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Thread: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

  1. #1

    Default Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Hey everyone! I'm brand new here and also to the mandolin

    First of all, I really love the mando and have never been this thrilled to learn and play (heck, I'm even reading a bit theory!). I have now, since getting it, become interested in learning how to play the mandolin like a mandolin as well. Thing is, I'm not super-into the typical genres (bluegrass etc). Where my passion lies is in my usual blues/rock/folk-esque vocals+acoustic guitar music! However, I haven't felt inspired to learn anything new on guitar for several years and it's just been a strummin' tool to accompany my vocals.

    Doing what I know, which is strumming chords, has been great on the mandolin. I even catch myself playing more funky/experimental, along with adding small licks here and there! I have some thoughts/worries/questions though, that I'd greatly appreciate if someone here could help me with!

    One thing is the overall transferability between the guitar and the mandolin for my type of genre.

    I did search the forum about it this morning and I am a bit calmer since many have said that you can play any genre with a mando! Being that I never bothered with any type of theory before (wasn't interesting for self-taught pre-teen me), my biggest challenge so far has been to transfer riffs and such to the mandolin. Fewer strings and notes (range) and thus further between the notes on the fretboard makes it a bit awkward for me. Is this something that I can work around somehow?

    Another thing that is kind of related to the previous dilemma is that I find myself trying to transpose songs into G to be able to use the full range. Is this a valid solution or is it just 'noob-reasoning'?

    For one thing, it means you can't play along to the original song, and also G (or another range-fitting key) might not be where my vocals would wanna be. In another thread on here (about playing in any key) it seemed like you can play all keys/scales. Are some of the more common keys (A, B, C, D, E, F and G) extra tricky to use? For example, E (for me) seems harder to 'fit' and that's quite a few guitar songs there.

    Yet another thought I've been having, that's also related, is whether I should also get an Octave Mandolin or perhaps, an Irish Bouzouki (heavily leaning towards OM though). The regular mandolin is great and I love how it sounds, but the flexibility of key to match my vocal range is a bit limited. I frequently capo the guitar to find my sweet spot. Could an OM work in my favor here?

    Just like the regular mandolin, I intend to play traditional music on the OM as well. I've read here about scale length and smaller hands and someone recommended a scale length of 20" - 22" (approx. 51-56 cm) if you have smaller hands (recommended to a 5'2" woman, though). I can't say I have big hands though, and for reference; having my index finger on the 1st fret on a regular mando, I can reach the 8th with my pinky and get off somewhat of a tone, not comfortable, however. The only OM in my price range that's available here has a 23" (58.5 cm) scale length, could that work?

    And one last thing! What really excites me is to, eventually, be able to mix the kind of music I usually play with 'mandolinny' style and techniques. So far, the only one I can think of, is using tremolo maybe? Is there other mando-typical stuff I haven't heard about yet? It would be awesome to even rewrite riffs and such to be more mandolinny.

    I haven't found overly much music out there like that. I am getting into some Chris Thile stuff even though most of it is not in the genre I'm looking for. He uses a lot of fun styles/techniques, though! Also, the odd psych/classic rock cover on youtube by various artists but it doesn't seem to be a thing really.

    I hope this all doesn't sound like I'm trying to make the mandolin into a guitar! It's not at all what I meant, but 'an old dog...' and so on . The main thing is that I would love to go 'all-in' on mandolin/octave mandolin! But before getting my hopes too high, I thought I'd ask you wizards if it's even translatable in the long run (for what I usually listen to and play that is).

