Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 5 books I'm using to learn how to play the mandolin

List by Tosca

"The sound of the mandolin is a very curious sound because it's cheerful and melancholy at the same time, and I think it comes from that shadow string, the double strings."
- Rita Dove

This is a picture of a mandolin. Not just any mandolin. MY mandolin. It's beautiful. And it makes the loveliest sound. Just...not when I play it. I'm teaching myself to play the mandolin. Why? One big reason: I want to play bluegrass music! I want to be good enough to play the songs in The complete idiot's guide to bluegrass mandolin favourites. :) One day (obviously not today) I want to be good enough to be the Earl Scruggs of the mandolin. (I can't think of a mandolin equivalent of his style of banjo playing, so stop mocking me). And if you ask me, 'Who is Earl Scruggs?' I'm going to cry :P Why bluegrass? I'm not sure. I just know that I fell in love with the style of music when I was about 9 or 10 years old. There are only three places in my whole life I've had such a yearning to see: New Orleans, Route 66 and Kentucky. Specifically, Kentucky for all of their various bluegrass festivals and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. This has to happen. It just *has* to. Confession: I also want a banjo of my very own, and have done so since I was about 12. I just don't think I'm ready for one yet. Weirdly, when I do buy myself a banjo, I want to play it not like Earl Scruggs, but like Steve Martin. And if you haven't seen him play with Men With Banjos Who Know How To Use Them you so need to fix that. I can help! Here's a YouTube clip of them playing on the David Letterman show. MAD LUV. I'm going to use the Christmas/New Year period to learn to play a tune in a halfway decent manner. Or something approaching it. Hopefully, 5 tunes so that that can make up another post. Maybe. So, not today, but someday very soon, I'm going to stun you all with my mandolin. And not by whacking you over the head with it :)

What I really want to be able to play:
  • The complete idiot's guide to bluegrass mandolin favorites [music] : 16 bluegrass classics, all in both easy & intermediate arrangements by Dennis Caplinger
  • New classics for bluegrass mandolin [music] by Butch Baldassari
  • Mel Bay presents mandolin classics in tablature [music] [arranged] by Robert Bancalari




  • Mel Bay's First lessons. Mandolin by Dix Bruce [music]
    c2002. First Lessons Mandolin teaches the absolute basics of learning to play mandolin from holding the pick to performing easy mandolin tunes. It doesn't get any easier than this! Students learn how to hold the mandolin correctly, how to read mandolin tablature, basic note reading,, the most popular mandolin chords, how to play easy melodies in several musical styles, basic picking technique, how to tune the mandolin, and much more. Along the way students will learn about the greatest mandolin players and their music. The main emphasis of First Lessons Mandolin is to get the student up and playing immediately and to have fun doing it!


    Teach yourself to play mandolin / Dan Fox
    1996. This book teaches you how to play the mandolin with an easy-to-follow approach that will have you playing instantly. Different strumming techniques help you play in any style including folk, bules, pop and country. Great songs like La Bamba, Greensleves, and When the Saints Go Marching In and many more are included with lyrics. Upon completion of thie book, you will be able to play your favorite songs on the mandolin, play with a musical group in many different styles and know how to read music.


    You can teach yourself mandolin [music] / by Dix Bruce
    2002, c1993. Another great "Teach Yourself" book with "play-along" examples to help you get started. You'll learn all about accompanying yourself and others, common chords and useful strums, reading simple melodies, playing a colorful assortment of mandolin folk songs, and much more. In notation and tablature. The CD is in split-track format and features each song played at both slow and normal tempos!


    How to play mandolin / Jack Tottle
    1975. The fundamentals of mandolin technique are taught through familiar tunes with this book which works great for group or individual use. It includes standard notation, mandolin tablature, chord names and diagrams, photos and more! Topics covered include: playing in rhythm, playing melodies, using down-up strokes, 3/4 or waltz time, the slide, double-string melodies, mixed single and double strings, and more.


    Bluegrass mandolin / by Jack Tottle
    Learn from the music of Bill Monroe, Bobby Osbourne, Jesse McReynolds, Frank Wakefield, John Duffey and others. This instruction book and collections of bluegrass mandolin music covers in detail everything from simple basics to fancy fingerwork. Songs include: Arkansas Traveller * Banks of the Ohio * Boil Em Cabbage Down * Cripple Creek * Fisher's Hornpipe * Lonesome Road Blues * Oh! Susanna * Will the Circle Be Unbroken * and more.

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