Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Winter Suite, February 2019

Winter Suite, February 2019 (stream and/or download for free at Bandcamp)
(Octave Mandolin version pdf) (Octave Mandolin version pdf w/tab)
(Mandocello version pdf) (Mandocello version pdf w/tab)

1. Walking Tune (mp3)
2. Hornpipe (mp3)
3. Saraband (mp3)
4. Reel (mp3)
5. Air (mp3)
6. Jig (mp3)

The larger members of the mandolin family, the mandocello (CGDA) and the octave mandolin (GDAE), don't always receive the attention they deserve. This short and not too difficult Suite was written on the octave mandolin with the mandocello also in mind. I was conscious of the longer stretches required on these instruments and the extra resonance supplied by their open strings. If you are a player of one of these low-voiced mandolins download the sheet music (I've created both standard notation only and notation with tab versions for both instruments) and see what you think.

If you really enjoy playing the piece you are always welcome to make a small donation, using the Paypal donation button, through my Mandotopia site but that's completely optional. I have also added my recording of the piece, on octave mandolin, to my Bandcamp site where it is free to stream or download. Or you can listen and download the individual parts of the piece here, as usual.

I purchased a beautiful Flatiron octave mandolin in the early 1980s but I used a recent Eastman MDO 305 octave, with a shorter scale, while writing and recording this piece. I've never owned a mandocello but I have enjoyed playing several over the years and I'm confident that this Suite can be comfortably played by the cello as well. I'd love to hear a recording of such if anyone feels like sharing.

The photo above was taken about a week ago, before a significant blizzard that we had last weekend. Depending on how much snow falls today we may well break the all-time record for February snow in Decorah this year. The snow has been compounded by the unusually cold weather this month including a couple of nights where the temperature was in the -30 degrees Fahrenheit range, with wind chills around -60. It has been a trying winter so far with no relief in sight.

The idea for a Winter Suite came as I was reading the excellent biography of Lou Harrison recently written by Bill Alves and Brett Campbell. It's a fascinating and inspiring story of a great American composer. Harrison would often write short pieces using the suite format and, while reading during breakfast a couple of weeks ago, I had the idea to do something similar aimed at mandocello and octave mandolin players.

Finally, I should mention, if it hasn't already occurred to my mandolin playing friends, that the octave mandolin music (including the tab) is also mandolin-friendly. Also, each of the six parts of this suite can be repeated as often as you like. I recorded them each once through (partly to minimize the potential for mistakes) but I will certainly play the Reel and the Jig more than once when I play the piece in public. In addition feel free to throw in open strings for drones and added harmonies as you play.

I hope you enjoy the music.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Clark's Delight / The Blue Basket

Clark's Delight (mp3) (pdf) (pdf w/tab)
The Blue Basket (mp3) (pdf) (pdf w/tab)

We've had some pretty challenging winter weather for the last couple of weeks and I finally got around to recording a couple of recent tunes. These were both done in bare bones fashion, no harmony parts, no extra instruments. Just guitar chords and mandolin melody, three times through each tune.

I've also added mandolin tab versions of these tunes because a couple of folks have expressed some interest in that.

The photo is from just outside our back door this morning. Here at 9:30 it's -6 degrees. They say it will be -13 tonight. With luck this will be the last of the serious cold for this winter but we have a good deal of snow forecast over the next few days.

Clark's Delight was written on or around January 11 and, I believe, came after a pleasant hour playing tunes from the great John of the Green book compiled by John Offord in England. I think of it as a potential English Country Dance tune. The Clark in question here is George Rogers, founder of my hometown, Clarksville, Indiana.

The Blue Basket was made after returning from Contratopia's recent visit to the Wintergreen dance weekend in Bozeman. (Read a little about that here.) I was partly trying to capture a little of the feeling that Adam and Johanna from Sassafras Stomp brought to their playing at the weekend.

Both of these tunes are pretty straightforward and I hope that you enjoy listening to and playing them.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.