    Quite the wall of text... I tried my best to shorten it but it came out too dry-sounding when I did. Anyway, thank you if you were curious/bored enough to read all the way to this here end

    //Isaiah

  2. #2
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Welcome to the Cafe, Isaiah.
    I'll let the experts weigh in on technical matters, but for genre, just scroll down the Forum Page (https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/), and you'll find a section called "Music by Genre" with a wealth of information, including discussions and recordings of various mandolin genres (I put 50 blues-related videos in the Jazz/Blues section, headed "Blues, Stomps & Rags #x"). Also, look at "Videos, Pictures & Sound Files" near the top of the page. Enjoy exploring these areas.
    Last edited by Ranald; Nov-18-2021 at 12:43pm.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Excellent question(s). It will require experimentation, problem-solving, adaptation. Polyphonically, the mandolin is a slice of the guitar; as you've observed, its comparatively lesser capacity requires a bit of a more minimalist approach - when transferring material from the larger instruments. Typically, we exploit the mandolin's strengths - devices and techniques such as single-note melody, cross-picking, tremolo, rhythmic accent, etc - rather than try to emulate the sonic capacity of the guitar in toto, which of course it will not do. The onus for success is upon your imagination and problem-solving capacity. Wide experimentation will hasten the process. Arranging for instruments is great fun - going from larger to smaller presents its challenges. Let your ears be the guide.

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  5. #4
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaiah View Post
    Where my passion lies is in my usual blues/rock/folk-esque vocals+acoustic guitar music! Doing what I know, which is strumming chords, has been great on the mandolin. I even catch myself playing more funky/experimental, along with adding small licks here and there! I have some thoughts/worries/questions though, that I'd greatly appreciate if someone here could help me with!
    Although he's in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Sam Bush would be a good starting point.



    He has several audio and video instruction lessons on Homespun Tapes, which are pretty good.

    One thing is the overall transferability between the guitar and the mandolin for my type of genre ... my biggest challenge so far has been to transfer riffs and such to the mandolin. Fewer strings and notes (range) and thus further between the notes on the fretboard makes it a bit awkward for me. Is this something that I can work around somehow?
    There obviously are fewer strings, but there are only three fewer notes, since a mandolin is tuned in fifths, and a guitar is tuned in fourths. The low end on a mandolin (G) is 1.5 steps more than an octave above the low end on a guitar (E), but a mando's high E string is an octave above the guitar's high E. So, the instruments' ranges are virtually the same.

    Another thing that is kind of related to the previous dilemma is that I find myself trying to transpose songs into G to be able to use the full range. Is this a valid solution or is it just 'noob-reasoning'?
    You're right, but that's like saying you would transpose songs into E to be able to use the full range of a guitar. You can still use the full range of any instrument as long as you don't insist on the root note of the song's key being the lowest note that you play.

    Are some of the more common keys (A, B, C, D, E, F and G) extra tricky to use? For example, E (for me) seems harder to 'fit' and that's quite a few guitar songs there.
    I think that depends on how much you want to be using open strings in your playing and how strong your pinky is. If you like using open strings, then A, C, D, and G will be your favorite keys on mandolin.

    Yet another thought I've been having, that's also related, is whether I should also get an Octave Mandolin or perhaps, an Irish Bouzouki (heavily leaning towards OM though). The regular mandolin is great and I love how it sounds, but the flexibility of key to match my vocal range is a bit limited. I frequently capo the guitar to find my sweet spot. Could an OM work in my favor here?
    I'd suggest taking on one instrument at a time. A capo works better on OM than on mandolin because of its longer scale length, which gives your fingers more space on the upper frets. If you like strumming with open strings, and you like the guitar's octaves more than a mandolin's octaves, then you might be happier with an OM. I went from guitar to mandolin to OM --- which seems to be a pretty common path --- and I found that OM fused the guitar part of my brain with the mandolin part, so it was really easy to work with from Day 1.

    I've read here about scale length and smaller hands and someone recommended a scale length of 20" - 22" (approx. 51-56 cm) if you have smaller hands (recommended to a 5'2" woman, though). I can't say I have big hands though, and for reference; having my index finger on the 1st fret on a regular mando, I can reach the 8th with my pinky and get off somewhat of a tone, not comfortable, however. The only OM in my price range that's available here has a 23" (58.5 cm) scale length, could that work?
    My hands are probably about the same size as yours, and my OM has a 22.5" scale length, which works fine for me. I've played some shorter-scale ones that were more comfortable, but I love the tone of mine so much that it's my lifer.

