Japanese Breakdown

As played by the Scottdale String Band from the Georgia region

Rag in C

From the Deep South Collection

4 files for this tune:

Melody-Only Transcription (PDF)
Full Transcription (PDF)
MP3 (Mandolin)


78rpm record (partial MP3 at Slippery-Hill.com)


This is my favorite mandolin tune of all time!  For years, the Scottdale String Band's Japanese Breakdown has been the tune that comes to my mind when I think of ragtime mandolin, or old time mandolin in general.  I've been meaning to transcribe and learn it for some time now, and I'm very glad that I did.

The Scottdale String Band was a Georgia stringband fronted by a banjo-mandolin rather than a fiddle.  The name referrs to the town of Scottdale, GA, just east of Atlanta (though now it is part of the sprawling Atlanta metro area).  Their 1927 recording of Chinese Breakdown was quite successful, and this recording of Japanese Breakdown may have been an attempt to capitalize on that success.  That said, I think their recording of Japanese Breakdown is far superior to their recording of Chinese Breakdown (which sounds better on a fiddle to me).  The mandolinist on the recording was likely Charlie Simmons.

Despite having the term "breakdown" in its name, Japanese Breakdown is really a rag rather than what would be considered a breakdown today.  Perhaps the nomenclature was less well-established in 1930 when this was recorded.

Seriously, if you have any interest in ragtime music or mandolin in general, give this a try.

This tune is a member of the following groups:

Dr. Fiddle's Favorite Rags

Mandolin Transcriptions

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