The “Mysterious” Mandolin

The Mysterious Mandolin

The "Mysterious" Mandolin

Bluegrass is a celebration of challenging vocals and a wide variety of instruments. Perhaps the most important of those instruments is the mandolin. Few bluegrass musicians, and probably even fewer non professional players would tell you that Bill Monroe was not their inspiration to give the instrument a try.

To some people, the small, eight-stringed instrument might seem mystifying. Its tone is high, and can be interchanged with fiddle, and be backed very efficiently by a guitar. When a mandolin riff opens a bluegrass tune, it certainly catches the ear.

This in itself is surprising, when you consider that a mandolin doesn’t have a booming sound. It is a delicate instrument, much like a fiddle. Indeed, both instruments are tuned identically, and therefore you can see awesome mandolin-fiddle picking and bowing duals during any bluegrass festival.

Without question, Bill Monroe helped push the mandolin to the forefront of most bluegrass bands. Today, artists like Rhonda Vincent, Ronnie McCoury, Sam Bush, Chris Thile and Tim O’Brien push mandolin inside both traditional and new bluegrass. No small feat for an instrument once thought to be too weak to play in front of a large audience.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucille Jones November 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I enjoy listening to the manodlin. Bill Monroe is the best but you have to know there are young people who deserve a chance to get started like Bill did. I grew up listening to Bill Monroe on the Grand Ole Opry ever Saturday night.Rhonda Vincent is the best for the women.Let’s help Blue Grass music move. Thanks, Lucille

Lucille Jones November 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Let’s hear some comments on banjo’s. lucille

Brian March 31, 2011 at 7:34 am

Just started playing the mandolin at the age of 50. Anybody know of any good books on beginning mandolin?

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