Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

So, I’m learning to play Mandolin and had about 15 tunes learned in my first year when I met up with a seasoned session musician a few months ago. He advised me that I had learned the Jigs I knew wrong because I was picking them in the DUD UDU pattern and not emphasizing the appropriate notes. Unfortunately, I learned by ear or by slowing down youtube videos, so I was just focused on learning the notes of the tune, not the picking pattern.

Obviously playing Trad music for just over a year I’m hungry to learn enough tunes to start attending a session, but I keep passing over Jigs because I haven’t yet mastered the picking pattern. I also stopped playing the ones I knew because I feel like its probably not worth practicing them wrong and maybe making it harder to learn the picking pattern.

There has to be a way I can get my right hand and my head synced up, and most importantly up to speed because that’s the most frustrating part, feeling so good playing certain tunes and having them sound like they should. To playing a jig and sounding like I’m in my first month again because I’m so focused on the picking. I’m just wondering has anyone got any exercises, videos or tips to help me master the DUD DUD picking pattern.

Go raibh mile maith agat,

Alan

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

You could choose to ignore the advice, and play jigs as you are for the moment. Refinements of technique will develop in time anyway.

And, there’s surely no physical reason why one cannot accentuate up strokes…?

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

What notes was he suggesting were the ‘appropriate’ notes to emphasise?

Jigs are 2 beats per bar with 3 notes per beat which is why you have the DUD DUD and DUD UPU rhythms.

The general consensus is to accentuate the 1st beat and 2nd beat.

You don’t have to take the advice of others just because they are ‘seasoned’ - it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an expert especially if it’s demotivating you from playing.

At the end of the day just keep playing and learning whatever tunes you enjoy and down the line you might realise what beats you want to accentuate instead and only have to make small adjustments to do so.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Agreed Jerry, there is no physical reason at all. Bearing in mind I’m a beginner that loves to listen to trad, my untrained ear never told me that The Connaught Man Rambles was a jig until I saw that an hour ago while browsing this site haha. I learned that last month and I’ve been playing it in DUD UDU along with versions I found on Spotify and it sounds grand. If you reckon learning DUD DUD is something to be refined over time I should just get back to learning jigs then? I’d be happy with that.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I think the DUD DUD pattern is useful for people just starting out on both mandolin and Irish music in general, if you’re not already very familiar with the jig pulse. It helps burn that feel into "muscle memory." Once you’ve been playing long enough, you can then be more flexible. For one thing, ornamentation like pull-offs or "trebles" can break up a fixed pattern.

Personally, I play jigs on mandolin mostly with alternating strokes DUD UDU, focusing more on getting a good pulse going than which direction the pick is moving. I do make sure that I start the beginning of an important phrase or change of section with a downstroke. Other than that, it’s whatever the tune requires and not a rigid pattern.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

just play scales practicing picking in DUD DUD DUD DUD DUD DUD DUD DUD. Just to muddy things up a bit. Jig, reels, hornpipes, etc should have a preponderance of down strokes - it’s different than bluegrass where you’re trying to play smooth and DUDUDUDUDUDUDUDUDU gets you there. A preponderance means many or most, not all. Another good exercise is to practice scales (or tunes) with all down strokes. For fun also do scales with all up strokes. Cross picking and other things will require you to do what you have to do, but in general try to use mostly down strokes, it helps with the rhythm. When you start learning triplets do those DUD followed by a down (DUD D) - that will give you a great bounce. Not always possible but suggested

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I’m not sure what "Mastering the Picking Pattern" means, but I’ve only been playing for 15 years or so.
Traditional music can be played on instruments which don’t have a Picking Pattern.
If you are learning tunes and playing with others you will figure out what is best for you.
Don’t get hung up on this, dont let it put you off.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I am a big proponent of picking DUD DUD for jigs, and I try to get all of my students to learn how to do it, but I don’t think it’s mandatory by any means. If something else works for you and your jigs sound like jigs, then there’s nothing to worry about. There are a lot of great players that don’t play DUD DUD patterns. What I have found, however, is that people that didn’t grow up immersed in Irish traditional music can often benefit quite a bit from using that picking pattern. However, if another player pointed out that your accents weren’t right on a jig, it might be worth giving it a shot!

There IS a physical reason that it’s easier to accentuate a down stroke, it’s called gravity. That’s not to say that you can’t emphasize an up stroke too. But the real reasons to use DUD DUD is the fact that it naturally helps give you the right rhythm. In a jig, the first note is long, the second note is short, and the third note is somewhere in between. And the notes that will generally get emphasized are 1 or the 3 (and basically never 2). So with DUD DUD, you are starting with a strong note, giving a short up stroke, and then a strong third note, but then you have to move your hand back up to hit another down stroke, so it shortens the 3 a bit, naturally.

