John Duffey - Bluegrass Mandolinist & Singer

John Duffey was known for his high-lonesome tenor, brilliantly innovative mandolin playing, and the important part he played in establishing the Seldom Scene on the highest levels of bluegrass stardom and accomplishment. He has also been credited, particularly amongst his fellow musicians, as one of the great popularizers and missionaries of bluegrass. His choice of material and refined mode of presentation helped make this basically rural music not only acceptable, but highly desirable among the urban masses. One can only presume that if Duffey had not succumbed to a heart attack in the late '90s he would have been tremendously pleased with yet another resurgence in the music's popularity that seemed to come along with the new millennium.

A Washington native, Duffey started the Seldom Scene in 1971 after about a decade of playing with Charlie Waller & the Country Gentlemen, a bluegrass group from the same general region. The mandolinist was also a musical instrument repairman, a profession that managed to provide him with an alternative to being on the road all of the time, something with which he apparently had very little patience. One reason to form the new band was the possibility for it to work regularly without straying too far from the Washington, D.C./Virginia/Maryland axis. Certainly there would be gigs enough within a two- or three-hour driving ratio, especially with bluegrass coming off a peak in new popularity from the late '60s. He enlisted only other players whose demanding day jobs would prevent them from whining about wanting to go on long road trips. These original players were physician John Starling, mathematician Ben Eldridge, graphic artist Mike Auldridge, and National Geographic mapmaker Tom Gray. Also known as mandolinist John Duffey, banjo player Ben Eldridge, guitarist John Starling, bassist Tom Gray, and Dobro player Mike Auldridge. But the part-time nature of each of these players' musical focus in the early '70s would have probably dictated that they would have listed their day jobs first. The group was even called the Seldom Scene as a joke about the fact that they wouldn't be seen much on-stage. What happened was the opposite. By staying right out on the edge in an age of great musical adventurism among the audience, the group became much in demand, as well as producing some of the best-selling progressive bluegrass records in the history of the genre. Another part of Duffey's success as a member of co-operative bands was his belief that democracy worked in music ensembles, regardless of whether it seemed to be working in society. The mandolinist's philosophy seems to have been borne through his loyal membership to just two different bands over the 40 years of his career. He grew up in a musical family, although what he was exposed to at first was about the farthest one could get from bluegrass. His father was a professional singer who at times worked for the Metropolitan Opera. As a young man, Duffey became attracted to the music of Appalachian migrants in the area. He was not particularly concerned that amongst the classical or so-called legitimate music crowd such sounds had very little status. Despite his own lack of enthusiasm for so-called hillbilly music, Duffey senior realized that his son seemed to have inherited an exceptional singing voice, with a range of about four octaves. His father went ahead and taught him the voice and breathing techniques of a classical opera singer. Duffey continued his love affair with Appalachian music, but since he realized he wasn't in any way a native of that area, he focused on expanding the concept of the music to include people like him. He created new repertoire from modern and ancient sources and developed innovative vocal harmonies. What he did was definitely pleasing to the large new bluegrass audiences, although many purists found the new developments and outlooks being expressed in the music revolting. The controversy became part of the reason crowds packed several long weekly house band stints the group maintained in the D.C. area. Members of Congress in suits would be rubbing noses with college students, as well as disgruntled members of the bluegrass "walking dead," (i.e., those who wanted everything to be done the way Bill Monroe done done it).

Duffey's professional career began with a car crash in 1957 that injured mandolinist Buzz Busby. The banjo player in the same band as Busby, Bill Emerson put out a bee that he was looking for a substitute mandolinist so the band wouldn't have to cancel its schedule of club dates. In his search for potential players, Emerson found both young guitarist Waller and Duffey, as well. It was the mandolinist who came up with a name for the new group. He pointed out that many bluegrass bands at this time were coming up with names like the Mountain Boys. "We're not mountain boys," he said. "We're gentlemen." Duffey wound up staying with the Country Gentlemen for about a decade, as the group rode the new wave of folk music thrill-seeking. Many of the innovations of the Seldom Scene are foreshadowed by this earlier group, such as a diverse selection of material that could include gospel, jazz, and folk influences. By the late '60s, Duffey was working as an instrument repairman at an Arlington music store when the Seldom Scene was formed. In addition to much research, collecting, and arranging old songs and poems for the group, Duffey also composed his own music. Some of his best pieces include "The Traveler," which was dedicated to his wife, and the eerie "Victim to the Tomb."

As this group became more and more popular, Duffey's imposing stage personality came more and more to the front. Known for being able to shut the lid on just about any heckler, Duffey has been described as one of the most riotous personas in bluegrass, famous for his politically incorrect jokes and onstage shenanigans. Although the pre-bluegrass genre of old-time music was known for crazy stage shows and broad humor, bluegrass by this time had developed into a style most often represented visually by bandmembers who stood straight as a board, their faces expressionless no matter what they were picking. And the new comic approach presented by Duffey was much more sophisticated than the laugh-grabbing days of blackened teeth and hillbilly yuck yucks.

Duffey, along with former boss Waller and the other original Country Gentlemen, were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Associations' Hall of Fame. The Seldom Scene continued to be active up to the end, playing in Englewood, New Jersey, just days before Duffey's death. They were also working on arrangements for a new recording, including an adaptation of the Delta blues number "Rollin' and Tumblin'," for a progressive bluegrass band, of course. The posthumous Always in Style project was released under Duffey's name on the Sugar Hill label. Although the best recorded legacy of the mandolinist's work are on the recordings of the groups he was in, he also pops up here and there as a session picker, including on a Linda Ronstadt album.

Celtic Music Group - Thursdays at 7pm

The Celtic Music group meets Thursdays at 7pm.  The group has compiled six "sets" of material, usually traditional celtic dance music (jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas) and song.  Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the group performed each set at a local venue.  Until we can play in person again, we meet online using a Google platform called "Meet".  Each member of the group suggests a jig, reel, hornpipe, polka, slip jig and O'Carolan tune.  The group votes on the tunes they want to learn and pick the tunes out of those voted highest.  

We are compiling tunes now for the 7th set.  I've asked students to suggest their tunes in the #celticgroup channel on  If you would like to join the group, email to get an invitation link.

