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We used to go to different people's houses, you know. In those days I mean they could hear music and - if somebody could play an instrument, man, they would get up at night, from one o'clock; and they'd fix food and they'd have drinks and they'd stay up till five, six o'clock in the morning and give you money. It wasn't a dance but a serenade; we'd go from house to house. In those days there wasn't too much things like juke boxes, high fidelity sound, wasn't nothing like that then; and whenever somebody could play and could play well, he was considered as somebody; he could go anywhere and he had it made, you know? - Baby Doo Caston, on playing music in Natchez in the 1920s, interview with Jeff Todd Titon

Author Topic: Blues Mandolin Instruction  (Read 11497 times)

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arbarnhart

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« on: September 22, 2005, 07:19:22 AM »
Can anyone recommend a good learning resource for the "next step"?

I got the Homespun DVD and while it was pretty good, I really didn't learn much except to play the specific songs exactly as transcribed. It is somewhat baffling because a lot of what is played doesn't fit in the scale.

I have Bud Orr's "Mandolin Anthology" from Mel Bay, which has a section on blues with some general information as well as a few tunes. This is pretty helpful as it presents ifo in a way that is pretty easy to cross reference against guitar instruction. I like this book a lot for more than just that section, BTW:
http://www.melbay.com/product.asp?productid=93952
there is instructional/refence material all through it. It is not just a song book.

I have played enough to discover a few riffs, but they have become something of a rut. There is a definite "sameness" to my lead play attempts. I also really haven't gotten the hang of making the harmony more than strumming. Looking for that "strum-da-de-de-dum" instead of "strum-upstrum-strum-upstrum" if you catch my drift. I have found it for a couple of changes.

Any recommendations?

Offline Slack

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2005, 07:22:05 AM »
Steve James instructional video - "Blues Mandolin" also at Homespun.

Offline uncle bud

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2005, 07:33:46 AM »
Can anyone recommend a good learning resource for the "next step"?

I got the Homespun DVD and while it was pretty good, I really didn't learn much except to play the specific songs exactly as transcribed. It is somewhat baffling because a lot of what is played doesn't fit in the scale.

I have Bud Orr's "Mandolin Anthology" from Mel Bay, which has a section on blues with some general information as well as a few tunes. This is pretty helpful as it presents ifo in a way that is pretty easy to cross reference against guitar instruction. I like this book a lot for more than just that section, BTW:
http://www.melbay.com/product.asp?productid=93952
there is instructional/refence material all through it. It is not just a song book.

I have played enough to discover a few riffs, but they have become something of a rut. There is a definite "sameness" to my lead play attempts. I also really haven't gotten the hang of making the harmony more than strumming. Looking for that "strum-da-de-de-dum" instead of "strum-upstrum-strum-upstrum" if you catch my drift. I have found it for a couple of changes.

Any recommendations?

I don't have any other recommendations for actual instructional material, but I found playing along with the records and figuring out the mandolin parts (or trying) to be tremendously helpful, and perhaps easier to get started on than figuring out guitar parts by ear, simply because one is often dealing with single note melodic lines or two finger chords. So playing along to Charlie McCoy or the Rags, Breakdowns, Stomps and Blues compilation on Document was helping me a lot. Unfortunately, I've let the mando playing slide for awhile...

arbarnhart

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2005, 07:50:53 AM »
Steve James instructional video - "Blues Mandolin" also at Homespun.

That is the very Homespun DVD I was referring to. Is there another one for mando blues?

Offline uncle bud

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2005, 08:04:40 AM »
You might want to check out Mandolin Magazine as well. See earlier in this thread for references to Rich Del Grosso articles in there (and a couple online).

Offline Slack

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2005, 08:05:10 AM »
Ooops.

I think Rich Delgrosso  is your next best bet.  I undestand he has a "Blues Mandolin Method" DVD coming out soon - you heard about this?

edit  You might also check mandolincafe.com for other resources - they have a small section on blues mando.

arbarnhart

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2005, 08:15:15 AM »
I think Rich Delgrosso? is your next best bet.? I undestand he has a "Blues Mandolin Method" DVD coming out soon - you heard about this?

No, I hadn't. I had heard he was working on a new book and then a saw a press release that semmed to indicate it is more of a history of mando blues ("Memphis to Beale St" or something like that). I didn't know about the DVD; that sounds promising.

edit? You might also check mandolincafe.com for other resources - they have a small section on blues mando.

Yes, I have been hanging out there as well. There are a few others there looking for that next step also.

Most likely the real answer is that it will take me more time than I want it to.

-Andy

Offline Slack

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2005, 08:22:09 AM »

arbarnhart

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Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2005, 07:29:32 AM »
I think Rich Delgrosso? is your next best bet.? I undestand he has a "Blues Mandolin Method" DVD coming out soon - you heard about this?

I emailed Rich about this and it is not a DVD:

Thanks for the inquiry. Hal Leonard will be publishing my book "Mandolin Blues: From Memphis to Maxwell Street" this winter. A CD is planned but not a DVD. I will announce if plans change.

