Wulf's Webden

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Playing upside down


I’m having a stint of mandolin practise at the moment, getting ready to back up Martin Ash at The New Inn in Ealing on St Patrick’s Day (Thursday 17 March). I’ve had the mandolin for over twenty years now but haven’t notched up a massive amount of gigging experience on it – a little bit when I bought it, a little bit when I first moved to Oxford and a resurgence now.

I’m not without gigging experience on other instruments so Martin won’t be left high and dry but it is taking a fair amount of work to make sure I’ve got my chops in place. The biggest challenge is that I’m more used to bass and guitar tuning – either 4ths all the way across or a major third thrown into the mix but otherwise based on 4ths. The mandolin, like violin, viola and cello, is tuned in 5ths instead and so the chord shapes are related to ones I’m used to but I’m having to think of them all upside down.

Ah well – nothing a few more hours in the woodshed won’t fix!

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