How Online Group Classes Work

Online Group Classes are announced in the appropriate Slack channel (if you're not on the Sweet Music Slack, you need to be registered for weekly private lessons to receive an invitation) usually an hour or so prior to the start of the group (7pm).  Prior to clicking on the invitation link, make sure you have optimized your connection.  You will need a good separate microphone, quality headphones or speakers, a metronome and a LAN connection.  Once you are set up for a great connection, click the invitation link, then the green (or teal) "Join" button.  You will be using an app called Google Meet.  For those of you who were online in the early 20's, you might remember similar products offered under the Google brand such as Wave, + and Hangouts.  Meet is Google's alternative to the popular Chinese-owned product Zoom.  Check it out here.  If you're familiar with Zoom, then you will know how to use Meet.  There are some significant differences.  Meet doesn't steal your personal information, doesn't sell it on the black market and won't install spyware on your computer.  I personally think the sound quality is also better. 

LAN Connection
Due to the slight delay or "lag" in transmission of image and sound over the internet, you can optimize your connection by making sure that you're directly connected to your internet modem with a LAN cable.  If you don't have one, you can buy one from Walmart or Amazon.  They are not expensive.  Measure the distance from your computer to the modem and then give yourself an extra six feet (just in case).  A direct connection can be 10 times faster than a wifi connection, which will decrease any lag you might be experiencing over Wifi.  If you would like help setting up your computer and modem, let me know!

Good Separate Microphone
All laptops and webcams come with some kind of an internal microphone, depending on the laptop/webcam brand, the quality can range from ok to not bad, but never good or very good.  To optimize your sound input, you will need a good microphone.  I recommend the "Blue" microphone from Snowball, but there are others.  Read the reviews on Consumer Reports' website and pick something you like.  Make sure it's a USB connection because some microphones plug into a separate mic jack, and some are bluetooth. 

Quality Headphones or Speakers
All laptops come with speakers.  Some desktop pc's also come with them.  I recommend the Jeecoo USB Pro Gaming Headset, but there are others.  Make sure you get a USB connection, and cups that go over the ears.  You can also get a set of quality external speakers with subwoofer.  Harmon Kardon is a good brand.

There are decent apps offered for iPhone and Android.  You can also buy a standalone version that sits on your desk.  I like the mechanical ones offered by Gleam so I can take it outside or on the porch where there's no power. 

Online Group Classes start at 7pm and go for about an hour.  They may go slightly over depending on a variety of factors, but plan for an hour minimum.

During the class, each person will take a turn playing their part for a predetermined length of time.  For example, in the Celtic class, each person will play the tune once through.  In the Classical Mandolin class, each person will play approximately 20 measures.  While you are waiting your turn, you will have your microphone muted so that you can play along with the person who is playing at that time.  They, in turn, will play along with you.  Due to the slight delay/lag, there really is no other way to do it.  But this way, members have an opportunity to socialize with others, to "play" music with others and to work with a metronome, which is a good skill to have.  (When we finally can return to some sense of normalcy after the COVID19 pandemic has subsided, we will be that much more precise).

NEW Online Lesson/Group Class Rates, Communication, Platforms and Misc

Adam Sweet
As you know, all lessons and group classes are now online.  I use for 1/1 lessons and all communications with students.  I teach mandolin, violin/fiddle, viola, mandocello, mandola, guitar, electric bass, octave mandolin, Irish bouzouki and Irish banjo.  I specialize in classical/chamber music from the Renaissance period up til the Classical period, Celtic, Bluegrass, Klezmer and Folk genres.  All payments and donations are accepted through Venmo.  Please consider becoming a Patron, and sponsoring the work I do through Patreon!
  • 30 minute weekly lessons - 1/1 private lesson with me on your instrument of choice, unlimited weekly Q&A and option to participate in online group classes: $40/ea
  • 60 minute weekly lessons - 1/1 private lesson with me on your instrument, unlimited Q&A during the week and option to participate in online groups offered: $75/ea
  • 15 minute "tune up" - any time we both have time, scheduled in advance.   This is an opportunity to check in online and go over something specific related to weekly practice, gear questions/tutorials, software questions/tutorials, etc.: $20
  • 60 minute weekly group class - $10/ea, minimum 3 people per group
  • Weekly Workshops - Free/Donations Accepted
  • Master Classes - TBA
  • "Live" Performances - TBA
an early mandolin class performance!
If you are a current student, but are not using Slack, please contact me right away to get your invitation!  For those of you who don't know what Slack is, it's kind of like Facebook Messenger on's a robust communication platform that allows for phone and video communications, text, messaging, all kinds of media sharing, discussion and social networking within our community.  The #general channel is for communications with the whole studio.  Each member has an individual channel which is private and end-to-end encrypted, so it cannot be "hacked".  The other community channels are
  • beginnermandolin - this is the channel for people who are participating in the Monday night workshop for mandolin beginners, YouTube LIVE at 7pm.  Look to this channel and the Sweet Music Studio Facebook group for invitation URLs.  Free to join, donations accepted
  • introtofiddle - this is the channel for people who are participating in the Tuesday night workshop for fiddlers, YouTube LIVE at 7pm.  Look to this channel and the Sweet Music Studio Facebook group for invitation URLs and other information.  Free to join, donations accepted.
  • klezmer - this is the channel for discussions relating to Klezmer music, a potential group and master classes offered by professionals.  Free to join.  Master classes will have a fee TBA.
  • testing - this is the channel for members who are helping me test various platforms and networks to find the optimum equipment and software for online meetings, classes and groups.  feel free to join if you are interested in gear and computers
  • celticgroup - this is invitation only for our weekly Thursday at 7pm Celtic Group Class.  You should be a weekly student in good standing to participate.  There is a $10/person/week fee to participate
  • mandolingroup - this is invitation only for our weekly Wednesday at 7pm Classical Mandolin Group Class.  There is a $10/person/week fee to participate.  This class is the core of Mandolin New England, our 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that forms a couple times a year for concerts in western Mass., and Providence, RI.  Obviously due  to COVID19, there won't be any concerts any time soon, but we are working on online performance/concert options.  Stay "tuned"!
Mandolin New England @ Hawks & Reed, Greenfield MA
For group classes, meetings of more than 2 people, I use Google Meet.  If you are familiar with Zoom, then you will find Meet easy to set up and use.  You don't need a Google account to use it.  I will share the URL with the appropriate channel prior to the group time.  All you have to do is click the URL in the channel, wait for the Meet platform to load in your browser, and then click the JOIN button.  Make sure your gear is optimized: microphone, webcam, computer, etc.  Ask if you have questions.  We use Google meet for the Classical Mandolin Group (Wed at 7pm) and the Celtic Group (Thu at 7pm).

