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 Playing Advice: All Other Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: classic style forum


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/343351

mipake - Posted - 06/04/2018:  11:41:08


Is this the right forum for discussing late the classic style banjo.

hoodoo - Posted - 06/04/2018:  12:19:59


classic-banjo.ning.com/

Joel Hooks - Posted - 06/04/2018:  13:24:57


This would be the best fit for it I reckon. The Classic Banjo Ning site posted above is specific to the subject. We are a very small but passionate group. There is not many of us and that could be because of the idea that it is difficult or "classical." It is neither of those.

Classic Banjo is like anything else, it can be as easy or as difficult as one wants it to be. There is so much material that pieces can be found for every skill level.

So ask away here or on the ning site and we will try to help.

mipake - Posted - 06/04/2018:  13:33:20


I know there are lots of sheet music but are there any tabs available. From watching video it looks like three figure picking without the picks. Sounds great too

hoodoo - Posted - 06/04/2018:  14:32:01


Joel Hooks will tell you to learn to read sheet music. I don't disagree. The repertoire is vast and mostly written in notation.

There are a few tabs available on the Ning Forum.

Also some classic banjo tabs available to buy on the Clifford Essex website : cliffordessex.net

hoodoo - Posted - 06/04/2018:  14:36:24


Also, don't be afraid to learn. Although, I still prefer tab, I'm no longer as intimidated by standard notation as I was 6 months ago. It can be learned, and once you do the musical world, not only banjo, is at your fingertips


Edited by - hoodoo on 06/04/2018 14:36:45

trapdoor2 - Posted - 06/04/2018:  15:36:06


quote:

Originally posted by mipake

I know there are lots of sheet music but are there any tabs available. From watching video it looks like three figure picking without the picks. Sounds great too






I have about 500 "Classic Banjo" pieces in TAB, a few are here in the TAB archives. Any tune in particular you are looking for? I'm always happy to share with folks.

Kimerer - Posted - 06/04/2018:  16:53:15


I put Dill Pickles Rag on the TAB archives here. Both the TAB and the standard notation are there. So far that is my only TAB entry here on the Hangout.



I find that the activity of tabbing out a piece myself helps me learn the piece. Once I have learned it, I do not refer to either notation any longer. I have not been able to make the transition to reading the standard notation and transferring it directly to the banjo neck.

mipake - Posted - 06/04/2018:  17:41:10


Thanks
I will check out the dill pickles rag. I wonder if "hand me down my walking cane" was performed in classic style and is it tabbed.
I don't sight read standard notation but I decipher it pretty well. I find tab helps me with right hand fingering and is just quicker to learn a tune.
thanks
Mike

trapdoor2 - Posted - 06/04/2018:  18:35:41


quote:

Originally posted by mipake

Thanks

I will check out the dill pickles rag. I wonder if "hand me down my walking cane" was performed in classic style and is it tabbed.

I don't sight read standard notation but I decipher it pretty well. I find tab helps me with right hand fingering and is just quicker to learn a tune.

thanks

Mike






Dill Pickles is an excellent and fun tune! From the right era too. If you click on the link to my TABs, you'll find a dozen Classic style tunes.

mipake - Posted - 06/05/2018:  09:51:38


I searched the tab archives and found two tunes that are more at my level. fun on the Wabash and Kansas jig which is at beginner level. I am using my Fairbanks and Cole banjo. Classic style banjo is certainly challenging and should therefore should be rewarding.
thanks
mike

hoodoo - Posted - 06/05/2018:  09:57:15


Don't completely neglect sheet music. Tab is helpful way to play, but sheet music also provides a lot of hints on how the song is supposed to be played

Joel Hooks - Posted - 06/05/2018:  10:46:04


If TAB is the direction that one wants to go then there are options. The new Clifford Essex publishes a ton of well done TABS as well as a couple of tutors.

Rob Mackillop put out a book that is nice from what I have seen of it. I do have a copy but I really don't get much from TAB so I have not looked closely at it.

amazon.com/Early-American-Clas...lop+banjo

I won't tell anyone what to do but I will recommend that if you are going through the effort to learn using TAB there is no reason why you should not just learn notation for banjo.

