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 Playing Advice: All Other Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Melodic Style Banjo


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/345694

hounddog905 - Posted - 08/21/2018:  07:50:07


Lately, the term "melodic banjo" keeps popping as I continue to learn how to play this instrument. It's not clear to me what the difference is between "melodic" and traditional banjo. Perhaps someone can clarify this for me.

canisminimus - Posted - 08/21/2018:  08:17:06


itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/ge...416108148
This CameronDeWhitt podcast interview with kenperlman is enlightening on the topic.

soonersailor - Posted - 08/21/2018:  09:26:05


Basically melodic is based on playing the melody note for note and Scruggs is based on licks that more or less suggest the melody.

hounddog905 - Posted - 08/21/2018:  09:59:13


quote:

Originally posted by soonersailor

Basically melodic is based on playing the melody note for note and Scruggs is based on licks that more or less suggest the melody.






Thanks, Tom, that makes perfect sense.

Mooooo - Posted - 08/21/2018:  10:20:35


In addition to playing the melody note for note (which also describes single-string picking), it involves using open strings wherever possible, and using the fretted 5th string to avoid picking the same string twice in a row. I am sure you can google to find plenty of explanations, most likely Tony Trischka or Bill Keith have great explanations out there.


Edited by - Mooooo on 08/21/2018 10:22:52

hounddog905 - Posted - 08/21/2018:  11:43:07


The term "melodic banjo" was confusing.  I've never heard the term being used in context with guitars. And besides aren't Scruggs style rolls "melodic"? cheeky

bluenote23 - Posted - 08/21/2018:  12:01:20


I don't know the history of the term but to me 'melodic' was used to differentiate it from Scruggs style.



I have a piano background so Scruggs style rolls are like arpeggios and have, to my notion, a circular motion.



Melodic style tends to be more based on scales, like easy piano or violin music. The movement, instead of being circular is linear and moves in straight lines.



To my notion, learning scales, while always informative, is not so helpful in learning Scruggs style playing while melodic playing is all scales (that is, you spend a lot of time playing bits of a scale in one direction or another).



Because it is linear, the melodic lines are easier to sing. If you try to sing Foggy Mountain Breakdown (I mean really sing each note that the banjo plays) it is pretty much impossible.


Edited by - bluenote23 on 08/21/2018 12:12:18

Mooooo - Posted - 08/21/2018:  12:09:33


You can look up Melodic in the dictionary and find a definition having to do with the melody of a song, but when we talk about melodic banjo picking we mean a certain style of picking. Hopefully this will help clarify these three styles of picking. You can also play melodic on guitar or any stringed instrument. Lots of country guitarists use melodic style.


Edited by - Mooooo on 08/21/2018 12:18:24


hounddog905 - Posted - 08/21/2018:  12:10:13


 



To my notion, learning scales, while always informative, is not so helpful in learning Scruggs style playing while melodic playing is all scales (that is, you spend a lot of time playing bits of a scale in one direction or another).






          Thanks, Ted, I'm finding that a lot of the banjo songs I'm learning are a combination of both melodic and rolls.

bluenote23 - Posted - 08/21/2018:  12:21:19


My online banjo teacher Banjo Ben Clark at banjobenclark.com has just posted a lesson of Old Joe Clark in melodic style.



You can listen to the preview of the lesson for free and this will give you a better idea of what melodic styly playing sounds like. He also does a mean melodic riff in his little promo speech to entice you to subscribe to his lessons.



When you play melodic, you are still 'rolling' but the difference is in the notes you choose to play.

Mooooo - Posted - 08/21/2018:  12:30:09


Here's how Bill Keith describes Scruggs, Single-String(Reno style) and Melodic (Keith Style) picking: Video

Tractor1 - Posted - 08/21/2018:  13:20:04


melodic is the name given,but that is not totally true,it is just the name on the street for a style of playing .Sometimes may have nothing to do with the melody.Also though it consists mostly of diatonic scales , melodic style can sometimes use identical notes in sequence or even move  up or down to other chord tones.