Jim Bunting (Irish bouzouki), Claudine Langille (Irish banjo), Adam Sweet (Irish fiddle)
For workshops, masterclasses and other "live" performances, I use YouTube LIVE.  You don't need a YouTube account to watch the events, but if you want to chat with me during the workshop, ask questions, you will need a YouTube channel.  Don't worry, they are free.  Ask me how to set it up.  Soon I will be announcing a master class series featuring professional musicians from all over the world.  Watch this website for links and other information!  Workshops are free, donations accepted. Masterclasses with professional musicians will be fee-based as will live performances.

I'm at your mercy

All professional musicians are in the same boat.  We are all trying hard to recoup  our losses by teaching online, providing workshops or master classes using Facetime, YouTube Live or some other method.  Speaking personally, 80% of my annual income comes from weddings, St Paddy's Day events, concerts and other live performances in front of real audiences.  Since the coronavirus and social distancing has made this impossible, I am asking my friends family and fans to please, if you have a few extra bucks lying around, share it with me so that I can feed my family and pay the mortgage!  Hopefully this pandemic will be over soon and we can get back to normal life.

Thank you,
Adam Sweet
Sweet Music Studio
Become a Patron!  From $1 a month
Pay via Venmo

How to Donate, Become a Patron, or Pay for Lessons

If you appreciate what work I've done either on my blog or any Workshops or YouTube videos I've posted, a DONATION would be greatly appreciated.

To donate:
  • If using PayPal, the best way to do it is follow the instructions on this page.  
  • If using Venmo, the best way to do it is to follow instructions on this page
Become a Patron
If you would like to support me on a monthly basis, you become a Patron, and follow the link on the sidebar to my Patreon page.  Here are some additional pointers.

Pay for Lessons
I would like all students to use Venmo when paying for lessons.  If this is the first time you are using it, please follow the instructions to download the app to your phone and set it up here.  If I am not in your contacts list, let me know and I will send you my contact information.


Tonight: Advanced Mandolin Classical Group @ 7pm

If you're a current student in good standing you are welcome to attend the Advanced Mandolin Classical Group which meets Wednesday nights at 7pm.

This is the core of Mandolin New England, a 501(c)3 nonprofit mandolin orchestra that performs free concerts and master classes in western Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the Boston area.

Currently the group  is working on the Bach Double Concerto originally written for two viols and continuo.  We are playing it with 2 mandolins and continuo.  Continuo generally refers to string instruments that play the rhythm and echo parts of the melody, but are not part of the solo.  In a chamber group, it would be comprised of violins, violas, cellos, bass and harpsichord; or perhaps Viols*  and harpsichord, depending on the composer.  For example, J.S. Bach composed a fair number of pieces for viols*

J. S. Bach "Lost Portrait"

The Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043, also known as the Double Violin Concerto (Doppelkonzert für zwei Violinen), is one of the most famous works by Johann Sebastian Bach and considered among the best examples of the work of the late Baroque period.  Bach may have written the concerto between 1717 and 1723 when he was the Kapellmeister at the court of Anhalt-Köthen, Germany, though the work's surviving performance materials were created for the concert series that Bach ran as the Director of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig and are dated c. 1730–31.  The concerto is characterized by a subtle yet expressive relationship between the violins throughout the work. In addition to the two soloists, the concerto is scored for strings and basso continuo. The musical structure of this piece uses fugal imitation and much counterpoint.  Here is a link to the score.

The concerto comprises three movements:

  1. Vivace
  2. Largo ma non tanto
  3. Allegro

The group is also working on a string quartet of Mozart's commonly referred to as The Hunt.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major, K. 458, nicknamed "The Hunt", is the fourth of the Quartets dedicated to Haydn. It was completed in 1784.  Here is a link to the score

 It is in four movements:
  1. Allegro vivace assai
  2. Menuetto and Trio. Moderato
  3. Adagio, in E-flat major
  4. Allegro assai
Neither Mozart nor Artaria called this piece "The Hunt." "For Mozart's contemporaries, the first movement of K.458 evidently evoked the 'chasse' topic, the main components of which were a 6/8 time signature (sometimes featuring a strong upbeat) and triadic melodies based largely around tonic and dominant chords (doubtless stemming from the physical limitations of the actual hunting horns to notes of the harmonic series)." According to Irving, Mozart's first intention was to conclude with a polonaise and sketched 65 bars.

Its popularity is reflected in its use in various films, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mystery Date, The Royal Tenenbaums and Star Trek: Insurrection.

The Advanced Mandolin Classical Group has performed this piece once before during a concert at the Porter Phelps-Huntington Museum in Hadley, Massachusetts on September 17th, 2018.  Ah those pre-Coronavirus days when we all took for granted that playing together in an intimate group setting was commonplace and would never leave us.  Those were the days!

The group will be meeting at 7pm online in a Meet.Google.Com session.  If you are a current student and would like to attend, let Adam know through Slack and you will be invited to the closed Slack channel.  You must be a regular weekly student to attend this group.

Viol da Gamba (viol of the leg)
* The viol (/ˈvaɪəl/), viola da gamba[a] (Italian: [ˈvjɔːla da ˈɡamba]), or informally gamba, is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed instruments with hollow wooden bodies and pegboxes where the tension on the strings can be increased or decreased to adjust the pitch of each of the strings. Frets on the viol are usually made of gut, tied on the fingerboard around the instrument's neck, to enable the performer to stop the strings more cleanly. Frets improve consistency of intonation and lend the stopped notes a tone that better matches the open strings. Viols first appeared in Spain in the mid to late 15th century and were most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque (1600–1750) periods. Early ancestors include the Arabic rebab and the medieval European vielle, but later, more direct possible ancestors include the Venetian viole and the 15th- and 16th-century Spanish vihuela, a 6-course plucked instrument tuned like a lute (and also like a present-day viol)[4][5] that looked like but was quite distinct from (at that time) the 4-course guitar (an earlier chordophone).

Although bass viols superficially resemble cellos, viols are different in numerous respects from instruments of the violin family: the viol family has flat rather than curved backs, sloped rather than rounded shoulders, c holes rather than f holes, and five to seven rather than four strings; some of the many additional differences are tuning strategy (in fourths with a third in the middle—similar to a lute—rather than in fifths), the presence of frets, and underhand ("German") rather than overhand ("French") bow grip.

