What I’m Learning This Weekend: Brilliancy

We’ve made it to another weekend and now it’s time to work on growing that tune list. This weekend, I’m learning the tune ‘Brilliancy’, and specifically a setting played by two of the best mandolin players maybe ever, Sam Bush and Chris Thile, as recorded in this video:

This is obviously a difficult tune and I’m sure it’ll take me more than one weekend! To help with learning though, I found a transcription of both the melody (played by Sam Bush in this video) and the harmony line which is played by Chris Thile.

Jake Howard posted this transcription in this Mandolincafe.com forum-it’s a really great transcription and includes a tab. It’s a hard version, to be sure, requiring significant shifting, especially in Thile’s harmony part. I do think that if you were playing this as a duet, you could take those really high (up to the 14th fret on both A and E strings!) lines down an octave.

As you push your way through this tune, keep in mind you don’t have to play it fast at first! Go slow, and use a metronome!



Like a lot of tunes, this is based on an old setting. Here’s a more traditional setting of Brilliancy from the folks over at traditionalmusic.co.uk. As you can see, there’s not a lot of direct similarities between the two tunes.

A traditional setting of the tune Brilliancy, from traditionalmusic.co.uk

Looking for a great mandolin under $500? This Kentucky KM-272 Artist Oval Hole A-Style Mandolin would be a great option for you!

Listen below to my most recent YouTube video, an octave mandolin cover of the the Christian worship song, Goodness of God.

If you’re looking to learn mandolin, I’d love to help you get started! Just send me a message via my contact page and I’ll get back to you shortly.

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