Mandolin Self Instructor, online tutorial - Page 15

A simplified self learning system for the Mandolin with tuning instruction, song folio, chord diagrams, sheet music and PDF for printing. By ZARH MYRON BICKFORD

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The outside E is then tuned to the other, after which the D string nearest the A is sounded with it (A), and the
fifth thus formed made "perfect" in the same manner. The second of the D strings is then tuned to its mate, and the
G nearest the D sounded with the open D. This is made into a perfect fifth and the other G tuned with the first. This
is a much quicker method than any of the others, but requires a very accurate ear. It may be of assistance, when using
this method, to think of the lower of any two adjacent strings as "do," or the first tone of a scale, the higher string being
"sol," or the fifth of the same scale.
When the mandolin is to be played with the guitar or banjo, it is occasionally found desirable to start the tuning
process with the G string, since this string has the exact pitch of the third strings on both guitar and banjo.
The subject of tuning has been dwelt upon at length for the reason that the author has found a lamentable lack of
knowledge as to the proper method of going about the matter among mandolin players.
Now that the instrument is tuned, held in the proper manner, the right arm properly balanced on the edge of the
instrument and the pick held properly, the next step is to actually play. Tones are produced on the mandolin by set-
ting the strings in vibration by means of the right hand and pick, and upon the manner in which this is done depends the
whole structure of mandolin playing. There are three fundamental and general movements of the pick—the down
stroke, used consecutively—the down and up strokes, used alternately (each stroke making an individual note) and
the tremolo or sosknuto movement, in which an attempt is made to sustain a single tone for a certain length of time,
but in which no account is made of the individual down and up strokes required to make this tone. From these three
fundamental movements are derived a considerable variety of strokes and styles of playing, but they never lose their
predominating importance. The order in which they are named above is that in which they are to be introduced and
developed, since it is the only logical manner in which they can be treated, owing to the fact that the second depends
upon the first and the third upon the second.
The cut on the following page shows the position of the right hand when it is raised, ready for the down stroke. The
pick must be held very loosely and in such a manner that its flat surface, very near the tip, strikes squarely against the
In making the stroke, the hand is dropped suddenly from the position as shown in the cut, so that the pick strikes
the pair of strings and rests firmly against the next higher string, after having vibrated the required strings.
It is essential that this stroke be made with a quick and energetic movement of the hand and also that the tip of
the pick rest against the adjacent string after the hand has dropped. The starting point of the pick when making the
down stroke, in the early stages of practice, should be from two to three inches from the string and at a height of at
least a half inch from a straight line drawn across and parallel with the strings. One of the objects of this slight angle
from which the pick approaches the string is to allow the point of the pick to drop in between the strings so as to rest
against the adjacent string. This could not be done if the pick struck the strings and crossed them on a line parallel
to their level. On the contrary, with the pick exacly perpendicular to the strings, there would be the continual danger
of striking more than one string.
In order to make the down stroke in this manner it is necessary to tilt the hand very slightly away from the body
so that the pick points a very little toward the body, instead of being exactly perpendicular.
Another important feature of the stroke is that, while the little finger is raised with the rest of the hand as the stroke
starts, it goes down with the hand so that the back of the nail touches the guardplate as the pick rests against the next
string. II is also important that both pick and little finger remain at their respective resting places, with the hand and
arm entirely relaxed, until the hand is brought back, just in time for the next down stroke.
When the down stroke is made on the first string (E), since there is no higher string for the pick to rest against, the
little finger and even the knuckles of the second and third fingers are used to stop the downward swing of the hand.
The point of the pick should never touch the guardplate or top of the instrument, it being stopped in mid-air at a
point no farther from the E string than this string is from the A string.
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