    The main thing is that I would love to go 'all-in' on mandolin/octave mandolin! But before getting my hopes too high, I thought I'd ask you wizards if it's even translatable in the long run (for what I usually listen to and play that is).
    I'd say so, but it depends on the translator.

    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Just a few random observations on your comments and questions.

    Regarding keys, you should learn to play in all the common keys, not just G. D and A are the keys that most people feel bring out the best in the mandolin.

    The mandolin fingerboard is easier to figure out than the guitar. The four finger closed position scales are a set of four scale patterns that can be moved to play in any key. The attached link describes them. http://jazzmando.com/ffcp.shtml Similarly there are a handful of movable chord shapes for major and minor chords, that allow you to move into any key easily. These can be four finger shapes that are fully movable or three finger shapes that require you to damp out a string. You can play all major chords with just three or four chord shapes.

    With the movable chord shapes and scales you can easily change keys to fit your voice without a capo. Capo can be used on a mandolin but with the shorter scale you can run out of fingerboard room in a hurry.

    Hand size is not an issue. People play mandolin at the highest levels who have all sizes of hands. They range from Sierra Hull, whose hands are fairly small to Jethro Burns or Mike Marshall whose hands are enormous. Small hands can be a benefit by not interfering with adjacent strings. Your fingers should lay along the neck like violinists do rather than arching across it like on a guitar. As on a guitar, the right hand produces the tone and does not get enough attention from most players, especially beginners.

    You should set aside a lot of what you know from guitar to get the best out of it. A good person to listen to is David Grisman, who has played a wide range of styles from traditional music and bluegrass to rock and roll to jazz to his own experimental Dawg music. David played mandolin with the Grateful Dead on a couple of their classics like Ripple and toured extensively in a duo with Jerry Garcia. His work, especially with Jerry can give you a good picture of what can be done in the styles you seem to be interested in. Sierra Hull also has a lot of things out there that go beyond bluegrass and will expand your understanding of what can be done both with the mandolin and the octave mandolin. Her smaller hands seem to work quite well on octave mandolin. Her technical skills are amazing and on a par with Chris Thile. Thile's work of course goes all over regarding genre though his skills are frighteningly beyond normal humans.
    Last edited by CarlM; Nov-18-2021 at 2:23pm.

  8. #6
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Welcome to the club! I tend to think and play outside the traditional bluegrass box. I have nothing more really to add, other to say that the previous posters have given you some good information.
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    OldTime. Learn ten tunes by heart and think notes.

    Playing along with folk, rock, metal, pretty much anything else is limited by copywright.
    The issue for beginners is to find TAB in little riff format ie. one page of the different riffs in the song but not all the rests, lyrics etc. Just enough to fill the one page and make it easy to memorise the ‘bits’, the improv, in .abc format.

    Remember that TAB actually means ‘the notes’, in guitar-world it means ‘the chord progressions’.

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    As one who plays many "non-traditional for mandolin" songs on the mandolin, I can tell you it just takes time. I originally capoed a few songs I found particularly challenging but after a while, realized it's not necessary. There's a marvelous world of open chord possibilities on the mando you won't find on guitar. A couple of songs required me to play from tab on guitar and then chord-by-chord find which voicing for the same combinations of notes work with mandolin tuning. A few things have held delightful surprises. The little F chord break in the intro to Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good" is a strong example. Currently, I am reworking my guitar rendition of "Whiter Shade Of Pale" which uses just about every chord. My band's rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow" is done in F#Maj7 which I used to capo. Once I realized I could find voicings for that, I put my capo in my guitar case and haven't seen it since. Look up mandolin covers of all the songs you are interested in and marvel at how they've been accomplished.

    These (I believe) have been posted before but damn....

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Isaiah,

    Welcome to the mandolin world. You have been given a lot of valuable perspectives from folks who made the same journey. I'd also like to encourage you. My own background is a bit different, but I also made a choice about five years ago to adopt the mandolin into my violin player's heart. What has made the transition successful is that I really haven't worried about playing what others might expect of a mandolinist, but rather just playing what I like. I enjoy rock, country, pop, soul, classical and funk. I like single notes and double stops and have done very little to learn chords. I have really enjoyed discovering strings and pick technique that produce the sound and effects that talk to me. The mandolin is a very transportable instrument capable of so much more than many folks might ever discover. I'd just encourage you to play a lot of whatever you love, find your own style, and then let the mandolin control your life.

