Autumn is on the right

Well-known filk band Vixy & Tony have this song, “Thirteen,” that Vixy wrote. It’s on their previous album, and I liked it the first time I heard it. So I wrote a song around their song (a “filk”) that made it about Doctor Who, which, of course, makes it correct for only the geekiest of venues.

I don’t get to play the song often, partly because of the venue issues, but also because arranging Tony’s guitar part into something that you can legitimately play on the zouk isn’t easy. Functionally, it demands special tuning. And for one song? Well, I’ve already talked about what a pain in the ass that was to try to do with a single instrument on stage. (Moral: Don’t.)

Now, Anna has had an octave mandolin for a long time, called Autumn. It’s not a zouk, but it’s a relative. I haven’t liked playing Autumn in the past, because something about it hurts my hands. I don’t know what or why, but my fingers get achy and weird. So I didn’t think of borrowing Autumn just for this one song (pre-tuning to the open-power-E tuning “Thirteen” needs) until today. So I finally did, and tried it.

The resulting sound is trashy as fuck. I love it. And it’s entirely unexpected. Normally – in regular tuning – Autumn is pretty quiet. Autumn’s a little reedy, a bit woody, and very traditional-instrument-sounding in the way that my Irish bouzouki and mandolin aren’t.

But bring that tuning down a few steps, release some of that neck tension, and suddenly Autumn is knocking back whiskey, smashing the end off of bottles, and trying to start knife fights. Who knew an octave mandolin could be such a cheap drunk?

I’m all, “Hey, Autumn. I like this version of you. Maybe we might ought to get to know each other better.” I’ve been wanting to do some esoteric tunings – I was fiddling around with an open-sus-2-major tuning not long ago. Maybe this might just work out.