Scruggs style actually uses other notes besides simple arpeggios.It also utilizes drones and other notes of the scale,but not enough to sound purely linear.More of a hanging around in the vicinity making statements playing.

This is my view, I don't ask anyone to adopt it.

steve davis - Posted - 08/22/2018:  08:18:42


I started playing the melodic style to play with the fiddlers that live around here.
I like playing the exact melody when I want that or a close harmony to the melody.

Melodic playing has a lot to do with being able to play the same melody as the fiddler (or the piano player) to the point of exacting unisons if that's what one wants.

kmwaters - Posted - 08/22/2018:  11:02:58


jsutergraphix.com/LOTW

Look in the left column and you will see a few melodic vids that Boulding did. They are all excellent of course.

hounddog905 - Posted - 08/22/2018:  11:31:38


quote:

Originally posted by kmwaters

jsutergraphix.com/LOTW



Look in the left column and you will see a few melodic vids that Boulding did. They are all excellent of course.






Thanks, Ken, very helpful indeed.

kmwaters - Posted - 08/22/2018:  12:12:54


Sure. I thought the LOTW series John did was one of the best free instruction series ever done by anyone. He never got enough credit for this. I think you should grab them all via Youtube and a Youtube downloader. I use the paid version of Freemake Video downloader but there are a number of options to grab these. Enjoy.
P.S. What I like about the Freemake (not for free version remember) is the option to "convert to mp3" as you grab it. Great for songs you want rather than the video itself.

steve davis - Posted - 08/23/2018:  07:34:17


There are many fine melodic tab books and players to choose from.

John Gribble - Posted - 08/29/2018:  17:55:14


quote:

Originally posted by Mooooo

Here's how Bill Keith describes Scruggs, Single-String(Reno style) and Melodic (Keith Style) picking: Video






That's a great video. In the first couple of minutes he makes the differences in the approaches clear. What a wonderful player and teacher!



I especially appreciate the differences in focus he makes: Scruggs = right hand focus, Reno = left hand focus, melodic = notes (melody) focus. Keith was not only an innovator, but a master of the other styles, too. 



When that style of playing first started to become popular, some people used the even-more-confusing term  "chromatic style." 



Every little corner of the big world of music-making has it's own special language, or special uses of common words. Part of "joining the club" is learning this new language and how it is used.



 

Tom Hanway - Posted - 09/03/2018:  13:11:47


Good question, Steve; I hope this doesn't confuse readers.  Melodic-style, chromatic-style, Keith-style, Thompson style, and Best-style (for Carroll Best) are virtually synonymous terms for playing fiddle, mandolin and strict-melody-oriented tunes (from any other melody instrument) on the 5-string.  At this stage it is a traditional style, with a long history, though some purists might think otherwise. devil



While the Keith, Thompson and Best (perhaps its earliest innovator) styles have their own tendencies, repertoires and histories, they have much in common in that they tend to have each and every melody note played on a different string from the preceding note.



This is different from playing single-string style, which, like lead guitar playing, typically has several notes played in a row on the same string. Single-string playing has the melody rendered in a choppier staccato style, e.g., Don Reno, Eddie Adcock and Raymond Fairchild.  Melodic-style playing has the notes blending into each other, producing a smooth legato sound that has great sustain and volume.  It's possible and sometimes good practice to blend or alternate these legato and staccato styles, also mixing them with Scruggs style, which, like melodic-style, has a more legato sound.



I use melodic, single-string and other fretting-hand techniques borrowed from all kinds of instruments so that I can render Irish, Scottish and Celtic tunes in a finger style that moves beyond traditional Scruggs and bluegrass techniques--leaping over to even older traditional forms and tune melodies.  It's about going deeper once one takes the plunge. 



Okay, here is a good example of melodic-style played by one of its earliest champions, Carroll Best, who for many years had been overlooked in this corner of the banjo universe. (Sorry, one has to go to Youtube to open this link, Carrol Best Compilation <youtube.com/watch?v=bs33ymn1wpE>, which has been disabled by the user on other sites, including BHO.)



Anyway, please notice the smoothness and evenness of Best's playing when you can open up the link.



