Following its invention and development in Italy the mandolin spread throughout the European continent. The instrument was primarily used in a classical tradition with mandolin orchestras, so called Estudiantinas or in Germany Zupforchestern, appearing in many cities. Following this continental popularity of the mandolin family, local traditions appeared outside Europe in the Americas and in Japan. Travelling mandolin virtuosi like Carlo Curti, Giuseppe Pettine, Raffaele Calace and Silvio Ranieri contributed to the mandolin becoming a “fad” instrument in the early 20th century. This “mandolin craze” was fading by the 1930s, but just as this practice was falling into disuse, the mandolin found a new niche in American country, old-time music, bluegrass and folk music. More recently, the Baroque and Classical mandolin repertory and styles have benefited from the raised awareness of and interest in Early music.
Algeria was colonized by the French in the 19th century and there were large numbers of Europeans living there during the mandolin’s golden age. Mandolins and larger members of the mandolin family were used in orchestras, including orchestras playing native Algerian music. With the decline of the mandolin worldwide, the mandolin became less common until by the 21st century it was rare. However, mandolins and mandolas are still occasionally made by luthiers. The major mandolin-family instrument in use today is the mandocello-sized mondol or “mandole” (French word for mandola applied to the new instrument). The flatback instrument was the result of a corroboration between an Italian luthier and an Algerian musician and was used initially for Chaabi. It has since spread to other music forms. Prominent players today include Mohamed Rouane, Takfarinas, Mohamed Abdennour (P’tit Moh), and Abderrahmane Abdelli. Past players include El Hadj M’Hamed El Anka, Boudjemaa El Ankis, El Hachemi Guerouabi, Amar Ezzahi, Cheikh El Hasnaoui, and Lounès Matoub. The mondol received some international attention on the movie El Gusto a featuring the reunion of some chaabi players (including a mondol player) years after the turmoil in Algeria came out in the 2010s.