Cuts on mandolin

Cuts on mandolin

Mandolin player from Cape Breton here. I’m working on cleaning up my cuts (two 16th notes followed by an 8th all the same note)

I’m working on tightening them up in general and I’m particularly having trouble when they come on the end of (for example) on the second beat in a measure and I need to start the cut on an upstroke. In the absence of any better ideas I’ve just been playing them over and over increasing the speed as much as I can and still keep things clean, but I’m a big fan of efficiency and if anyone has any other exercises that they find helpful.

Thanks!

Re: Cuts on mandolin

I’d call that a treble rather than a cut, I think, though I’m not a mandolin player.

On the face of it, I don’t think I would play that starting with an upstroke though; I would reverse your picking direction temporarily.

On increasing speed, the fundamental thing here is that speeding up happens when you’re asleep, not awake. When you practice, do it slowly and under control. The next day, slow and under control might be a different speed, but don’t increase it to the point where it’s tricky. Keep it slow and boring.

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Re: Cuts on mandolin

Yes thats a triplet or treble.
When your pick hits the string only about 1 mm of the pick should conect ….. maybe 2 mm
Practice a basic jig pattern , D-D UDU over and over a gain then you can fit , eventually …. a triplet in that gap .
D(dud) UDU
There are 4 basic techniques to try to get familiar with, from the fingers, from the wrist , from the elbow and the key turn aporoach . The first three are up and down the third is completely different just like turning a key …. thats as taught in Julliard.
2 nd best is from the elbow.

Enjoy

Re: Cuts on mandolin

If we’re talking about a treble ornament (like the ones banjo players use), I think it’s important to get used to starting it from either an up-stroke or down-stroke. Because as you’ve found, it can happen “naturally” from either direction depending on the musical phrase, and it’s not efficient to pick twice in the same direction with a very quick ornament like a treble.

It takes lots of practice until it feels automatic from either direction. As mentioned above, don’t expose any more of the tip of the flatpick than necessary, and it may help to put a very slight angle on the pick ( thumb downward if you’re right handed).

The closest you can get on mandolin to simulating a “cut” the way it’s played on flute or fiddle, is with a single pick stroke with a fingered pull-off from an adjacent fret. You can even simulate a roll with a combination of pull-offs and hammer-ons around the target note. Hammer-ons and pull-offs are too quiet to hear in a session though, so I usually play treble ornaments unless I’m just playing alone at home.

Re: Cuts on mandolin

A bit of terminology conflict here. In Cape Breton fiddling, a cut is the same ornament that is called a bowed triplet, or maybe a treble in Irish fiddling. So Andrew’s first description is right - two 16th notes followed by an eighth. I’m not a mandolin player, so can’t help with the mechanics.

Re: Cuts on mandolin

“I’m particularly having trouble when they come on the end of (for example) on the second beat in a measure and I need to start the cut on an upstroke.”

It’s not all that clear what you mean. Could you give an example of a tune where this happens? The specific bar?
Give us a snippet of abc if you know how (or, better still, a link to a recording).

Re: Cuts on mandolin

Try a jig rhythm dud udu |dud udu that way your practicing the move without speed or pressure .

Re: Cuts on mandolin

Jig rhythm on mandolin - I usually play it DUD DUD, not DUD UDU as suggested in some of the comments above. Isn’t DUD DUD the standard way in Irish music?

Re: Cuts on mandolin

I also usually play DUD DUD but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that that was the standard way.
But I think what Will meant was that if you practised DUD UDU you would be playing triplets starting on an upstroke, which was what Andrew was asking about.

Re: Cuts on mandolin

Any picking pattern is by nature inappropriate. Every tune and instrument and player for that matter has an approach suitable.
A basic jig rhythm is a pattern applicable to bodhran banjo etc played on one string one note, then 2 strings 2 notes etc, its a fundamental approach that goes to all percussion as well ie dud udu = rlr lrl . So a drummer would then practice all their fundaments. And that applies to mandolin/banjo

Ie dud udu is the basic
Then try all alternatives
Dud dud
Udu udu
Duu duu
Udd udd
Etc etc etc



all combinations possible .
And then the same with 9/8 12/9 etc
Learning to stress the one with both hands/directions
And to lead from both hands directions
Every tune and phrase will have ideal and not ideal patterns , so its a matter of finding what fits you best .
Practice the fundamentals so that technique is not an obstacle to musical expression.


I folow standard alternate picking, apart from when i dont!! Depends on the tune and instrument.
Eg mug of brown ale starts with an up pick …..
So i play udd udd U(dud) u (dud)
(Dud ) is triplet

Re: Cuts on mandolin

12/9, Will?

You’re not into that avant-garde stuff, are you?

Re: Cuts on mandolin

Oh yes Donald its the latest thing 12/9 and 6/13 .

Lol every thing i type on this damn phone has to be corrected!! Tedious !

Re: Cuts on mandolin

“Isn’t DUD DUD the standard way in Irish music?”

‘Standard’ is a strong word. It may be the most popular approach, but there are prominent players that do not use it (most notably Kieran Hanrahan) - and any number of players they have learned from them.

After about 8 years of ‘wild’ picking (i.e. I had never paid much attention to what I was doing or how, just letting the plectrum do its thing), I made a concerted effort to adopt DUD DUD for jigs (and a strict downstroke-on-downbeat approach for reels). It brought about significant improvement to my playing (people actually started listening to me) - but I cannot confidently say whether that was really down to the change of technique or just down to 2 weeks of intensive focused practice (something I rarely do). I still use a predominantly DUD DUD approach for jigs, but can vary according to the tune or to the particular rhythmic emphasis I wish to impart at any given moment; some kinds of syncopation (“Syncopation? No, officer! I said ‘scintillation’ - honest…”) work better with strict alternate picking.

Re: Cuts on mandolin

Actually Donald its my proof reader is self isolating. The butler too, sigh. Cant get staff these days 🙂
As regards the dud dud , how would this approach work with the mug of brown ale ?

Re: Cuts on mandolin

The way I think of the DUD DUD pattern for jigs, is that it’s a good way to get a newbie started who isn’t already familiar with Irish dance rhythms. It helps burn the rhythm into muscle memory (which I know isn’t a thing, but it’s a useful way to imagine how this works).

A more advanced player will probably depart from fixed patterns and play whatever the tune needs. Once you start throwing in ornaments like trebles, it messes up fixed patterns like DUD DUD for pick direction. You might also want to break a pattern to start the beginning of a new phrase on a down-stroke for emphasis.

I use mostly alternate picking on mandolin for everything whether it’s a jig, march, strathspey, or reel, with some down-stroke emphasis at phrase breaks or section repeats where it feels right.

Re: Cuts on mandolin

“Isn’t DUD DUD the standard way in Irish music?”

I was taught by a Jedi master and was not taught that. You could play that way…I did before I got a teacher because my up stroke was relatively weak and not well controlled. So I played DUD DUD to compensate.

I believe it’s better to strengthen the up stroke than to compensate. One good reason is that DUD DUD requires an extra wrist motion between the two figures and another one at the end to get back into position for the next figure. That’s 1.3x the time and effort for the same six notes.