more exceptional musicians.

    Turn down the aggressive defense of your territory. It's misplaced and unnecessary here. It's not about me, hombre, and certainly not about you. My You Tube videos (or your string bending) is irrelevant to the point at hand. If you feel the need to get your knickers twisted up about it, find someone else to fight with.

    Mick
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    It sounds like a banjo right?

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Koerner View Post
    It sounds like a banjo right?
    No, it sounds like deedle-deedle-plinky-plinky, if I'm not mistaking.

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan Mong View Post
    No, it sounds like deedle-deedle-plinky-plinky, if I'm not mistaking.
    (SNORT!!) Coffee-spew on the tablet - thanks a lot! LOL!

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    Registered User Jim Ferguson's Avatar
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    No mando in old time music which I always look upon as a cousin to blue grass music.........I guess the old time came 1st & then Monroe & the blue grass style branched off of that genre.
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    One of the earliest threads I started when I joined was because a poster for a local bluegrass event had depictions of or mentioned upright bass, guitar, banjo, fiddle and dobro but no mandolin. I inquired here about the lack of a mandolin in bluegrass and was quickly informed by several people that a mandolin is not absolutely necessary like the banjo and guitar are. Puzzled me a bit but I learned something.
    Here is the thread if you are interested in people's responses.
    Bill Snyder

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by bjewell View Post
    And more than a few of the names above got their start in bluegrass. If you can play bluegrass you can play anything. It is the furnace that hardens the steel of an accomplished musician.
    Who exactly?

    Grisman's first instrument was the piano, and his first gig was with the Even Dozen Jug Band. Mike Marshall's first national exposure was with the DGQ; his first album covered a lot of ground, Monk, Beatles, Ravel, som Dawg-like stuff and 2 or 3 Bluegrass type numbers. So Thile is "more than a few"?

    Are you really suggesting that anyone who has mastered Bluegrass is automatically capable of handling any type of music without special training? ???????????????????????????

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by bjewell View Post
    Originally Posted by bjewell
    If you can play bluegrass you can play anything. It is the furnace that hardens the steel of an accomplished musician.

    Mick replied: "This is a load of caca de vaca, of course. I don't buy it for a second, but, man, I love the way you put it..."

    Mick You're kidding, right? To even get into the ground floor of a decent Bluegrass band, you must be able to sing one part of a four-part harmony, play rhythm and lead at blistering speeds while singing the aforementioned harmony singing. Playing C&W -- which I did for a living on the pedal steel (you're welcome to have a go at it), and stringbender Telecaster is a walk in the park compared to playing "Rawhide" at speed or singing "Angel Band" in perfect harmony. R&R is a snap, R&B a bit more trouble.

    Or maybe you think Tony Rice, the McCoury family and a few others are duffers. In that case, please post some of your own work on youtube. I'm all ears! ;- )
    What you are saying is only that it takes certain skills to play Bluegrass. But that doesn't mean that those skills transfer to other types of music. And the least important skill is speed. Any idiot can learn to play fast, although many players really stiffen on these ridiculously fast 160 bpm tunes (assuming 2/2 time here). BG experience is really no help at all in, e.g., jazz.

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnbrock View Post
    Guess its time for you to listen to bluegrass. Just as important as the lead playing as the ability to give a good-solid rhythm... As a rhythm instrument, the mandolin takes the place of the snare drum in bluegrass. Not hard to find or hear...
    And in what sense does the mandolin "take the place" of the snare in BG? I'm not aware that there were any drums at all in old-time string band music or any other type of country music in 1946.

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    There's no snare in bluegrass Ralph because the mandolin player is playing the snare beat. And Mick, there's no aggression in any of my posts, don't know why you have to go there. We can agree to disagree.

    What I am saying is this: To play Bluegrass on the dobro, banjo, mandolin, violin and guitar as well as sing complex harmonies, you need to really practice and practice hard by yourself and with your bandmates. By playing I meant the physical skill of hand to instrument.

    Of course there are different requirements for different areas of musical expression. You need to have a good understanding of theory to play jazz but trust me, you need a big dose of theory to play a pedal steel guitar in C&W. I never said Bluegrass was the only way to be a good player; playing Tsinti music aka the Rosenberg Trio take extreme velocity as well as deep understanding of theory. There are many roads to proficiency. I played Samisen while living in Tokyo for 20 years and what looks easy - three strings and a dead cat -- is most difficult if you are starting at 50.

