mandolin ensemble

Ensemble La Volta – Plucked Instruments of the World

The La Volta ensemble has been around for more than 25 years. A concert for the 25st anniversary was given in 2009, and the videos of this concerts are now available on youtube.

On the homepage of the ensemble you can find the following text:

LA VOLTA, ein Ensemble der Musikschule Reinach/Basel-Land (CH), besteht aus 8 bis 9 Jugendlichen im Alter von ca. 10 bis18 Jahren.

Zusammen mit ihrem Leiter, Jürgen Hübscher, beherrschen sie ein vielfältiges Repertoire, das von Musik des 16. bis 18. Jahrhunderts über Internationale Folklore bis zur «POPulären Musik» unserer Zeit reicht.

Das Instrumentarium besteht aus Gitarren verschiedener Grössen, historischen Instrumenten wie Laute, Barockgitarre, Barockmandoline, Pandora etc., folkloristischen Zupfinstrumenten aus ganz Europa, Nordamerika und Lateinamerika, Violine, Panflöten und über dreissig Percussionsinstrumenten.

translated to English:

LA VOLTA, a group of the music school in Reinach/Basel (Switzerland) is composed of studens ot he music school aged between 10 and 18 years.

Together with the director Jürgen Hübscher they play a repertoire which contains music from the 16th to the 18th century as well as international folk music and pop songs of today.

The enseble uses different sized guitars, historical instruments like the luth, barock guitar, barock mandolin, pandora etc.,  folk instruments from all over Europe, North America and South America, violins, pan flutes and more than 30 percussion instruments.

For now 25 years Jürgen Hübscher has again and again found young students for his ensemble and prepared  interesting programs. Many times this ensemble has also been invited to other countries and made successful tours.

The instruments are used in a very creative way. In the following video folk instruments like the charango or the Puertorican cuatro are used for the barock music replacing the barock guitar, the Mexican Guitarron is used as the bass instrument.

Villan di Spagna (printed 1657)

Ensemble La Volta (Switzerland) Italian 17th Century music by Giuseppe Giamberti. Performed with “baroque Charango” (tuned like baroque guitar), Jarana Huasteca from Mexico, Pandora, Cuatro Puertorriqueño & Mexican Guitarron.

The program does also contain a Ciacona by Leopold Sylvius Weiss for soprano luth and bass luth, and a suite by Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello.

Then follows an Italian tarantella, folk dances from Greece and Bulgaria and finally dances and choros from South America.

Two well known pieces from Brazil are played in the following video:

Manha de carnaval / Brasileirinho

The ensemble La Volta has produced several CDs, they have also published some South American dances for a mixed ensemble. On the homepage of the ensemble you can find more information about CDs, sheet music and also seminars held by Jürgen Hübscher for working with mixed ensembles. You can also order a newsletter.

This is another video with Irish and American melodies, played with a lot of joy and creativity – that’s fun for the players and for the audience too.

Irish Reel – Hornpipe – Breakdown

Website La Volta:

Playlist with all videos of the anniversary concert of Ensemble La Volta

Playlist from a concert given in 2011

Play by Jason Vieaux

(Amazon partnerlink)


Jupiter Creek Music – Australia – Electric Ukulele

Jupiter Creek Music was an Australian company that produced electric mandolins and ukuleles. In 2012 Rob Dick who owned the company passed away.

On the homepage of Jupiter Creek Music you could find a lot of information about the building of electric mandolins and ukuleles. A virtual workshop tour showed, how electric mandolins and other instruments are built.  Jupiter Creek did also build stomp boxes, wooden boxes with a microphone built in, which could be used to make percussion sounds like a drumset.

Very interesting was the production of neck plates and tail pieces. Those parts are not generally available for mandolins and ukuleles, so they have to be built especially.

The homepage of Jupiter Creek does not exist any more…

There are still two videos available at youtube the use an electric ukulele built by Jupiter Creek – a nice demonstration about what can be done with such an electric ukulele:

Greg Franklin plays While My Guitar Gently Weeps on electric ukelele

Greg Franklin improvises on the classic George Harrison song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Playing a custom built electric ukelele. He recreates Eric Claptons original concept of weepin…

Greg Franklin plays wild electric ukelele (ukulele) blues

Demonstration of blues played on a four string electric ukelele (ukulele) by Greg Franklin in the style of Eric Clapton, Jeff Healey and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Jupiter Creek Electric Mandolin

Message in the Mandolin Cafe Message Board:

Hi to all members in this group.
My Dad suddenly passed away last week so unfortunately Jupiter Creek Music is no longer. A very very sad time for the family.
I will put an update on the group wall in the near future.
Kristie Pope

CD Travels by Jake Shimabukuro (amazon partner link)


Hawaii, the Ukulele and Jake Shimabukuro

This year on August 21, 1969 Hawaii became the 50th state of the USA.

