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Thread: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

  1. #1

    Default Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    Hi all,

    I do a lot of work as a music engraver, and thought it might be a nice project to work through some mandolin versions of solo classical pieces. Anyone have any favorite pieces that they've been wanting to play but for which there isn't a mandolin version of the sheet music?

    Additionally, what are some elements of written sheet music that you find important when you are learning classical pieces? Chordal analysis? Pick direction? Specific fingerings? It seems that having the tab below the notated music is the norm, but I have seen a lot of variants in terms of stem direction, whether the stems connect to the tab or just sit as a separate rhythm line above the staff, etc. Let me know what you've found helpful!

    Thanks in advance!

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    Mel Bay and Hal Leonard have a pretty substantial selection of mandolin arrangements/tab of various classical works, but it seems they're mostly in the realm of anthology/sampler. I'm sort of a completionist by nature, so I get annoyed when I see something like '"Allegro" from such and such Sonata." Give us the whole thing!

    At the same time though, I ask myself, why not read from the original score? In the case of violin and flute music, no transposition is necessary, though there are questions of technique that must be decided. (See my two recent threads on Telemann violin fantasias here and here.)

    Granted, I can understand that if someone doesn't read standard notation, then having mandolin tab would be very useful.

    Having said all that, it seems to me that more pertinent selections for arrangement would be those that require transposition. For example, I've been working through John Goodin's arrangements of the James Oswald's divertimenti for English guittar. This instrument had a repetitive open C tuning, so the divertimenti were originally all in C. In order to keep the music primarily in the mandolin's first position, Goodin transposed these pieces to other keys. He also cites variety and awkward double stops as considerations when transposing.

    So finally to answer your questions!
    1. How about the Bach lute suites?
    2. I would find pick direction and fingering to be useful. I don't think I would find chordal analysis helpful, unless you were arranging a piece that had a continuo part and wanted to adapt that for modern instrumentalists who don't read figured bass
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  5. #3

    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    I do a fair amount of arranging for mandolin solo, mandolin–guitar duo, mandolin duo, and more rarely for mandolin–flute or mandolin–violin duo. I've shared a few of the solo arrangements here. My personal approach to fingering and pick direction tends to be relatively sparse, for my personal service as reminders, especially where there are position shifts. Personally, I feel that satisfying mandolin solos often need some incorporation of the suite of techniques colloquially called "duo style," even if relatively simply so. Like standing.wav, I wouldn't find much use for chordal analysis in this context. I also wouldn't make much use of tablature, but might be in the minority considering the mandolin population at large.

    I'd love to see similar contributions by others, both to give me access to more repertoire and for comparison's sake.

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  7. #4

    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    This is shared as my most recent example.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails SaintSaëns-Le Cygne.pdf  

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  9. #5
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    I am not sure why just about any violin transcription cannot be a mandolin transcription.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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  10. #6

    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    PS: I often use stem direction to differentiate between tremolo and single-stroke notes in duo style passages.

  11. #7

    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    This is shared as my most recent example.
    Thanks for sharing! I'll check this out.

    Just another thing I wanted to throw out there for others' consideration: since I read treble and bass clef, but not alto or tenor clef, I'd love to see transcriptions of viola and cello music for (octave) mandolin.
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  12. #8
    Sheri Mignano Crawford Mandophile's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    De Stefano, Tesio, Tipaldi, Cambria, Pagani and other Italian mandolin publishers were much more trusted in their reductions, transcriptions, and arrangements. I would strongly suggest you visit the music publishers (in my thread "Dropbox now available" and download the classical arrangements available (all categorized by the music publisher). I put my faith in Pignoloni, De Stefano and certainly Tesio for the most reliable classical arrangements. While there are few solo mandolin parts, I believe the Mandolin I parts can be played on their own.
    As to the standard (mediocre?) stuff from Mel Bay and Hal Leonard, I seriously doubt their staff possess the expertise embodied in the Italian immigrant musician. I'm confident that these immigrants were better educated and more intimately familiar with the classics. IMHO
    Last edited by Mandophile; Nov-04-2020 at 8:36pm.

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  14. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    Personally, for the older works like baroque, i prefer urtext editions. Years ago I had a copy of the Beethoven mandolin pieces and the editor had really awkward fingerings. I would much prefer to work out my own or have a teacher or conductor lead me through the dynamics etc. I don't believe that Bach, for instance, bothered with any of that and the later editions had all that added by subsequent editors.

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  16. #10

    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    I wouldn't be too disparaging of Mel Bay et al. While the bulk of their publishing does amount to pandering to potential popularity (they do have to sell stuff to stay afloat, eh?), they also contract with respected scholars to put out material worthy of acclaim: e.g., Grimes with his series of standard-notation settings of baroque guitar and lute tablatures, Glise with his urtext edition of early 19th-c. guitar sonatas with scholarly performance-practice essays in support, Yates for his Stepan Rak and graded repertoire series, Aonzo et al. for dedicated mandolin repertoire, etc. Publishers have always been in the business of trying to sell stuff; some of it will be of interest to specialists, but much will indeed be popular tunes set/extracted by non-specialists and targeted to the masses. That's just the nature of product.

    I tend to find mandolin 1 parts from ensemble pieces to be excellent in ensemble, but often lacking as solos. Yes, they often can be augmented with occasional double stops or chords, duo-style passages, etc. But that takes some savvy and perhaps a little effort at notation, which I think is the point of this thread. It's certainly the point of my own arranging efforts (usually in service to wedding or restaurant gigs, seeking mandolin-solo versions I'd like to have or am contracted to play, but that don't yet exist in any publisher's catalogue).

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  18. #11
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    Anything in alto clef for mandola!

    Old music—transcriptions from lute tab if it would fit the mandolin's range, Dowland or Morley songs arranged for solo mandolin, pieces originally written for viol, late renaissance or early baroque pieces. Vivaldi concerti for other instruments that could be repurposed for mandolin. Find the missing Beethoven mandolin sonatas. IMSLP is full of great-looking pieces that are still in 17th-century handwritten form, which is difficult to read on the fly. Have at it all!

    As to your other questions, pick direction or fingerings can be helpful if they contribute to the musicality of the piece, such as shifting and playing a melodic line up the A course rather than going to the E course, but otherwise I prefer not having them printed. I understand why having tab under the standard notation is handy for people who use it, but it makes for fewer staves on a page and lots more page turns. I can't imagine I would use chordal analysis.

    Great project!

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  20. #12
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Editions of Classical Pieces

    Dowland, yes! By all means, Dowland!


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