Completed A Family Heirloom Comes Home I

Tazrae remembers her Grandfather's Mandolin lessons.

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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A Family Heirloom Comes Home I

Postby Tazrae on July 13th, 2020, 2:52 am

Timestamp:Summer, 35th, 520 A.V.


Tazrae sat cradling her mandolin, stroking its fine neck lost in childhood memories; happy ones. Now that it had been retrieved from Riverfall, it was more than time for her to learn its use. Captain James had taken a letter to her mother requesting the instrument with the coin to cover its cost, and happily her mother had still had it in her possession not for any sentimental reason, but for the fact it was a valuable thing. It had belonged to Tazrae’s grandfather in her father’s family line and he’d played it day in and day out. She didn’t remember her father ever playing it, but then her father had been a man who had taken up a hobby – held it for five chimes – and then was on to a new one.

James had dropped off a few other things for her. A couple of books, a pitch pipe, some writing supplies and a stash of instrument picks she could use with the mandolin. All and all, it left Tazrae super thankful the man made regular trips to Riverfall.

Her grandfather on her father's side had played it beautifully. As a girl, he'd often let her sit by his knee, in the courtyard, and listen to him play the very mandolin she cradled in her arms this instant. She remembered what he used to say about it quite clearly.

"Girl... you need to know your instrument well. It needs to always be in a playable condition, and it needs to be tuned." She already knew how to tune it. That was one of her birthrights. Her family had keen ears and a good sense of pitch, not because of any natural born ability, but because many of them carried Rhaus’ mark.

She glanced down at the mandolin, following that well-remembered advice. She checked for cracks and warps, and then checked the pegs to see if they were tight and working. The strings were all in place, the four pairs of them, and tuned perfectly. She ran her hands over the neck, and noted the oddity of the strings.

Mandolin's had eight strings, though they were arranged in pairs of two, each two tuned to the same note. They were designed to be played at the same time, and thus each pair only counted as one string. She smiled, checking them. Yes, they all looked good.

A voice out of her memory reminded her. "Always check your action, girl. This is a critical factor, because if the strings are too high above the fret, you'll have a hard time pushing your fingers down on them to create your music. If their too low, they'll rattle or buzz on the frets." She checked the height, and adjusted it slightly. The fret, or little metal bars placed at various intervals along the neck, looked to be the perfect distance beneath the strings, ready to take her finger pressure. She loved her grandfather's terms. "Fret... action" She didn't know what action was for the longest time... It just meant height. Bards took such interesting titles for their instruments and their parts.... so much so it made Tazrae chuckle. Always, they had a flair for the dramatic. She supposed she wasn't too different.

receipt :
Mandolin 55 gm
Mandolin Case (Good) 28 gm
Music book 4 gm
Book On The Gods 50 gm
Blank Book x 4 12 gm
Ink 1 gm
Quill x8 1 gm
pitch pipe 1 gm
1 instrument picks 1 gm

Total: 133 gm

Word Count: 539
Last edited by Tazrae on July 13th, 2020, 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
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Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
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A Family Heirloom Comes Home

Postby Tazrae on July 13th, 2020, 3:10 am

Her grandfather's voice spoke in her memory again. "Now, hold your mandolin on your lap so that the neck is pointed to the left, and look at the little strip of bone near the tuning pegs which the strings cross over. That's called the nut. The grooves in the nut should allow the strings to barely clear the first fret." She checked, and it did. She smiled at this. Tazrae hoped her grandfather would appreciate how well the family had taken care of the Mandolin. It was in perfect working order just as he demanded.

"Now look at the bridge... the wooden bar that the strings cross over at the other end of your mandolin. I will show you a trick to see if your adjustment is correct." She remembered, in the clarity of her past, that he'd pulled a silver miza from his pocket and neatly slipped it between the strings and the twelfth fret. Then he'd adjusted the action at the fret so it was exactly the silver's thickness.

"I remember, Grandfather. I remember you saying that the lower the action, the easier it is to play. I will keep it low for now... until I get better...." But not too low she thought, remembering the funny buzzing noises you'd get from playing with your action set up too low. She laughed suddenly, glancing around. She hoped no one would have heard her speaking to her grandfather, who was long passed from the world. When she discovered she was alone, she continued on.

Yes, that was the idea. Keep the strings low while you’re learning to play, then raise them up some when you're ready to start playing for others. She knew more experienced players preferred higher action because it produced a louder clearer sound.

Next the strings. She nodded, then tried to remember what he said about those. "Strings, adjust them so they are just a hair above the first fret and a silver's length above the last." She checked.... yes… all correct.

She was now ready to double-check her tuning, then she could start playing.

Tazrae was glad her grandfather's wisdom traveled with her, and that she'd learned so much sitting at his knee. She took the mandolin onto her lap and glanced around. The Inn was peaceful, and she would have no trouble tuning it.

