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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW Feb 25: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring


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/200510

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 02/25/2011:  03:12:34


This is, admittedly, a rather risky Tune of the Week, since many may say this is not really an old-time tune (though it is undoubtedly very, very old). But the guidelines for this thread are to pick a tune to which you have a personal connection of some sort, and my personal connection to this tune goes back to my early childhood.

We had a copy of Pete Seeger’s 10 inch Folkways album, “The Goofing Off Suite” in my house from the time it first came out, when I was 5 (I still have it actually, autographed on the cover). Being one of only around a half-dozen records that we owned, it was played a great deal in my house. It’s a wonderfully diverse record exploring diverse musical ideas on the five string banjo, including classical and jazz, and plenty of other stuff in between.

One of my favourites on that album has always been “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring”. Having been introduced to it in this manner, I always conceived of this tune as a banjo tune rather than the more familiar chorale with choir and organ version by Bach. So I hope you’ll bear with me on this bit of an old time side trip down a less familiar lane.

According to my Internet research, part of this melody was actually written by Johann Schop (1590-1667) in 1641, in Hamburg. Schop was the most prominent violinist in Germany at the time, and an important composer of dances, songs and hymns, who also played the lute, the cornet and the trombone.

It was adapted and arranged, 75 years later, as part of a chorale by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) in 1716, and this is the version in which it is well-known today:

youtube.com/watch?v=FwWL8Y-qsJg

It was again adapted and arranged, two and a half centuries later, for 5 string banjo by Pete Seeger, recorded and issued on “The Goofing-Off Suite” (Folkways, 1954) and published in “How to Play the 5 string Banjo” (third edition, Oak, 1962 – maybe it was already there in the 1954 second edition – I don’t know, having never seen that edition). Here is Pete Seeger in concert in 1963 doing that version:

youtube.com/watch?v=ZlIC0PmmLqk

I feel that Seeger’s original recording and transcription of this have, to some extent, turned it into a bit of a banjo standard, in that it has been played and recorded as a banjo tune by many people since then, including, for example,
Roger McGuin in the 1960s (in his pre-Byrds days) as “Banjo Cantata”:
amazon.com/gp/product/B001J2DA..._dp_trk14 ;
Michael J. Miles, on his 2004 album New Century Suite:
amazon.com/gp/product/B0014DLT..._dp_trk11
and Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka as a duet at Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday party Concert at Madison Square Garden, a couple of years ago:
amazon.com/Pete-Seegers-90th-B...1-catcorr .

I have not found any of these three versions on YouTube, but here is a selection of banjo versions that I have found there:

Here’s someone whose YouTube name is tuckytunes, sticking fairly close to the original:

youtube.com/watch?v=9sgSOLsVo0w

Here’s a very cool version on a homemade banjo apparently made partly from tractor parts, by someone calling himself, roughguitars:

youtube.com/watch?v=O2RSQcFsOOQ

Here’s a cello banjo version by Banjo Hangout member Don Hergert (dh5string on YouTube; dhergert on the Hangout):

youtube.com/watch?v=SnRyquDKcRA

And here is Don Hergert again on a “regular” banjo (circa 1889 S.S. Stewart American Princess #2):

youtube.com/watch?v=rcPzZw7eTZg

Here’s a pretty “out there” bluegrass version, complete with drums, by someone called Dr. Elmo:

youtube.com/watch?v=Qb3WRE5AUMQ

So far, all of these versions have been fingerpicked. Here now is Banjo Hangout member Yopparai Kyabetsu’s lovely clawhammer rendering (Yoppykyabetsu on YouTube; Yopparai on the Hangout):

youtube.com/watch?v=wFLL4EExTYw

My own version is also a clawhammer version that strays from the original rather further than most of these other versions. I have simplified the structure of the tune treating it much like a fiddle tune, with A and B parts alternating. (The B part is Schop’s original melody- sort of). My version is derived directly from Seeger’s version and not from the original Schop or Bach versions.

I only learned it rather approximately in the first place, mainly by ear and from memory, with a few hints gleaned from the TAB in Seeger’s book (since I rarely have the patience to actually read through TAB, I just look at it as though watching someone’s hands, trying to get a few ideas as to where my fingers ought to go).

As is commonplace with folk music, over time (a long time, actually) it has diverged somewhat from its source. I hope others may choose to take this up - as the fine banjo tune that it is - without feeling constrained to stick closely to the classical original.

I think it works well as an old time banjo tune. I’m tempted to call it: “Bach Visits the Appalachians”:

youtube.com/watch?v=8J15_l293hk

If anyone knows of other banjo versions of this tune, please post them here. If you already play this tune, please record it and post it here. And I hope a few of you might take up the challenge of working up personal versions of your own to share with us.

Here’s an embedded link to my version here on the Hangout (though I personally find that watching directly on YouTube provides a higher quality image):


Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 02/27/2011 07:45:28



VIDEO: CLAWHAMMER BACH - Marc Nerenberg
(click to view)

   

BRUNO25 - Posted - 02/25/2011:  03:41:59


Awesome, Marc! I have to say, yours is by far my favorite. I think you've interpreted and arranged this in a very cunning way. What a cool banjo piece.






