13 Cordas Duo: Ócios do Ofício

When you do the math, it doesn’t seem like the 13 Cordas duo adds up. A mandolin and a bass should have twelve strings. However, the Portuguese band features Rafael Marques on 10-string mandolin and bassist Walter Areia on a three-string upright. Areia, who sent us this clip of their song “Ócios do Ofício,” explains the setup.

“My adventure with the three, started when I discover non-metal strings (gut, and later nylon) like any bass player, trying to find the right set of strings is a long battle,” he told us. “The E string has always sounded out of the kit for me, maybe the bass, maybe the string brand, I didn’t know for sure. One day I saw a gypsy bass player with 3 strings, and he sounded amazing even on a Youtube video I did a Google search and discover that in the genesis, the double bass was build and played with this number of strings the shape of the bass still the same until now, we just added more strings (more pressure). Then, I got curious, and… changed the way I saw the instrument. The sound was more even for me, maybe just my imagination, but… less pressure on the belly, gave me that sweet and open sound I was looking for.”

He also shared that “Ócios do Ofício” is a Forró, which is a specific rhythm from Recife in Brazil, where he was born. One listen and you’ll know he’s not missing that E string. As you can tell, the duo recorded this in isolation during the Covid pandemic.

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