I started out picking jigs DUD UDU, and didn’t make the change until I had been playing for a couple of years. I remember that it felt like it ruined my jig playing for several months, but I found it to be worth it! As for how to get it ingrained, it’s really going to be repetition. So run some drills with it — picking scales, or make up other exercises, like picking the notes DAD DAD repeatedly, and then picking ADA ADA, so that you’re jumping from string to string. If you’re picking DUD DUD on those, they will feel different from each other. Most people find picking ADA ADA easier, because you’re picking in the direction your hand is moving. But it’s important to practice both. Another drill that I have seen help people with this is simply start with picking along with a jig, but don’t pick the up strokes, just pick the 1 and 3 down, so you’re basically picking D D D D D D to the jig, and then eventually that will become so natural that you can add the up strokes in pretty easily.

Instead of trying to retrofit the new picking on jigs you already know, try learning a new one with the DUD DUD pattern. After learning a few jigs that way, it will become so ingrained that you will never need to think of which direction your hand is going on a jig again (and the jigs you already know will start to fall in place with the new picking pattern).

One caveat I have to this, however. If you’re strictly picking with a DUD DUD pattern, and you want to play a triplet, you have a bit of a conundrum. Most people like to pick their triplets starting on a down stroke. If you do that, no matter where you put the triplet, you’re going to do 3 down strokes in a row, either at the beginning or the end of the triplet. A triplet in a jig will pretty much always be on the 1 and 2 (what I call "front side" triplets), or the 2 and 3 ("back side" triplets). Front side: DUD (dud)D DUD… You’ll notice that the triplet finishes with a down stroke, followed by a down stroke for the 3 and another down stroke for the following 1. Back side: DUD D(dud) DUD… There, you’ll notice that you also have 3 downs in a row with the 3, the 1, and the beginning of the triplet. There are a couple ways around this. I actually do most of my triplets just like that, but I consider a triplet to be a "gesture" and not 3 individual strokes, but it can still mess up my timing if I’m playing fast. Some people (including myself, occasionally) will do triplets that start on an up stroke (so DUD (udu)D DUD…), and those are pretty easy once you get the hang of them. And I do a fair number of left hand ornaments in jigs as well.

So don’t feel like you HAVE to change your picking pattern to become a good player, but it has definitely helped out a lot of players, including myself. (And the easiest path isn’t always the best path… 😉) Best of luck!

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Go ahead and play jigs! Experienced musicians’ opinions can guide you, particularly if you’re unhappy with your progress or sound, but there are certainly differing opinions on the subject of picking pattern.

You CAN switch picking styles after learning a tune one way, though it requires retraining brain and muscle. You expand your toolset when you try different methods. DUD DUD lends itself to a driving rhythm. And the ability to play two downstrokes in a row will help technique in all tune types (particularly slip jigs, polkas, and basically anything with triplets).

But there are many players who prefer DUD UDU sound. Important, though: with this picking pattern, don’t let gravity inadvertently accent the downstroke in the middle of the UDU. This gives jigs an unwanted waltz feel. If you’ve heard a new bodhrán player play a jig, you’ll know what I mean (BA pa BA pa BA pa…).

I switched from DUD UDU to DUD DUD as my basic jig pattern after a few years of playing mandolin and tenor banjo, both to streamline my rhythm and to get more nimble on slip jigs. At first it seemed unnatural, but what I find helps is to think of the two Ds differently. the first beat [*D*UD] gets more follow-through, so my pick is ready to strike the string on the next upstroke. The second, [DU*D*], is struck, but not followed-through, so the pick has less space to travel to get ready for the next downstroke. See if that helps?

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Cross-posted similar thoughts with Reverend, ha!

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

well, you know… great minds and all… 😉

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I don’t play at sessions because of tempo (I’m too slow), but I noted a while back that I was doing DUD UDU on a few jigs that I was playing. I simply slowed the tempo a bit and worked on DUD DUD on those and then once I remedied the issue upped the tempo. On reading several ITM tutors, they universally emphasized DUD DUD as the session master mentioned by the OP for the same reason-getting the rhythm and emphasis correct.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

So, how does one reconcile the DUD DUD advice with the more generic "take the least energy path" tenor banjo approach of Tony Sullivan and other players? In Sully’s instructional books you might do DUD UDU or DDU DUU or whatever is the shortest path for the notes. I originally learned tenor banjo playing DUD DUD. I regret it now when I watch tenor banjo players who I most enjoy perform. They appear to go where they need to and are able to put the emphasis on the U or D as required independent of any fixed pattern. To me, the overall feel and pulse with this "least energy path" method to me sounds more "traditional"

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

"So, how does one reconcile the DUD DUD advice with the more generic "take the least energy path" tenor banjo approach of Tony Sullivan and other players?"

I’m not familiar with banjo technique, but the foundation is whether you know what a jig sounds like in this tradition, from listening to enough recordings if you don’t have local players to study. If that pulse is internalized in your mind and body, you can get the pulse right whatever your pick direction is.

DUD DUD is helpful in the learning stages if you don’t know what a jig should sound like. It’s a crutch, basically.

Once you’ve got the music in your head, ears, and tapping feet, you don’t need patterns. Especially once you start using ornaments like hammer-ons, pull-offs, "trebles" and faked rolls with a combination of hammers and pulls, because on a fretted instrument those are guaranteed to throw off fixed patterns.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

That was exactly my observation as well, once you starting adding double or triples, you’re out of sync with any fixed pattern, so I have been forcing myself to be much more flexible in my picking direction and working on fluidity and pulse independent of pick direction. It’s been a lot to "un-learn".

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I find there’s also a difference between what serves best depending on whether one is leading a tune, playing a solo/or arranged piece, or joining in with other musicians in a session.

If it’s the first couple of examples, I may consciously put a little more thought into the pick direction to emphasise certain notes or drive the tune in a particular way. However, when I’m following or playing along with other musicians I may need to adapt my playing style to suit especially on those occasions when I may be less familiar with a tune.

Unfortunately, I taught myself to play mandolin and it’s one of the few instruments where I didn’t receive any lessons. I even had some on the guitar although I didn’t consider them to be much use back in the day as the teachers didn’t really focus on the style of music I wanted to learn! So much of my mandolin playing is influenced by guitar and fiddle. In some ways this is good as for many players it’s usually one or the other and not both.

When I first started on mandolin, I didn’t think about pick direction too much. It was usually DUDUDUD although I eventually tried out other ideas. However, I don’t usually follow any hard fast rules. It really depends on what I consider is best for the tune at any particular time. As others have said, ornaments e.g. part rolls, hammer ons, pull offs, slides, even the occasional tremelo(used very sparingly in trad) can affect any pick pattern. Also, I may or may not use my pinkie on certain tunes to save me crossing strings.. … and playing double strings and including part chords etc can also make changes necessary too.

Having said all that, I always think that it’s good to learn the rules for various techniques so that you can break them when it suits rather than not knowing them in the first place. 🙂

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I’m not a string player, but I did want to add that the strongest guitar accompanist I’ve played with does DUD DUD for jigs. (Actually often D_D DUD, leaving out the 2nd of the six beats in a bar of Jig, meaning that four of the five strokes are downstrokes.)

About the "path of least resistance" pickers, what do they do for slip jigs?

| DUD UDU DUD | UDU DUD UDU | ?

My friend would do

| D_D DUD DUD | D_D DUD DUD | which clearly underlines the rhythm.

(Yes I know that the tunes themselves might have built-in syncopation etc.)

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

When I learned the jig picking pattern on the guitar for accompaniment I was taught to think of it as DownDownUp. But in fact what was meant was d|DU dDU d|DUd etc
Where the small ‘d’ represents a weaker down stroke.
Hope this makes sense but it really helped me learn the pattern

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Michael, for me, at least, having any confusion or uncertainty at all about which way I want to pick something messes up my rhythm. That’s not to say that I couldn’t work through it, but as it is now, I literally never think about which way I’m picking because it’s so consistent. So I can put whatever brain power that frees up toward my expression of the tune. And just because I’m picking in a consistent pattern doesn’t mean that the emphasis can’t change. The other thing that a strict picking pattern helped me with was opening up the world of melodic variation. If I decide to play different notes on different strings than normal, I still know which direction I’m going to pick those notes - so no confusion = no rhythm problems.

But I know what you mean… I find it interesting to watch someone who picks any which direction well, and at times the picking pattern can still feel like a bit of a crutch.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

My issue with the pattern stuff is that it suggests that you only ever play a string once per beat. I don’t play that way.
By the time you put in leading notes, rolls and such like you might be actually playing 2, 3, 4 times more notes. I like to play and listen and respond to what’s going on around me.

Accompaniests don’t have this role.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Richard, they wouldn’t even think about a pattern, they would go whichever direction that takes them through the tune with the least number of reversals, would be tune dependent, and would change based on ornamentation. Asking which pattern a pattern-less player would use is a bit of a contradiction.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

In his book, For Guitar Players Only, Tommy Tedesco talked about economy picking which he employed. Basically that’s alternate picking except that when he moved to a lower string (i.e., higher in pitch) he always started with a downstroke.

To my surprise, I discovered that’s how I picked, so it must be sort of intuitive, me never having had a teacher. But I found that this wasn’t necessarily best for me picking fiddle tunes and so taught myself DUDU etc. for reels and DUD DUD for jigs. Being a lefty, playing right handed, I found this worked best for me, but everyone is different.

For accompaniment of jigs I often use the D_D DUD mentioned above or DUD D_D DUD DUD. I reckon these are all coping mechanisms because my right wrist is not very fast (can’t do tremolo with my right hand but can do it no problem with my left).

