Mandolin music in the churches?
  • Mandolin is not the instrument most associated to the churches, despite the fact that the angels sure play them, at least according to many painters. (Fra Angelico and others...) Did the painters somehow misunderstand? As a composer of religious mandolin music, I believe they did not - I only think that the the instrument has changed during the centuries. In my music I try to get back to what I believe is the original sound and feeling of the mandolin. In many ways it is the sound of silence... I hope you will take some time listening to my music - and be polite: Is this music that can be heard in our churches? I don't know how to load down music here, so I hope this link will do:
  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    My mother's church had an associate pastor for a while who played the mandolin and from time to time when he was no celebrating he would play for Mass (which I thought was a lovely change form the mindset that one HAS to concelebrate if available).

    It was lovely and very prayerful, and a great aid to interior participation.
    I think that is part of the standard for the appropriateness of instruments at the liturgy, whether they lead to contemplation or just to noise.

    Do you have PDFs of music on your site, or just sound files?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save he World)
  • I would think that capable mandolin/violinists could find some Vivaldi, Monteverdi or such Venetian era pieces that would enhance a liturgy.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    A mandolin is a tiny harpsichord. Any listener of Portuguese "fado" singing (e.g. Cristina Branco, Amalia Rodrigues, etc.) can attest that it pairs with the human voice beautifully. Sounds antique, too, like a lyre.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,100
    I think I've heard mandolin in a Maronite church.
  • To G: So far there are only soundfiles at my page - but I plan to put out the scores as well. To all: It was interesting to hear your responses - I am glad that you are so positive. I agree to Pes that the instrument is like a tiny harpsicord, that is why I became so fascinated by it. (I started up playing Bach, then moved on to compose...) Sadly there are not too many players that treat it like that anymore, and what I am trying to do is to get back to that. I don't say I stand alone, but for most people the mandolin is today associated to the cafes, folk-rock, bluegrass etc. I will probably start to play in the churches this summer... I hope others will share your associations to this tiny harp.
  • Are you Scandinavian?
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    All I think of when I hear "mandolin" is bluegrass...
  • To M. Jackson Osborn: Yes, I am a Norwegian. And to Jam: Yes, that is some of the problem. Please log into my page ( and I think you will change your mind about that. I believe that my Requiem for the mandolin solo is so far away from bluegrass that you will come...
  • It would never have entered my mind to associate the venerable mandolin with 'Bluegrass' music. But, then, I never listen to Bluegrass music. To me, the mandolin is the instrument of some angelic types, and a folk instrument of European-Americans of times long past. I can't say that it seems to me to be a 'liturgical' instrument; but, I'm sure that I could listen to your Requiem with interest. The last time I heard the mandolin was as a teenager when it was played by my cousin's grandfather.
  • Simen,

    Nice job with your compositions. They sounded lovely. There was almost a 'medieval' feel to them.

    I have never heard of sacred music for the mandolin until now...thank you.
  • Your music is beautiful. I especially like Michael's Hymne, but they all have spiritual depth and a very pensive atmosphere. I am reminded vaguely of the Japanese shamisen, of which I am very fond.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Definitely not Bill Monroe - and most definitely very lovely. (I do enjoy bluegrass as well, but only in limited quantities.)

    One of the problems for "non-organ" instrumentation in the contemporary church is the tendency to lump everything together - sensitive meditative music, three-chord wonders on the guitar, the liturgical harmonica. Those of more conservative liturgical tastes are afraid what will walk in if the door is opened because of "quality control" issues.

    I liked these compositions - they weren't afraid of the spaces between the notes.
  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    mjballou, I should probably warn you that the last time I made an online joke about liturgical harmonica I received inquiries from a very nice, very sincere woman looking for a gift for her husband, and I felt churlish indeed...

    (Have a learned my lesson? have I stopped making jokes? I have not.)

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    My "liturgical harmonica player" didn't know that harmonicas (non-chromatic) came in different keys. He just played in C no matter what the tune. I'm very sympathetic toward the harmonica myself. My late father (may he rest with the saints) excelled at Old Rugged Cross, Strawberry Roan and Wreck of the Old 97. When I played, every piece sounded exactly the same. So I took up the harp instead (punnish relation intended).