Much of the British banjo music is so well edited with positions and fingerings it is not that far removed from being TAB. Those tend to be pretty advanced solos.

Marc (hi Marc!) is a TAB making machine. Take him up on his offer.

Or... you can learn the (only) three natural keys (and their minors) for banjo and with that (the three keys) you will have enough material to last you.

Any elementary school student can learn to read in three keys. Heck, if I can do it then it can't be that hard.

hoodoo - Posted - 06/05/2018:  13:25:47


I really like the Rob Mackillop book. He's tabbed out a few beautiful pieces like the Dream Mazurka by Frank Converse. Whether in standard notation or in tab, it will take me years before I will be able to play it from beginning to end competently. The tab is very helpful. (youtube.com/watch?v=M29RBfhnnp4)



I've purchased a few tabs from Clifford Essex. They are helpful, but they contain a few errors, which one might not notice unless they know how to read... standard notation. They also cost a few dollars each ($2,35 US).



I will say however I was once (for a very short time) determined to prove that it would be possible to learn to play classic banjo by using tab only. Its impossible. At one point you will encounter a piece that you fall in love with and will absolutely want to learn and low and behold, it does not exist in tab form.



So what to do in those circumstances? You can either give up and limit your yourself, or you can decide that you are going to learn it either way.



I purchased TablEdit to help me out. The first time I used it, I literally printed out a piece of sheet music and typed in note for note. Holy cripes, talk about time consuming and ineffective. Never again.



What do I do now? I sit down and learn how to play the song by reading the sheet music and taking a lot of notes. Afterwards, sometimes a few days later, I take the time to tab it out in TablEdit for future reference. This still takes a few minutes, but much less longer than it used to (like 30 minutes vs few hours). At least the majority of my time is now used to actually learn the piece and playing music.


Edited by - hoodoo on 06/05/2018 13:32:58

hoodoo - Posted - 06/05/2018:  14:36:59


Said otherwise, it might be the classic banjo equivalent of "You can run, but you can't hide"

mipake - Posted - 06/05/2018:  19:28:26


music does not come easy for everyone. I picked up a banjo when I was 59. I never played anything before that. I had tried to teach my self banjo in high school and became totally frustrated and sold the instrument. So with tab and a good instructor I learned to play. no one can argue the benefits of reading standard notation but if tab works for a person then that is ok too.

hoodoo - Posted - 06/06/2018:  04:51:32


Yeah I understand, but I think that if you continue down the classic banjo route there will be a point where you will decide, and its kind of an organic process, that you will want to at least be able to look at sheet music and not turn around and run.
I'm just saying that its always a good idea to use all of the tools in the tool box.

trapdoor2 - Posted - 06/06/2018:  09:09:23


We all learn differently. As I started the banjo via Tab in the 1970's, it is my default learning tool. However, back then Tab was not very good, 99% had no rhythm marking at all. You were expected to have heard and internalized the music...and then just use the Tab as a guide for fingering. Note values weren't usually addressed at all.



Modern Tab has it all covered. The only thing you miss from properly made, modern Tab is the arc of the tune...but having used Tab for so long, I can usually 'hear' the notes just like most notation readers do.



I read notation in 3 clefs. I sight read for piano, cello and viola. I can sight-read for banjo but it is such a chore for my old brain! I sight-read Tab for any western fretted instrument...like breathing. This is not to say I'm a great player, just that my brain likes Tab for fretted instruments.



Brit banjo pubs tend to have a lot of fingering...as Joel says, it is almost both tab and notation. They teach a system of numbered 'finger forms' (like chords) which are used with fretboard position codes (7B, 12PB, etc.) to effectively create a Tab-like shortcut. It works really well...but there is so much banjo notation out there that isn't in that format...