Enjoy!



Tom


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 09/03/2018 13:26:48


hounddog905 - Posted - 09/03/2018:  13:55:05


quote:

Originally posted by Tom Hanway

Good question, Steve; I hope this doesn't confuse readers.  Melodic-style, chromatic-style, Keith-style, Thompson style, and Best-style (for Carroll Best) are virtually synonymous terms for playing fiddle, mandolin and strict-melody-oriented tunes (from any other melody instrument) on the 5-string.  At this stage it is a traditional style, with a long history, though some purists might think otherwise. devil



While the Keith, Thompson and Best (perhaps its earliest innovator) styles have their own tendencies, repertoires and histories, they have much in common in that they tend to have each and every melody note played on a different string from the preceding note.



This is different from playing single-string style, which, like lead guitar playing, typically has several notes played in a row on the same string. Single-string playing has the melody rendered in a choppier staccato style, e.g., Don Reno, Eddie Adcock and Raymond Fairchild.  Melodic-style playing has the notes blending into each other, producing a smooth legato sound that has great sustain and volume.  It's possible and sometimes good practice to blend or alternate these legato and staccato styles, also mixing them with Scruggs style, which, like melodic-style, has a more legato sound.



I use melodic, single-string and other fretting-hand techniques borrowed from all kinds of instruments so that I can render Irish, Scottish and Celtic tunes in a finger style that moves beyond traditional Scruggs and bluegrass techniques--leaping over to even older traditional forms and tune melodies.  It's about going deeper once one takes the plunge. 



Okay, here is a good example of melodic-style played by one of its earliest champions, Carroll Best, who for many years had been overlooked in this corner of the banjo universe. (Sorry, one has to go to Youtube to open this link, Carrol Best Compilation <youtube.com/watch?v=bs33ymn1wpE>, which has been disabled by the user on other sites, including BHO.)



Anyway, please notice the smoothness and evenness of Best's playing when you can open up the link.



Enjoy!



Tom






It's really difficult to see what he's playing partly because the video is dark but the melody is beautiful. To me- and I may be wrong about this - it looks like he's integrating rolls with as he plays individual melodic notes on each string. Thanks for sharing this video and the information.

Tom Hanway - Posted - 09/04/2018:  01:00:49


Who knew? One has to work out one's notes for oneself, don't you think, man?

Tom Hanway - Posted - 09/05/2018:  06:40:43


Alan Munde is one of the many revered masters of Scruggs and melodic bluegrass banjo, and he tends to play fiddle tunes incorporating the melodic style, of which he is an early pioneer, also one of its leading lights. 



Music is listening, and one does not have to see Alan's fingers in order to appreciate the smoothness, tunefulness and evenness of his playing, where legato melodic passages are sometimes emphasized, also mixed tastefully with Scruggsy-type licks and roll patterns, especially in his back-up work. 



Here is a prime example of Alan shredding melodic-style all over the neck.  It's worth repeated listening, whether one chooses to to dig deeper into this style, or leave it to others. 



Sally Johnson from Alan Munde's Banjo Sandwich



Same link here:  youtube.com/watch?v=37Fq2DQR_f4



 



 


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 09/05/2018 06:42:15


Tom Hanway - Posted - 09/10/2018:  17:37:12


quote:

Originally posted by steve davis

I started playing the melodic style to play with the fiddlers that live around here.

I like playing the exact melody when I want that or a close harmony to the melody.



Melodic playing has a lot to do with being able to play the same melody as the fiddler (or the piano player) to the point of exacting unisons if that's what one wants.






Steve, you're up to 66963 posts, but who's here to count any more, and I love the exacting unisons, my brother. 



wink

steve davis - Posted - 09/12/2018:  15:10:13


quote:

Originally posted by hounddog905

 



To my notion, learning scales, while always informative, is not so helpful in learning Scruggs style playing while melodic playing is all scales (that is, you spend a lot of time playing bits of a scale in one direction or another).






          Thanks, Ted, I'm finding that a lot of the banjo songs I'm learning are a combination of both melodic and rolls.