John

Frailblazer - Posted - 02/25/2011:  05:19:30


Marc,

Talk about old time! You did a great job in putting this together. Your research is quite extensive and it's great to see/hear all the different examples you've found. That being said, I second John's comment - Your version is one of my favorites. Lots of drive and energy!

Here's my quick take on the "A" section played clawhammer: PLAY TUNE
It's played in Double C with a capo at the 3rd fret. The 5th string is not capoed and tuned to "g".

Thanks,

- Ric

John Gribble - Posted - 02/25/2011:  05:24:21


Great fun! But you missed mentioning Leo Kottke's guitar version on an early recording. I suspect he got it from Seeger's tab.

Perhaps the first solo instrumental version of the piece was Myra Hess's piano transcription, which has become a standard in the classical music world. She plays it at

youtube.com/watch?v=n6BPTCveWH...laynext=2

She was able to get all of Bach's notes into her version.

ramjo - Posted - 02/25/2011:  05:39:55


Marc, really like your version. A brilliant new approach to old music. I loved learning that Bach himself "adapted and arranged" an extant melody for this. The old folkie! Who knew?

Thanks also for the link to the Seeger concert footage. It's right to be reminded every morning of the many dimensions of Pete Seeger and what a treasure he is in each of them.

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 02/25/2011:  07:51:56


Thank you, guys. Ric - I love your version! I hope one of these days you'll get around to doing it with both A and B parts.

Frailblazer - Posted - 02/25/2011:  08:50:25


Thanks Marc.

- Ric

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 02/25/2011:  13:52:43


I'm a big booster of songs for Tune of the Week, so I felt a little guilty about doing an instrumental. Guilty enough to have written a lame set of words to go with this music...but not guilty enough to have actually recorded them.

Here they are, awkward and lame though they may be. You can sing them in your mind:

Bach in Kentucky

Bach traveled through time - and through space - to Kentucky
He picked up a banjo and started to play
The sound was so sweet, that he knew he was lucky
To have found such a sound - and he was heard to say:

"If I had known what a banjo could sound like,
I'd have written a suite to be plucked on its strings
A well tempered clavier might well be alright
But a banjo's so bright - it both sings and it rings!"


Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 02/25/2011 13:55:57

lmuecke - Posted - 02/25/2011:  15:04:29


Wow, Mr.Nerenberg that was wonderful! And Mr. Ric, your version was so sweet sounding. Like a music box!

drybones - Posted - 02/25/2011:  15:19:23


GReat pick for tune of the week and lots of enjoyable listening!

Thanks,

db

ScottK - Posted - 02/25/2011:  22:57:40


quote:
It was again adapted and arranged, two and a half centuries later, for 5 string banjo by Pete Seeger, recorded and issued on “The Goofing-Off Suite” (Folkways, 1954) and published in “How to Play the 5 string Banjo” (third edition, Oak, 1962 – maybe it was already there in the 1954 second edition – I don’t know, having never seen that edition).
Great post and great picking Marc!

The Goofing-Off Suite has been reissued on CD and can be ordered from Amazon (link). There was a tab book for The Goofing-Off Suite published by Hargail Music Press in 1959 and it contains "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". Billy Faire did the transcriptions of Pete's arrangements for the book. I bumped into a used copy at Powell's Books here in Portland a few years ago and grabbed it, but haven't tried to learn any of the tunes out of it.

Scott

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 02/26/2011:  09:45:22


Thanks Scott, I'm glad you enjoyed it...and thanks for the additional links. This tune is certainly somewhat off the Old Time beaten track, but I think it's well worth exploring. It's also not really hard to play, when you don't try to recreate the Bach chorale version, but treat it as a skeleton to be embellished as you see fit.


Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 02/26/2011 09:46:26

djvarnell - Posted - 02/27/2011:  18:45:57


Actually this is a very appropriate tune for the plucked banjo, adapted from Bach who probably played it on the Harpsichord, another plucked instrument. I learned it from Pete back in the 1960's using the four finger techique

UncleClawhammer - Posted - 02/27/2011:  19:15:06


This doesn't really much pertain to the TOTW, but I thought since we were on the subject of classical pieces played on the banjo, I'd throw in the mention that one of the very first tunes I learned when I was learning the clawhammer was Beethoven's Ode to Joy. Also learned from Pete.

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 02/28/2011:  08:39:34


quote:
Originally posted by UncleClawhammer

This doesn't really much pertain to the TOTW, but I thought since we were on the subject of classical pieces played on the banjo, I'd throw in the mention that one of the very first tunes I learned when I was learning the clawhammer was Beethoven's Ode to Joy. Also learned from Pete.

I think this does pertain to the TOTW...it's a sister tune! It would be cool if you would record a clawhammer version of Ode to Joy and post it here.

ukuleletim - Posted - 03/02/2011:  02:00:22


Marc, your version is excellent and very entertaining.

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 03/02/2011:  10:06:06


Thanks, Tim. If you haven't listened to all those other versions, you ought to give it a shot. Lots of diversity and variety there.

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