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I’m with allan21 - as soon as a jig measure doesn’t have six notes, a strict DUD DUD (or DUD UDU) pattern goes out the window. Same thing for reels etc. and if you’re playing ornaments (fewer notes? more notes?). Prepare to adapt to the tune and/or make sure you plan ahead.

I mainly play DUD UDU if the measure allows it, and if I’m not doing anything else. In that case, a so-called triplet (front or back) is invariably UDU (=front - U/D/ U D back - D U/D/ U ).

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Ive been playing tunes on banjo and mandolin for 30-40 years and I cant tell you what direction my pick goes. Is that bad? When i try to analyse it, I cant play properly anymore. I also found my picking of irish trad tunes sounds better if I learn tunes by playing along with fiddlers and just concentrate on capturing their swing. just my two bobs worth.

ps. I can play trebles - not like Kieran Hanhrahan but passable.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

My 0.02.

Having played from 1990 to about 2004ish. Laying off for 14 years and starting back May ‘18.

I initially started playing “willy-nilly” (ie, no pattern at all) and I’d say it worked out sort of ok. I had a professional recording session musician for a guitar teacher. He would ALWAYS comment on my lack of picking patterns. He’d tell me that I would never develop the speed and consistency that I was looking for without it. I was young, foolish, and knew everything after all so I didn’t listen.

Starting back last year (May ‘18) I employed Enda Scahill’s tenor banjo tutor and I have to say, at least for myself, using picking patterns has improved speed and musicality 100 fold. The DUDUDUDU for Reels and DUD DUD (although Enda also recommends a DUD UDU pattern too for a “lyrical” feel) has been a miracle for my playing. I’m playing in the 120 BPM zone comfortably. It’s so automatic now that it’s a feeling as opposed to a thought. Diligent and slow practice for many, many hours to “unlearn” old bad habits has created this.

Patterns may be a crutch and may not work for everyone but for me they have been a blessing. I wish I would have listened to my teacher all of those years ago.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I personally find the insistence on DUD DUD to be a bunch of bunk. I’ve been playing DUD UDU for 14 years and don’t feel it’s hurt my playing a bit. Far more important is focusing on using downstrokes to begin triplets, and on the first beat of the measure in reels.
FWIW, if you look at Enda Scahill’s Tutor he says the exact same thing.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Some accomplished mandolin instructors I’ve had over the past 10 years have said essentially that ‘every tune is unique, so the picking pattern for the way you want to play any given tune is specific to that tune’. This implies that picking ‘patterns’ may sometimes be too general of a solution to fit a particular tune.

For example, as has been mentioned above, introducing ornamentation, such as triplets, requires modification of the ‘pattern’. There’s no reason why one can’t apply the desired emphasis to any given stroke regardless of picking direction. Doing a lot of listening to players that you want to emulate can help with developing a sense of how a tune should sound. Is is swung? Are there dynamics? If you can achieve the sound you want, the picking pattern will be unimportant. As has also been mentioned earlier in this thread, as you become more proficient, your playing will become more economical, efficient, and faster.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Do DUD DUD anyway. It’s not really that hard. I was surprised how quickly I caught on. I’m still getting the hang of playing Irish music, and jigs in particular are hard after so many years of breakdowns and polkas, but it’s really not that bad and if I start to mess up or get tired, I leave out a note now and then to give myself a chance to get situated again. People can’t hear me do it. I’m always trying to improve. I’ll get there.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Here’s one of the jig transcriptions from "Sully’s Irish Banjo Book" showing specifically some examples of "shortest path" pick direction.

Several places in the tune notation where the pick moves in the same direction for multiple notes particularly when there are string changes:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/xmY6c18T29Li6Y5e9

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

The other thing for me is that playing willy nilly (or the economy of motionstyle of Sully) feels jerky and uncoordinated, and playing with a steady hand rhythm (either DUD DUD or DUD UDU) feels like my hand is dancing to the music. For the people that are mentioning that everything goes out the window if you need to ornament and play more (or fewer) notes, that’s kind of true, but it doesn’t have to completely go out the window. You can add strokes or triplets (see my first post on this thread) and still come back to the hand rhythm. And I will often do leading notes or slides, where I am hitting the string early, even with the picking pattern. If you are playing a quarter note (or longer), you just keep your hand rhythm going without hitting the strings…

Again, I think the DUD DUD pattern was really helpful to me when I first started out, so I suggest it for my students, especially if they’re struggling with playing jigs with a nice rhythm. But I am also of the mind that everybody can decide for themselves how they want to play. If you play jigs nicely, I don’t care what hand rhythm (if any) you use.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

The basic jig pattern I was taught is DUDUDU. Or on percussion rlr lrl
There are 2 beats in the bar strong weak , by playing dud dud you then have to actively make sure your second beat is weak with your strong pick direction . Counter intuitive .
As an advanced player of 45 yrs I don’t use any particularly pattern as every tune has it’s own pattern and with variation that changes every time.
However if I’m playing a basic jig rhythm on drums, backing guitar , or picking the melody or bowing on fiddle it’s dud udu.
I’ve heard the rev propound the dud dud approach and each to their own but for me why would I change when it works for me !?