I've been playing melodically since the 70s and have never studied scales.I study melodies and harmonies that sound good to my ears.

stanger - Posted - 09/14/2018:  13:55:16


quote:

Originally posted by hounddog905

The term "melodic banjo" was confusing.  I've never heard the term being used in context with guitars. And besides aren't Scruggs style rolls "melodic"? cheeky






Nope. Scruggs rolls are not melodic. 



This is complicated, so expect a long answer.



The term 'melodic' is confusing for sure.



At first, the style had no single name; some folks called it the Keith style, or the Thompson style. Often it was called the chromatic style. A chromatic scale contains all the sharps and flats between one note and the next note an octave higher, but most scales are harmonic, not chromatic. So that term didn't work well either, as the style was used for playing melodies, which are most often only harmonic.



It finally settled down to 'melodic', as the style was used to play melody note for note, exactly the way a fiddler, a guitarist, or a mandolinist played a melody. Melodies are based on the key they are played in, and the individual scale notes found within that key.



Earl Scruggs' importance to the banjo comes from the way he used his right hand, not his left.



Instead of strumming a chord, as most banjoists did, Earl used his right hand to create arpeggios- a chord played rapidly one note at a time. Earl's great style allowed the right hand arpeggios to be used rthymically, like a strum, but retaining the clarity of the single notes. Strumming blurs the single notes together to form a chord's sound. Scruggs' style makes an arpeggio, a string of single notes, sound like a chord, and it smoothly transitions from one chord to another.



Arpeggios had been played on banjos from the first, but Earl found ways to connect one to another in a very smooth, syncopated fashion that allowed as strong a rhythm as if he was strumming. 



If you listen to Earl playing with Paul Warren, the fiddler in his band, you will hear the difference. Paul plays a fiddle tune with many single notes, while Earl is keeping rhythm with his rolls, broken with occasional single notes to keep the rolls from becoming boring.



When Earl plays the melody, he hits some of the melody note Paul played, and misses others. Sometimes, Earl sounds like he is playing a different tune that Paul plays, even though both are using the same chords in the tune.



But Earl couldn't play scales, which contain all the notes in a key. That requires trickier work from the left hand, and the 5-string banjo was difficult to play scales on in the same way scales are played on the other stringed instruments.



Trying to play a scale quickly on a 5-string requires very fast fingering and a lot of left-hand movement up and down the neck. Since each note of a scale has to be struck by the right hand, a scale made Earl's right hand rolls fall apart and lose it's rhythmic power. 



Don Reno, a contemporary to Earl, had a fast left hand, and found a way to play scales by string one string with different fingers to keep the rhythm going.



His sound was very percussive and choppy. It sounded like a tenor banjo, where a flat pick hits the same string many times, going back and forth across the string. It sounded great on fast songs, but not as great on slow songs. Earl's rolls sounded equally good on both.



Bill Keith found a way to use the smoothness of Earl's right hand and a different way to play scales with the left hand. Independently, Bobby Thompson was learning the same things.



Both discovered the speed problem could be conquered by playing scales across the fingerboard instead of going up and down the fingerboard. One note of a scale was played on one string, and the next note on another string.



Sometimes the next higher note in a scale was played on a lower-pitched string.



This is counter-intuitive to what is the logical way of playing a scale; start on the lowest note of the lowest-pitched string, and then play that string going up the frets until the next string, pitched higher, takes over.



Then the next-higher pitched string going upwards, and the next. Once the highest pitched string is struck, the rest of the scale goes up the neck until the frets run out. All in a line, like a piano keyboard. Moving across the fingerboard only happens when one string runs out of the notes of a scale.



 Only the 5-string banjo, because it has a high note in the middle of the neck, can be played sideways, across the fingerboard, easily. 



But it also requires re-wiring the player's brain. Sometimes the first note of a scale is played on the 1st string, while the next note is played on the 3rd string, 3 frets up the neck. A fretted chord doesn't contain all the notes that are in its key. 



The Scruggs style requires the right hand to be used with the left hand. The melodic style requires each hand to be used independently of the other. The left hand isn't chained to chord shapes anymore, but the right hand still keeps the flow and rhythm of the Scruggs style.