All members of the viol family are played upright (unlike the violin or the viola, which is held under the chin). All viol instruments are held between the legs like a modern cello, hence the Italian name viola da gamba (it. "viol for the leg") was sometimes applied to the instruments of this family. This distinguishes the viol from the modern violin family, the viola da braccio (it. "viol for the arm"). A player of the viol is commonly known as a gambist, violist /ˈvaɪəlɪst/, or violist da gamba. "Violist" shares the spelling, but not the pronunciation, of the word commonly used since the mid-20th century to refer to a player of the viola. It can therefore cause confusion if used in print where context does not clearly indicate that a viol player is meant, though it is entirely unproblematic, and common, in speech.

Viols come in seven sizes: "pardessus de viole" (which is relatively rare, exclusively French and did not exist before the 18th century), treble (in French dessus), alto, tenor (in French taille), bass, and two sizes of contrabass (also known as a violone), the smaller one tuned an octave below the tenor (violone in G, sometimes called great bass or in French grande basse) and the larger one tuned an octave below the bass (violone in D).

Online YouTube LIVE Workshops

Online Youtube LIVE Workshops
This is the new format in this time of Covid-19 and social distancing!  Workshops will be held every week on YouTube LIVE until we are able to gather again.

The Workshop URLs will be posted in the SWEET MUSIC STUDIO Facebook group .  If you are not a member of that Facebook group you should go to that page and request to join.  You will be accepted as long it looks like you are a human with no bad intentions.  Anyone can join.
Workshop URLs will be posted in the group prior to the online event.  Here is a list:
  1. Mondays - mandolin for beginners
  2. Tuesdays - introduction to fiddle
  3. Wednesdays - advanced mandolin classical music (students only)
  4. Thursdays - celtic group (students only)
If you appreciate what work I've done either on my blog or any Workshops or YouTube videos I've posted, a DONATION would be greatly appreciated.

To donate:
  • If using PayPal, the best way to do it is follow the instructions on this page.  
  • If using Venmo, the best way to do it is to follow instructions on this page
Become a Patron
If you would like to support me on a monthly basis, you become a Patron, and follow the link on the sidebar to my Patreon page.  Here are some additional pointers.

Pay for Lessons
I would like all students to use Venmo when paying for lessons.  If this is the first time you are using it, please follow the instructions to download the app to your phone and set it up here.  If I am not in your contacts list, let me know and I will send you my contact information.

Questions?  Contact us

(When life is normal these sessions take place in person at our studio in Granby, MA.)

For our Chinese friends:

在线YouTube LIVE讲习班

这是Covid-19和社交疏远时代的新格式! 每周都会在YouTube LIVE上举办研讨会,直到我们再次聚会为止。

研讨会URL将发布在SWEET MUSIC STUDIO Facebook组中。 如果您不是该Facebook组的成员,则应转到该页面并请求加入。 只要您看起来像是一个没有恶意的人,您就会被接受。 任何人都可以加入。
研讨会URL将在在线活动之前发布到组中。 这是一个清单:

您可以在会议期间通过Paypal(在此处登录)代替小费,直接发送至Sweet Music的Paypal电子邮件。 选择“发送给您信任的人”,这样一来,他们的费用就不会增加。*

这就是我们在艰难的巡回演出和表演音乐家期间如何帮助Sweet Music的方法。



有什么问题吗 联系我们


For Our Korean Friends:
온라인 YouTube 라이브 워크샵

이것은 Covid-19와 사회 소외의 시대를위한 새로운 형식입니다! 우리가 다시 만날 때까지 주간 세미나가 YouTube LIVE에서 열립니다.

세미나 URL은 SWEET MUSIC STUDIO Facebook 그룹에 게시됩니다. 이 Facebook 그룹의 회원이 아닌 경우이 페이지로 이동하여 가입을 요청해야합니다. 악의가없는 사람처럼 보이는 한, 귀하는 받아 들여질 것입니다. 누구나 가입 할 수 있습니다.
온라인 행사 전에 세미나 URL이 그룹에 게시됩니다. 이것은 목록입니다 :
월요일 초급 만돌린
화요일-바이올린 소개
금요일 블루 그래스 소개

미팅 중 팁 대신 Paypal (여기에서 로그인)을 사용하여 Sweet Music의 Paypal 이메일 : sweetmusic@protonmail.com으로 직접 보낼 수 있습니다. 비용이 증가하지 않도록 "신뢰할 수있는 사람에게 보내기"를 선택하십시오. *

투어와 공연이 어려운 뮤지션에서 Sweet Music을 돕는 방법입니다.

연주하는 동안 헤드폰을 착용하면 더 잘들을 수 있습니다

* Paypal에서 sweetmusic@protonmail.com을 입력하고 $ 금액을 입력 한 다음 "계속"을 클릭하고 "신뢰할 수있는 사람에게 보내기"를 선택하십시오

질문이 있으십니까?

(일반적으로이 과정은 매사추세츠 그랜 비에있는 스튜디오에서 직접 진행됩니다.)

Mandolin Chord Chart and Suggestions for Learning Chords

mandolin chords
Chords are made from arpeggios, which come from scales.  I've talked before about the 7 "Church" modes, or Canonical Modes as they are also called: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian.   Of those modes, the most commonly used are Ionian (Major) and Aeolian (Relative Minor).  The intervals of the Ionian (Major) mode are R,W,W,H,W,W,W,H R=Root, W=Whole, H=Half.  The intervals of the Aeolian (Relative Minor) mode (starting on the 6th note of the Major scale), are R,W,H,W,W,H,WW.  If you assign each interval with a number, then the notes of the scales will be 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 with 8 (the octave) being a repeat of 1 (the tonic or first note).  The notes of the arpeggio will always be 1,3,5,8 - regardless of the notes of the scale, or the mode.  

For example:
G Ionian (Major): G,B,D,G
G Aeolian (Relative Minor): E,G,B,E

Using the example above for the key of G, you want to make up your chord with any of the above notes: G,B,D,G for the Major and E,G,B,E for the Relative Minor.