    Have fun!
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  12. #10

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Wow! Amazing help guys! Stellar videos, tips and overall information. Thank you all a lot!

    I sat yesterday night and trial-translated a couple of famous riffs. I'm that bad at theory that I kind of have to look at a mandolin- and a guitar- fretboard with notes in front of me, and as I was sitting there learning the fretboards more closely, I realized that I kind of never even really tried to learn the guitar haha! It's almost as if I got spoiled by 'just knowing' how to play it for my purposes, haha.

    Just by sitting with this for some hours, translating song after song, learning some tremolo, some Irish folk songs, and letting go of the initial frustration of playing in the same key and such, I feel much more at ease! Now the riffs are flowing! Currently jammin' Cream by Prince, Two-Headed Dog by Roky Erickson and Rake by Townes van Zandt Gonna be scrolling through my old Spotify list all night I reckon!

    Thanks again, guys!

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    And you're on your way Congratulations.

    It's not uncommon to hear that - "never even really tried to learn the guitar" - in various iterations. I estimate the vast majority of guitar strummers are in this camp (considering the vast popularity of the instrument around the world). In the US, folk styles - song accompaniment, strumming along to old traditional songs, pop tunes, etc - probably constitute a majority of what happens with hundreds of thousands/millions of casual guitar users. For this, only a few "cowboy" chords are required, since the vast majority of pop/folk material is a three or perhaps more chord song structure. Of course, the instrument has far more potential. But the mandolin, with its more limited polyphonic options and 5ths tuning, is often the vehicle for folks to begin to explore single-note melody playing, and perhaps harmony, embellishment, theory, and even improvisation. Folks (coming from casual guitar, even after a lifetime) often say it's the instrument that opens it up for them.

    I'll not go into my critique here, as I have elsewhere, but it's a problem with guitar pedagogy. OTOH, it's fine that hordes of guitars are disseminated, to gather dust in the corner, if only to have compelled their owners to migrate to mndln, eh?

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Just a thought. To the OP. If you look at the mandolin as a "slice of the guitar", I would say the guitarist things that are "outside the slice" are guitar specific high level playing techniques, and if I am understanding what you describe doesn't sound like anything that cannot be done on the mandolin.

    Of course I would not recommend looking at a mandolin that way, as there is a lot the mandolin can do that the guitar cannot. So who is a slice of who can be debated up and down for years.

    Your mentioning scale length and small hands made me think of something. It may not apply in your case however I don't know. Please bare with me and I apologize if you already know this:

    The guitar is played chromatically, meaning one finger one fret, and going up one fret at a time plays all the notes, sharps and flats, chromatically.

    The mandolin is played diatonically, meaning each finger covers two frets, and as one goes up one finger at a time, one is playing (typically) a major scale, diatonically.

    One reason has to do with size and tuning, and how far you can go without moving your hand. A guitar is large, and so a hands width on the neck is about the interval of a fourth. The interval of a fourth is easily covered one fret one finger, so you go up four fingers and then, without needing to move your hand you can avail yourself of the next string, tuned (with one exception) a fourth above the string you are on.

    A mandolin is smaller, so a hands width on the neck is about a fifth interval, and to cover a fifth interval with four fingers you assign two frets per finger, (with exceptions) so you go up four fingers (skipping every other fret) and the next note is a fifth and without having to move your hand you can avail yourself of the next string, tuned a fifth above the string you are on.

    There are exceptions of course, but this is the main idea. If you are playing the mandolin chromatically (one finger per fret), you would be shifting your hand up and down the neck a lot more that usual.

    My apologies if you knew that already, but I was thinking with your mentioning scale length and hand moving and having to transpose to G to get the full range and thought this might help. If not needed, it may help someone else.