Learning how to play the melodic style is actually easier for a beginner than it is for a player who has played Scruggs for a long time. Beginners easily hear the melody of a song in their head, but chords are more difficult to hear in the head. 



The Scruggs style is actually far harder and trickier to pull a melody out of the chords than it seems. It's easy when playing some of the old banjo tunes, but when other tunes are played, Scruggs often had to rely on his sense of timing to play the melody, and often he would have to skip or change notes the other instrument played. 



Once ina a while, Scruggs' melodies sounded entirely different than the melody that was played on the other instruments, but his chords kept his melodies related to the others. It was like Scruggs sketched the melody, with the others painted a complete picture.



Bill Keith and Bobby Thompson painted the complete picture, just like the fiddle or mandolin painted it.



regards,



stanger



 

Tractor1 - Posted - 09/14/2018:  18:14:12


I actually play a lot more scale style than scruggs style.

My opinion I have morphed into is that also  in melodic style ,right hand patterns   need scrutiny in order to get the strong notes where they need to be.



I nowadays think Earl could have played and probably studied for fun, all three styles.The way Earl played made more definite phrases.It had the most variance in dynamics,syncopation ,pick up notes and other things .If Earl could not emphasize good and strong with his right hand at all times he was going to fix it.Also he usually did this at very rapid tempos a lot and tried to keep an endless stream of notes. Guys like Keith and Munde were really strong players and could play a certain degree of strong melodics but the scruggs style is what really gets all the banjo has to offer tone wise.



Of course melodic style has other things, which are also good to play and hear within a set .I think if folks dug back into it .they could get stronger at melodic style  also. I find quiet a lot of strong melodic licks that are movable ,strong right hand patterns



.Blazing fast melodics that don't really dig in but are endless like water from a hose are always fun and humbling when done by the masters,but a little of that is enough for about a dozen songs,


Edited by - Tractor1 on 09/14/2018 18:15:26

stanger - Posted - 09/15/2018:  04:07:05


quote:

Originally posted by Tractor1

I actually play a lot more scale style than scruggs style.

My opinion I have morphed into is that also  in melodic style ,right hand patterns   need scrutiny in order to get the strong notes where they need to be.



I nowadays think Earl could have played and probably studied for fun, all three styles.The way Earl played made more definite phrases.It had the most variance in dynamics,syncopation ,pick up notes and other things .If Earl could not emphasize good and strong with his right hand at all times he was going to fix it.Also he usually did this at very rapid tempos a lot and tried to keep an endless stream of notes. Guys like Keith and Munde were really strong players and could play a certain degree of strong melodics but the scruggs style is what really gets all the banjo has to offer tone wise.



Of course melodic style has other things, which are also good to play and hear within a set .I think if folks dug back into it .they could get stronger at melodic style  also. I find quiet a lot of strong melodic licks that are movable ,strong right hand patterns



.Blazing fast melodics that don't really dig in but are endless like water from a hose are always fun and humbling when done by the masters,but a little of that is enough for about a dozen songs,






I agree. Earl most likely could have learned to play the melodic style, but where was the need? He was the most famous banjo player in the country playing his own style, and everything you said is true. Earl's style really works.



It's also true that the melodic playing can become really tiring to listen to if the player doesn't use some discretion and taste. Scale runs are great in small doses, but become boring when over-used. It's just as true in jazz, where a lot of the same ideas are played on horns.



Every instrument has its own limitations and strengths. As long as any playing style fits the nature of the banjo and works in service of the song that's being played, it doesn't matter much to me what the style is if the song sounds good. Sometimes Scruggs works the best, sometimes melodic, and sometimes clawhammer. Or some mix of all of them.



Learning how to play them all is really up to the individual. Al the best players I know can play them all to some degree, but tend to prefer one of them most of the time.



To me, melodics sometimes work the best, sometimes they work only to add some hot sauce to an worn-out tune. And sometimes, they don't work at all.



