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|Other names||Tenor mandola, Alto mandola, Alto mandolin, Mandoliola, Liola|
The mandola (US and Canada) or tenor mandola (Ireland, and UK) is a fretted, stringed musical instrument. It is to the mandolin what the viola is to the violin: the four double courses of strings tuned in fifths to the same pitches as the viola (C-G-D-A low-to-high), a fifth lower than a mandolin. However, the mandola, although now rarer, is the ancestor of the mandolin, the name of which means simply "little mandola".
The name mandola may originate with the ancient pandura, and was also rendered as mandora, the change perhaps having been due to approximation to the Italian word for "almond". The instrument developed from the lute at an early date, being more compact and cheaper to build, but the sequence of development and nomenclature in different regions is now hard to discover. Historically related instruments include the mandore, mandole, pandurina, bandurina, and—in 16th century Germany—the quinterne or chiterna. However, significantly different instruments have at times and places taken on the same or similar names, and the "true" mandola has been strung in several different ways.
The mandola has four double courses of metal strings, tuned in unison rather than in octaves. The scale length is typically around 42 cm (16.5 inches). The mandola is typically played with a plectrum. The double strings accommodate a sustaining technique called tremolando, a rapid alternation of the plectrum on a single course of strings.
Mandolas are not uncommon in folk music, (particularly Italian folk music) and sometimes used in Irish traditional music, although far less often, in the latter case, than the octave mandola, Irish bouzouki, and modern cittern. Some Irish traditional musicians, such as Andy Irvine restring the tenor mandola with lighter strings and tune it as a mandolin, while others (Brian McDonagh of Dervish being the best known) use altered tunings such as D-A-E-A. Like the guitar the mandola can be acoustic or electric. Attila the Stockbroker, punk poet and frontman of Barnstormer, uses an electric mandola as his main instrument. Alex Lifeson, guitarist of Rush, has also featured the mandola in his work.
Mandolas are often played in mandolin orchestras, along with other members of the mandolin family: mandolin, mandocello, and mandobass. Sometimes the octave mandolin (also referred to as an octave mandola) is included as well.
See also 
- Gibson Co. 1930 - 1931 Catalogue
- "Mandola", Merrium-Webster Dictionary
- F. Jahnel and N. Clarke, The Manual of Guitar Technology, p29, The Bold Strummer Ltd.
- "The Mandolin Family", The Acoustic Music Company
- About the Oregon Mandolin Orchestra
- The Mandolin Family of Instruments, The Mandolin Orchestra of Niagara
- About Us, The Mandolin Society of Peterborough
Further reading 
- Troughton, John (2005). Mandolin Manual: The Art, Craft and Science of the Mandolin and Mandola. United States: Crowood Press, Limited, The. ISBN 1-86126-496-8. — A comprehensive chord dictionary.
- Richards, Tobe A. (2005). The Tenor Mandola Chord Bible: CGDA Standard Tuning 1,728 Chords. United Kingdom: Cabot Books. ISBN 0-9553944-2-2. — A comprehensive chord dictionary.
- Loesberg, John (1989). Chords for Mandolin, Irish Bango, Bouzouki, Mandola, Mamdocello. Rep. of Ireland: Random House. ISBN 0-946005-47-8. — A chord book featuring 20 pages of popular chords.
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