Getting Into Brazilian Choro Mandolin Jul 13, 2021

It's not much of a secret anymore (here in North America) that the mandolin is alive and well in Brazil.

While the mandolin in the U.S. has become associated with rural music, in Brazil the mandolin emerged primarily as an urban instrument, in the music called choro.

Luperce Miranda was...

Continue Reading...
 
Getting Into Klezmer Mandolin Jul 13, 2021

When I was in college, on a whim one semester I took an elective class called “Yiddish Music Performance Styles,” taught by Professor Hankus Netsky.

Prof. Netsky delivered amazing lectures: a well-researched history of klezmer music's origin in Eastern Europe and...

Continue Reading...
 
Left Hand Muting for Chords Jun 23, 2021

When you are strumming three or four strings at time on the mandolin, sometimes it’s great to let the notes on each string ring out until the next pick stroke. Open string chords sound great like this.

However, in most styles of music with a beat or a “groove,” you’ll need...

Continue Reading...
 
A Few of My Favorite Chords Jun 23, 2021

“These are a few of my favorite things….” so goes the great Rodgers & Hammerstein song.

In this post, I’ll simply share a few of my favorite chord voicings, all of which can be found in the solo arrangement of Choro Negro that you can hear in full at the top of the...

Continue Reading...
 
Your Mandolin is a Drum Set Jun 16, 2021

The mandolin, with its tightly wound strings and high treble sound, is the ideal instrument to play drum parts in a string ensemble.

For example, an essential function for the mandolin in bluegrass music is playing the snare drum parts of the groove on beats 2 & 4 of every measure - the...

Continue Reading...
 
"Pick Up Notes" and Counting In Songs Jun 05, 2021

Can you get the Woody Guthrie song “This Land Is Your Land" into your head for a minute? The first lyric is “This land is YOUR land.” 

I’ve used bold and italics to indicate that the song’s first down beat is on the word “your.” So where do we put...

Continue Reading...
 
How to Pick an Irish Jig on Mandolin Jun 02, 2021

It is very common for students learning traditional Irish dance music to excel at "reels" (the tunes in 4/4 time), while at the same time experience problems playing jigs, the tunes in 6/8 time.

This is perfectly understandable, as most of us have played lots of music in 4/4 time, but have...

Continue Reading...
 
Vibrato on the Mandolin May 26, 2021

The effect called “vibrato” is the default setting most of the time for classical violinists and vocalists.

When the Beatles called in a string quartet for the recording of “Eleanor Rigby,” producer George Martin struggled to convince the seasoned, classically-trained...

Continue Reading...
 
Rock Guitar Riffs on Your Mandolin May 13, 2021

When I was a kid, the music I first learned on guitar was "classic rock" - the Beatles, Carole King, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, etc...

A lot of my students play this same type of music on their mandolins. One question that has come up over and over again: "How do...

Continue Reading...
 
Walk That Bass! May 06, 2021

When I was a teenager, I learned to play the bass in my high school’s jazz band and musical theater pit orchestras. 

My first professional musician gigs were on bass as well - old fashioned big band gigs in a tuxedo and musical theater pits dressed in all black.

One great thing I took...

Continue Reading...
 
Two Essential Chords Hiding in Every Scale May 06, 2021

So, you've taken time to learn your major and minor scales.  In this lesson you'll learn the secret to using these scales to improvise intelligently and musically over any key.


Here's the way I learned my scales at first, probably the way you learned them too - starting on one and going up...

Continue Reading...
 
Adding Ornaments to Irish Music Apr 29, 2021

Back in the '90s while living in Boston I got hooked on learning Irish traditional dance music on the tin whistle.  In the performance at the top of this video, I play one of my favorite old whistle tunes on the mandolin.

What drew me in to these otherwise simple, repetitive melodies...

Continue Reading...
1 2