So, I've taught myself to use TablEdit like a madman. Yes, no matter what I do...there is yet another piece I want to explore that needs to be keyed in. Initially, I simply used it to be able to hear the tune, decide if I wanted to expend the effort to learn it. I think I started with Tabrite (ages ago). Today, I'm using a program called "Musescore". Turns out that it is better than TablEdit in many ways...faster note entry, better looking results, more flexible for some of those odd notational characters you want to use from 19C. banjo notation...and its free.



So, I've been testing this new software's capabilities. I sit down at the computer and hit "new file" and then hit the stopwatch. Monday night, I entered "The Mountain Stream Polka" archive.org/details/ArmstrongC...njoMethod (starts on page 32), in both banjeaurine and banjo staffs. 36 measures each. Setup took just a few minutes and by the time I entered the last note, I had spent 32minutes total. Formatting for PDF printout took another 15 minutes.



In less than an hour, I have clean, clear, precise Tab that I can play from immediately. Because of my poor notational reading skills for the banjo, I would be spending that time simply getting the first two measures sorted out. This is just my methodology. Works for me. Tab is so pervasive that I feel it is the best way for the average Bluegrass-trained, Tab-reading banjoist to experience the wonderful world of Classic Banjo.



If you wish to dive deep, certainly go for the notation!

Joel Hooks - Posted - 06/06/2018:  11:33:24


I have to admit that it makes me feel all warm and squishy inside to look at the original typefaces when I play.

As an armchair banjo historian I find it useful to be able to read the language of the culture I am studying.

Marc's workaround is fine. I did it for a few years. What is funny is that because I learned to read in A notation, I would transpose pieces in C to A using the same software.

It was not until I "got into" the later era of classic banjo and British publications that I taught myself to read in C.

When I get together with other classic banjoists twice a year at ABF rallies it is nice to be able to sightread. There are plenty of pieces that are "standards" that I have not memorized that I can read along to play. Otherwise I'd just be sitting with my arms folded listening to other people play. One could do the same with TAB but then they have to have the TAB with them and not just use their music.

With the ABF "Orchestra" the only way it will work is if everyone is using the same arrangement. Reading is a must. One might be asked to play a different part and if you only have tab for the 2nd banjo and we need a 1st or Cello player then...

Sadly I now have some weird mental block. I can't make anything out of TAB-- I used to be able to sightread it, now it is just numbers on lines that I can't turn into music.

trapdoor2 - Posted - 06/07/2018:  11:23:26


quote:

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

I have to admit that it makes me feel all warm and squishy inside to look at the original typefaces when I play.



With the ABF "Orchestra" the only way it will work is if everyone is using the same arrangement. Reading is a must. One might be asked to play a different part and if you only have tab for the 2nd banjo and we need a 1st or Cello player then...



Sadly I now have some weird mental block. I can't make anything out of TAB-- I used to be able to sightread it, now it is just numbers on lines that I can't turn into music.






I do love the old sheet music. Just looks 'right'.



Human brains are funny things. Sometimes they just refuse to work the way we think they ought to. I play the viola. It is just a Tenor Banjo with a fiddle's body. Same number of strings, same tuning. I am getting to where I can sight read notation pretty good on the viola. You would think I could take that exact music and wail away on the TB...but my brain won't let me. I stutter, I hit the wrong fret, I forget that note is on the next string, etc. So, I had this brilliant idea that I should be able to play Tab on the viola...I'll be great! Nope. My brain refuses to make the connection. Sigh.



I just made a breakthrough. I transcribed a Banjeaurine part successfully last night. Did Thos. J. Armstrong's "The Mountain Stream Polka" (from his "Crown Method") and got both parts to work properly (transposing the Banjeaurine part was horrific...until I got some help. Now piece of cake.) I'll be posting the resultant notation/Tab soon. I have to move it into C notation yet...shouldn't be an issue. This might be a good piece for the ABF orchestra. Short (36measures) and not to demanding. Will need a CB part and a piccolo obligato.



 

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 06/30/2018:  03:55:11


Coming from the BHO 4-string forum, what is the ABF orchestra? And are there any (CGDA) tenor banjo players in this forum?



