“Inverness” comes from fiddler/mandolinist John Mailander, who recorded it on his album Walking Distance. It’s a beautiful, contemplative melody that alternates measures of 6/4 and 4/4. Joe walks you through the second part of “Inverness” in this video.
Check out these songs featured in the Octave Mandolin course.
Joe gives you some background on the octave mandolin, including some of the well-known octave mandolin players, and talks about what and how you will learn in this course.
Joe talks about his Northfield archtop octave mandolin.
“Sam Brown Hill” comes from the great guitarist Duke Levine, who recorded it on the octave mandolin on his album The Fade Out. It’s a simple melody with three parts, in the key of E, played out of D position with a capo at the second fret, but it’s a good example of how octave mandolinists flesh out melodies with chords and double stops.
“Inverness” comes from fiddler/mandolinist John Mailander, who recorded it on his album Walking Distance. It’s a beautiful, contemplative melody that alternates measures of 6/4 and 4/4. It’s in the key of F, so Joe plays it as if it’s in D, but with the capo at the third fret. You’ll learn the melody and also some of Joe’s favorite octave mandolin chord voicings in the key of D.
The Bill Monroe instrumental “Old Dangerfield” is popular in bluegrass circles everywhere. In this lesson you’ll learn Sierra Hull’s octave mandolin version. Sierra is a virtuoso mandolinist but she has relatively small hands, so she changes the melody of “Old Dangerfield” somewhat when she plays it on the octave mandolin to make it fit the larger instrument. This is very common for mandolinists when they transfer tunes they know on the mandolin to the octave mandolin, and Sierra’s version of “Old Dangerfield” is a great lesson in doing this effectively.
“Verona” comes from the great jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, who recorded it on his album Gone, Just Like a Train, but it is well-suited to the octave mandolin. It’s in the key of D, has a typical jazz AABA 32-bar structure, and uses diatonic chords in the key of D. Joe uses it to introduce some movable chord shapes and talk about different rhythmic approaches to comping with the octave mandolin.
“The High Road” comes from Tim O’Brien, who first recorded it on his 1983 solo album Hard Year Blues playing fiddle and mandolin and has also recorded it on octave mandolin with mandolinist Casey Campbell. Tim is probably the person who is most responsible for introducing the octave mandolin or bouzouki to the contemporary American string band. He’s been using it on recordings and in performance since the early 1990s. “The High Road” is in the key of E minor and features an unusual chord progression with an F# chord in the B part.
The old-time fiddle tune “Red Prairie Dawn” comes from Indiana fiddler Gary Harrison, and has become popular in bluegrass jam circles lately. It’s in the key of A and works well on the octave mandolin.
“The Smoothie Song” is the first track on Nickel Creek’s hit 2002 album This Side, and is probably the first time many people heard an octave mandolin. Chris Thile tunes the high E strings on his octave mandolin/bouzouki down to D for “The Smoothie Song,” so it’s tuned GDAD, which is essential to playing the tune like Chris, who fleshes out the basic melody with crosspicking and open strings.
The traditional tune “Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine” has an understated, pastoral quality that sounds great on the octave mandolin. It has a spare, march-like melody based around quarter-note phrases that can be phrased rhythmically in different ways and filled in with open strings and chord tones.
“Ring Them Bells” is a Bob Dylan song that Sarah Jarosz recorded on her album Follow Me Down. Sarah has a distinctive way of combining melody and chordal fragments on the octave mandolin and her intro solo on this song is a particularly great example of that. Sarah sings “Ring Them Bells” in the key of B and capos her octave mandolin at the fourth fret, playing with key-of-G fingerings.