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Mandolin versions of famous brass band songs

2020-02-10

Theme:Guitars, Wind Instruments

This blog is for those who are playing in brass bands.

Have you heard of the mandolin? It is a type of stringed instrument. We rest it on our thighs when seated and play it with a pick. Although not as well-known as instruments used in brass band, there are school mandolin clubs and adult groups all over the country, and in fact, Japan is said to have the most mandolin enthusiasts in the world.

If you want to know more about mandolin, please read the past blog posts below.
・ What is a mandolin like?
・ Here is the mandolin family!

A group of people with a large number of mandolin players is called the mandolin orchestra. Please imagine the normal orchestra's violin being replaced by mandolin. Mandolin orchestras often play songs composed for mandolin, but sometimes surprisingly, brass band music is also played. In this blog, I will introduce three such songs. I recommend listening and comparing at least the first one or two minutes to best enjoy the difference.

1st song “Tanabata (The Seventh Night of July)”

If you have experienced playing this in brass band, you may be like many others who want to listen to this song in July.

○ Brass Band Version

○ Mandolin Version

In the brass band version, different instruments take over the melody one after another, whereas in the mandolin version most of the instruments are not that different, so it is not a match for the brass band version in terms of the variety of sounds. But from a different point of view, it's a great sense of unity because of the similar sounds created by the mandolins. Regarding the mellow melody played as a duet by alto saxophone and euphonium, the mandolin is responsible for the melody of the saxophone and the guitar is responsible for the melody of the euphonium.

2nd song “Takarajima”

Originally a song from an instrumental band, T-SQUARE, it is no exaggeration to say that it is a representative song for wind instruments.

○ Brass Band Version

○ Mandolin Version

If you are accustomed to listening to the brass band version, the mandolin version may be a bit too gentle. Especially where the trumpet and trombone play the same melody in the latter half, there is a sharpness and power unique to the brass band. However, there aren't many such types of songs played on mandolin, so the gap between the two is large, but it's a very nice performance all the same. The long alto saxophone solo is played on an electric flat mandolin in the mandolin version. This model is probably the one that appears in the video.

ARIA / AM-20E

For the first two songs so far, though I’m biased toward the mandolin, even I cannot honestly dismiss the impression that they are "mandolin versions of brass band music". However, I think that the next performance is not inferior to the brass band version.

3rd song “The last letter from Murdoch”

The motif of this song is the Titanic's navigator, and it is a popular song that is often played in the brass band competition.

○ Brass Band Version

○ Mandolin Version

Both versions are attractive with the grandness and persuasiveness, like the climax from the beginning. The volume of mandolin is lower than wind instruments, but with such a large group, it is as powerful as the brass band version! Also, the fact that the mandolin version seems to have some room in the part where fast notes continue in the second half is an advantage over instruments that require breathing.

Were you able to feel the attraction of the brass band and mandolin?
By the way, many of my mandolin friends are originally from brass band. I also belonged to the brass band in junior high school and started mandolin in high school. I love mandolin now, but it's thanks to the brass band that I learned the joy of playing in an ensemble. If you are (or were) a brass band player and want to try a new instrument, I highly recommend the Mandolin! It's a relatively easy-to-learn instrument, so if you can read the score, it shouldn't be too difficult. It is also a nice point that it is easy to practice at home as the sound is quieter than a wind instrument.

Also, if you like the sound of mandolin, I recommend this blog post.
Past blog post “Healing for busy days! Three recommended mandolin tunes.”

In the future, I would like to write blogs that will make people, who are not familiar with mandolin, aware of its appeal.

■ List of mandolins
https://www.soundhouse.co.jp/category/middle/1520

Sasaki

幼少期からピアノを習い、中学では吹奏楽部で打楽器を担当していました。高校入学時の部活紹介でギター・マンドリン部の演奏にひと聞きぼれし、マンドリンを始めました。大学のサークルを経て、現在は社会人のマンドリンオーケストラで演奏しています。

ARIA /  AM-20E Mandolin

ARIA

AM-20E Mandolin

¥17,800(excl. tax)¥19,580(incl. tax)

A style flat mandolin, brown sunburst, pickup installed

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