    With that, there is very little if anything that can't be done on mandolin, in just about any key. Certainly you could successfully do whatever pieces you like on guitar with the mandolin, in the same key, without transposing. I would bet on it.

    Treat the mandolin as its own fully fledged instrument, not some kind of wierd guitar, or almost a guitar, and you will discover a world of wonderful stuff.
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  16. #13

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Just a thought. To the OP. If you look at the mandolin as a "slice of the guitar", I would say the guitarist things that are "outside the slice" are guitar specific high level playing techniques, and if I am understanding what you describe doesn't sound like anything that cannot be done on the mandolin.

    Of course I would not recommend looking at a mandolin that way, as there is a lot the mandolin can do that the guitar cannot.
    I merely make a conceptual comparison in reference to polyphonic, or harmonic, if you will, capacities as such are important matters in the OP's stated goals. Not as a pedagogic model, or anything to do with technique. Guess I should have specified that, though I thought I'd made that clear.

    But on your first point - no, not at all.

  17. #14

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Great tip, Jeff, thanks! And I've bumped into that expression a lot (diatonically) but I haven't made the connection that that is different from a guitar! Also, in my mind, that expression meant the act of putting, for example, the index finger on 'string G - fret 2' and 'string D - fret 2' as I do when I'm playing a regular A- och Am chord. But it sounds like you're saying that you near always play diatonically, so is it more like fret 2 and 3 of string A is covered by the index finger, for example?

    And yes! I do need to scrub myself clean of at least some of that guitar logic. I got a tip earlier in this thread that utilizing the open strings and thus playing in A, C, D, and G could be favorable and I've been trying that today a lot (come to think of it now, I can't understand the C there). But I guess what I meant more was certain riffs that, say, span 4-5 strings. For example, a riff in E and the riff starts with a note open low E-string, then I would resort to the lowest E on the mandolin at fret 2 on the D-string; a couple of notes in and my fretboard is done. So that's why I tried to transpose everything into G, to be able to utilize the whole fretboard!

    That being said, I understand that this might fall under 'trying to make the mandolin into a guitar', but that's a thing that kind of cannot be done on a mandolin, right?
    If I'm thinking in the wrong way here then please school me haha!

    I did transcribe Chump Man Blues by Blind Blake to the mandolin today, and of course, I skipped the bass notes that you'd thumb on the guitar. The song is in A so it was fairly straightforward! It became great even if I had to "octave up" some notes that were supposed to be a full octave lower, and in this case, it actually didn't compromise the overall sound so much!

    But some days ago I was trying out the intro to Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix, which is in E I think, and it's 3 frets from possible. I'm putting the tab here so you can see what I mean!

    e|-------------------------------------|
    B|-----------8b-----------------------|
    G|--------7---------------------------|
    D|----/9--------7----5---------------|
    A|-----------------------5-----5/7---|
    E|--------------------------0---------|

    This spread of notes and octaves might not be that common, but it was one of the first songs I tried to get working! So, I get as far as to the lowest D note and then I run out:

    E|----------3-----------|
    A|--0h2-5----0--------|
    D|---------------5--0--|
    G|----------------------|

    I guess I could theoretically play it by starting at fret 15 on the E string but it wouldn't really sound good, haha.

    Maybe you didn't mean stuff like this in the first and last parts of your post, but instead more technical capability! But this is what I meant by feeling the need to transpose some stuff into G! (And why I was thinking about getting an Octave Mandolin as well)

    And of course, even if the mandolin and the guitar look similar, they're not the same. As far as fretted string instruments go, I guess that the note range of a guitar is one of its main perks!

    And even if it is so that I can't play some stuff in the exact 'sequence' on the mandolin, I'm excited to learn more mando-tricks, and perhaps eventually I could find other solutions! If you're not too busy, could you elaborate on that part about things mandolins can do that guitars cannot? So far I've only dabbled with tremolo, and I've got a lot more practicing to do in that department.

    Thanks again!

