Ornamentation For The Mandolin

Ornamentation For The Mandolin

Hello. Is there any ornamentation for the mandolin I should know about? What I mean is like for whistle there are rolls and such. I’m asking if there is any equivalent for the mandolin I should know about? Or any other ornaments in general.

Thanks!🙂

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

In a way it’s pretty much the same concepts (at least in the mind) …. pull ons,- push offs, - cuts, and rolls. I haven’t really aver mastered the mandolin so i can’t go into detail on the different rolls. It should in theory (meaning in my head) be pretty much the same as the fiddle, but then you have frets so I’m unsure.

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

Triplets, trebles, unisons/double stops, slides…..

Enda Scahill’s tenor banjo tutors are great and there’s crossover as regards the ornaments:

https://www.elderly.com/enda-scahill-s-irish-banjo-tutor.htm?___SID=U

Trad mandolin player Marla Fibish also has a DVD out that covers tunes and technique - I’ve had lessons from Marla, she’s great (she also does Skype lessons):

https://www.elderly.com/irish-mandolin-basics-tunes-and-technique.htm

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

I don’t play mandolin but if I did lessons from Marla would be a good. I’ve met her at music camp.

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Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

As a mandolin player of 24 years (for what that is worth), most of my ornamentation in dance tunes is based around ‘trebles’ - i.e. three pick strokes in the time of two 1/8-notes (quavers). The strokes are not generally equally spaced in time (hence avoidance of the term ‘triplet’) but tend towards two 1/16-notes and an 1/8-note. The strokes may be all on the same note, a different note on the middle stroke (a mordant) or on three consecutive notes (a run). Different (micro-)rhythmic effects can also be achieved according to whether the treble is placed on an downbeat or an upbeat and, in the case of jigs, whether it comes at the beginning or in the middle of the beat.

In addition to this, there are the other techniques that triplet upstairs mentions above. Another technique (or pair of techniques) that many mandolin players use is ‘hammering on’ and ‘pulling off’, which correspond approximately to taps and cuts on the whistle; these can be combined with picked notes to reproduce something close to rolls and crans as played on a wind instrument. (Admittedly, I am less adventurous than some mandolin players in that I make little use of hammer-ons and pull-offs, preferring to pick every note.)

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

…and I would second getting lessons with Marla Fibish if you have the opportunity. I’ve not met her, but her playing is second to none and I believe she has a excellent reputation as a teacher.

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

Good advice above. On mandolin, I use a lot of triplets (both trebles on one note, and moving triplets). I also do a lot of left hand ornaments (I’m a little weird in that department). I guess technically, most of my left hand ornaments would be classified as a cran, but I use them for the same kind of rhythmic effect as a triplet, in most cases. Double stops, sometimes a full chord, slides, leading tones, etc.

And I would third getting lessons with Marla. She played on my album, and also sat as an extra pair of ears in the studio for 3 days of mixing (which is a pretty painful thing to do). She is a great teacher, and a great person all around - as well as being one of the absolute best on mandolin! I only wish I had used her as a teacher when I was first starting!

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When should I use hammer ons and pull offs?

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

All of the above.

Hammer-ons and pull-offs can get a bit lost in a noisy session or with a dance band so don’t sacrifice rhythm and clarity in those situations - better to leave them out.

It really depends on how much volume and tone you produce, which in turn comes from having good equipment and good technique. The more volume you have, the more dynamic range you can use and the more expressively you can play. To put it another way, the louder your instrument, the more quietly you can play.

Most often, I play with a piano accordion player who has a very legato style so I try to add a bit of definition. There might also be a fiddle and banjo playing with us in which case I play a bit more freely. It gets a bit messy if we all ornament every note and phrase differently so I stick closely to the PA’s ornamentation unless I think there are places where the mandolin can play more expressively without muddying things.

Despite isolated historical examples, the mandolin is a relative newcomer to Irish and Scottish trad and there is no set way of doing things.

