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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Old-Time Terminology and Geography--help!


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/160330

oldthymedragon - Posted - 10/16/2009:  18:18:56


I've scanned through a few of the other forum posts and found the great thread about Roundpeak and a brief thread about Galax Lick, but a few of the terms have me scratching my head because I can't hear the differences side by side or just a good solid example that is highlighted as an exampled (in the case of drop thumb). Do any of you know of a good source for explaining what some of the old-time terminology means AND that gives good listening samples?

clawhammer vs. frailing

Roundpeak vs. Galax Lick

drop thumb

clawhammer vs. melodic clawhammer

I'm also curious as to what ya'll think about the idea of there being definitive styles by geographic region--i.e., a Kentucky style, a West Virginia style, a Virginia style.

Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/16/2009:  18:31:14


Google 'em all and look for Wikipedia entries is always a good place to begin. I wouldn't necessary think in terms of a "this vs. that" paradigm, which possibly sets up either-or assumptions/thinking.

Good questions. These terms can all be found on line with a minimum of research.

Happy pickin,

Tom Hanway

Please visit me on MySpace for iTunes and Mel Bay stores.

Please see my homepage for more links and digital stores via Universal.

Nobody has all the tunes, but everybody has a piece of the tradition.

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy. - W. B. Yeats

Bill Rogers - Posted - 10/16/2009:  18:38:13


All of those issues have been discussed in detail on the Hangout. Hangout searches should be able to find all of those discussions. Regional styles tend to be so regional that there are too many to list if one gets really technical. States are far too big in area to define any one style.

Bill

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 10/16/2009:  19:15:31


So far as I'm concerned there is no diff between clawhammer and frailing but there are about a thousand other opinions on the subject and no agreement whatsoever.

Round Peak is a location in North Carolina and Galax is just across the border in Virginia. The Round Peak Style is one of close interaction between the fiddle and banjo - which is also the Galax style. However once again there are a lot of opinions and really it doesn't amount to a hill of beans in the long run - it is all banjo.

the Galax Lick is a specific move that people associate with RP/Galax style - it is explained in Chapter 4.3 (or perhaps 4.4) of Rocket Science Banjo which also has tab examples that can be played by your computer's MIDI so you can hear the sound.

Drop Thumb is the use of the thumb on strings besides the 5th. Most of the tabs you'll find in RSB have examples of this and there is a whole set of drop thumb examples in the book including simple DTs and fancy ones.

Clawhammer refers to any down stroke banjo playing, while melodic clawhammer is usually reserved for a style where the banjo plays the fiddle tune note for note. Ken Perlman is the master of this style and the man who developed it back in the 1970s. Ken also writes one heck of a good method for clawhammer banjo titled Clawhammer Style Banjo. I don't remember if there are still any examples of Melodic Clawhammer in RSB. Melodic style is not for beginners so I purged most of the tunes in that style. Ken Perlman only starts to cover Melodic style after 160 pages of normal clawhammer - That is a vast amount of clawhammer information..

This RSB I keep referring to is my little contribution to the clawhammer instruction world. It is not a method book even though it does have techniques. Mostly it is an attempt to fill in where other books have not got all the necessary bits and some essays that serve both to instruct and enlighten. It has a chapter on memorizing, and one explaining the banjo tunings, one about the accessories you need for your banjo and one on breaking the claw pattern (that is where you will find the Galax Lick. Rocket Science Banjo is free and the tabs can all be played by your MIDI so you can play right along. You get it from the website below.


http://www.rocketsciencebanjo.com
Rocket Science Banjo - Advanced Clawhammer Techniques for beginners and long time players alike. Plus videos and 25-40 EZ Clawhammer Tunes.
& check out "How To Mold A Mighty Pinky" at:
http://www.pricklypearmusic.net
banjo brad's great banjo site

rendesvous1840 - Posted - 10/16/2009:  19:39:46


clawhammer vs. frailing These are, for all practical purposes, the same thing. Some folks seem to draw a distinction in them, but the bottom line is they are both what's become known as clawhammer. It was known as frailing in Pete Seegers book, but he listed a number of other names for it, including rapping, framing, knocking, and clawhammer. He was taught this style by Rufus Crisp, who called it 'frailing.'