One of the advantages of the mandolin is that it can be played like a percussion instrument in addition to providing melody and harmony.  The mandolinist has to decide what he/she wants to provide in the way of accompaniment.  If the mandolinist wants a short percussive sound (called a "chop" in bluegrass vernacular), then he/she has to use "closed chords".  Closed chords indicates a finger on each string, "closing" the ringing of the strings.  Every mandolinist has to learn the "Big G", which uses all 4 fingers with fingers on the B (a string), G (e string), G (d string), D (g string).  This is a "closed chord" because all of the strings are "closed" by a finger.  If the mandolinist wants a sound that rings (like a harp, for example), then he/she will play "open chords".  Open chords have one or more string pairs untouched by fingers allowing them to ring when struck by the pick.  Using the G example, a good open G is B (a string), and G (e string), open D and open G.

Typical styles of music that use open or closed chords are:
  • Celtic: open
  • Bluegrass: closed
  • Folk: either
  • Country: closed
  • Klezmer: open
I hope this is helpful, here's the video:

All Lessons and Group Classes haved moved online

Online Lessons through Slack and YouTube Live
Due to Governor Baker's closing of all schools and events as well as the possibility of tracking COVID19 into the studio, I have closed until further notice.

Private lessons 
are still available online through Slack.  If you are scheduled for a private lesson here at the studio in Granby, I will expect you online at the same time.  Simply log in (on your desktop/laptop) and I will contact you through Slack at the pre-determined time.  If I'm a little late it's because I'm finishing up with the previous student.  I will be there!

You may now pay me through Venmo at no additional charge.  The PayPal fee is 4.5%, but because Venmo goes directly to my bank, there is no fee.  The way it works is, download the app to your phone (available on Android and iPhone).  Once you have it set  up, simply click the little icon in the lower right to pay, enter my name (Adam Sweet - if I'm not there, it means I'm not set up in your contacts list, which you will have to do ahead of time), enter the amount, a description, and click send.  That's it.  Let me know if you're having difficulty, and I'll walk you through it next time I see you online!

Group Classes are still available online.   If you are scheduled for a group class, Klezmer on Tuesdays, Classical Mandolin on Wednesdays and Celtic Music on Thursdays, I will expect you to log into the Live class. I will post the link to the Live classes in the appropriate Slack channel, not on my website as I previously stated. 

These classes are now open to the public, so if you haven't registered for a group class, but would like to participate, please do so now by sending me your information through the contact us form on the sidebar, or by emailing  

The cost of the group class FREE for the duration of the coronavirus, and may continue to be free after that.  I am asking that if you an afford it, you  make a donation either through my Patreon page (link on the sidebar), or  Any amount is fine.  I suggest $10 but the amount is up to you.

Back by popular demand: Klezmer Group!

The Klezmer Group Class will be starting up again, Tuesday nights at 7pm, beginning April 7, 2020 and going for the whole summer.  If there is interest in the class beyond that, we will continue.

The class meets Tuesdays at 7pm.

For the duration of the coronavirus (and maybe beyond, we'll see), my group classes are donation only.  That means basically that they are free.  If you an afford something, please make a donation either through my Patreon page, or PayPal.

You do not need to play an instrument to participate in the class!  There will be lots of discussion, presentation of materials including links to download sheet music and other information, watching/listening to music and of course playing and sharing music together.  Singers and dancers are encouraged to participate.

Please RSVP by emailing  I will invite you to my slack page and from there you will be able to join the klezmer channel.  Instructions will follow.  Thank you!

Online Lessons Available: Celtic music, Bluegrass music, Klezmer and Classical music on fiddle and mandolin

All Lessons and Group Classes have moved online

Online Lessons through Slack and YouTube Live
Due to Governor Baker's closing of all schools and events as well as the possibility of tracking COVID19 into the studio, I have closed until further notice.

Private lessons 
are still available online through Slack.  If you are scheduled for a private lesson here at the studio in Granby, I will expect you online at the same time.  Simply log in (on your desktop/laptop) and I will contact you through Slack at the pre-determined time.  If I'm a little late it's because I'm finishing up with the previous student.  I will be there!

For private lessons, you may pay me through Venmo at no additional charge.  The way it works is download the app to your phone (available on Android and iPhone).  Once you have it set  up, simply click the little icon in the lower right to pay, enter my name (Adam Sweet - if I'm not there, it means I'm not set up in your contacts list, which you will have to do ahead of time), enter the amount, a description, and click send.  That's it.  Let me know if you're having difficulty, and I'll walk you through it next time I see you online!

Group Classes For the duration of the coronavirus (and maybe beyond, we'll see), my group classes are donation only.  That means basically that they are free.  If you an afford something, please make a donation either through my Patreon page, or PayPal.
  • Tuesdays: Klezmer group 7pm
  • Wednesdays: Classical mandolin group 7pm
  • Thursdays: Celtic music group 7pm
You do not need to play an instrument to participate in the classes!  There will be lots of discussion, presentation of materials including links to download sheet music and other information, watching/listening to music and of course playing and sharing music together.  Singers and dancers are encouraged to participate.

Please RSVP by emailing  I will invite you to my slack page and from there you will be able to join the klezmer channel.  Instructions will follow.  Thank you!

Klezmer History: What is Gypsy Music?

What is Gypsy Music?

Gypsy music is music of the Roma (Romani or Gypsy) people.  It should be noted that the word ‘gypsy' often has a negative connotation, and the Romani people would never use this term to refer to themselves.  Therefore it is preferable to refer to them as they refer to themselves, as ‘Roma'.  (Please see this website, The Voice of Roma, for a much more thorough discussion of this topic)

The Roma are a diverse ethnic group originating from the Indian plateau and spreading throughout the Near-East, Europe and North Africa on a journey that has lasted at least 1500 years maybe much longer.   They have been known by many names in the various lands they have inhabited such as Tsigane, Zigeuner, Gitano, Bohemian, Egyptian, Gypsie, gipsy and of course, gypsy.

Along their long journey, they have come to embody a certain mystique of wandering people, adept as entertainers and tradesman, but most famously trained as musicians.  Along the thousands of years they have journeyed since leaving the Indian plateau, they have learned and assimilated the musical styles of every culture they have come in contact with.  Because the Romani people have lived and played in such diverse lands as India, Spain, Turkey, North Africa, the Middle East and all over Europe, it is difficult to come to a singular definition of what gypsy music is.

In many ways the Roma people have acted as repositories of endangered music, preserving art and traditions that would otherwise have been lost.  Even more amazing is the fact that they have been extremely successful at preserving their own unique culture and legacy while absorbing the influences of those around them.