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

In my experience with octave mandolin, mandolin, guitar, and ukulele, DUD DUD isn’t necessarily essential but it sure does feel good when your right hand locks in that jiggety-jig rhythm. Not a bad thing at all to have in your bag of tricks.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

"I’ve heard the rev propound the dud dud approach and each to their own but for me why would I change when it works for me !?" I’m not asking you to change it… But you’re not a beginner, and having played for 45 years, you should have pretty well internalized the jig rhythm… 😉

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Fair enough rev , but still even for a beginner I wouldn’t recommend it because of the reasons I mentioned above . Why would it be better on one instrument but not another ? The rhythm is in the tune . Personally I think dud udu is the best approach as by its very nature it emphasizes the first beat of the bar as the strong beat and the second as the weak and it applies to all the instruments I mentioned . Bodhran fiddle guitar banjo etc .
There are many ways to skin a cat .
Take a slip jig , would you pick that dud dud dud ?
I mean I follow alternate picking as a basic standard so dud udu dud then udu dud udu etc would be how I play . Which does require that I emphasize the one on both a down and an up beat and again that would apply to both bowing ,beating a drum or picking a tune .
Saying that I think flexibility and adaptability are essentials so certainly I’d advise trying every approach and possibility and finding what works for you . Dud udu is the basic but beyond that try udu dud , udu udu dud dud ddu ddu and every combination .
When learning drum kit fundamentals we do all this kind of thing as technical exercises , singlexstroke , double stroke , paradidles etc etc etc , pages and pages of dots on paper , teaching to lead with both hands . But the basic … is rlr lrl or 123 223 on bodhran dud udu …..

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

@Will Evans: I understand what you’re saying, and it’s the way I approach flatpicking this music on mandolin. But I think the DUD DUD is aimed more at people not like us, who are coming to this music for the first time, and have never heard a jig in their lives. It’s not a common rhythm in the types of Americana-based music many fretted instrument players have played for years before discovering Irish trad.

DUD DUD gets beginners familiar with the rhythm, burning it into muscle memory (whatever that is). Then when you have it internalized, you can go into alternate picking or whatever suits the music. The jig pattern usually comes before ornaments for newcomers, so they haven’t even discovered yet how ornaments break up fixed patterns. Getting the rhythm right comes first.

BTW, I started as a kit drummer in my teenage years after bailing out of piano lessons as a kid, and I still enjoy confounding my fiddler S.O. with the paradiddle tapping rhythm on a tabletop. Doing a paraddidle at speed takes some practice. 🙂

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B1IQj83NCgI A paradiddle for those curious

This is the basic jig rhythm as I have it for all strings and bodhran
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nqWbQcTgIbU

Same pattern on backing guitar
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ArglhpyOG1k

Her we have the dud dud taught as advanced after the basic dud udu which give a feel of doubling up , to my ear sound like 2 bars of 3/8 and somewhat pushy or driving , interesting effect a la Andy Irvine
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-MGCrr7CWAM

Hmm , so maybe it’s time I moved onto the more advanced pattern !! 🙂
Seriously though this 3/8 approach certainly seems to drive and push the music along but does it not lose the more relaxed feel of allowing the jig to breath ? Jigs and in particular slip jigs are my favourite form so I’d be curious to get a few answers as to how this dud dud approach would apply to a slip jig , is it how you play them ?

Approaching a jig in the dud dud fashion seemed to me to lose the 6/8 feel and logically would lead to a more 3/8 feel and the bazouki guy proves my point imo .
So then one could legitimately ask are we sacrificing a relaxed and rolling approach in favour of a pushy driving form ? Like moving from horseback to a motor bike ?
And here’s the approach I was recommending in a formal drum style applying various forms of paradiddles to the 6/8 rhythm but in this case we are applying it to picking , so R is D and L is U
http://www.drumscore.com/15-resources/19-level-3/925-the-paradiddle-in-6-8-accents

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I’m pretty sure the "muscle memory" myth has been put to bed and is lying next to "10,000" hours of practice.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

The phrase "muscle memory" is just a convention, it doesn’t literally mean your muscles have neurons with memory storage.

