The Old-Time Herald Volume 12, Number 11

That Old-Time Mandolin
By Cary Fagan
Randy Johnson photo by Matthew Spencer


Everyone knows that in much of old-time music, the fiddle leads while the banjo is its close companion. The guitar might be a later addition but its steady rhythm and arpeggio runs make it a welcome member. And if a bass player comes along—well, a good, steady thumping adds a great foundation.
But the mandolin player? What is he or she supposed to be doing? If you watch closely enough you'll catch a glimpse of one at a jam here and there. But where exactly does the mandolin belong in old-time?
That's a question that has surprised none of the mandolin players I've asked lately. Unlike other instruments, the role of the small, eight-string instrument has not been spelled out as clearly by time and tradition. The association with Bill Monroe has encouraged the notion that the mandolin belongs only in bluegrass music.

Complete article in print edition. Subscribe now!

<<<Return to the 11-11 index

The Old Time Herald PO Box 61679• Durham, NC • 27715-1679
Phone (919) 286-2041