Here is a list of some of the most important Roma musicians and bands:

• Django Reinhardt
• Taraf de Haidouks
• Camaron de la Isla
• Paco de Lucia
• Ivo Papazov
• Gypsy Kings
• Boban Markovic
• Yuri Yunakov
• The Rosenberg Trio
• Jimmy Rosenberg
• Birelli Lagrene
• Esma Redzepova
• Fanfare Ciocarlia

Here is a good article on Romani music from

Here is a great, in depth article on Romani music from

Klezmer History: Romani Culture and Music / Taraf De Haidouks

Romani Culture and Music / Taraf De Haidouks

The lăutari who perform at traditional Romanian weddings are virtually all Roma, although their music draws from a vast variety of ethnic traditions — for example Romanian, Turkish, Jewish, and Slavic — as well as Romani traditions. 

Probably the most internationally prominent contemporary performer in the lăutari tradition is Taraful Haiducilor. Zdob şi Zdub, one of the most prominent rock bands in Moldova, although not Romani themselves, draw heavily on Roman music, as do Spitalul de Urgenţă in Romania.

Flamenco music and dance came from the Romani in Spain; the distinctive sound of Romani music has also strongly influenced bolero, jazz, klezmer and Cante Jondo in Europe. European-style Gypsy jazz is still widely practised among the original creators (the Romani People); one who acknowledged this artistic debt was Django Reinhardt.

Classical music: Romani music is very important in Eastern European cultures such as Hungary, Russia, and Romania, and the style and performance practices of Romani musicians have influenced European classical composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms.  Many famous classical musicians, such as the Hungarian pianist Georges Cziffra, are Romani.

Taraf de Haïdouks (Romanian: Taraful Haiducilor, "Taraf of Haiduks") are a taraf, i.e., a troupe of Romani-Romanian lăutari from the town of Clejani, the most prominent such group in Romania in the post-Communist Era. In the Western world it has become known by way of French-speaking areas, where they are known as "Taraf de Haïdouks".

The lăutari of Clejani were long known for their musical skills. The first recordings by ethnomusicologists in the village were made in the interwar period. Speranţa Radulescu also made recordings in Clejani in 1983 for the archive of "The Institute for Ethnography and Folklore". The recordings were made in various configurations. During the Communist era, many lăutari from Clejani were also employed in the national ensembles that played Romanian popular music.

Early contacts in the West included Swiss ethnomusicologist Laurent Aubert and Belgian musicians Stéphane Karo and Michel Winter, two fans who were so taken by the band's music that they turned into managers, brought the newly named "Taraf de Haïdouks" to Western Europe and helped launch their international career.
Since the release of its first album back in 1991, Taraf de Haïdouks has been considered the epitome of Romany music's vitality. The group has toured worldwide, released acclaimed albums and a DVD (see below), and counts among its fans the late Yehudi Menuhin, the Kronos Quartet (with whom it has recorded and performed), actor Johnny Depp (alongside whom the group appeared in the film The Man Who Cried), fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (who invited the band to be models-cum-musicians for his Paris and Tokyo shows), and many more. Meanwhile, the band members seem to have been relatively unaffected by all this, maintaining their way of life (they still reside in Clejani, in the Valachian countryside).

The band's latest release is the Maskarada album, in which they reinterpret and "re-gypsify" pieces by 20th-century classical composers (such as Bartók, Khachaturian and others) who drew inspiration from national folklore and often borrowed from Roma styles.

Mandolin History: Mandolin's Heyday

Frets, March 1979

Early Gibson mandolin family instruments consisted of mandolin, mandola, mandocello, and mandobass. Varied in size and tuned one fifth apart, these instruments were the fretted equivalents of the violin viola, cello, and string bass and could be played in much the same manner, using music composed for their bowed counterparts.

In my view, the evolution of instruments occurs in three basic ways: a new instrument is developed, an existing one is improved in response to public demand, or a maker first produces an instrument and then attempts to create a demand for it. Sometimes this entails writing or arranging music spedfically for the new instrument and promoting the music along with the instrument. The Gibson Company used this approach with considerable success to create a demand for the mandolin family instruments. When they introduced the mandola, mandocello, and mandobass around 1910, they also introduced the concept of a mandolin orchestra that could play regular orchestral string music using these instruments. They promoted this idea vigorously, using a carefully planned program to show music teachers how to sell a considerable number of Gibson instruments at one time (on commission) by organizing mandolin orchestras. As a result, countless mandolin groups of various sizes were formed all over the country. Most of them used Gibsons exclusively, and sales of the company's mandolin family line flounshed. The mandolin orchestras became so popular with both professional and amateur musicians that they dominated the fretted instrument scene in America for nearly a decade.

The history of the Gibson mandolin family begins in the late 1890s with Orville Gibson's design of a mandolin that was radically different from the instruments that had originated in Italy several hundred years before. The typical Italian-style mandolin was the so-called "bowl back," "gourd," or "tater bug" with a deep bowl-shaped back, a flat angled top, and a scale length about the same as a violin's. This design became the accepted standard for a mandolin and was copied widely by other makers throughout Europe, particularly in Germany. Mandolins weren't produced in the United States in any significant quantity until the 1890s, and before that almost all the mandolins seen here were German or Italian imports of bowl-back construction.
The first American company to produce mandolins (bowl-back) on a large scale was Lyon & Healy in Chicago, whose better quality instruments bore the Washburn brand. They turned out mandolins in very large quantities during the 1890s and offered them in many different models. However, they were all basically the typical 8-string bowlbacks and they didn't represent any particular evolution of the mandolin design over what had already been achieved in Europe. In 1898, Orville Gibson patented a mandolin that was to revolutionize the design of the instrument. A radical departure from the Italian-style mandolins, his design featured a relatively flat carved back, a carved top, and a longer fretboard. Early Gibson catalogs carefully explain that on a violin fingerboard, the fingers are placed where the frets would be if there were any. Therefore, a fretted fingerboard must be longer to allow the player to use violin fingering while still keeping his fingers behind the frets. The two body shapes Orville used for his mandolins, the teardrop-shaped A style and the Florentine style with points and scroll, were also different from other fretted instruments made at the time. In almost every conceivable aspect of design and appearance, Orville Gibson's mandolins were something new, and they seem to have emerged straight from his own creativity and workshop.

Gibson sold the patent on his mandolin and the rights to use his name and manufacturing methods in producing a line of Gibson instruments to five businessmen from Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1902. Although Orville was certainly a true innovator who came up with highly original mandolins and guitars, the instruments he himself made were often rather crude. The Gibson instruments produced after he left the company, however, were quite different. Even those made as early as 1910 were better sounding and playing instruments -- and far more sophisticated -- than any of Orville's.