I replied asking for a little more clarification about the book as the title sounds more like history than instruction and he added this:

The book will have history but also plenty of great music. I am really excited about it.


I did come up with a plan to try to make more progress. Using the guitar tabs that are in TEF (TabEdit/TabView) and displaying standard notation instead of tabs. I need to improve my sight reading anyway. Playing by ear is my preference, but that seems to work much better when you know phrases/riffs that are key relative rather than just noodling for notes.

arbarnhart

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Re: Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2005, 05:46:26 AM »
Just wanted to add a piece of advice someone gave me elsewhere that has helped. A lot of the bluegrass tunes are blues based. An example is Evening Prayer Blues. There is a tab file out on co-mando that works with TabView (free viewer/player) and if you set the tempo to around 70 (instead of 150, which is the standard) it sounds quite bluesy. This works for a lot of BG tabs. You just have to try them and listen (TabView plays using midi). Some songs have some great licks buried in there and you see mando tab that you don't have to transpose.

BTW, one thing I found in that Evening Prayer Blues example is how the occasional slide up to a note really adds a blues feel. It's easily overdone. I started adding it to a bunch of licks and a little goes a long way.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2005, 07:51:28 AM »
BTW, if you haven't heard it, check out the Chicago String Band album just added to the Juke. Some nice mando on there...

Muddyroads

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Re: Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2005, 06:42:08 AM »
Just wanted to add a piece of advice someone gave me elsewhere that has helped. A lot of the bluegrass tunes are blues based.

While this is true, most bluegrass mandolin is derived from  Monroe's style.  After 35+  years of playing mandolin, the blues and Monroe  subsets do intersect, but ...there is a world of difference in them.  I have found that I drew as many blues mandolin licks from the likes of organist Jimmy Smith,  and the great Louis Armstrong as I did from bluegrass.  Any early Monroe recording, especially  Honky Tonk Swing or Bluegrass Stomp, will give you a feel for Montroe's approach to blues.  Listening and absorbing the old blues masters will give you a whole different approach to the music.  That along with listening to blues played on a wide range of instruments.

Our modern ears often want to hear things differently than the old masters may have played them.  We are exposed to far more music in many more styles than they were.  Learn your blues scales, including chord structures.  Do this either by studying and knowing your I-II-V for each chord along with the VII (that is the flatted 7th that makes the blue note) and any further extnetions of the chord , depending on how uptown you want to go.  Know when you are holding a chord what notes you are playing .  Is there a III in that chord?  Or is it two I's and a V?.

Unlike the guitar, with only 4 strings, you may not get every note for the chord you want.  Experiment and find the inversions and voicings that  let you  play what you hear.  A I and V will be more cutting than the sweeter I and III in a double stop.  A I and  flatted III of the I chord will give you a nice vibe on the IV chord.

This was understood by the older fellows who played either intuitively or intentionally.  Your  task, if you are up to it, is to learn this very same thing.

Happy picking,

Muddy Roads

arbarnhart

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Re: Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2005, 08:00:27 AM »
Sometimes I feel like I am stumbling along when I stick to blues while learning. I do know a bit of theory and I can locate the scales and chords in all keys. Not instantly, and sometimes the voicing I try first is pretty bad and I don't have the dexterity I want yet. More practice and drills are needed of course; no amount of knowledge is getting me around that. Right now, I am working hard on crosspicking. The book I am working through is centered around bluegrass and fiddle tunes. Some are bluesy and others can be with just the occasional flatted III or VII note and a change of tempo and/or emphasis. So it isn't so much that I think that bluegrass is the best route to blues in general as it is the easiest route to mandolin proficiency with enough commonality to greatly enhance my ability to play blues on the mando. Jazz might be a closer match and there are a lot of resources for that (www.jazzmando.com is an awesome place to start) but the level of knowledge and skill seemingly expected to begin learning jazz from the resources I have found makes it a more advanced topic.

To some degree, I am just a frustrated low intermediate who wants to be more advanced right away. Also, what may amount to a confession in this forum - acoustic blues is a favorite, but I do enjoy playing other genres. Sometimes I play bluegrass like bluegrass (oh, the shame of it all  :D )
« Last Edit: October 18, 2005, 12:00:40 PM by arbarnhart »

Offline Flatd7

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Re: Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2006, 02:22:57 PM »
Ronnie McCoury is a wonderful Bluegrass mandolin player that integrates a lot of blues into his playing. His father Del writes quite a few tunes in the Key of E, which is not that common for Bluegrass. His DVD on Homespun is quite deep. Other than "How Long", I wouldn't say it is a blues lesson, but much of it translates very to blues. (Thus the BLUE in Bluegrass)

I've also found the Andy Statman CD set, Jazz Mandolin to be helpful. It ventures into more swing and jazz stylings but thoroughly disects Bill Monroe's blues licks, which are the fundementals by which you can base a lot of playing.

arbarnhart

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Re: Blues Mandolin Instruction
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2007, 10:04:12 AM »
Rich DelGrosso's new book is out!

It is reviewed here:http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=114&topic=3014.0. I have it and highly recommend it if you want to play blues on the mandolin.

 


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