  18. #15
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaiah View Post
    Great tip, Jeff, thanks! And I've bumped into that expression a lot (diatonically) but I haven't made the connection that that is different from a guitar! Also, in my mind, that expression meant the act of putting, for example, the index finger on 'string G - fret 2' and 'string D - fret 2' as I do when I'm playing a regular A- och Am chord. But it sounds like you're saying that you near always play diatonically, so is it more like fret 2 and 3 of string A is covered by the index finger, for example?
    Yea sort of, if I understand you.

    Chromatic just means every single note, naturals, sharps flats, everything. While Diatonic means only the the major notes of the scale.

    I mean, that when playing a melody or a riff, the first finger is "responsible" for anything on frets 1 and 2, and the second finger is responsible for anything on frets 3 and 4, etc.

    An example, on the guitar say on the G string. If you want to play the note A and then the note B you would use your first finger for the A and third finger for the B, because you skip a fret. On the mandolin on the G string you would finger the A with your first finger, and the B with your second finger, because the first finger is responsible for G# and A. You would use the second finger to play B, because the second finger is responsible for A# and B.

    Of course chords are an entirely different matter. You just do what you gotta do.

    For example, a riff in E and the riff starts with a note open low E-string, then I would resort to the lowest E on the mandolin at fret 2 on the D-string; a couple of notes in and my fretboard is done. So that's why I tried to transpose everything into G, to be able to utilize the whole fretboard!
    Yes. I get this. But certainly most guitar riffs don't have this kind of range. You are kinda jamming a guitar centered riff onto a mandolin. Of the things that "gotta give" when you do his, you choose to change key rather than change the riff. I get it.

    Another thought is that improvising a riff on a guitar and on a mandolin are necessarily different, even same tune same key, because of where the notes are, what notes are easy to easy to reach, and what sounds good considering what strings are left open, etc., etc. So putting the improvised riffs of Eric Clapton onto a mandolin is not the same as what Eric Clapton might have done if he were playing mandolin when he improvised those riffs. (Now there is a crazy thought.)

    So when you are playing a mandolin along with a recorded piece of guitar wizardry, it stands to reason the mandolin player would improvise differently. Just as, if a guitar player heard something really cool that Chris Thile did on the mandolin, he might move it note for note to the guitar and find that it doesn't fit, perhaps as to range, or perhaps the hand moving and string changing is too difficult. But the guitarist in reality would just improvise guitar thingies that worked and be happy.
    Last edited by JeffD; Nov-19-2021 at 10:18pm.
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  19. #16

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Sounds like you know what you're doing, Isaiah, in terms of transposing material into more optimal range (for the mndln). Jeff, this is an example of what I'm referring to: adapting material to the more limited range. As well, condensing or substituting chord intervals accordingly, since mndln lacks the same polyphony.

    The pitch range of the guitar is one asset, yes. But polyphony is its prominent advantage to mndln - six courses vs four.

    Imo, using terms as "diatonic" for fingering is, hmm, a little peculiar. We use the same system in the higher fret positions on guitars or any fingerboard instrument; it's just a matter of ergonomics: In terms of fret spacing on chromatic instruments, in those higher ranges it's no different than on mndln.

  20. #17
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post

    Imo, using terms as "diatonic" for fingering is, hmm, a little peculiar. We use the same system in the higher fret positions on guitars or any fingerboard instrument; it's just a matter of ergonomics: In terms of fret spacing on chromatic instruments, in those higher ranges it's no different than on mndln.
    Peculiar, but that is what it is called. I suppose it makes sense when playing melodies way up the neck on the guitar that one might switch to a diatonic fingering. I could see in some cases it would be easier.

    As to the polyphonic advantage of a guitar, is that taken advantage of all that much. Is there much done on a guitar that "requires" the ability to grab notes on all six strings at once? Perhaps. I guess the point is they are there if you need them.
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  21. #18

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Peculiar, but that is what it is called. I suppose it makes sense when playing melodies way up the neck on the guitar that one might switch to a diatonic fingering. I could see in some cases it would be easier.

    As to the polyphonic advantage of a guitar, is that taken advantage of all that much. Is there much done on a guitar that "requires" the ability to grab notes on all six strings at once? Perhaps. I guess the point is they are there if you need them.
    Ya, the guitar fngrbd - just looking at my guitar here (65.5cm sl) the frets become equally spaced as a mndln (~13" sl) at the 11 or 12th fret. So an octave up and it's the same fingerings - in terms of fret spacing: saying, if the guitar were tuned in 5ths the fingerings would be the same entirely, save for width difference, above the octave - on guitar as on mndln (combinations of 1-2-3-4). I've just never heard it in terms of fingering. It's because the music we are playing is composed of those intervals - diatonic, chromatic - it doesn't matter what instrument we're playing, intervals are intervals.

    Advantage of polyphony of the guitar?

    https://my.mail.ru/mail/kravcovi/video/158/162.html


    *I'm not dissing the mndln, I like to play it too (albeit gtr was first).. of course they all have their advantages .. anyway, I like them all.

    Sorry Isaiah
    Last edited by catmandu2; Nov-19-2021 at 11:58pm.

  22. #19

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post

    Another thought is that improvising a riff on a guitar and on a mandolin are necessarily different, even same tune same key, because of where the notes are, what notes are easy to easy to reach, and what sounds good considering what strings are left open, etc., etc. So putting the improvised riffs of Eric Clapton onto a mandolin is not the same as what Eric Clapton might have done if he were playing mandolin when he improvised those riffs. (Now there is a crazy thought.)
    Yes! That's kinda the same thought process that I've been having since I realized about the range/polyphony. To be able to approach old riffs, like a Clapton or a Hendrix, but rethink them in a mandolin manner! Sounds like a nice carrot on a stick to have while making sense of the mandolin.

  23. #20

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    Ya, the guitar fngrbd - just looking at my guitar here (65.5cm sl) the frets become equally spaced as a mndln (~13" sl) at the 11 or 12th fret. So an octave up and it's the same fingerings - in terms of fret spacing: saying, if the guitar were tuned in 5ths the fingerings would be the same entirely, save for width difference, above the octave - on guitar as on mndln (combinations of 1-2-3-4). I've just never heard it in terms of fingering. It's because the music we are playing is composed of those intervals - diatonic, chromatic - it doesn't matter what instrument we're playing, intervals are intervals.

    Advantage of polyphony of the guitar?

    https://my.mail.ru/mail/kravcovi/video/158/162.html


    *I'm not dissing the mndln, I like to play it too (albeit gtr was first).. of course they all have their advantages .. anyway, I like them all.

    Sorry Isaiah
    No need for any apologizing, of course! And thanks for the input about the polyphony here and also at the start of the thread

    I agree that, as a guitarist, the fingering technique is similar at around fret 12 (I would even argue around 9-10!). The diatonically fingering of the first frets on a mandolin kind of "saves" the guitar player in the beginning, as the notes are spread wider! Something that I'm considering with the octave mandolin/zouk as well...

    For me, it's good to know how mandolin players act regarding diatonically/chromatically fingering so that I can think about it in some kind of standard. Honestly, I've never second-guessed, nor have I labeled, my own fingering technique on the guitar, haha! Product of being self-taught, I guess.

  24. #21

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Btw, a quick fix of Purple Haze with a lefthand-damp and quick down- and upstroke that sounds pretty good:

    E|----------3--------------------|
    A|--0h2-5----0--------x-x------|
    D|---------------5--0--x-x--2---|
    G|----------------------x-x------|

    Guitar trick, perhaps, but makes more sense than transporting the whole bit.

    For the verse, I realized now that the mandolin E7#9 chord sounds off, better with E/E7. Lots to learn about the chords as well, hehe.

  25. #22

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaiah View Post
    No need for any apologizing, of course! And thanks for the input about the polyphony here and also at the start of the thread

    I agree that, as a guitarist, the fingering technique is similar at around fret 12 (I would even argue around 9-10!). The diatonically fingering of the first frets on a mandolin kind of "saves" the guitar player in the beginning, as the notes are spread wider! Something that I'm considering with the octave mandolin/zouk as well...