The mandolin family instruments appeared shortly before 1910 and evolved very quickly. Since the company was already geared up to produce mandolins, it was no problem to produce them in vanous sizes. The mandolin was tuned like a violin, and it was a logical step to develop fretted instruments tuned one fifth apart that corresponded exactly to the bowed instruments of the classical orchestra. This was a significant contrast to the banjos,which came in many sizes that weren't particularly useful in conventional musical arrangements. Tuned like a string quartet, the mandolin family instruments developed by Gibson were ideal for playing in groups and were capable of playing sheet music for bowed instruments,which already existed in abundance.
The only instruments of this type to come out before Gibson's innovation were octave mandolas tuned one octave below a mandolin. Since these didn't fit into the tuning scheme of the string quartet they weren't particularly useful for playing standard orchestral music. Some early Gibson ads for the mandola carefully called it a tenor mandola and stressed the advantages of its C-G-D-A tuning over that of an octave mandola.
It was a logical step to go from the idea of the mandolin family to the concept of the mandolin orchestra, and here Gibson could look to the example of the band instrument companies that for some time had been setting up bands and supplying everything from instruments to sheet music. Gibson soon developed a similar program to organize mandolin orchestras as a means of selling instruments, and was the first fretted instrument company to use this approach. Its marketing scheme was very well thought out, complete in every detail, and was very successful. Strangely enough, nobody else cashed in on the mandolin boom to the extent that Gibson did. Lyon & Healy and Martin both failed to bring out a mandolin with a carved top and back until it was too late for them to benefit greatly from the interest in mandolin orchestras. Lyon & Healy eventually did copy the mandolin family idea. Their 1913 catalog featured "The Lealand Family of Mando lnstruments," which not only included the four that Gibson had but also a piccolo or soprano mandolin. These instruments weren't as successful as the Gibsons, however, probably because they didn't sound as good and weren't promoted as effectively.

Gibson's development of the mandolin family and mandolin orchestra show that it was a very creative company for its day, but its success with the mandolin family instruments was as much a product of good timing as creativity. The mandolin orchestras filled the void left by the decline of the 5-string banjo and provided an excellent way for people to entertain themselves in the days before radio, TV, and movies. The most important factor in the growth of the mandolin orchestra movement, however, was undoubtedly Gibson's remarkably effective promotion.

Mandolin History: Gibson Mandolin "Orchestra"

by Gregg Miner

Disclaimer to Internet readers:

The following text is a humorous essay written for the layperson. It originally appeared in a companion booklet to my 1995 Christmas Collection CDs. The information, while factual, is presented in a personal, unorthodox manner. No offense is intended toward my fellow musicians or fellow musicologists.

I must confess that I'm among the many who are infatuated with old Gibson instruments, particularly those made between 1900 and 1930, heyday of the mandolin and banjo. The Gibson story began with Orville Gibson, who, among other things, revolutionized the mandolin in the year 1898. Dissatisfied with the sound of the traditional Italian-style bowl-back mandolin (not to mention how to hold the slippery thing!), he completely redesigned it -- giving it a relatively flat, shallow profile, and applying such violin principals as an arched, carved top and back. His basic design was refined by the Gibson Company over the years and reached its zenith in 1922 with the immortal F-5 mandolin. Unfortunately, the mandolin craze had just ended and comparatively few of these were sold. But then in the mid-forties, Bill Monroe discovered an old F-5, single-handedly invented bluegrass music, and the rest, as they say, is history. The mandolin is now as popular as ever, and to this day, Gibsons remain the standard by which all others are judged.

Now, no one knows exactly who came up with the idea of a mandolin "orchestra" (or when), but it was ingenious. Apparently, someone finally noticed that a mandolin (with eight strings in four double-courses) was tuned exactly like a violin and could therefore play violin music. It was even possible to play sustained notes with a tremolo technique. Then, around the turn of the century somebody further reasoned that if larger mandolins were built to correspond to the viola, cello, and even bass, an entire string orchestra could be duplicated with mandolinists. Reasonable enough, but where does one find mandolinists? Gibson's answer was brilliantly simple and diabolical. It initiated a systematic nation-wide marketing scheme wherein a network of music teacher-dealers was cajoled into organizing local mandolin "clubs" whose eager participants would just happen to require (A) lessons and (B) instruments -- both happily provided by the teacher. Between 1910 and 1920 there were literally hundreds of these "All-Gibson orchestras" across the country -- a phenomenon not unnoticed by several other companies who were scurrying to produce their own versions of this new family of instruments. But even though Gibson mandolins were the most expensive, their craftsmanship, sound, aesthetic beauty, and grandiose hype captured the majority of hearts and pocketbooks than as now. And this was just the beginning of Gibson's tremendous success story. Ironically, Orville Gibson himself missed out on all the fun since he had sold the rights to his name and inventions in 1902 for $2500.

Gibson made all but the bass in two body styles: a round, teardrop shape and the "florentine" with scroll and points. Florentine mandolas and mandocellos are now especially rare, and surprisingly popular and costly collector's items. Some, like this 1924 mandocello, have the short-lived "Virzi tone-producer," a wooden disc suspended inside the body to supposedly improve the sound.

Despite what I've written, a mandolin orchestra can't be fully explained -- it must be experienced. So I personally did my time with the Los Angeles Mandolin Orchestra for several years, one of the few such clubs still in existence. Let me try to recall the scene: First of all, trying to get a couple of hundred strings in tune for each rehearsal (with all but the bass double-strung) was a disastrous free-for-all with no one the lucky winner, and in the end, it didn't much matter anyway. Sheet music arranged for string orchestra was then passed out, though some of the more senior members had trouble just focusing on the notes on our photocopies. There was a professional conductor, but he was largely ignored, as it seemed more important to find one's own rhythm and stick with it, impressing it upon one's neighbors if possible. And, yet, given enough rehearsal and any amount of luck, the "miracle of the mandolin orchestra" would occur -- wherein a couple dozen madly tremoloed mandolins blended together to give the illusion of a bowed string orchestra. Alas, my "quartet" just begins to hint at this.

