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 Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Theme Time Problem


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/138053

Paul Spillenger - Posted - 01/25/2009:  17:43:26


I've been playing "Theme Time" for a few years now and have never gotten it to sound exactly right -- "right" meaning, in this case, "just right" (to my ear).

The problem for me lies very early in the tune, when the G-string 3-2 pull-off is followed by a D-string 3-5 slide. That 3-5 slide just seems to foul up the rhythm of the song for me. Hard to describe without visual or sound aids, but that G note that I get on the 5th fret of the D string never seems to hit at the right time -- the slide always makes it seem like it's coming too late to give the effect I hear, for example, in Bill Emerson's version.

I've tried losing the slide and getting that note on the open G. That sounds pretty awful.

The slide is how I was taught the song when I first started out and was taking lessons. But I'm not really hearing it there.

Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Paul

Richard Dress - Posted - 01/25/2009:  17:51:25


My guess is that if you tried the lick in another context, you might not have any trouble with it.

bluegrass 22 - Posted - 01/25/2009:  17:53:32


opps i have the same problum also going up the neck/// i start with a barred C ON THE the5th fret and go on up am i geeting it right ????? lol bluegeass 22

OLDER THAN DIRT

Richard Dress - Posted - 01/25/2009:  18:02:35


BG22,

I recommend starting with a first position C, then barre chords at 3rd, 4th & 5th frets.

The KIDD - Posted - 01/25/2009:  18:12:26


Hey Paul,
I teach that lick early on becuase its in JD's "BIG COUNTRY,"an early int. tune I like to teach lick phrasing with.Yeah, what I notice when students are first attempting this phrase IS, they're allowing too much seperation between the snap of the PO to the 1st string and the M finger making it over to do the 3-5 SL.The RH has to flow just as if you were playin the strings open.BUT,the LH hesitation cuases the RH to lose the flow making the lick sound" too broken up" seperated etc.
I have to see your PO technique to better advise ya on what to do ..Can ya post an audible example of ya playin it? Then we can break down whats happenin.
John


http://www.myspace.com/johnkuhnbluegrass

DaveInCA - Posted - 01/25/2009:  22:18:35


John, speaking of that snappy (to say the least) PO, I have always found it difficult to get that much snap. Is it a matter of using super-light-gauge strings?

Dave

The KIDD - Posted - 01/25/2009:  23:20:33


That lick is one I like to really watch people do then SEE if what I SAW is linked to what I HEARD....I used to "bounce" the M finger doing 3-2 PO following the 2-3H phrase in Big Country OR Theme Time.etc.NOW, I get to "GET ONTO" the students when they do it..Then I finally got the technique of gettin that little bit of skin under the string to snap it so it would rattle the fret a bit. Alotta the "snap" you'll hear in mine is actually the 1st string that follows.If Im out jammin, Ill play that phrase 3-2 single string so it will have more kick.I feel like I get cheated in a loud jam if that lick is not heard...I use 10-12-14-22-10.Im using that lick ALOT with single string in Bill E's "Good to Go"and the P O version in my "Tradeeeshional Medley".Its funny, I remember startin out with Pete W's book and the way HE described P O's being done by Porter Church and JD just made ya wanna spend extra time with them ..


http://www.myspace.com/johnkuhnbluegrass


Edited by - The KIDD on 01/25/2009 23:22:57

eagleisland - Posted - 01/26/2009:  03:56:54


Two thoughts on this.

First, if you're lining up the rolls properly, you'll be able to pop both the 3-2 pulloff AND the 3-5 slide with your thumb, which gives you power and speed. The important thing is to set up the roll so that the note before the pulloff is the open first. It's easy to fall into habit and hit the open fifth with the thumb. It should look like this:


-0---0---0---|--0---------0-------0--|-------------------0--------0--|
-0---1---2---|--3-----2-h-3---3------|-------0-----------------------|
-------------|-----------------------|--3-po-2--------0--------0-----|
-------------|-----------------------|-----------3-sl-5--------------|
---0---------|--------------0---0----|----------------------0--------|



doing the end of the second measure as a T-I-T-M sets up the third measure to work with the thumb. I do the third measure T-I-T-I-M-T-I-M.

Also, to get more pop on the pulloff, try grabbing the 3 with your ring finger rather than your middle. Lots of players get more power that way.

HTH.

eagleisland

"I was halfway to Old Kentucky when the drugs began to kick in." - Hunter S. Monroe


Edited by - eagleisland on 01/26/2009 03:57:59

Paul Spillenger - Posted - 01/26/2009:  06:12:03


Thanks, guys, for the helpful advice. When I get home tonight from work, I'll try out your suggestions.

Paul

DaveInCA - Posted - 01/26/2009:  07:11:40


John, does Bill Emerson follow with the 1st string rather than the 2nd? That does let the snap be stronger since you don't have to worry about damping the 2nd string.

> try grabbing the 3 with your ring finger rather than your middle.

Yes, I do that too, and I can do a normal snappy pulloff, but that particular Emerson PO is borderline explosive.

Not that a loud snap is necessarily a good thing. I wonder if anyone besides banjo players even appreciates snappy banjo pull-offs---sort of banjo macho. Snappy (tripletized) pull-offs don't really add to the music; kind of distracting, even. Earl didn't snap much, did he?

