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.

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