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Thread: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

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    Question chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Hello! I am brand new here, both to mandolin and the forum. I (unusually?) opted to start with an octave mandolin.

    A traditional mandolin is an incredibly percussive instrument. See: chop chords. I'm having trouble figuring out whether the octave mandolin would/could/should be used in a similarly percussive manner.

    Is my issue purely due to being a noobie and needing to develop technique? If so, whose chop technique best translates onto an octave mandolin?

    If you chop on an octave, which shapes/strings do you use and what technique do you use to mute?

    If one generally doesn't chop on an octave, are there other percussive techniques used?

    Are there other less percussive backup techniques to look out for?

    Or, is the octave mandolin really best used melodically?

    I don't want to sink too much time and energy into using the instrument in a way its not suited to, but also don't want to miss out on opportunities to use my octave mando to its fullest.

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  3. #2
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yophie View Post
    I don't want to sink too much time and energy into using the instrument in a way its not suited to, but also don't want to miss out on opportunities to use my octave mando to its fullest.
    Enjoy your new instrument!

    As for the octave mandolin, it really depends what sort of music you like and would care to play. ITM or other "Celtic" music? Italian music? Obviously Bluegrass since you mention the "chop"; swing and jazz; Klezmer...etc.?

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    Smile Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Enjoy your new instrument!

    As for the octave mandolin, it really depends what sort of music you like and would care to play. ITM or other "Celtic" music? Italian music? Obviously Bluegrass since you mention the "chop"; swing and jazz; Klezmer...etc.?
    Haha right! Well, I was specifically thinking bluegrass here, but I actually am also quite keen to play swing jazz (trad and gypsy especially) and Celtic. Forgive my ignorance... what does ITM stand for?

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yophie View Post
    Haha right! Well, I was specifically thinking bluegrass here, but I actually am also quite keen to play swing jazz (trad and gypsy especially) and Celtic. Forgive my ignorance... what does ITM stand for?
    ITM is "Irish Traditional Music".

    "quite keen to play swing jazz (trad and gypsy especially"

    Good, because I can offer some assistance there, being a native New orleans jazz musician and a player of gypsy/Manouche jazz.

    Both trad and Gypsy jazz share a similar rhythm tradition - straight 4/4 swing chordal accompaniment. Also, in the Gypsy jazz world, the American "straight 4" style of 4 chordal strums, one on each beat, is slightly adapted into what is called the "Pompe", by adding some other pick strokes to help add the feel of a snare drum

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIivOdEojv0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLir8HXS4sc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t77H40_WqB4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDpakBkHqas



    The American swing style is simpler - but no less musical - in that it is just quarter notes...but there is a style:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7i6S4_vi3g

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_gNBgC_gg4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ffiDJxGldo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6yE7VGaFgU

    There are many more videos on youtube on these subjects...have fun learning!

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yophie View Post
    A traditional mandolin is an incredibly percussive instrument. See: chop chords. I'm having trouble figuring out whether the octave mandolin would/could/should be used in a similarly percussive manner.
    That is an over-generalization. Yes, if you play a chord on a mandolin and then quickly mute it, that could be considered percussion and that is usually the purpose in a bluegrass band since there are usually no drums. However, most of us mandolin players here would not consider a mandolin a percussion instrument.

    ITM = Irish Traditional Music

    You could chop an octave mandolin but it would not be easy and probably would to sound great. Melody, counter-melody, chords sound great. If you want to play an octave in a bluegrass band you may be duplicating at least part of the range of the guitar. That is why you don't see too many OMs in traditional bluegrass bands.

    Take a look at some videos where there are OMs or bouzoukis (similar in tuning but longer scale—sometimes octave strings in the lower pairs and often with the first string tuned down). Lots of irish music, some songs accompanied by OM or bouzouki. Modern music by Sierra Hull and some other players that people will recommend. You can get an idea of what to do with it.

    In short: more of a chordal or accompanying instrument than percussion IMHO.
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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    I did a search for "Tim O'brien octave mandolin" and found some great live videos. (He plays different genres, including bluegrass and celtic, on different instuments, including mandolin and octave mandolin.) He does some great backing stuff while he's singing and then some fantastic solos. He does do some string dampening "vamping" - I don't know if it's quite a "chop" - as well as strumming and other things: loads of good ideas there too.

