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Thread: Thile can't chop chords

  1. #1
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    Default Thile can't chop chords

    Haha, of course he can, one of the best ever. But, my question is, does he always play chords? It kind of looks like sometimes, when he's doing fast/aggressive/syncopated chopping, he doesn't really do it on any particular chord. He just mutes the strings. Does anyone else do this? As a drummer turned mando I find I can do some interesting rhythmic chopping but sometimes I find that syncopation tough when I am also changing chords. Just been wondering about this for a while.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    In the orchestra world that was popular as Bill Monroe came to prominence part of what the mandolin did was emulate the snare drum.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    I can corroborate that from personal experience. When I was playing in a jug band, part of my functionality was to synch up with the guitarist, both rhythmically and chordally. The guitar filled the role of the kick drum, on the downbeat, and the mandolin filled the role of the snare drum, on the backbeat. Also, the guitar emulated or suggested the left hand of a piano, and the mandolin did the same as the right hand. These approaches went a long way toward producing a full sound.

    Thile is a few levels up from that, of course.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    Good example of that here ... just mute the strings with your fingertips rather than pressing them all the way down to the fretboard, and you get that dry chop sound. A mandolin can be used to play chords, melody or percussion ... or chordal percussion, or percussive melody, or chord melody!

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    Registered User mingusb1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    Part of what I like about older or more trad bluegrass mandolin is that the chop chords were often fingered chords and had actual tonality. Or they were open chords (or double stops) with some ring. To my ears the modern chop has devolved in to a scratching, raking sort of thing that doesn't really add. When I hear that going on rhythmically in a song or tune I ask myself "what would this sound like without it" or "does this song really need that"? Anyway...

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    True Dat.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    Chris Thile takes better advantage of all the sounds a mandolin can make than most of us, and as a result he is extremely versatile. You can be sure that he means everything he does, and when he doesn't do something it's not because he can't.
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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    I agree! I don’t care for the “scratching” without tonality. Sounds like a washboard to me.

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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimraygilliam View Post
    I agree! I don’t care for the “scratching” without tonality. Sounds like a washboard to me.
    Lol, this is all just about personal preference, and personal preferences may or may not change over time. Washboards have long been used musically, to each his own. I dare say there are musical geniuses who can make more interesting sounds on a washboard than I can by playing mandolin. We all like different things.
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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimraygilliam View Post
    I agree! I don’t care for the “scratching” without tonality. Sounds like a washboard to me.
    Hmmm. Could you substitute washboard with mando and strum with thimbles?
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    Default Re: Thile can't chop chords

    Looks like a good place to tell this story.

    At a very popular bluegrass festival 2 or 3 years ago, the headliner band came on stage to tune and do their sound check right before playing. The fellow playing the mandolin strapped on what appeared to be a brand new cheap mandolin straight out of the box, and he spent some time trying to hook up an unusual looking bright red strap. It all looked odd, especially for someone in the top band. My student went up to the front of the stage to investigate. She reported that he had one of those 150.00 Rogue mandolins, and his "strap" was two bungee chords hooked to his belt loops in the back, coming over his shoulders and hooked into the F hole on the mandolin. He announced after they played a few songs that he took up the mandolin a week earlier and just got his new mandolin delivered that morning.

    He muted the strings with his left hand - never moved it, and he chopped as appropriate in conjunction with the banjo player who was the band leader. He never played a single chord or any breaks or fills, but his chop was absolutely superb.

    He was a fantastic lead and harmony singer, a great stage presence, and what he did with the mandolin was a perfect bluegrass sound. The band was excellent.

    It was an example to me that good musicians will contribute what's necessary and what they can to help the band deliver good music in the style they are playing.
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