    FWIW, I'm not a Bluegrass player although I like the old-style version. But I have great respect for the practitioners of this craft. I'm 68 and have played for a living in all sorts of bands for a big part of my life. Mandolin is new for me. I bought one because I can pack it on the Harley when I go for an extended ride. Don't know if I have the personal skill set to play the instrument but I enjoy fooling with it. I also like playing Creole-style accordion like my good friend Ed Poullard because it's fun. I have a bunch of pretty cool 19th Century fiddles from France and America that I use to scare my cats although I consider that as practicing. -L- I love to play music. Hope you do too; what else is there to do in this world if you were born to pick?

    Peace and out...
    Last edited by bjewell; Sep-14-2013 at 7:48am.

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    And in what sense does the mandolin "take the place" of the snare in BG? I'm not aware that there were any drums at all in old-time string band music or any other type of country music in 1946.
    With a drum-kit the snare drum hits the off beat: In a bluegrass band the mandolin hits the off beat.
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    The rest of my family refer to BG music as "Yuck tucka tucka" which grits my hominy!
    My family had an edict from my late father(army band director during WWII) that we must all take a two year hitch playing an instrument. My late brother used voice which was wonderful, my eldest sister tried violin, she was excused after six months, eldest brother, French horn, other brother, saxophone, other sister, clarinet. We were brought up with classical music, jazz, anything but c&w, or any derivation. All sibs turned to jazz and r&r. I was the one bitten by the acoustic bug in Jr. high school, guitar, then banjo,finally saved by the mandolin! There is such a learning curve in any form af music the concept that if you can play one form, you can simply play another I just do not buy.
    There are some out there with the musical aplomb to play many different styles but, I must say they are the exception. There is so much music to be played, it is something to share and enjoy! Most of my family does not quite understand how much personal satisfaction I get from playing, I have had such a good time playing with "My Boys" it goes beyond words. I have played with some of the country guys here and a Tejano band too, all for fun and the fun is in the playing and learning more, and more about how the skill set from BG will relate to other styles, sometimes it works better than others. C'est la Vie!
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    deedle-deedle-plinky-plinky...
    I like this description of the sound :P
    The name of bluegrass should be changed.

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheArimathean View Post
    With a drum-kit the snare drum hits the off beat: In a bluegrass band the mandolin hits the off beat.
    That's a highly dubious generalization - that's certainly not the way the snare is used by every player in every genre. E.g., a bebop drummer like Max Roach or Ed Thigpen would use the snare for irregular accents and figures, let the ride cymbal carry the basic ching-ding-a-ding-ding and the hi-hat handle the 2 and 4 accents. The 2 and 4 snare accents is more common in big band jazz and in, e.g., Jimmy Smith's organ trios - along with rolls and fills all over the drum set, but that's a lot different from the use of the mandolin, as it is embedded in a 4/4 context, whereas the mandolin chop actually strengthens the basic 2/2 feel of most Bluegrass. I for one would like hear far less of it; on medium and medium up tunes I much refer a fourish shuffle beat, for instance, and here is much else you can do. Simply forget about all drum analogies (who then assumes the role of the toms, the cymbals, the hi-hat and bass drum?), listen to the bass and guitar
    and find something that fits in on top of them and behind the solist The mandolin is actually the most dispensible instrument in BG, a luxury item. If handled with imagination it can really spice things up. It is certainly not the backbone of BG rhythm.

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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by bjewell View Post
    There's no snare in bluegrass Ralph because the mandolin player is playing the snare beat.






    Peace and out...
    "Because"???? In no sense is it true that the mandolin chop replaced the snare beat in BG, as there never was a snare or drums in in pre-Bluegrass string band music. And I assure you that Monroe's idea never was to simulate the use of the snare in other types of music. It was the role he created for it, after a while, as you don't hear much of it on the early records. In fact there are several examples of him twinning with the fiddle, or playing long tremoloes behind the banjo or fiddle. The chop represents a simplification
    of the role of the mandolin. And of course, a snare has been used in later styles of BG. It's usually played with brushes, certainly not just on the afterbeat but in whole rhythmic figures across whole bars, e.g., on studio recordings by Flatt & Scruggs. In the late 60's I watched several shows by Jimmy Martin and the Osborne Brothers, with Jimmy's son Ray, and Bobby's son Robbie on snare, played much the same way as on the F&S records, although with less variation. Maybe it was just a practical arrangement for Jimmy and Bobby to spend some time with their sons during the festival season.

    On their latest album the Steep Canyon Rangers are using a really creative drummer, Jeff Sipe; I haven't heard enough to determine how well he fits in the context.