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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    ITM is "Irish Traditional Music".

    "quite keen to play swing jazz (trad and gypsy especially"

    Good, because I can offer some assistance there, being a native New orleans jazz musician and a player of gypsy/Manouche jazz.

    Both trad and Gypsy jazz share a similar rhythm tradition - straight 4/4 swing chordal accompaniment. Also, in the Gypsy jazz world, the American "straight 4" style of 4 chordal strums, one on each beat, is slightly adapted into what is called the "Pompe", by adding some other pick strokes to help add the feel of a snare drum

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIivOdEojv0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLir8HXS4sc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t77H40_WqB4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDpakBkHqas



    The American swing style is simpler - but no less musical - in that it is just quarter notes...but there is a style:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7i6S4_vi3g

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_gNBgC_gg4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ffiDJxGldo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6yE7VGaFgU

    There are many more videos on youtube on these subjects...have fun learning!
    David....that post alone is going to keep me out of mischief for quite awhile! Thank you.

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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    On the Mandolin and Beer podcast I heard Mike Marshall say that chop chords shouldn't be played on Octave Mandolins. He mentioned this when giving an example of the type of mistakes he may see one of his students make in his ArtistWorks course.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    David....that post alone is going to keep me out of mischief for quite awhile! Thank you.
    Unlike the 70's, when info on gypsy jazz was in short supply, one can find an amazing amount of musical instruction on that - and many other subjects - on the internet.

    Take care, have fun.

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    if you can reach a chop chord on an OM, go for it!

    I mean, I got long finger, but. . .

    f-d
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  21. #11

    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    I can 'chop' barre chords on an OM, and I do it on my tenor a lot. I don't really try to reach the real chop chords.
    It mostly sounds like a muted guitar, but there is a lot of variety of sounds you can make, adds to the fun. :-)
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    Yophie 

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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by kurth83 View Post
    I can 'chop' barre chords on an OM, and I do it on my tenor a lot. I don't really try to reach the real chop chords.
    It mostly sounds like a muted guitar, but there is a lot of variety of sounds you can make, adds to the fun. :-)

    Yep, you can "chop" on a bass cl or sax too.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    ... mandolin players here would not consider a mandolin a percussion instrument.
    It's a chordophone, yes, but among the common chordophones it is rather a percussive little beastie, especially archtops.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    It's a chordophone, yes, but among the common chordophones it is rather a percussive little beastie, especially archtops.
    Of course anything can be percussive if you want to make it so. I can take a set of mallets to a piano or even a violin. Most of us revel in the multiple sound of mandolins but generally concentrate on its melodic nature.
    Jim

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  27. #14

    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Of course anything can be percussive if you want to make it so. I can take a set of mallets to a piano or even a violin. Most of us revel in the multiple sound of mandolins but generally concentrate on its melodic nature.
    Well, ya, but those other instruments have other sonic capacities too - like some legato quality to some extent or other. Without those other dimensions (comparatively), it's what makes the mandolin what it is..
    A laud or quatro or OM doesn't have the same percussive qualities. I think it's what makes a mandolin distinctive (a good thing, to my mind, since there are other instruments to use when the percussiveness of mndln isn't desired). All instruments have their strengths - may as well exploit that.

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    Every day is a gift. Sheila Lagrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Yophie, you're after my own heart. I bought my OM about 2.5 months after I bought my mandolin. One of our sponsors (Elderly Instruments) had a 2016 Eastman MDO305 in excellent condition at a price I couldn't ignore. . . . I would love to know more about your relationship with music in general--some context for the octave, I suppose--if I'm not prying.
    Now, what was I after when I wandered in here?

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    Rich, my 1959 Husband

  30. #16

    Default Re: chop or other rhythm techniques for octave mandolin?

    Matt Flinner is offering a course on the OM beginning end of March

    https://www.mattflinner.com/2021/01/...lum-3-31-5-29/
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

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