Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

 All Forums
 Playing the Banjo
 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 10 April 2015: Old Drake

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:

Zischkale - Posted - 04/09/2015:  22:18:58

I started with the tuning first here, after I fell for Ken Perlman’s B minor tuning from his Clawhammer Style Banjo book. From gDGBD you just drop the third and fifth a half-step and you’re there (f#DF#BD). I enjoyed fooling around with it so much I decided to select my tune around it.


I ended up with Old Drake, a crooked ol’ minor tune from West Virginia’s East side. It’s referred to as Big Fancy some times. I won’t get far into history here, as it’s so well documented and I’m sure plenty of y’all know the stories better than I. Dwight Diller did extensive field work and interviewed the Hammons family at length (link to that work below). This is one of the tunes he picked up from Burl, who learned it from his uncle Edden.


Edden was a character. There are some choice quotes on his Wikipedia entry, and he’d apparently wander around with his fiddle stored in a full sack of flour. Just pulled the fiddle out when it was time to get down to business, blow the flour off in a big cloud of white powder. He said, “Upon my honor, that's just as good as the best cases every [sic??] made.”


Haven’t heard his version of the tune yet, but Burl can be heard on the Slippery Hill site for a woefully short thirty-one seconds:



My main source was fiddler David Margolin and banjo player Yigal Zan, who I found on Youtube (link below).

So here’s my version, f#DF#BD, followed by some great videos and links!


The source I learned from:


They play it here, too:


Dwight Diller needs no introduction:


Great page on the Traditional Tune Archive:



Edden Hammond’s highly entertaining Wikipedia page:


Plenty of history on the Hammons family:

Edited by - Zischkale on 04/09/2015 22:24:51

JanetB - Posted - 04/10/2015:  11:26:53

Your tuning brings out a new beauty in Old Drake, Aaron.  I like learning anything David Margolin and Yigal Zan do as a duet, and especially appreciate learning from Burl Hammons, Dwight Diller, and Jimmy Tripplett (who played with Dwight and which is the source for Yigal's version),

 Here's my Old Drake in regular modal tuning (gDGCD).

Old Drake (TOTW)

Old Drake tab

stevel - Posted - 04/10/2015:  21:05:27

Sounds great Aaron. I've never heard of the tune, but I loves me some alternate tunings. And this is a totally new one to me. 

bhniko - Posted - 04/11/2015:  09:50:00

Thanks to all...TOTW has become a favorite. Enjoy the music and the history which on my own I probably would not research.

Zischkale - Posted - 04/13/2015:  06:26:02

Thanks for tabbing the tune out, Janet! Good rocksteady drive as usual, and I like how you handled the syncopation in the crooked measures. Really good arrangement.

Zischkale - Posted - 04/13/2015:  06:27:07


Originally posted by stevel

Sounds great Aaron. I've never heard of the tune, but I loves me some alternate tunings. And this is a totally new one to me. 


I actually came across it trying to play a pop tune in the key of B minor, had remembered Ken Perlman listing the tuning in his book. It's a really enjoyable one to play out of, give it a shot when you can!!

janolov - Posted - 04/13/2015:  07:19:42

Dwight Diller has a nice tab in his free tab book that can be downloaded from his site:

I have also found that some tunes in A modal (the Milliner-Koken book presents the tune in A modal Dorian mode based on Burl Hammons) works good with aDGBD or eDGBD without capo! This seems to be one of these tunes where it works. 

Paul Meredith - Posted - 04/14/2015:  19:35:36

Cool tune Aaron, and nicely played, ditto for Janet's rendition.  Its s twofer for me, a new tuning to mess around with and a new tune.

JanetB - Posted - 04/15/2015:  17:42:17

Well, Aaron, here's a tab close to your version and using your tuning.  Anita Kermode calls this a D variant tuning:   (#79 in this alphabetical list).  It's certainly a nice way to get lots of the notes in one position with several open strings and is a good argument for using various tunings due to ease of playing and interesting tonal sounds.  One thing I did discover was that Edden Hammons tune of the same name is not the same tune.

Old Drake tab, Aaron Z's version


Zischkale - Posted - 04/16/2015:  06:24:21

Looks spot on, Janet, thanks! My arrangement was looking quite a bit different since I didn't note those first four notes as a pickup, but it all adds up nicely and you handle the crooked measures really well. Wasn't aware of that list view of the Kermode tuning index--that's a way easier method of hunting through the tunings for a good one.

I'm left wondering where Burl got his Old Drake from! 

CamC - Posted - 04/16/2015:  12:39:12

Well, slow day at work so I thought I'd give The Old Drake a try. This is my attempt at Dwight Diller's arrangement.

VIDEO: The Old Drake
(click to view)


Zischkale - Posted - 04/17/2015:  12:06:39

Nice, Cam -- I like the sound of those slurs and trills!

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Privacy Consent
Copyright 2024 Banjo Hangout. All Rights Reserved.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories