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Thread: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

  1. #1
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Is anyone familiar with a particularly unique approach to creating the effect of a strathspey snap bow when playing a mandolin? Perhaps this question is better in the Celtic forum - not sure but I will give it a go here. Thank you.

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Are you referring to the Scottish snap?
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Are you referring to the Scottish snap?
    Yes, an often misunderstood bowing technique particularly prominent in Strathspeys..

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Do you mean when the violin player plays the "snap" in the same bow direction?

    https://www.strathspey.org/lists/str...ey.org/t/1323/

    "Skinner and Hardie use hooked bowing a lot, particularly in strathspeys.
    This appears to have a lot to do with the wonderful Scottish rhythms of
    these dances. For example, a series of dotted eighth notes (longer notes)
    alternating with sixteenth notes (shorter notes) would often be bowed:

    down-down up-up down-down up-up"

    Perhaps try that bowing as a picking pattern...but those are fast picks changes of 2 up or down strokes on the same string.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/a...p/t-66654.html

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/a...p/t-75762.html

    old discussions...

    I'm curious what our Scottish friends have to say.

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    David - yes, exactly!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    David - yes, exactly!
    Good, but I wish I could offer some good advice about how to transfer that to mandolin properly.

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    I've had this conversation recently with a number of players.... and have come out of these discussions thinking that the best way to learn the tunes is to listen to recordings and engrain the melody in your head (there is no real pattern as the rhythm changes depending on the measure, unlike with hornpipes that follow a set pattern).

    These were generally written for pipers, and their approach is quite different. I think as with pipers, fiddlers can draw out phrases longer than a mandolin player can.


    So, I don't think that the fiddle approach translates well to mandolin, but I will tell you that many fiddlers convert the dotted eighths to triplets when adding ornamentation, which eliminates the snap. This works quite well if you use these approach on the mandolin.

    Not sure this helps, but Dagger Gordon might be able to help you with technique on these.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    I've had this conversation recently with a number of players.... and have come out of these discussions thinking that the best way to learn the tunes is to listen to recordings and engrain the melody in your head (there is no real pattern as the rhythm changes depending on the measure, unlike with hornpipes that follow a set pattern).

    These were generally written for pipers, and their approach is quite different. I think as with pipers, fiddlers can draw out phrases longer than a mandolin player can.


    So, I don't think that the fiddle approach translates well to mandolin, but I will tell you that many fiddlers convert the dotted eighths to triplets when adding ornamentation, which eliminates the snap. This works quite well if you use these approach on the mandolin.

    Not sure this helps, but Dagger Gordon might be able to help you with technique on these.
    Excellent thoughts - thank you. I'd come to similar conclusions myself but I thought perhaps someone had figured out "an illusion" of sorts to create the exact same effect. But alas there's no denying - a pick is not a bow and a bow is not a chanter LOL!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post

    So, I don't think that the fiddle approach translates well to mandolin, but I will tell you that many fiddlers convert the dotted eighths to triplets when adding ornamentation, which eliminates the snap. This works quite well if you use these approach on the mandolin.
    Substituting ornaments as a solution?...I think I've heard mandolin and banjo players do that very thing.
    Thanks.

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    For what it's worth I suggest you experiment with hammer-on and pull-off techniques on those tunes - works well on pipe tunes too, especially on 2/4 marches! It is not a direct substitute for the fiddle technique but it may help you. A slide from a lower fret can also be tried. Have a listen to this set of Strathspeys I posted a while back, which may or may not help you.
    Not only Dagger Gordon but also Kevin Macleod are much better exponents of the Scottish idioms than I am, so maybe they will add to this.

    https://youtu.be/pOhAnIVdqSw
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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Do you mean when the violin player plays the "snap" in the same bow direction?

    https://www.strathspey.org/lists/str...ey.org/t/1323/

    "Skinner and Hardie use hooked bowing a lot, particularly in strathspeys.
    This appears to have a lot to do with the wonderful Scottish rhythms of
    these dances. For example, a series of dotted eighth notes (longer notes)
    alternating with sixteenth notes (shorter notes) would often be bowed:

    down-down up-up down-down up-up"

    Perhaps try that bowing as a picking pattern...but those are fast picks changes of 2 up or down strokes on the same string.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/a...p/t-66654.html

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/a...p/t-75762.html

    old discussions...

