Monday, April 27, 2015

It's a tiple



I finally made a short video of my other ukulele-family instrument, a 10-string "tiple." I'd like to think it was by popular request... usually phrased as "What the hell is that thing?"

The Martin guitar company made tiples for 30 years or more, but I see no immediate threat of a revival in tiple playing... although something inspired the Ohana ukulele company to produce this version. In Colombia there is a larger instrument by the same name, with some marvelous players. YouTube will find you examples of both.

While the bookmarking service "Delicious" was in operation, I saved almost 50 bookmarks to Web pages about the instrument (including parts of the blog http://martintiple.blogspot.com/) and YouTube videos of tiple players (including the Spirits of Rhythm, the Cats & the Fiddle, Ed Askew, and more) here:
del.icio.us/bstepno/tiple

The tuning is similar to a uke (or a guitar capoed at the fifth fret), but in four courses --
Gg-cCc-eEe-aa -- with the big letters indicating strings tuned an octave lower than the ones they are paired or tripled up with.

The second tune I play is one of my favorites, "I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate," using a chord progression folks of a certain age will recognize as being pretty similar to Country Joe MacDonald's "Feel like I'm fixin' to die rag."

So far the high point of my tiple career is introducing Nellie McKay to the instrument in a southwest Virginia theater lobby after a Mountain Stage concert recording session. (Be still my heart.)

September 2017 update: That "del.icio.us/bstepno/tiple" site at which I kept my bookmarks for many years still works, but has been archived and can no longer accept new links. So I've added a few links to a Southern Virginia band with a rhythm tiple in a separate post here:


Here's another knowledgeable post about tiples, with some interesting discussion:

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/2013/02/08/ever-heard-of-a-martin-tiple

And a reissue of recordings by "Big Boy" Teddy Edwards, Chicago blues singer who recorded some solo tiple-accompanied vocals in the 1930s:
https://thedocumentrecordsstore.com/product/DOCD-5440/

Here's a sample of Edwards' style on YouTube: https://youtu.be/LL5_NE0cKec

Finally, here is the only classical piece of music I've heard orchestrated for an ensemble that includes a tiple: GymnopĂ©die No. 1 - Eric Satie, arranged and performed by Russick Smith for cello, double bass, mandolin, tiple, resonator guitar, and banjo: https://youtu.be/3rRU6Zs4kIw