What I’m Learning This Weekend: Big Mon

It’s the weekend again! Which means there’s more time (especially during the COVID19 pandemic) to learn some new tunes or brush up on some older ones. This classic Bill Monroe tune called Big Mon is on the menu for this weekend. This tune is a very famous (even has a line of mandolins named after it, I believe, at Northfield Mandolins) and probably should be in every old-time musician’s bag of tunes.

Here’s notation with tabs from my usual resource, traditionalmuisc.co.uk:

As always, you’re going to want to start this slowly, with a metronome. I’d figure on starting at half tempo (if you need to go slower, go slower!). As a result, this will allow you to be in control of every aspect of playing, without tensing up. At these slower tempos, I like to ensure a few things:

  • That I’m striking correctly with my picking
  • That I’m not leaning too hard into the instrument with the right hand
  • That my left hand is being placed down correctly and with enough pressure (but no tightness) to ensure that I don’t buzz my strings.

If you’re not a member of the Mandolin Cafe forum, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to take advantage of all things mandolin, as well as old-time music resources. In this Mandolin Cafe forum thread looking for music for Big Mon, you can find a couple of other variations as well as as suggestions for listening.

I find the Andy Leftwich version of Big Mon below to be great listening material. He does play it pretty quickly though, and there’s some accompaniment, but it’s a great performance and one that you can pick out the melody and some of his licks from.

While Big Mon sounds fantastic on the octave mandolin, here’s one of my more recent octave mandolin Christian worship covers:

Here’s my gear list for this video:

Want to learn music together? Fill out the form below, or head to my contact page to send me a message!

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