Deer Tracks(for solo mandolin)

North Shore vista

by John Goodin

Deer Tracks is my collective title for a number of short solo mandolin pieces that I've written over the last few years. Just across the Upper Iowa River from my neighborhood in Decorah are some beautiful bluffs laced with man-made hiking and bike trails. Running between these human trails is a complex network of animals-only pathways. At some point I began to think of these slightly odd mandolin pieces as being my own deer trails; music slightly off my own well-worn musical paths.

I spent a week in Fredericton, New Brunswick in August of 2002 attending a conference. Most evenings I was free to take long walks and write music. I had recently been listening to Marilyn Crispell's beautiful CD, Amaryllis, recorded with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian. I loved the performances but I was equally moved by the short, seemingly simple, compositions. These pieces inspired me to feel more free to write shorter pieces of my own. While you can see that I recognize a few earlier pieces as being composed in the same spirit, most of these Deer Tracks come after that encounter with Crispell's CD and my few days at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel.

Deer Track: August 2002 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: June 25, 2003 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: July 2, 2003 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: January 23-24, 2005 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: October 2002 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: Thanksgiving 2001 (mp3) (pdf sheet music, p.1) (pdf sheet music, p.2)
Deer Track: September 7, 2003 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: June 2, 2004 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: April 8, 2004 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: July 1, 2002 (mp3) (pdf sheet music, p.1) (pdf sheet music, p.2)
Deer Track: June 27, 2003 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: July 13, 2003 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: August 18, 2002 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)

The following four Deer Tracks were grouped together for performance at Luther College on March 16, 2011 as Deer Tracks Suite No. 1. The performance took place as part of a Music in the Shape of a Pear concert that was organized by Luther College composition professor Brooke Joyce and held in the Weston Noble Recital Hall.

Deer Track: January 22, 2011 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: December 26, 2008 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: February 2009 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)
Deer Track: August 31, 2009 (mp3) (pdf sheet music)

Reading these scores or, better yet, playing through this music will show you that most of these pieces start with a short phrase, often repeated. Most times these phrases, even if they sound a little odd, are fairly simple to play on the mandolin. There are only a few measures in any of this music that are very difficult, most of it ranges from easy to moderately hard. As a composer I have little interest in and, frankly, little talent for composing virtuosic music. Still some things I come up with are more difficult than others and most of these deer tracks have some moments that challenge my limited abilities.

The written music is presented without dynamic markings or other instructions. I tend to play these pieces slightly differently each time and I hope you will try them different ways also. The recordings presented are meant to be demos, not perfect renditions. It was hard enough for me to get most of the notes right. It's always easier and more fun for me to write the music than it is to present it to others in some coherent fashion. This webpage is a great way for me to share this music without much cost on my part and I hope you enjoy it.

Most of the early recordings were done during the week before Easter 2005. I used my Breedlove Olympic mandolin for these. A few pieces were recorded earlier and may feature the sound of my Rigel A+. Recordings from 2011- have mostly involved 1920s Gibson mandolins.

As you can see below both these recordings and the sheet music they are based on are presented here under a Creative Commons License. My intention is to make it clear that you can use the written music and mp3 files for any non-commercial purpose as long as proper attribution is given. If you have any questions or comments please send them to me at the link below.

John Goodin, April, 2005

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Created on ... March 29, 2005 ; latest update May, 2013