BTW, here's Theme Time tab by Janet Davis: http://bluegrassbanjo.org/r-z.html

Dave


Edited by - DaveInCA on 01/26/2009 07:15:21

Ira Gitlin - Posted - 01/26/2009:  07:39:07


quote:
Originally posted by Paul Spillenger

I've been playing "Theme Time" for a few years now and have never gotten it to sound exactly right -- "right" meaning, in this case, "just right" (to my ear).

The problem for me lies very early in the tune, when the G-string 3-2 pull-off is followed by a D-string 3-5 slide. That 3-5 slide just seems to foul up the rhythm of the song for me. Hard to describe without visual or sound aids, but that G note that I get on the 5th fret of the D string never seems to hit at the right time -- the slide always makes it seem like it's coming too late to give the effect I hear, for example, in Bill Emerson's version.

I've tried losing the slide and getting that note on the open G. That sounds pretty awful.

The slide is how I was taught the song when I first started out and was taking lessons. But I'm not really hearing it there.

Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Paul



Paul--
Did I show you that arrangement you're using, or did you get it from some other source? You might try playing the 5th string instead of doing the slide on the 4th. That gives you a slightly less interesting sound, but the basic melody still comes through. And please note that if you do that, the RH fingering remains the same. If your goal is simply to play the tune in some form, that'll do it. Or you may have to start taking lessons again
--Ira



Paul Spillenger - Posted - 01/26/2009:  07:55:08


I notice that the Janet Davis tab doesn't even have the 3-5 4th string slide.

Hmmm. The plot thickens.

Paul Spillenger - Posted - 01/26/2009:  08:29:05


Hey Ira,

Yes indeed, I got this arrangement originally from you. And no, I would prefer not to do "the tune in some form." But though I've played "Theme Time" in public several times, often quite successfully, the first part of the A section has never clicked to me. Recently, I've been listening over and over to the original Jimmy Martin version, and that's the version I want to play.

And yes, I might just have to take some more lessons...

Thanks!

Ira Gitlin - Posted - 01/26/2009:  09:32:45


The version I show my students is not exactly the way Emerson plays it. But I've noticed that a lot of Emerson's tunes (including "TT") are more about melodies than about specific licks. They're almost like songs without words. So I feel that my version--or my version without the slide, or Janet's version, or eagleisland's version--all do justice to the tune, since they all convey that underlying melody.


Edited by - Ira Gitlin on 01/26/2009 18:41:10

5stringJim - Posted - 01/26/2009:  15:51:07


quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

But I've noticed that a lot of Emerson's tunes (including "TT") are more about melodies than about specific licks. They're almost like songs without words.




My thoughts on Bill E's playing EXACTLY...you can almost hear a song in there. Never licks for the sake of it.

Jim Hyndman www.longway.org.uk

MickG - Posted - 01/27/2009:  06:59:26


|--------0-------0-------0-------|0-----------0-----------0-------|
|--------0-------1-------2-------|--------2h--3-------3-----------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|----------------0-----------0---|
 
 |       |       |       |        |       |       |       |        
|----0-----------0-----------0---|--------0-----------0-------0---|
|--------------------------------|----0---------------------------|
|3p--2-------0-----------0-------|2/--3-----------3p--2---0-------|
|--------3/--5-------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------0-----------|------------0-------------------|


I play it with forward rolls which helps me keep the timing. Pull-offs on the third string are picked with the righ hand index finger and fall in the middle of a T I M.

Right hand:
Second measure M T M T I M T
Third measure I M T I M T I M
Fourth measure T I M T I M T M

Joe Larson - Posted - 02/27/2009:  16:25:29


I came across this old thread looking for who wrote Theme Time. If you want to hear a killer version of this tune check out BHO member Royce Burt eating it up.

http://www.banjohangout.org/myhango...?musicid=248

I''d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Paul Spillenger - Posted - 02/27/2009:  16:38:27


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, yes, to all the good advice, but the real thing is you have to have a strong G note at the end of the 3rd measure or you're toast. To me, yeah, slides and pulloffs, great; but that strong G at the end of the third measure ends the phrase and makes the whole thing work. It's what everything else was leading to. Hitting an open 3rd is no good. You gottta have the 5th fret D string. It's just a matter of how you get there. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Erbus - Posted - 02/27/2009:  17:17:58


I really enjoy playing Theme Time as well. That fourth string slide is kinda hard to fit in. I've listened to Royce Burt version here and he does a fantistic job of that tune, wish I could play it even sorta that good.

Terry
or
"Erbus"
or
"Dorf on Banjo"

DaveInCA - Posted - 02/27/2009:  22:18:00


> If you want to hear a killer version of this tune check out BHO member Royce Burt eating it up.

Funny, but his substitution of the Earl Scruggs 1/8-note lick for the FMB-ish lick in the V chord seriously changes the feel of the tune. Dunno why this bothers me, but it does. Maybe just the reduced sense of drive. Very fine playing, though.

Dave


Edited by - DaveInCA on 02/27/2009 22:20:20

Ira Gitlin - Posted - 02/28/2009:  14:49:41


Paul, when you say "the end of the 3rd measure", are you counting the lead-in as a measure?


Edited by - Ira Gitlin on 02/28/2009 14:50:14

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