Mandolin and violin

This area has been established to allow you, our visitors and contributors, to get to know one another a bit better, or to discuss subjects of general interest, without feeling obliged to restrict your postings to language-related topics. But we draw the line at floccinaucinihilivilification.

Mandolin and violin

Post by Spearmint » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:45 pm

Why did people start using a bow on a violin? The violin and the mandolin have the same finger placement for chords, so I'm assuming that the mandolin was first. I wonder who "sawed" the first mandolin.?
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Mandolin and violin

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:30 pm

Why assume the mandolin is older? For a start, it is fretted, and it is double strung, four courses of paired strings. I have never heard of a mandolin with anything other than steel strings, certainly I have never played one with nylon or gut strings anyway. As is usual in saying things like that, I am ready to be convinced otherwise, but I doubt I'm wrong, because you would not really want to play a mandolin without a flat-pick (plectrum if you prefer).

I would suggest that the violin is much older, and I could just imagine some old sinner sitting under a tree drawing his hunting bow over the strings of an exceptionally early lute and producing a sound. I don't know what he would have used for rosin, so don't ask
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Mandolin and violin

Post by Spearmint » Fri Mar 17, 2006 3:34 am

I play the mandolin, and I am learning how to play the violin (bluegrass fiddle). I prefer to play the mandolin with a flat, hard pick, turning the pick a little sideways so it will double-pick smoothly, but it does make a beautiful sound when you pluck it with your first and middle fingers, and your thumb. Of course, anything with strings sounds beautiful to me.

The mandolin was developed from the lute. It is interesting that both have the same chording. The guitar (I play that as well) originally had gut strings and no frets, which are a relatively modern invention. Steel and steel-wound strings are also a modern invention.

The mandolin was brought from Europe to America, where it has undergone a few changes. It was originally shaped a little differently, and I'm not sure how long it has had double strings. Picking is much, much easier than sawing. I'm really not sure if the mandolin is older than the violin, but it seems to me that the easiest way to play the instrument would be the first. The violin requires a rounded bridge so the strings will not all be on the same level, allowing the bow to slide across each one separately. Seems like a lot of trouble for something that is so hard to do in the first place. It's harder than anything else I have ever tried to learn how to play. Could be lack of brain mass or something(:

A hunting bow sounds very logical, and I can't believe I didn't think of it, but he must have been very desperate for something to use! He could have used hard tree sap for the rosin.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Mandolin and violin

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Mar 17, 2006 10:50 am

I play mandolin as well, and it really is one of my favourite instruments. I dug up these links, which go some way to saying that the fiddle came first, about 500 years first!

http://violinonline.com/historicalbackg ... violin.htm
http://www.mandolinserenade.com/mhis.html

If it ain't got double strings it ain't a mandolin, unless it is one of those solid things that Fender used to build (do they still?), which doubled the strings electronically.

When it comes to difficulty, shall I say that I am not known for my fiddle playing, having taken it up in my forties, which was about 30 years too late!
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Mandolin and violin

Post by Spearmint » Fri Mar 17, 2006 6:29 pm

I have never seen a a solid, four-stringed, electric mandolin in a music store, but I have seen a mandolin with an electric pickup. I sighed and moped around the store for a while, because I was too broke to buy it, but I'm over it now(:

I work three twelve-hour days and then I'm off for four days every week. I should be a professional fiddle player in just a few centuries.

Have you ever heard of a hammered dulcimer? It is shaped something like an autoharp on a board that sits on a stand. You use some kind of long sticks with curved ends to hit the right strings. I'm not sure if it is only a hillbilly American invention, but the sound is beautiful.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Mandolin and violin

Post by haro » Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:34 pm

Spearmint, hammered dulcimers were used in many countries long before Columbus crossed the Pond. Possibly derived from the Persian santir, it also was sort of an early ancestor of the piano. It can be found in Spanish literature of the 12th century. In Greece it is called santoúri. In Switzerland, Austria and Germany (some areas of Bavaria anyway) it is called Hackbrett (chopping board) and has been an important instrument in folk music for centuries.

