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Other names Tenor mandola

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The mandola (US and Canada) or tenor mandola (Europe, Ireland, and UK) is a fretted stringed musical instrument. It stands in the same relationship to the mandolin as the viola to the violin, the pairs of strings being tuned in fifths to the pitches of the viola (C-G-D-A low-to-high), a fifth lower than a mandolin. However, the mandola, though now rarer, is the ancestor of the mandolin, the name of which means simply "little mandola".

The name mandola is thought to originate with the ancient pandura, and was also rendered as mandora, the change perhaps having been due to approximation to the Italian word for "almond". The instrument developed from the lute at an early date, being more compact and cheaper to build, but the sequence of development and nomenclature in different regions is now hard to discover. The instrument has been known as the mandore and mandole, pandurina, bandurina; in 16thCCE Germany ( sometimes with a guitar-like body) it was the quinterne or chiterna. However, significantly different instruments have at times and places taken on the same, or closely similar, names, while the "true" mandola has been strung in several different ways.[1]

The mandola has four double courses of wire strings, tuned in unison rather than in octaves. The scale length of the mandola is typically around 42 cm (16.5 inches). The mandola is typically played with a plectrum (pick). The mandola is a poor sustaining instrument and notes must be sustained using the technique of tremolando, a rapid alternation of the plectrum on a single course of strings.

Mandolas are not uncommon in folk music, (particularly Italian folk music) and sometimes used in Irish traditional music, although far less often, in the latter case, than the octave mandola, Irish bouzouki, and modern cittern. Some Irish traditional musicians, such as Andy Irvine restring the tenor mandola so it may be tuned as a mandolin, while others (Brian McDonagh of Dervish being the best known) use altered tunings such as D-A-E-A. Like the guitar the mandola can be acoustic or electric. Alex Lifeson, guitarist of Rush, also can play the mandola.


See also


  1. ^ F. Jahnel and N. Clarke, The Manual of Guitar Technology, p29, The Bold Strummer Ltd.[1]

External links

Further reading

  • Troughton, John (2005). Mandolin Manual: The Art, Craft and Science of the Mandolin and Mandola. United States: Crowood Press, Limited, The. ISBN 1-86126-496-8.   — A comprehensive chord dictionary.
  • Richards, Tobe A. (2005). The Tenor Mandola Chord Bible: CGDA Standard Tuning 1,728 Chords. United Kingdom: Cabot Books. ISBN 0-9553944-2-2.   — A comprehensive chord dictionary.
  • Loesberg, John (1989). Chords for Mandolin, Irish Bango, Bouzouki, Mandola, Mamdocello. Rep. of Ireland: Random House. ISBN 0-946005-47-8.   — A chord book featuring 20 pages of popular chords.


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