Roundpeak vs. Galax Lick Roundpeak- This is geographicaly an area in the vicinity of Galax, Virginia. It includes parts of Virginia and N. Carolina. Musically, Roundpeak is used to describe a playing style common in that area. It's one of several slightly different styles all known as clawhammer in current terminology. It's not real clear how many,if any, older players were aware of the term clawhammer. And using Roundpeak to mean a style is also a newer term.
The Galax lick is just a specific small tecnique common to the players in the Roundpeak area. It invovlved letting the index or another finger strike a second melody note before the thumb played a note. It was almost like the finger replaced a drop thumb note.

drop thumb Drop thumb is a part of clawhammer right hand technique, but is also used in some non-clawhammer styles as well, such as the basic strum Pete Seeger used a lot. The thumb of the striking hand is allowed to "drop" to one of the long strings, rather than staying on the 5th string. This allows the thumb to play a melody note when the index finger isn't in place after playing a previous note. oldwoodchuckc has a good video showing it. Check his Hangout page or one of his posts for a link. Sometimes this is known as double thumbing.

clawhammer vs. melodic clawhammer Much of the focus on traditional clawhammer was keeping the rythem going. A lot of old time players used a sparse amount of melody notes, especially when backing a fiddler or singer. The mewer meoldic clawhammer, and now Clawgrass styles, play a lot more melody notes, more the way a fiddler or mandolin player would play the song.
A large amount of ink could be (probably has been)used to describe the geographic differences in playing styles. There are several variants of frailing/clawhammer, at least a couple of Old Time 3 finger styles, (not bluegrass), at least three or four 2 finger styles, one known as Carolina style,(Bascom Lunsford, Doc Watson), stroke style, guitar style fingerpicking, Pete Seeger's basic strum(I forget who he learned it from.) Some folks have used the Carter Family guitar style as well. Ya don't hafta eat everything on a buffet, just choose what you like.
Paul

"A master banjo player isn't the one who can play the most notes. It's the one who can touch the most hearts." Patrick Costello
http://www.banjohangout.org/forum/t...IC_ID=128303 IBARD topic
http://ibard-rendesvous1840.blogspot.com/


Edited by - rendesvous1840 on 10/16/2009 19:59:28

rendesvous1840 - Posted - 10/16/2009:  20:03:19


It took me so long to type all that above, the Time Out warning came up. I'm up to 6 words a minute. While I was trying to find the letters, a more qualified person answered. Thanks, Tony.
Paul

"A master banjo player isn't the one who can play the most notes. It's the one who can touch the most hearts." Patrick Costello
http://www.banjohangout.org/forum/t...IC_ID=128303 IBARD topic
http://ibard-rendesvous1840.blogspot.com/

minstrelmike - Posted - 10/17/2009:  07:28:14


The technique used to frail or clawhammer on the banjo is the same; however, I do hear a difference. In the conversations I've had with people who do hear a difference, clawhammer seems more notey with fewer brushes across 2 or more strings. Frailing seems more folky style with fuller chords.

Of course, I do both when I play my songs, chording a lot when singing and then making it more notey with most notes played only on 1st and 5th strings. (But it's like explaining the stylistic difference between acid rock and grunge rock so don't worry too much. The folks who say there is no difference are also correct).

The drop-thumb needs to be distinguished from the double-thumb. The double-thumb is used a lot for clawhammer (to get all those notes). Instead of doing boom-shukka, you end up doing a shukka-shukka with the 5th string sounding twice in that space: I-T I-T or br-T br-T instead of I * br-T

Drop-thumb is when the thumb strikes a string other than the 5th (it drops lower), however, most of the time that I've seen drop-thumbing introduced, it is usually in conjunction with double-thumbing and the first thumb is dropped to an inside string so the terminology can get more confusing than the actions on the banjo.


Mike Moxcey
http://moxcey.net/mike/minstrel/index.html

jduke - Posted - 10/17/2009:  08:27:43


A good many of the old time tunes that we play seem to have much intermixing, that is different songs with the same name, or verses that show up in different songs etc. I would guess that termonology from region to region or person to person is similar in that one man's drop thumbing is another man's dubble thumbing.

All of the above contributors have given the definitions much as I have learned them. I wonder, however, if writters of instruction and information books, starting with Pete Seeger, have helped to somewhat form uniform definitions that we now (more or less) agree on as oppsoed to the regional uniqueness of the terms.

Jeff

JD Uke

oldthymedragon - Posted - 10/17/2009:  11:05:14


quote:
Originally posted by oldwoodchuckb



Clawhammer refers to any down stroke banjo playing, while melodic clawhammer is usually reserved for a style where the banjo plays the fiddle tune note for note. Ken Perlman is the master of this style and the man who developed it back in the 1970s. Ken also writes one heck of a good method for clawhammer banjo titled Clawhammer Style Banjo. I don't remember if there are still any examples of Melodic Clawhammer in RSB. Melodic style is not for beginners so I purged most of the tunes in that style. Ken Perlman only starts to cover Melodic style after 160 pages of normal clawhammer - That is a vast amount of clawhammer information..





I'll have to look up Ken Perlman's Clawhammer Style Banjo book. One of the first books I learned from many years ago was Perlman's Melodic Clawhammer Banjo (it was a thin, green, paperback volume back then) and it had tunes that I still like to play. Thanks again!

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