There are folks in Michigan who are trying to have the hammered dulcimer recognized as the Wolverine State's official State Instrument. No kiddin'.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Hans Joerg Rothenberger
Switzerland

Mandolin and violin

Post by Shelley » Fri Mar 17, 2006 9:44 pm

haro wrote: There are folks in Michigan who are trying to have the hammered dulcimer recognized as the Wolverine State's official State Instrument. No kiddin'.
haro, I vote YES! (Well, if I still lived in Michigan, that is.)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Mandolin and violin

Post by Bobinwales » Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:58 am

Spearmint, I am ready to be shot down in flames here, but I believe that there are only two instruments that are in American in origin. The banjo and the autoharp.

There are all sorts of banjo now, with strings ranging from 4 to 12. Legend has it that the autoharp was invented by an Austrian zither maker who emigrated. He couldn’t sell his zithers, but knew the Americans would buy anything with buttons on it!
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Mandolin and violin

Post by Spearmint » Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:52 pm

Now that you mention it, you are right, and I thought it was only the banjo. I never was really interested in the autoharp, because, I think, all you do is press the button and strum. I don't know how difficult it is to play, but it looks pretty simple. I could be wrong.
I've tried to play the banjo, but my fingers keep getting tangled up. That's my excuse anyway. If I ever master the fiddle, I might be ready to tackle anything.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Mandolin and violin

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Mar 26, 2006 5:52 am

I’m a mostly classical guitar player myself, but I love it all. Talking about American-born instruments, the great guitarist Leo Kottke manages to make it out my way about once a year or so and he’s a very funny storyteller as well as terrific musician and he was describing how down in the Ozarks those guys will just about play anything. Washboards, washtubs, combs. “I even saw a guy playing a lint trap once.”

The Dave Grisman Quintet (bluegrass sort of but much more), which also makes it through here most years (especially for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which is a gorgeous venue) had a band member by the name of Joe Craven who has since left to form his own band ‘Joe Craven and the Do-It-YourSelfers.’ Joe, in addition to being a very fine musician (violin, mandolin, and percussion) who could and did play just about anything, specialized in making his own instruments which include the bed-pan mandolin, the cookie-tin fiddle, the tomato-can banjo, and the ‘gas-olin,’ a mandolin bass made from a gas can – don’t laugh, they all sound great.
_____________________

Ken G – March 25, 2006
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Mandolin and violin

Post by Bobinwales » Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:29 pm

OK I give in, add gas-olin to banjo and autoharp as home-grown American instruments!

I once grafted a bazouki body onto a guitar neck and called it a baz-ar, does that count for anything?
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Mandolin and violin

Post by Spearmint » Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:42 pm

If I'm in a place where there are people playing music, and everybody has an instrument except for me, then I'm genuinely miserable until I scrape up something to play. I wouldn't put it past myself to play a washboard, or anything else within my reach that would make a respectable noise. If I can't find anything, then I stomp my feet, clap my hands and slap my legs till they sting. (pssst-I'm from the Ozarks.)

I've heard of a washtub. I'm not exactly sure how it goes, but you turn it upside down, put a hole in the middle of it. Tie a big knot in the middle of a long rope or leather. (I'm not sure) Then thread the rope through the hole with the knot stopping it from coming all the way through. Then you get a stick or something and tie the rope to the top of the stick, and put the other end of the stick on the ground. Pull the rope tight, and pluck away. I'm sure I missed a few details.

What in the world is a bazouki??
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Mandolin and violin

Post by Shelley » Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:22 pm

Spearmint, there was a discussion a while back about washtub and tea chest basses, and "lagerphones", with great links to sites where you can hear and see such things. Do a Wordwizard search for "skiffle". Enjoy!
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Mandolin and violin

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:28 pm

Sorry, typo there, the word is bouzouki, Greek instrument, strings are four courses in pairs, but bigger than a mandolin, or mandola for that matter. There is a picture of one here

http://surfcitymusic.com/Mandolins/mandolin_6.html

Have a listen to "Zorba the Greek" that's a bouzouki
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Mandolin and violin

Post by haro » Wed Mar 29, 2006 5:14 pm

Bob, maybe it wasn't a typo. The term 'bazouki' can be found fairly often too, mainly on Web sites written in English. No idea where that spelling comes from. In Greece, where I lived almost two years, and in modern Greek I've never heard or read it. There it always is 'bouzouki.'
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Hans Joerg Rothenberger
Switzerland

Post Reply