But for me, they were fun to learn. If you like a challenge, that is. Melodics require as much practice as the Scruggs style does to get at ease playing the style at speed, and it's harder to memorize for me than Scruggs was. 



regards,



stanger


Edited by - stanger on 09/15/2018 04:08:14

steve davis - Posted - 09/15/2018:  08:04:31


When I play I don't think about what "style" I'm playing...I just play what seems to fit the moment/context.



"Blazing fast melodics that don't really dig in" is just another example of something done poorly,Tom.I don't know anyone that plays like that.


Edited by - steve davis on 09/15/2018 08:15:26

hounddog905 - Posted - 09/15/2018:  08:57:25


quote:

Originally posted by steve davis

When I play I don't think about what "style" I'm playing...I just play what seems to fit the moment/context.



"Blazing fast melodics that don't really dig in" is just another example of something done poorly,Tom.I don't know anyone that plays like that.






At this point in my banjo-playing development, I'm just happy to get the rolls down smoothly and accurately in songs I've learned how to play. I also try to embellish the rolls with single melodic notes. I'm finding it quite a challenge and I haven't even gotten to claw hammering or vamping yet. I practice about 2 to 3 hours every day and making very slow progress. I must be a slow learner.

steve davis - Posted - 09/15/2018:  10:25:37


It gets easier every year,Steve.

Tractor1 - Posted - 09/15/2018:  11:53:51


quote:

Originally posted by steve davis

When I play I don't think about what "style" I'm playing...I just play what seems to fit the moment/context.



"Blazing fast melodics that don't really dig in" is just another example of something done poorly,Tom.I don't know anyone that plays like that.






I  don't know for sure why you quoted me,I guess you are disagreeing ,not sure though.Some melodics can dig in pretty good at mid tempo,but loose strength and precision more quickly than scruggs style when tempo is increased  . This is just the way I see it,I don't ask anyone to agree .I stand by my statement. Even if played ''non poorly'' some things have different  limits in the things I have mentioned in the earlier. posts once again my opinion


Edited by - Tractor1 on 09/15/2018 12:03:22

steve davis - Posted - 09/15/2018:  12:20:51


I quoted you because I wanted to concentrate on something done poorly.
Players lose strength and precision...not melodics on their own.
Players have limits.

Tractor1 - Posted - 09/15/2018:  12:33:12


Songs and arrangements have limits.Certain right hand patterns come easier for me than random chance .I don't ask that anyone agree or see it that way.It is just the way I do it ,right or wrong.youtube.com/channel/UCmcArs37U...Rw/videos

The part of the quote you left out about the humbling masters concentrates on players strengths.

steve davis - Posted - 09/16/2018:  07:30:21


One of the things I love about melodic playing is its freedom.
I can duplicate piano,fiddle,guitar or saxophone riffs.

MikeyD-Tuner - Posted - 10/04/2018:  11:14:36


Is Melodic Style considered different than Bluegrass picking? I always thought they played Bluegrass style with a little melodic picking thrown in there to show off a bit.

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 10/19/2018:  08:22:31


Popping in from 4-string jazz now, and just having read this thread with interest, I understand that Melodic style only applies to 5-string?



Veerstryngh Thynner


Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 10/19/2018 08:23:56

Laurence Diehl - Posted - 10/26/2018:  14:51:44


quote:

Originally posted by hounddog905

The term "melodic banjo" was confusing.  I've never heard the term being used in context with guitars. And besides aren't Scruggs style rolls "melodic"? cheeky






You are right, 'melodic style' is a confusing term because there are several styles (thinking clawhammer) that are also called melodic and you would think that anytime you play the melody you are playing melodic style! Even more confusing, it has also been called chromatic style which is a very poor description for what is actually going on. This style is good for playing scale-based tunes - like for instance, fiddle tunes - as oppose to the 'lick based' tunes of Scruggs style. If there is one "rule" it is that you play melody notes on consecutive strings, not 2 notes on the same string. This gives the style a "harp like" quality as the first melody note sustains into the next. It is a beautiful style, but like anything else it can be abused. As I've said so many times, that is the fault of the player, not the style. Modern players like Noam Pikelny move seamlessly from Scruggs to melodic to single-string, depending on what works at that particular moment and I agree with Steve that the ultimate goal should be not to worry about what style you are playing, just do whatever serves the music.

steve davis - Posted - 10/28/2018:  14:03:37


I play what sounds good to me and don't mind if someone doesn't agree.

stanger - Posted - 10/29/2018:  20:38:31


Wow.
This thread is what I love about the Hangout. I heard about Mr. Best's playing many years ago, and while I've been playing the melodic style for years, Tom Hanway's link gave me the first opportunity to actually hear Mr. Best's music.

