View Full Version : Music to Play on my Octave Mandolin

09-05-2005, 10:43 PM
I have an octave mandolin. (Moderately) fair player, and I can read. Most of the more complicated stuff I've worked out is from the '20s to the '40s. I'd like to work on something classical for a good change and I can transcribe from other instruments. Any recommendations? Sources? Other ocave mando playre out there?

09-07-2005, 02:00 AM
Is it something I said?


09-07-2005, 03:19 AM
Is it something I said?

Well, this is what you said that caused me to hesitate before contributing:

I'd like to work on something classical for a good change

I really only ever hear folkies playing the Octave Mandolin.

The Irish Bouzouki is similar to the Octave Mandolin. I love Beth Patterson (http://www.littlebluemen.com/b_bio.asp)'s use of the Irish Bouzouki. If you're not afraid of the folkies, definitely check out some of her music (http://www.littlebluemen.com/b_music.asp) , she's amazing (and currently homeless like evryone else from New Orleans :( )

09-07-2005, 03:56 AM
So is an octave mandolin a mandola?

Those are used here to play Irish music, though mostly as an accompanying instrument the same way as a bouzouki. There's no reason you couldn't play the tunes themselves though, though in a session you'd probably be drowned out by fiddles, banjos and the like.

Anyway, you might hate Irish music, but should you need any more help in playing that, just say so as it is my hobby horse.

09-07-2005, 04:22 AM
So is an octave mandolin a mandola?

One manufacturer's set of definitions (http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/erol.html#120x0) (scroll down)


AKA Tenor Mandola.
Standard scale length 16"/41cm to 17"/43cm.
Standard tuning. CGDA from bass to treble.
Other common tunings. ADGD GCGC GDGD

A mandola is only a little bigger that the mandolin and is tuned a fifth lower, CGDA, as a viola is to a violin. Standard scale length is 16" - 17" (41 - 43 cm) but some people call instruments with scale lengths up to 21" mandolas , this strictly is an octave mandolin if tuned GDAE (an octave below the mandolin). It is also called by some a tenor mandola (common on the UK), perhaps because of the tenor banjo but it seems to make more sense to name mandolins according to how they relate to the mandolin family, not to banjos.

Octave Mandolin

AKA Tenor Mandola/Octave mandola/Bouzouki.
Standard scale length 19"/48cm to 22"/56cm.
Standard tuning. GDAE from bass to treble (one octave below mandolin).
Other common tunings. CGDA EADG DADA DADG EADA

The octave mandolin is commonly tuned an octave below the mandolin as its name suggests so why some call it an octave mandola or tenor mandola is a bit of a mystery but very common in the UK. The term octave mandolin seems to have American origins and fits in with the mandolin, mandola, mandocello nomenclature.

At this scale length and tuned GDAE it is also at the short end of the very big range of scale lengths of the bouzouki. The octave mandolin can be tuned the same as the bouzouki but with the shorter neck is much easier to play melodies while still giving a good chord sound. It is commonly tuned in unison (both strings of the pair or course tuned to the same note).


AKA Octave mandolin.
Standard scale length 19"/48cm to 27"/69cm.
Standard tuning. GDAE. Other common tunings. CGDA EADG DADA DADG EADA

The bouzouki was developed from the Greek round backed instrument by Irish musicians. It normally has a Guitar length neck and is often tuned and octave below the mandolin, the same as the octave mandolin. Despite its origin it is effectively a larger member of the mandolin family and really the same as an octave mandolin but with a longer scale length. It is commonly tuned in octaves, the lower two notes - in standard tuning G and D - having one string an octave above the other (like a twelve string guitar).

09-07-2005, 04:25 AM
One manufacturer's set of definitions (http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/erol.html#120x0) (scroll down)

Actually, scrolling down will NOT get you to the source of my quote.

You have to click on the title "Mandolin Family Explained". For some reason I can't link directly to the right page.

Ichbin Dubist
09-07-2005, 08:02 AM
I play the mandolin at a few notches above the hacker level, mostly bluegrass and Irish, and I've played a (borrowed) octave mandolin in an Irish band. I'm not well-versed in classical and my reading is atrocious, and furthermore it's not clear to me what "complicated stuff" you're talking about. I agree with the Pooka that going to Irish music sessions might not be your cup of stout if you're sitting at home transposing Stravinsky oboe parts, but you can at least play with other people, even if they are determined to drown you out.

You could check out the Classical Mandolin Society (www.classicalmandolinsociety.org/) for more info. The Mandolin Cafe (www.mandolincafe.com) is a good source for general mandolin stuff.

I'd recommend looking into Bartok's Roumanian Dances. The mandolinist Radim Zenkl (I think he's Czech) might be of interst to you also.

09-07-2005, 09:53 AM
Thanks to all for the replies.
I can and do play folk music with it, but mostly at a single line level. An example of the "more complicated stuff" would be the transcription of "As time goes by" that I'm working on, or a version of "Stardust" that I'm fairly proud of. I do a nice "I can't give you anything but love", too (if I do say so myself). I'm starting to get better at walking chords instead of just melody lines. But I need some stuff that I absolutely can't do yet for a bit of a stretch.
And I'm beginning to suffer the "everything I play sounds the same!" problem.
I'll check out those links when I have a few minutes.

09-07-2005, 04:56 PM
I'll check out those links when I have a few minutes.

Beth Patterson kicks ass!

even if she is homeless . . . aww, now I made myself sad again. :(

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