I have 4 decades of Trad and Swing under my belt, but I have been moving towards pastures new, in latter years. Different repertoire, but also different style of playing. Rob McKillop's especially greatly influential in this.



Due to the aftermath of a recent ear operation, I won't be able to record anything, for some time to come. But already eminently suited to banjo "translation" are pieces by Byrd, Satie, and even Shostakovich. And in my audio files I found some Jordi Saval/Hesperion XX recordings I'd very much like to work on as well.



However, Dowland will be my departure point. His music really speaking to me. And what I also have in mind is giving that a bit of "jazz" sensibility. Think along the line of Jacques Loussier and what he does with Bach. My own take  on Dowland probably not coming out on the same level, but I'll give it a shot anyway.



However, I don't want to switch to Plectrum or 5-string. So what do you think: will CGDA tenor do, for fulfilling at least some of these aspirations?



Veerstryngh Thynner 


Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 06/30/2018 04:02:20

Joel Hooks - Posted - 07/01/2018:  16:31:44


quote:

Originally posted by Veerstryngh Thynner

Coming from the BHO 4-string forum, what is the ABF orchestra? And are there any (CGDA) tenor banjo players in this forum?



I have 4 decades of Trad and Swing under my belt, but I have been moving towards pastures new, in latter years. Different repertoire, but also different style of playing. Rob McKillop's especially greatly influential in this.



Due to the aftermath of a recent ear operation, I won't be able to record anything, for some time to come. But already eminently suited to banjo "translation" are pieces by Byrd, Satie, and even Shostakovich. And in my audio files I found some Jordi Saval/Hesperion XX recordings I'd very much like to work on as well.



However, Dowland will be my departure point. His music really speaking to me. And what I also have in mind is giving that a bit of "jazz" sensibility. Think along the line of Jacques Loussier and what he does with Bach. My own take  on Dowland probably not coming out on the same level, but I'll give it a shot anyway.



However, I don't want to switch to Plectrum or 5-string. So what do you think: will CGDA tenor do, for fulfilling at least some of these aspirations?



Veerstryngh Thynner 




What makes the American Banjo Fraternity unique from all other banjo organizations is that it is a special interest group focused specifically on what is now called "Classic Banjo."  The definition of that is given in our "Guidelines" available from our website or me by PM or email.  Basically "Classic Banjo" is nylon/gut (or equivalent) 5-String Banjos played with fingertips or "fingerstyle" based on the repertoire of popular banjo playing between about the 1860s and 1930+ (give or take).



The ABF "Orchestra" is made up of 5-String banjos of different sizes, nylon strung, and played fingerstyle.  We usually play two pieces during rally (that is all we can really get together).  The pieces are either new arrangements (based on the classic banjo repertoire) or published arrangements from the time when this was popular (roughly late 1880s to about 1915).



Okay, I just looked up some of the composers you posted.  The words "orchestra" and "Classic Banjo" really have nothing to do with what might be called "classical" or music played by a Symphony.  Think more like a amateur home town band.



"Classic Banjo" was/is popular music including (but not limited to) marches, schottisches, ragtime, waltzes, "fiddle tunes," polkas, and the like.  Most people who explore "Classic Banjo" looking to find "Classical" music are usually disappointed. 

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 07/01/2018:  17:21:56


Hi Joel, 



Thanks for your extensive reply.



My line of thought goes more in the direction of John Bullard's work, actually. Hence, perhaps, the confusion: John's choice of repertoir indeed more Classical than Classic, as presented in your definition. But curious coincidence has it that I plan to string my tenor with nylon, by way of experiment, in the weekend after the one coming up.



And incidentally: a handful of classical composers did indeed incorporate banjo in their score. Shostakovich, for instance, in his Jazz Suite. And it seems that Brahms, seeing a banjo for the first time ever, was so intrigued by it that he was determined to use it in one of his compositions. Sadly, though, he passed away shortly after he made that resolution, so nothing ever came of it.



Veerstryngh Thynner


Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 07/01/2018 17:27:09

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