Psychology of Music: Your Brain on Practice

by Jenna Bauer

In order to attain a high level of mastery on the violin, it is crucial to understand the mechanics of our brains, as many great pedagogues have demonstrated. With this in mind, I wasn’t surprised when I uncovered a commonality between Ivan Galamian’s Principles of Violin Playing & Teaching and neuroscientist David Eagleman’s latest book, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.
Both texts bring out an explicit fact: the brain is jam-packed with antics and we are completely unaware that we are the subject of its pranks. Why is it that when you hear a recording of your own voice, or the “voice” you’ve developed through the violin, you’re taken aback that the sound is not what you expected...or wanted?

Galamian coins this as subjective listening. You believe you are hearing the sound correctly, but your desires and expectations mask the actual sound being produced. Our brains persistently conceal the reality of our interactions with the world to make everything more rewarding. While this may help combat self-hate, for a violinist it can be incredibly detrimental. The squishy organ in your head will gladly tell you that you’re in tune and in time even when you’re not. Eagleman illustrates this phenomenon in hearing, sight and time perception.

So how can you possibly defeat something so innate? Well the good news is, as Galamian writes, you can train your brain to hear more objectively. This is why violin teachers have always stressed the importance of using a tuner and a metronome in daily practice. Recording yourself regularly and singing are also effective ways to catch mental mishaps. But these devices alone will not save you from the toils of your brain.

There are three key areas Galamian points to, which need to be addressed every time you practice: building time (technicality), interpreting time (musicality) and performance time (complete run through of a work). But this is just the start. How can you use your brain most effectively during these stages of practice?

If your unconscious is allowed to take the reigns during building and interpreting time, then your conscious (the area you converse with regularly) becomes free to wander to beaches and meadows. Typically musicians refer to this as auto-pilot mode. In this instance, your mistakes go unnoticed and your practice becomes futile; the music becomes stored in the unconscious area of your brain, as is.

By this point you must be wondering: do great soloists tune out their conscious mind when they perform? Eagleman makes the point that in athletics, fastball hitters and world cup tennis players don’t have time to consciously think about the moves they make. All of their motions and reactions have been stored in the unconscious during practice time. When it’s game time their conscious awareness is better left on the sidelines. Similarly, the pro golfer is at a disadvantage if he becomes overly analytical: the unconscious area of his brain has stored the information necessary to execute the perfect swing, leaving his conscious clueless as to how he actually does it. What this tells me is that once you decide to run the piece all the way through (performance time) you should relax and allow your unconscious to take control (after all, you trust it to get you home from work everyday!). At this point there is no need for your conscious to be making corrections.

With repeated scrutiny, your conscious awareness will learn to listen objectively and overcome the urge to relay false information to the unconscious storage systems that make up the majority of your brain. By making performance time an integral part of your daily practice routine, you can train yourself to tune out the conscious babble when need be, in order to convey the music with finesse. Remember, the first step to improving your brain (and ultimately, your practice) is acknowledging its shortcomings.

Psychology of Music: The Zone/Flow

"The Zone" aka "Flow"

The Psychology of Flow
by Jeremy Dean*

What is it like to be fully alive, right now, engaged with what you are doing? That’s the psychology of flow.
When the happiness and creativity expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was studying how painters work, he noticed an odd thing. When their painting was going well they didn’t care about getting tired, hungry or uncomfortable, they just carried on.

But when the painting was finished, they rapidly lost interest in it.

What was this special state of mind that seemed to absorb the whole of your being? Csikszentmihalyi called it a ‘flow state’. It’s the experience of being fully engaged with what you’re currently doing.

When you’re in a flow state:
  • an hour can pass in the blink of an eye,
  • you feel what you are doing is important,
  • you’re not self-conscious,
  • action and awareness merges,
  • you feel in full control,
  • and the experience is intrinsically rewarding.

To create a flow experience, you need:
  • to be internally motivated, i.e. you are doing the activity mainly for its own sake,
  • the task should stretch your skills almost to the limits, but not so much that it makes you too anxious,
  • there should be clear short-term goals for what you are trying to achieve,
  • and you should get immediate feedback on how you are doing, i.e. you can see how the painting, photo, blog post etc. is turning out.

The experience of flow has been studied amongst surgeons, writers, artists, scientists, athletes and people just socializing and playing games. The experience of peak performance is very similar, whatever the activity.

Flow states require a balance, though, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says in his book on the subject, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience:

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.”

It’s not always easy to achieve but being in a state of flow is a beautiful thing.

*Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". 

Ancient Irish Music: St. Notker Balbulus, the author of this valuable book of hymns, about the year 870, is the inventor of Sequences

St. Notker Balbulus, the author of this valuable book of hymns, about the year 870, is the inventor of Sequences.

Sequences were also called Tropes, just as Tropes, properly so-called, were denominated Proses. Although the original meaning of Sequence was a prolongation of the last syllable of Alleluia by a series of neumes, jubili, or wordless chant, yet the name was more generally given to a melody following the Epistle, before the Gospel.

Quoted in the Book of Lismore for an explanation of the term Sequence: "Notker, Abbot of St. Gall's, made [invented] sequences, and Alleluia after them in the form in which they are."

In process of time a special Sequence was introduced for every Sunday and feast-day, but Pope Pius V. eliminated all but five.

The words "In the midst of life we are in death," quoted as Scriptural, but the text is only one of the many contributions to the Sacred Liturgy due to Irish writers and composers.

Not only was it superstitiously supposed to be a preservative against death, but the singing of it was believed by many to cause death; and hence, the Council of Cologne, in the twelfth century, forbade the chanting of "Media Vita" without the express permission of the Ordinary of the diocese.

Example of an ancient Irish melody

"Ar Éirinn 'ní neórainn cé hí."

"For Ireland I would not tell her name"—"Ar Éirinn 'ní neórainn cé hí." a boat-song by Cormac MacCullenan, Prince-Bishop of Cashel, who died in 908

The oldest surviving musical notation so far discovered, dates from c.1950 BC

by Michael Levy

In ancient musical history, once must first distinguish between the oldest surviving written musical notation, and the oldest surviving written melody. The oldest surviving musical notation so far discovered, dates from c.1950 BC - this was a set of musical instructions to play the hymn, "Lipit-Ishtar" (King of Justice), found inscribed in Cuneiform on a clay tablet discovered at Sumer. Basically, this is no more than a quote of specific tuning intervals for lyre, followed by a tuning scale of the musical mode to be used in the Hymn.
Here is a rendition of the musical instructions for Lipit Ishtar, as arranged for solo lyre, by "Ensemble De Organographia" in their album from 2000, "Music of the Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians & Greeks":