    I'm curious what our Scottish friends have to say.
    I was going to comment, but then I saw that i'd said the same things ten years ago on thread 75762, and of course Kevin and Dagger have much better-informed perspectives.

    This video is from a soundcheck we did before a Christmas ceilidh at a local ballroom in Dec 2019. You can't hear the mandolin or fiddle in this unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately), although we could hear ourselves OK at the time, but the accordion & banjo give an idea of what it's like when these strathspeys are played at brisk dance tempo for a relaxed Christmas party. I am playing pretty much in lockstep with the accordion.

    The opening tune referred to in the video as "Furl Jean/Broon Coo" is the one generally known as Brochan Lom or Orange and Blue.
    Then followed by Laird of Drumblair.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brochan_Lom

    Bren

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    What a fine performance, Bren. Great to see a band playing live pre-Covid!
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Substituting ornaments as a solution?...I think I've heard mandolin and banjo players do that very thing.
    Thanks.
    ?

    The OP asked about the approach on fiddle as it can be related to mandolin. Having experience with both instruments and a recent tangle with Captain Campbells I responded with what my findings were. Many of the techniques applied in fiddle playing towards a variety of styles are difficult to apply to mandolin, the Scottish snap is one of them.

    Ornamentation is dialectical, comparable to what we see with languages. But dialectical in not only regional stratification but also dialectical vis a vis instruments. Much of this is due to their physical restrictions. The mandolin’s audio decay is much shorter/smaller than a violin’s, especially with those mandolin family instruments with shorter scales. Therefore the approach to playing certain patterns and styles of music require a different approach.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Hi,
    Funnily enough I'm starting a teaching course in an hour's time when I'll be looking at Highland Whisky.
    I don't have time just now to deal with this, and anyway I think it's the kind of thing which a video or Zoom or something is much better than trying to explain in words. I'll check in later sometime.

    Dagger

    Incidentally, my course is here :
    https://www.facebook.com/feisrois/ph...5114245415372/
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    In short, any mandolinist playing in sessions or ceilidh bands around here (Northeast Scotland, strathspey country) will develop a way of playing snaps whether they intended to or not, since so many of the fiddlers (and other instruments) you play with will incorporate it into their playing to a greater or lesser degree.

    (They do vary from player to player quite a lot)

    You can do it nicely with a hammer-on or pull-off on a lot of tunes when playing solo , but that is hard to hear in a session or band setting, or when crossing strings - "Miss Lyall" comes to mind - so I usually pick it, with a perhaps more emphasis on the upstroke than usual.
    I wouldn't say I've studied it, any more than just practising the tunes and playing along with local musicians.

    As Dagger said in the linked thread, it's not arcane or mysterious in Scotland, particularly the North East.
    It's just common folky music, the water you swim in, like a chop in bluegrass or a tremolo in Italian.

    Here is Paul Anderson playing Miss Lyall in a very echoey room:
    https://youtu.be/itGpA3w2MBI
    Bren

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    I was teaching Highland Whisky yesterday after looking at this thread. To be honest, I don't think there's anything terribly complicated about it.

    For the three A notes in the first bar and the three B notes in the second bar, I find it quite effective to do a down/up/down sequence with your plectrum. People sometimes talk about this kind of thing for jigs, but I think it probably also applies to strathspeys. It helps get that snap into it.

    The two fairly extensive threads already mentioned by DavidKOS on 22nd Feb provide a lot of information (including comments from myself which I don't feel I need to repeat). Bear in mind that a strathspey is essentially a type of dance tune.

    http://abcnotation.com/tunePage?a=tr...CD/Book02/0051
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    To all who have posted such great observations: THANK YOU!!!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
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  32. #18
    Still a mandolin fighter Mandophyte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    So good to see the Tarland Fiddler in #16!
    Cheers Dagger!
    Last edited by Mandophyte; Feb-24-2021 at 9:49am. Reason: Minor edit.
    John

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandophyte View Post
    So good to see the Tarland Fiddler in #16!
    Cheers Dagger!
    I wonder if you mean Bren's post #15? I assume you mean the clip of Paul Anderson, the Tarland fiddler.

    Good stuff, for sure, and the epitome of North-East Scotland strathspey playing.
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Emulating Strathspey bowing on a mandolin

    Oops! Yes it should have been #15.
    John

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