She had a small pitch pipe now, but she decided to tune the mandolin to itself, rather than to the pitch pipe since she was playing for her own pleasure and not accompanying any other instruments. She smiled, looked over the instrument, and began. She looked at the G unison strings first, and knew she needed to tune them so they sounded exactly the same. She did so, tightening the pegs at the top of the neck until she had exactly the same sound. Then she held down that pair (the 'fourth string') at the seventh fret and plucked it until she got a good clear sound.

Then she plucked the third string without pushing it down on any of the frets. She compared the resulting note with the one the G string produced. There was a slight difference, so she changed the D unison strings until that pair produced the same note when played open, or unfretted as the G string. did when it was held down at the seventh fret. Once she had the D string sounding right, she pushed it down at the seventh fret and adjusted the A unison strings in the same manner. Finally, she fingered the A string at the seventh fret and tuned the E unison strings so that they corresponded to the fretted A.

Word Count: 613
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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
Words: 500443
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
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A Family Heirloom Comes Home

Postby Tazrae on July 13th, 2020, 3:12 am

The whole process sounded complicated, but it really wasn't. She was just manipulating the instrument until its sound was wholesome, beautiful, and the strings matched each other up the scale. She just reminded herself that when she was tuning a string, she needed to pluck it with her pick at the same time she turned her pegs. She got a better feel that way for how much the string was changing, and enabled her to adjust it more quickly.

There was no getting around it though. The mandolin was a persnickity instrument to tune, with the double strings playing tricks on her ears. So she took extra time and made doubly certain it was correct. Then she pulled out her pitch pipe, and checked her tuning work to make sure it was pitched carefully. It was. She smiled in relief. Now she was ready to play.

Tazrae picked up her tortoise shell pick where she kept it stored in the neck of the mandolin. As she did so, her mind drifted back to what her Grandfather had told her about picks.

"Picks come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and thicknesses, Tazrae. After you've been playing awhile, you'll get a feeling for which kind is best for you. However, for starters, let me recommend this tear-drop shaped medium tortoise shell for you, my dear." At that point the old man had handed her ten of them, laughing slightly. "Always keep as many picks around as you have fingers for. You can break them, loose them, so always keep spares." She nodded to herself. Her mandolin case had at least that many.

Now, for holding the pick. She stuck her right hand out in front of her as if she was going to shake someone's hand. Now, while keeping her fingers pointed straight out, she bent her index finger inward. Then, she balanced her pick on the first joint of her index finger with the tip of the pick pointing straight to the left. Finally, to keep her pick from falling on the floor when she played, she laid her thumb on the middle of the pick with enough pressure to restrain the thing, but not so much that her thumb would turn blue. It was an easy idea to pick up. The middle of her finger was supposed to be in the middle of the pick, and the pick, in turn, should be resting directly on the first joint of her index finger. She then remembered, she had to keep the rest of her fingers pointed outward.

Then, she thought about her wrist. "Tazrae, playing the mandolin is all about your wrist. That expression 'It's all in the wrist' holds absolutely true." Subtle, nimble wrist movements was one of the keys to playing the instrument well. She practiced often, and while holding her pick correctly, she moved her wrist up and down but kept the rest of her arm absolutely still. Yes, that was the way it was supposed to be worked. She kept the pick at a right angle to the strings, and smiled to herself... proud that she'd remembered Grandfather’s advice.


Tazrae knew mandolin was well suited to playing melody, harmony, fill-in notes, and chords for accompaniment to almost anything, including her voice. The trick was mastering first the chords, then learning the scales. She worked on chords first, because they were the hardest.

She started by learning a few simple chords. D would be easiest. To play a D chord, she pushed the first, or E, string down at the second fret with her middle finger, and at the same time, she fretted the fourth, or G, string at the second fret with her index finger. It was a difficult stretch, but she managed, stroking the strings to coax the D chord out of the lovely instrument.

Word Count: 640
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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
Words: 500443
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
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A Family Heirloom Comes Home

Postby Tazrae on July 13th, 2020, 3:14 am

Tazrae kept in mind that it was important to push down hard enough on the strings to make each note ring clear, especially when she was chording. One way to make it easier was to hold her left thumb against the back of the neck and squeeze the strings between her thumb and fingers. It regulated the sound and made her weak fingers stronger. Now, she strummed all four strings with her pick, playing a strong D chord.

She decided with knowing the D chord, she could play a simple song... a child's song. Hoe your row... a farmer's ditty.

Fingering a D chord and strumming down on all four strings, over and over, with a constant, rhythmic stroke, Tazrae picked up the tune. She tried keeping a strong, steady beat, like the ticktock of a grandfather clock. Then, once she got that going, added her voice to the beat. She visualized the song written out, with slash marks indicating where to strum to keep the rhythm going. She sung the words out loud and clear as she played.

Hoe, Hoe, Hoe Your Row
/ / / / /

Hoe, Hoe, Hoe Your Row,
/ / / / /

Gently Deep In The Soil,
/ / / /

Happily, Happily, Happily, Happily,
/ / / /
Growin' Life All In Green.
/ / / / /

Tazrae grinned, gaining confidence, and launched into the song one more time, raising her voice and singing out clearly, strumming her mandolin in accompaniment. She felt the music, felt the joy, and loved the music flowing through the room.

