Wednesday, 10 February 2010

John Ryans Polka

Here is a lesson on playing the Irish tune John Ryan's Polka.

The Key of D Major

The tune is played in the key of D major which is given below. Practice going up and down the scale slowly to get a feel of the different spacings for your fingers on each string. The tune never uses any frets outside of this shape so it is worthwhile getting to know it fluently as it will aid playing the piece.


The Tune

The tab below shows which frets on which strings to place your fingers.  

In general:

Finger 1 will always play fret 2 of every string
Finger 2 will play fret 3 or 4
Finger 3 will play fret 5 or 6 

Try to keep each finger held down after it has been played where ever possible. The video below should show where this is possible and should also give the rhythm.

Friday, 5 February 2010

John Playford Set - Chords

Here are the chords to the Playford set posted earlier. The chords and the style played are in no way traditional or historically accurate, but I think they go well with the tune!

Chord shapes used:

Dm - 2 0 0 1
F - 5 3 3 5
Gm - 0 0 1 3
G - 0 0 2 3
A - 2 2 4 5
Am - 2 2 3 5
C - 5 2 3 0
Bb - 3 3 5 6


G Major Scale, D, & G Chords for the Mandolin

This is a very basic mandolin lesson designed to cover the G major scale and two chords.

The G Major Scale

It is very important to have a firm knowledge of the various scale shapes used to play the Mandolin as forms the foundation of almost all the pieces you will play. Try playing up and down the scale slowly and smoothly, insuring all the notes come out sounding nice. Avoid making any buzzing noises by pressing too lightly, or fretting the notes too heavily causing them to go out of tune and making your hand seize up!

The diagram below shows the scale shape in what is called tab. Each line represents a pair of strings from low G, through D, then A up and to the high E. The number on each line indicates the frets to be pressed to give the complete ascending scale. 

For every fret 2 note use finger one
For every fret 3 or 4 note use finger two
For every fret 5 note use finger three

Start by playing the open G with a down stroke with your pick. The second note should be played as an up stroke, and the rest played following this picking pattern of alternating your down and up strokes.

The Chords

The G major chord is played using finger one on the 2nd fret of the A string and finger two on the 3rd fret of the E string. This can be written as 0 0 2 3 (open string, open string, 2nd fret, 3rd fret). Hit all the strings together to produce the chord.

The D major chord is played using finger one on the 2nd fret of the low G and finger two on fret 2 of the high E string. This can be written as 2 0 0 2 (2nd fret, open, open, 2nd). Again, hit all the strings together to form the chord.

Practice strumming the chords by holding the shapes down and moving the pick alternately up and down across all the strings. Insure all the notes are being fretted properly by playing the chords one string at a time.

The Video

Hopefully the video will make the concepts described above clear!

G Major Melodeon Fingering and Eh Cumpari Video

Here is the video to go with the G major scale lesson and tune Eh Cumpari.

Notice the scale is firstly played using only one finger at a time to provide a clear sight of the buttons. The second time through the correct hand position is shown with the fingers hovering over the buttons.

When playing Eh Cumpari I have again tried to move my fingers out the way quickly to show which button/fingers are being pressed.

The tune is then played at full speed with some ornamentation and variation on the melody to indicate how it will eventually sound.