The typical instrument of Hawaii is the tiny ukulele, and one of the musicians, who really know how to play the ukulele is Jake Shimabukuro. The following video shows how Jake Shimabukuro plays one of his most successful pieces, the Beatles song While my Guitar Gently Weeps played on the ukulele. The ukulele played by Jake is made from beautiful koa wood, the typical wood that also grows in Hawaii and that is used for the best ukuleles.

Jake Shimabukuro LIVE Ukulele Concert: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

The ukulele has become very popular during the last years, and during my holiday in New York I have seen several ukulele players. One of those told me that the music of Jake Shimabukuro inspired him to play the ukulele too. While I stayed in New York Jake played an open air concert at the Lincoln Center, the following video was made at that concert:

Jake Interview by – In this interview Jake shows his Kamaka tenor ukulele and tells about his instrument an about how to learn the ukulele. The interview is in English with French subtitles: Interview part 1 Intervie part 2

Homepage of Jake Shimakuburo with many audio examples

Playlist Jake Shimabukuro – New Videos 2017

Playlist Jake Shimabukuro

Nashville Sessions – Jake Shimabukuro

(Amazon partnerlink)


Brasil na Pauta – Luperce Miranda – Great Choros…

Luperce Miranda is one of the most important composer of choros for the bandolim, the brazilian mandolin. Miranda was born in 1904 and died in 1977, he has composed more than 500 choros.

You can find some biographical notes about Miranda in the Choro Blog: Luperce Miranda – King of the Mandolin

Many of Mirandas compositions are played until today. The Brazilian bandolim player  Dudu Maia has recorded a complete CD with compositions by Miranda some time ago with his band A Quattro.

Bandolim Brasileiro – A Quattro toca Luperce Miranda

Dudu Maia – bandolim 10 cordas
Fernando Cesar – violao 7 cordas
Pedro vasconcellos – cavaco
Valerinho – pandeiro

musica: norival aos sessenta (Luperce Miranda)

Compositions by Luperce Miranda have been published some time ago in a book titled Brasil na Pauta (da Fonseca publishing company – it might be difficult to find this, but I can really recommend this book!).

The transcriptions in this edition are very clear, the typical rhytmical variations played in choro music have not been included in the transcriptions. Instead the basic rhythm of the music has been transcribed. This makes it quite easy to read and play those pieces, and so I think that this book is very good suited for beginners who want to start to play choro music. Later it is still possible to add the rhythmical variations – those can be learned from listening to good recordings of choro music.

The book does also contain useful biographical information about Luperce Mirand – unfortunately only in Portuguese. However one important information can be found, that should be known. Miranda frequently used an instrument for his recordings that was tuned in A instead in G. The transcriptions in this book however were based on the sound of the music. To play the pieces in the way they were played by Miranda it is necessary to play some of the pieces one note lower than transcribed. For some pieces this does not make a big difference, but for other pieces it is absolutely necessary to be able to play the pieces in the required tempo.

One of the best pieces composed by Luperce Mirando is Quando me Lembro. This piece is frequently played on the bandolim, but also on the guitar or even on the accordion. For mandolin players this is a really interesting piece with typical elements of the classical mandolin technique – especially a beautiful part in duo style.

The following video shows a version played by Marco de Pinna, other versions can be found in my playlist at the end.

Danilo Brito – Quando me Lembro (Luperce Miranda) – Instrumental SESC Brasil – 30/03/2010

Nomeado o melhor instrumentista brasileiro, aos 19 anos, pelo júri do 7º Prêmio Visa, Danilo Brito lançou, aos 24, seu terceiro CD, “Sem restrições” (Tratore, 2009), com composições inéditas de sua autoria e de seus contemporâneos. Participação de Luizinho 7 Cordas (violão de 7 cordas); Alexandre Ribeiro (clarinete); João Camarero (violão) e Rafael Toledo (percussão).

Another favorite tune of mine is Nea Sorrindo. This was recorded by the 12 year old bandolim player Tiago Tunes:

Nea Sorrindo – Luperce Miranda

Tiago Tunes, 12 anos, tocando Nea Sorrindo, de Luperce Miranda.

Read more “Brasil na Pauta – Luperce Miranda – Great Choros from Brazil”