Read the phrase backwards — memory of how the muscles should move — and it makes perfect sense, as a brain function where memory is reinforced by repetition of muscle movements, to the point where playing a tune or learning a new rhythm becomes automatic, and you don’t have to think about it.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I’m intrigued by Will’s application of paradiddle patterns to mandolin. Since you mention translating L and R to U and D: what about picking *reels* in the paradiddle fashion demonstrated in the first drum video (i.e. DUDD UDUU)? It would be an interesting exercise to try to get a good feel out of a counterintuitive pattern.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I can’t see any use for a paradiddle rhythm when flatpicking reels at dance tempo, because sequential DD or UU pick motions would slow you down, compared to alternate picking.

The reason it works as a drum rudiment played very fast (like that video example above) is that you’re taking advantage of the stick bouncing off the drum head or practice pad. Any fast drum rudiment like a snare roll or paradiddle is basically controlled bouncing. The sideways back and forth motion of the pick through the strings is completely different, and in some cases requires jumping over to a different string. It’s a much less efficient movement than bouncing a drum stick.

Patterns with sequential strokes like DUD DUD can still work for a jig because the tempo and phrasing is usually a little more relaxed than a reel at full dance tempo. But it’s still less efficient than alternate DUD UDU picking when the tempo picks up in a jig.

The paradiddle DUDDUDUU would also make it harder to emphasize the off-beat 2 and 4 notes in a reel (if that’s what you want) by reversing the pick motion on those beats. And it would probably be even more confusing when the pattern is broken by trebles or other ornaments.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

As I said each tune has its own picking pattern that relates to where the notes are on the instrument , which direction you are going from the previous note triplets etc etc etc .
I suggest technical exercises such as paradiddles etc simply to facilitate the ability to actually play tunes without conscious thought as to direction etc etc . So that there are no technical limitations in the way of musical expression .
I work from a simple alternate picking as my base from that we might get sweep picking with 2 3 or 4 notes on a down stroke for example .
I mean I have literally been working with a pick since I was 9 ,started giggin at 13 , so to be honest at that age it was all by ear and with no technical base whatsoever, I’m quite sure there are holes in my approach and I’m still open to learning new forms and ways .

The down stroke and dominant hand give a natural emphasis so that can be used but just as importantly we need to learn to lead from both Hands and to emphasize a beat with both directions . We may never achieve this perfectly but it’s important imo to be versatile enough to at least get by .
Paradiddles although played on a pad as exercises come into their own on a kit . The same approach , technical exercises , on mandolin , on one string one note , can then be incorporated where suitable within the tunes .
Remember the idea is to remove technical constraints so as to facilitate music making . A means to an end .
Cross post there with conical bore . We are basically in agreement my point regarding paradiddles and their application to picking is to become fluent in mixing it up a bit with a base of alternate picking but being able to instinctualy vary that where needed due to the melody

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

No, there’s no memory involved in "muscle memory": its simply repeating a specific muscular movement until it becomes more accurate and consistent. Its practicing playing tunes.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

We’ll have to agree to disagree about whether memory is involved in the process of becoming more accurate and consistent when practicing. The fingers don’t move themselves.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

"Muscle Memory" is really referring to neural pathways that have developed in the brain (in this case, mostly in the primary motor cortex) from repetitive actions. We do it for everything. When you were a little kid, you had to learn how to brush your teeth and it was a bit of a challenge, but all these years later, we’ve done it so many times that it just becomes natural, and we don’t have to dedicate much active conscious brain to doing it. It’s the same thing with music (and everything else). So you’re kind of both right. The muscles don’t have any memory, but neither are you actively needing to recall much from your memory, because you have the strengthened neural pathway "subroutine" that takes care of the physicality of it for you.

For people that are interested, I highly recommend reading The Immutable Laws of Brainjo, which is a blog written by a banjo (clawhammer) playing neurologist, who talks a lot about how learning to play music works in our brains. https://clawhammerbanjo.net/the-immutable-laws-of-brainjo-the-art-and-science-of-effective-practice/

He talks a bit about muscle memory, including in Episode 33 https://clawhammerbanjo.net/episode-33-getting-better-at-banjo/

But I recommend reading the whole thing (even though it’s talking about a different style of traditional music, and he keeps trying to sell you his clawhammer banjo course). It’s definitely worth the read to find out more about how our brains work. And he gives a lot of advice on practice techniques that are efficient, etc.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD [MST] on Mandolin

It’s a musician thing to talk about "muscle memory". It’s not that musicians don’t develop their motor sequence tasks, they just don’t use terms like that.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4966959/

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

"I can’t see any use for a paradiddle rhythm when flatpicking reels at dance tempo, because sequential DD or UU pick motions would slow you down, compared to alternate picking."
Agreed. I wrote a lot at first, started joking with myself over whether considering R and L as equivalent to D and U was a proper equivalency, and then looked at the resulting pattern and thought, "You know what, DUDD UDUU is only two strokes removed from the DUD DUD pattern. Who am I to say this wouldn’t be a useful exercise for pick dexterity?" So take it as a lame attempt at humor or a serious exercise. Either way, this thread has been a good read!