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  28. #47
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Monroe considered "time" or rhythm one of the main characteristics of his style; one of his frequent comments on other musicians, in the Blue Grass Boys or not, was "he has good time."

    Working as he did with a variety of sidemen, some picked up for a single short-notice performance, Monroe began enforcing "time" by using damped, closed-chorded mandolin in a metronomic off-beat -- the "chop." Not all he did, not in every instance on every song. but pervasively enough, that "chopping" became a dominant style of mandolin rhythm playing in bluegrass. As it is still.

    The "chop" sound has been likened to the "chick" sound in "boom-chick" bass-snare drum rhythm, hence the comparison. If there's documentation that Monroe explicitly said he was copying the snare drum, I'm not aware of it. And of course he didn't "replace the (non-existent) snare drum in string band music," and no one thinks he did. Monroe listened to many styles of music, and incorporated influences, so he may have liked the "2 & 4" snare drum sound, thought it played well off the bass -- dunno.

    Banjo players also often "comp" on the off-beat, when trading back-up figures with other instruments. Fiddlers may do short off-beat double-stops. A more treble-oriented "2 & 4" working off bass and guitar down-beats is not just the mandolin's role.

    Arguing about whether mandolin "chops" are explicitly patterned after common snare drum figures, or just sound similar (which they do), seems like, well, "dancing about architecture," in mandroid's felicitous phrase.
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    This is good, very good.

    I've heard that argument that "If you can play bluegrass, you can play anything". Never did buy that myself.

  31. #49

    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    It (the mandolin) is certainly not the backbone of BG rhythm.
    We're all entitled to our opinions. In this instance, my opinion is completely opposite yours.

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    Registered User bjewell's Avatar
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    Default Re: the mandolin in bluegrass?

    Wow... I don't know what else to say. Seems to be two or three parallel conversations going here. Not gonna count angels on the head of this particular pin. But.. what I said -- obviously imperfectly -- was that if you can p-l-a-y Bluegrass you can play anything. Technique and genre are two different things. The chops necessary to play at speed -- even to play rhythm guitar -- in a good Bluegrass band takes a lot of chops. Has everything to do with the mechanics of pick to fingered strings.

    To kvetch over whether or not a mandolin chop replace an actual snare drum is to parse words. The other gentleman and myself should have phrased it as ”down beat.” Whether you have a drum, a musical instrument or the clapping of hands, whatever.

    “The mandolin is actually the most dispensable instrument in BG, a luxury item. If handled with imagination it can really spice things up. It is certainly not the backbone of BG rhythm…”

    is probably the most curious thing I’ve ever read about Bluegrass. This is a kind and gentle board I believe so I’ll just leave it at that. I will say this, based on listening to Bluegrass since 1961, attending I don’t know how many BG concerts, shows, picking sessions, parking lot get togethers is that the mandolin is the essential rhythm instrument in a Bluegrass band. Any luxury item as you describe would be a Dobro. Mr. Monroe played the mandolin. He invented the genre called Bluegrass. He laid down the rules for rhythm. How anyone can listen to even one cut of Bluegrass and not hear that the mandolin holds the time together is beyond me. The so-called rhythm guitar – usually a Martin Dreadnaught – lays down the 1/3 with a brush of the treble strings for the 2/4 or in cut time the 2, but the mandolin is much louder that the acoustic guitar and it is in fact what you hear.

    I would highly doubt that Mr. Grisman would cite his piano lessons or playing in a jug band as the basis for the hand/eye coordination necessary to play the mandolin at Bluegrass velocity. I’ll give you an example although Mr. Johansson, living in Europe, perhaps you might not have seen this show: Marty Stuart plays with his band the Fabulous Superlatives on “The Marty Stuart Show,” a terrific half-hour on RFD television most Saturday afternoons. They can play anything from the Staple Singers to R&R, R&B, hard C&W, Texas Swing, reggae, swamp rock perfectly. They are a killer-diller group. Marty plays brilliant stringbending on Clarence’s old Tele and smokes it on his old D-45. But he has told my friend Gene Parsons who built Clarence’s ’54 Tele that he doesn’t consider himself a guitar player but a mandolin player. And if you watch his technique you will agree. Marty can lay pipe on a mandolin and that’s no lie. He got that technique, his incredible clarity and power from playing in some of the biggest-named BG bands in the business starting when he was a kid.

    We can all disagree and be civil, even downright friendly. I have no axe to grind, it’s all good… back to work. Peace and out.

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