She played the song about hoeing a row a while, and kept at it until she mastered it. Then she moved on to the A. She held down her left index finger on the third, or D, string at the second fret. She strummed the bottom three strings and produced a clear A, a one-fingered chord. She smiled; glad the chord was so simple. She was careful not to strum the fourth, or G, string, that would have produced yet another chord. Smiling, she strummed it more.

She practiced playing her D and A chords, changing from one to the other without stopping or even hesitating. It took a while for her to learn this smoothly, but she kept at it, strumming quickly... trying to produce quick transitions and teach her fingers to make it the changes quickly and easily in her mind, like breathing or walking.

Playing the two chords, changing from one another without stopping or hesitating was not what she'd consider stimulating as a musician. Rather, it was a bit boring, so she decided to change it up a bit, switching from just strumming a chord into a waltz rhythm. The waltz had a rhythm that sounded like one two three, one two three, or A D D, A D D...drawing out the D into a longer form.

While she was holding her D chord (one), playing the fourth or G string once with her pick, she followed by two strums down over the bottom three strings (two three). She played that over and over until she learned to keep a good waltz rhythm going. Once she could sustain it, she tried using her A chord. She avoided hitting the fourth string, and played the 'one' as an A with the third string held down at the second fret. Then she strummed twice on the bottom two strings.

Word Count: 565
Last edited by Tazrae on July 13th, 2020, 4:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
Words: 500443
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
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A Family Heirloom Comes Home

Postby Tazrae on July 13th, 2020, 3:15 am

Tazrae kept playing that way, repeating the whole process a few times, practicing keeping her right hand going while changing chords. Next she added her voice to a timeless old tune...

Down in the Valley....
(one two three, one two three, one two three)

The Valley so low...
(one two three one two three one two three)

Hang your head over....
(one two three one two three one two three)

Hear the wind bow....
(one two three one two three one two three)

She smiled, and practiced the song a few more times.... before setting her mandolin aside and calling it a day.

The next day, Tazrae was back. She was more than willing to tackle G now, though to her, it seemed pretty intimidating. It would take her lots of time and patience just learning her fingers how to bend to the chords and what exactly made sense to them in the transitions.

Tazrae had a pretty good grasp on D and A by now, and was doing well playing them together. She decided to move on to another chord, a G, and figure out if she could play them all together in a song she knew from back in the vineyard.

To create a G chord, she fretted the second, or A, string at the second fret with her index finger, and pushed the first, or E, string down on the third fret with her middle finger. It was incredibly difficult, and took her several minutes just to coax her fingers into the right motion. Once they seemed to have figured it out for themselves, she practiced changing from one chord to another to another and back again until she was more easily switching through them. She spent the entire day on it, trying once more over and over and over to change chords up and down. Down and up... until her fingers were nimble. Tazrae decided immediately that she'd start mandolin warmup each day with such an excercise. Hopefully she'd get so used to it that she'd not miss a beat.

Every song Tazrae knew was something of a bastardization of classics, changed up for her grandfather and his love of song and song making.... the next song she tried was no different. He’d even had one for wine.

"Will the cork be unbroken?" Was the song she was aiming for, and she was just playing a fragment of it. This time she strummed, while she was on her D and G chords. It involved striking the fourth string first, followed by a single downstroke on the bottom two or three strings. When she held an A chord, she began by striking the third string at the second fret (avoiding the fourth string, of course), then follow with a strum on the bottom two or three strings. The rhythm sounded like tick rock, tick rock, with a slight accent on the "rock. She sang along as she played.. trying to keep everything in tune.


G
Will the cork be unbroken...
C G
It's a crime Ladies, drink the wine!

There's a better vintage waiting..
D G
On the vine, Ladies, on the vine...

She smiled, playing the chorus over and over again, practicing her fingerwork and switching between the chords over and over again... G C G D G... G C G D G... She played until she lost all track of time. She kept playing then until her back cramped up and her eyes started squinting watching the changes to the strings. It was frustrating practice.. but she wanted to get it out, wanted to teach her wayward fingers how to use the mandolin's strings. Tazrae stopped only when her fingers cramped.. and called it a day.

Continued in: A Family Heirloom Comes Home II

Word Count: 621
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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
Words: 500443
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes
Medals: 2
Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)

A Family Heirloom Comes Home I

Postby Tazrae on July 13th, 2020, 4:41 am

Grading



Play Musical Instrument (Mandolin) +5, Singing +3

Mandolin: Parts and # of Strings, Mandolin: How To Tune One, Mandolin: How To Hold/Play The Instrument, Mandolin: Adjusting the Bridge, Mandolin: Proper String Position Depending On Circumstance, Instrument Picks: How To Use/Hold One, Mandolin: Best suited to playing Melody, Harmony, fill-in notes and chords. Mandolin: How To Play The Chords
Image
User avatar
Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
Words: 500443
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes
Medals: 2
Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)


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