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Re neural function:

Another interesting capacity in humans is lateralization, mobility, etc. Basically - and still with incomplete understanding of our own brains and faculties - we seem to be able to assimilate or delegate functions or capacities or knowledge bases (cognition and memory), intelligences, etc to various areas of the brain. Storage and retrieval is still only being studied. This makes speculations on matters of rhythm especially intriguing.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

And of course there are double paradiddles and sheets of possible alternatives .
I realized the equivalence when learning complex compound meters and rhythms based on those meters .
So a 123 12 12 rhythm starts as RLL RL RL which translates to DUU DU DU
123 123 12 12 = RLL RLL RL RL =DUU DUU DU DU
This is just attaining the basic rhythm , just as I wouldnt think I will do a paradiddle here , all this kind of stuff gets internalized and can be extemporized upon .

Still no answer regarding slipjigs ?
FWIW
123 223 323 or
1+a 2+a 3+a

RLR LRL RLR | LRL RLR LRL is a basic slip rhythm developing ambidexterity and how I teach it .
On bodhran it’s DUD UDU DUD |UDU DUD UDU
With emphasis on the 1

From there you could go through alternatives
DUU DUU DUU
DUD DUD DUD
UDD UDD UDD
uDU UDU UDU
DUD DUU UDD
And then 2 bars also mixed up !!!! 😎
Etc etc etc repeat each bar a dozen times always hitting the 1 so your rhythm is clear
Would I play a slip jig DUD DUD DUD ? No ! Would anyone ?!

Or alternately you could forget the whole thing and just play tunes 🙂


Or … do both , do the technical exercises and master the art of rhythm , then forget it all and just play tunes …

For people who’s rhythm is not good . This kind of thing. One string one note , is a good basic practice . Isolate , practice , incorporate .

Shame there isn’t a good equivalent for whistlers !
Every note has to be spot on to develop good solid rhythmical playing . AFTER that move on to expressive playing imo

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Here’s to plasticity!

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

"Would I play a slip jig DUD DUD DUD ? No ! Would anyone ?! "
I would! And do. DUD UDU DUD | DUD UDU DUD also works.

The original post was about melody, but it’s worth pointing out that for especially for backing jigs, the DUDDUD pattern naturally gives a ‘lift’ that can really propel the tune. Beats 3 and 6 are really important here. At least that’s been my experience playing for contradances. And for me, the pattern translates well to a foundation for melody playing, although as pointed out above there are exceptions for string crossings, ornaments, etc. And of course any combination of up/down can work as long as you can give it the jig feel.

But as an example, listen to John Doyle and Liz Carroll playing Before the Storm / Black Rogue, he’s pushing the 3 and especially the 6 in between standard downbeat-heavy measures.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Ha fair enough ! Each to their own .

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Sorry, I don’t see any close connection between playing a melody on the mandolin (or the fiddle?) and the strumming of an accompaning guitar.
To me, the guitarist complements but follows the melody player, not propelling nor leading. I’m not sure a guitarist ever started a set by saying, I’ve got these chords can you play a tune along with me?

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I think youve missed the point Allen, its all about rhythm . The melody is second….. might be a radical thing to say but its dance music , people can dance to a rhythm with no tune but not a tune with no rhythm !!. Ive started hundreds of sets by either naming a set of tunes or just playing them then getting into the backing .
A bodhran player plays the rhythm, a tune player plays the rhythm as does the backer….. the melody is played by the backer in a stacked form ( if they are doing it right ) ie. chords.
A bodhran player plays a 6/8 rhythm or 3/8 or 12/8 or 9/8 some are interchangeable and create different effects such as a 3/8 rhythm fitting behind a 6 /8 melody or 12/8 or 9/8 . Or a 6/8 rhythm behind a 12/8 jig .

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

No. I didn’t miss the point. The melody is the point. The rest is windowdressing.
Folk will dance to the tunes without accompaniment, without drums.
The tunes make the Dance music.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

I think what Will means is that people won’t dances to melody without rhythm.
Yes, "folk will dance to tunes" but they won’t necessarily dance to melodies if they don’t come with danceable rhythms (as in melodic rhythm).
Will is proposing that the melodic rhythm carries more weight than the melody itself.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

"I’m not sure a guitarist ever started a set by saying, I’ve got these chords can you play a tune along with me?"

Happens more often than you’d think, at least in my experience.

My long-time session co-host at The Auld Dubliner in Long Beach, John O’Hara, who some of you might know him as MTGuru from C&F, who besides being an excellent whistle and concertina player, is also a very skilled Drop-D backup player.

Sometimes, when we’re about to start a set, he’ll just start playing a lovely reel groove in G or D and will keep doing it until we jump in with something that fits the mood, then something magical almost always happens.