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Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

Best advice I can give is listen to Mick Moloney on mandolin - for example, his playing of the Kilfenora Jig (with Paul Brady on guitar) on Bitter Green, a Johnstons album from 69-70 or thereabouts. Mick told me he learned mandolin by walking round his flat with a mandolin round his neck, playing every moment he got!

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My favorite trad mandolin moment is probably on Eoin O’Neill’s "In Session" album, with Eddie Maloney and Liam Hickey, together with Eoin, on the Lough Mountain - Martin Wynn’s - Pip Murphy’s set. The style of mandolin playing is very different than what I’m used to hearing. The first tune is especially dramatic!

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

"When should I use hammer ons and pull offs?"

Whenever you want to, but be aware that none of them are as loud as picked notes. Playing in big sessions made it clear that I had to pick every note in order to be heard, but it’s still not my preferred style.

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Marla Fibish’s lesson on Connaughtman’s Rambles (jig). I’m hoping this will be helpful. My internet connection is slow so I have not yet been able to check out the entire lesson. But my gut tells me it may be worth a listen if you’re just learning mandolin. Hope so!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ESBrq76whY

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Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

Marla really brings that tune to life - it’s so easy to relegate old chestnuts like that to the wayside as our abilities improve, but that video is a perfect example of how great a simple tune can be in the hands of an accomplished player!

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True enough. But the chestnuts, warhorses, and simple tunes can also be great for players at any level of accomplishment I think.

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Oh absolutely - what I meant was we can tend to get dismissive of them as we progress and we need reminding how great they are.

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use double stops as much as possible - the mando is a relatively quiet instrument so in a session you’ll need any extra volume you can get and a fairly heavy guage pick, too. and yes the Connachtman’s Rambles is a cracking tune - if its good enough for Mairtin O ’ Connor to name an album after it should be good enough for the rest of us……..

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

"When should I use hammer ons and pull offs?"

When they sound and feel right. As you are new to the instrument, learn to play the tunes in a basic, solidly rhythmic fashion first. Then you can find ways to bring out the musicality you have learned through playing the whistle - experiment with the various ornamentation ideas suggested here, and maybe others besides. Don’t think too hard about it. Perhaps it is a sign of artistic impoverishment, but I don’t find much use for hammer-ons and pull-offs in jigs and reels.

Re: Ornamentation For The Mandolin

To expand a bit on what CMO says, hammer-ons and pull-offs can be used in two different ways: as cuts or taps , or as slurs. A cut is executed by hammering from a lower note to the main note as fast as possibly. Taps do the same with pull-offs from a note above to the main note. These can be more difficult initially because you need to place two fingers at the same time to prepare the pull. However once mastered they can create a stronger, "snappier" sounding ornament than the hammer-on. They can be applied the same way you would on a whistle.Roger Landes,by the way even plays rolls with a combination of hammers and pulls, but picks the final note.
Using hammers and pulls for slurs is more problematic because the second note, the slurred note, tends to be quieter than the first. For this reason some mandolin players, when they do use slurs, will slur from the stronger to the weaker beat- for example, in a jig, from the first note in a measure to the second note. I’ll do this occasionally but it never sounds quite right, since fiddle players for example normally slur from the weaker beat to the stronger. In my case my left hand has gotten pretty strong over the years so I prefer to do slurs the way a fiddle player would.
One more ornament I use is a treble played by dragging the pick accross the pair of strings slowly on the downstroke, creating the first two notes with a single downstroke followed by an up stroke for the longer 3rd note. For me it makes for a crunchier ornament.

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I’ve litterally never thought of that, five string. gonna have to give that a go! spicy!
Kelly, I’ve told you a lot of this on skype :P was gonna show you in our lesson on monday general sound of each and times that you can use them in. I lean towards more just rhythmic playing, sometimes forget ornaments even exist other than doublestops, some hammerons and trebels.