    For me, it's good to know how mandolin players act regarding diatonically/chromatically fingering so that I can think about it in some kind of standard. Honestly, I've never second-guessed, nor have I labeled, my own fingering technique on the guitar, haha! Product of being self-taught, I guess.
    I'm glad it makes sense to you, although I thnk it's needlessly cumbersome. I've been playing 5ths tuned instruments for 35 years and have never heard the term "diatonic fingering" (except here). We use fingerings to play diatonic scales in diatonic maj/min musical form - on all instruments - but the fingerings themselves aren't bestowed such nomenclature - only the scales and derived structures (the music); we simply say that we are playing a diatonic scale (or line, or figure or whatever). Likewise, if we are playing chromatic scale/material, we don't say that we are using "chromatic fingering."

    I think it's a case, again, where mandolin myopia has supplanted understanding of broader scope.
    Randal Scott

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  27. #23

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    As to the polyphonic advantage of a guitar, is that taken advantage of all that much. Is there much done on a guitar that "requires" the ability to grab notes on all six strings at once? Perhaps. I guess the point is they are there if you need them.
    Some styles involve strumming all six or maybe five of six strings in between or along with melody notes.

    Other players grab two or three notes on the lower strings with their fingers while playing the melody line on the upper strings with a pick (Tony Rice did this as well as anyone possibly could IMO).

    And then there's the Celtic/New Age/Classical/whatever "fingerstyle" guitar playing that maps out every song in a way to play and/or allow to ring as many strings as possible through the tune.

    To my mind, none of that really maps into mandolin except the first item strummed chord/rhythm notes along with melody notes.
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    thought he had a wren in his mouth.
    He went around all day
    with his lips puckered,
    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

  28. #24

    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
    Some styles involve strumming all six or maybe five of six strings in between or along with melody notes.

    Other players grab two or three notes on the lower strings with their fingers while playing the melody line on the upper strings with a pick (Tony Rice did this as well as anyone possibly could IMO).

    And then there's the Celtic/New Age/Classical/whatever "fingerstyle" guitar playing that maps out every song in a way to play and/or allow to ring as many strings as possible through the tune.

    To my mind, none of that really maps into mandolin except the first item strummed chord/rhythm notes along with melody notes.
    Well sure there are countless examples in many music forms (it's why I simply posted Sabicas, as flamenco is exemplary of those forms that won't be played on a mandolin). Saying that other, larger instruments have "extra strings in case they're needed" is like saying "a bird has wings in case they're needed."

    The analogy of a piano is often used among classical/flamenco players (to say nothing of jazz) to conceptualize the approach to harmony/polyphony used on the guitar - self "accompaniment" often provided in the lower range, contrapuntalism, extended harmony, voicings, dynamics - all commonly deployed on guitar.
    Randal Scott

  29. #25
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Overwhelmed beginner - merging of styles/genres?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
    Some styles involve strumming all six or maybe five of six strings in between or along with melody notes.
    You are correct. And I ignored the guitar centric music, or music that has been played on or with guitar for so many years that its playing has been firmly adapted to guitar.

    To my mind, none of that really maps into mandolin except the first item strummed chord/rhythm notes along with melody notes.
    I think that looking for one to one mappings is kind of a mistake, kind of a distraction into the wrong direction.

    I bet that there is a lot of guitar music, maybe most of it, that can be played on the mandolin if you get away from trying to play it "guitarishly" on the mandolin. A mandolin player, in taking up something made popular on guitar, would listen to the music and then learn to play it on the mandolin. Not try to learn or emulate the guitar players technique on the mandolin, but play the tune on the mandolin using mandolinny technique.

    A great example:



    My goodness, listening to that for the first time one would assume it was always a mandolin piece, not a guitar piece. And in fact it isn't even a guitar piece. I recently learned that Asturias was written for piano!

    Or this, recently posted elsewhere. Check out Marty Stuart at 2 minutes and 50 seconds. He is not trying to play a guitar riff on the mandolin, he is playing mandolinny riffs to the music.

    Last edited by JeffD; Nov-22-2021 at 1:10pm.
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