His playing style is truly unique and his musicianship was superb.

To me, it goes to show once more that there is no 'best' or 'worst' way of making good music. Best was a master of the music he chose to make, the music that meant the most to him. He got it exactly the same way we all do- one note at a time. But Mr. Best had that rare ability to find a logic in those many single notes that made perfect sense to him and he used it to its fullest.

I believe that's something all the great pioneering 3-finger stylists have in common. The challenge the tune presents creates the curiosity to learn it, and from the curiosity, comes the internal logic that any player must have to reproduce the sound in his head onto the head of his banjo.

Songs like those fiddle tunes are like jigsaw puzzles with each piece made up as one goes.

For some, solving the puzzle is an enjoyable exercise, and for others, it's all a puzzle that can't be approached because the instrument they were created on, the fiddle, has a different logic to it than the entirely different logic of the 5-string.
The 5-string has it's own singular tunes that fall out of it very naturally. The challenge of the fiddle tune can really twist the banjo's envelope severely. On any banjo, not just the 5-string.
regards,
stanger

steve davis - Posted - 10/30/2018:  08:55:48


Playing fiddle tunes on the banjo along with tune harmonies is a different discipline than Scruggs style in a big way because so many tunes are in either D or A which aren't our so familiar key of G.

Developing the ability to navigate those keys and find those melodies takes a lot of commitment of time and desire and grows over a lifetime.
Over time habits of melodic choices in those keys(learning tunes) show a new playground to enjoy...more choices of expression.A new familiarity with the neck and all keys happens.
Bill Keith was so excellent at combining Scruggs and melodics when he chose to.
I also like Butch Robins' playing for that ability to combine Scruggs and melodic along with Alan Munde and so many others.

Tractor1 - Posted - 10/30/2018:  10:26:07


The whole concept in the bluegrass world is somewhat of a contradiction. I do like and use the style a lot anyway.
The original thoughts were,I now play the tunes note for note .The fact seems to be,very few play them note for note the same in a bluegrass band.The banjo goes to a scale style,but not the same as the fiddle to a point they would overlay.
I find strong ways that say what I can emphasis and turn into music .These depend on my right and left hand strengths. That naturally puts a personal slant on it.
Note for note can be done but sometimes it differs among even the best.

steve davis - Posted - 10/30/2018:  12:56:18


Playing melodically is so much more than just playing the melody of a fiddle tune.

Tractor1 - Posted - 10/30/2018:  15:09:06


I agree, I work up a lot of scale based and hybrid things in ''much more'' of my music. I was just saying that fiddle tunes were the original wagon they rode into town on. Some folks never get past an occasional fiddle tune  or the overdone descending scales. Not to dis them for that either,they may be making some really good music some other way.


Edited by - Tractor1 on 10/30/2018 15:16:54

Rawhide Creek - Posted - 10/31/2018:  23:13:32


This has been an entertaining (and even amusing) thread.



 

steve davis - Posted - 11/01/2018:  06:02:58


Expressing one's self with music or any art form can be satisfying,amusing,sorrowful,easy or difficult,but always time well spent for the lessons learned.

WayneConrad - Posted - 11/01/2018:  10:17:35


This thread is about melodic three finger. For completeness, I thought I'd mention that clawhammer is frequently played melodically, with melody notes front and center and less syncopation of melody notes than in Scruggs. So melodic banjo sometimes can mean clawhammer.

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 11/16/2018:  04:41:44


Anyone playing melodic three-finger on tenor or plectrum as well?

Veerstryngh Thynner

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