A lot of fun, actually, but John is a really great backup player, so this kind of playfulness works.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Most often it happens without saying anything. Not unusual to have someone play chords and then have others play a tune with them. I’ve never seen it not to work.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Donald has it , a tune played with good rhythm gets people off their chairs and onto their feet a tune played with sloppy rhythm won’t . It makes people sit down !! If people spontaneously get up and dance to your music you have it , if they sit down when you start to play , you don’t ….
not to say that danceability is the only criteria ! We all make allowances for people and there is more to it than just dance music and everyone makes mistakes .
As a piper rhythmic finger work is very important and technical exercises can be very useful .
As a drummer rhythm is of the essence .
All the world over people dance to just drums and to music that is basically tuneless ( rave) 🙂
For dance music rhythm comes first second and third . Irish tunes are incredibly rhythmical played well and played badly they are not despite having all the notes and lashings of ornaments ….
each of these DUD etc rhythmic patterns have a different feel , whether played on mandolin bodhran or backing guitar or fiddle .

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Interesting thread.

I’m not sure if this has made clear(or not) but there’s surely a difference (or should be) in the approach one takes depending on whether he or she is "strumming" a chord accompaniment or beating out the rhythym on a bodhran or other percussive instrument as opposed to actually "picking" out a melody on an instrument?

If it’s the former, then it’s maybe possible and even preferable to stick to a more rigid picking pattern but it’s arguably better to be able to adapt your style accordingly when playing the melody itself…for most of the reasons already mentioned in the the thread.

By the way, I use the term "strumming" only in a general sense as I realise that good accompaniment on guitar, mandolin, CBOM instruments can be and usually is a lot more sophisticated than that.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

As a backer and tune player I make every attempt , when backing , to play the tune within the chord structure , which means firstly getting the right chords and rhythm, the pauses and phrasing and to add rhythmic variation while keeping the right chords . So absolutely no set picking patterns beyond the basic alternate picking / strumming .
They are basically exactly the same thing be it mandolin bodhran guitar etc , the only difference is with a chord you are strumming a number of strings as opposed to a single string with the tunes down with the bodhran it’s a stick ( or hand) hitting the skin rather than a pick hitting a string … same same . In fact a good bodhran is as full an instrument as any! with a huge variety of textures pitches and sounds available . I play with a drummer ( on those old whistle recordings on my bio ) who knows all the tunes has played them in sessions for decades .

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

@Johnny Jay: Yes, for me there’s a huge difference in backing vs. playing the melody when flatpicking a jig.

I stick to a fairly consistent DUD DUD rhythm when backing (strumming) a jig on guitar. I use dynamics to emphasize the rhythm pulse on different beats, and shift it around a little bit where it fits the tune. It’s very different from how I approach mandolin melody on a jig. Ornaments and string crossing interfere with a fixed pattern, so the pick direction is all over the place, not a fixed pattern.

Watch any video of John Doyle backing a jig, and he’s usually in steady DUD DUD mode, using dynamics on different beats to establish the pulse. It’s not the only way to do it, but it sure works well for many guitar backers.

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

DUD UDU works but you have to learn to emphasize the U on the second pulse - quite hard to master

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Michael Eskin said: Sometimes, when we’re about to start a set, he’ll just start playing a lovely reel groove in G or D and will keep doing it until we jump in with something that fits the mood, then something magical almost always happens.
I saw a guitarist do this in a session in Glasgow once. It was years ago. An auld fiddler reached over, placed a hand over the strings and told the player to "behave himself". He then asked another fiddler to start a set.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

What did the guitar player do, Allan?

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

Well in a 2/4piece. The second best is not stressed . It is the weak beat . In compound 2/4 ie 6/8 the second of the triplet is not emphasized as such . As a basic jig rhythm . The mother of all jig rhythms , according to a link above , and as I have it it’s
D2 D UDU .
So a 12/8 jig is more subtle and has 2 stresses 1st obviously the most then 3rd medium . So the beginning of the second and 4 th triplet is not stressed and of course you can only stress the one for variation .

Irrespective of which direction of the pick .

However the feel of the DUD DUD as demonstrated in the bazouki clip is a 2/3 meter with a stress on each beat so only stressed beats what would be one and 3 if it were 6/8
Very effective but for everything ??

Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

To summarize this long and somewhat meandering thread:

1. Opinions differ on the value of DUDDUD as a basis for picking jigs, although its place in backup is relatively uncontested
2. Regardless of pick direction, the player should be able to emphasize the appropriate beats and add ornaments that maintain a ‘jiggy’ feel
3. Guitar players should know their place
4. 🙂

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

AB. I took his advice and learned to listen to the tunes being played. I started to learn to play the mandolin.

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Re: Learning the DUD DUD picking pattern on Mandolin

allan21, if that “auld Glasgow fiddler” did that to John, he would probably go home with fewer fingers than when he arrived. 🙂