Type: Chordophones > Composites > Lute.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.6 [Neapolitan].
Country: Italy, Many.
Description: The mandolin [in Fr: Mandoline, in Ger: Mandoline, in It: Mandolino, in Port [Pr & Br] Bandolim, Sp. Bandolin, Banjolin, Mandolina]. It is a member of the lute family having a short neck with four courses or eight “doubled” strings and a round body. Six course and 12-stringed mandolins also exist. Mandolins evolved from the lute family of musical instruments in Europe. Predecessors include the gittern, mandore and mandola. in Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries.
A family of mandolins exists from the smallest and highest pitched member, soprano, piccolo, alto, tenor, mandocello, baritone and bass. There is wide regional variety of regional mandolins. The two more commonly known mandolins are the Neapolitan mandolin and the Lombardic mandolin. The Neapolitan mandolin has spread world wide.
Etymology: The name mandolin has its origins in the word mandolino, a word diminutive of mandola. It is found in sources that date back to the 17th century. The name mandore and mandola appear in earlier sources. Only after 1750 as pointed out by Karl Geiringer in 1924 ignored until recently, an instrument called the luthie intended for Germany and Italy.
History: Mandolins evolved from the lute family of musical instruments in Europe. Predecessors include the gittern, mandore and mandola. in Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries. There were a variety of regional variants, but two that were widespread included the Neapolitan mandolin and the Lombardic mandolin. The Neapolitan style has spread worldwide.
Varieties: The original variety were vaulted backed or round body lutes as seen with the Neapolitan design. Other mandolin varieties differ primarily in the number of strings and include four-string models [tuned in fifths] such as the Brescian and Cremonese, six-string types [tuned in fourths] such as the Milanese, Lombard and the Sicilian and 6 course instruments of 12 strings [two strings per course] such as the Genoese. There has also been a twelve-string [three strings per course] type and an instrument with sixteen-strings [four strings per course].
Tuning: The mandolin is tuned in a succession of perfect fifths, G • D • A • E sharing the same tuning as the violin. It is the soprano member of a family that includes soprano mandolin to mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and mandobass.
Citations: Bibliography: History of the Mandolin – by Konrad Wolki 1939, revised 1974, pp16, Library of Congress catalogue card no: 83-63082 ; History of the Mandolin – by Konrad Wolki 1939, revised 1974, pp. 17, Library of Congress catalogue card no: 83-63082 S.S. Stewart’s Banjo, Guitar & Mandolin Journal Vol XVI No 5, Dec 1899 – Jan 1900 S.S. Stewart’s Banjo and Guitar Journal Vol XIII No 6, Feb-Mar 1897 Recollections – by Phil Skinner FIGA magazine Jan. Feb. 1981 Fretted Instrument Guild of America ; Article “George Moore’s Many Mandolins” by Robbie Laven, April 1995, Auckland Mandolinata Orchestra archives NZ ;