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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 3-8-19 Five Miles From Town


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/351978

Clawdan - Posted - 03/09/2019:  13:09:12


Five Miles From Town



Clawhammer tab by Dan Clawdan Levenson



Based upon Clyde Davenport’s fiddle playing.



 



Hello all,



 



I admit to having been less active here at the Hangout lately. Mostly it has been because my band Dan Levenson and The Cat Mountain Rounders have been pretty busy with dances, farm markets and concerts (we head to Pasadena and Santa Barbara, CA the last weekend of this month) BUT lately it is because I had a bicycle accident 2 weeks ago and am now recovering from the resulting hip replacement. That is also why this weeks TOTW was a bit late. Sorry. Recovery goes well and there is a GoFundMe (Dan’s Hip) up courtesy of the incredible Tucson music community of which I am privileged to be a part. BUT I am still here and actively teaching by Skype and in person in Tucson. This summer should find Emmy and I traveling to the Northwest and ending up at the Centralia Old Time Music Campout in Centralia, WA - where I usually run a few days of repertoire workshop – before heading back down to Santa Cruz, CA to house sit through Labor Day, and hopefully play some then heading back to Tucson. If you are interested in a lesson or two or would like to set up a concert and/or workshop along the way, let me know.



 



I was thrilled when Janet asked me to submit a tune for this week’s Tune of The Week but my accident has cause a bit of a delay. Thank you Janet and all of you for your patience this week.



 



Five Miles From Town is a wonderful and delightfully crooked tune in several ways that has become popular in the Tucson Old Time Jam community. Greg Smith usually requests it before anyone else gets a chance to but if we are in D, someone will request it even if Greg isn’t there.



 



You may notice this tune seems to begin even before it ends or that you find yourself into it again before you realize even if you thought it was a last time through! A lot of us old timers refer to it as a tune that eats its own tail. Circular but so cool and wiley that you almost have to work to end it.



 



I first heard this tune many years ago from Clyde Davenport who I had the pleasure of meeting and playing with several times over the years. I believe the first time was at the first or second Tennessee Banjo Institute (1988 or ‘90) where I got to spend some one-on-one time with Clyde. It was great and the one thing I will always remember was when he said to me, “Dan, that banjo’s job is to follow the fiddle note for note.” Yes, note for note. Not just some background rhythm instrument, but a full partner in the banjo/fiddle duet, which made the core for so much old time music.



 



Now, please understand, that while this to me means “melodic” it does not mean “ornamental” - very different things. Just playing the melody of the tune is what we are talking about, not cluttering it up so much that you can no longer find the tune. And while written music (tab and standard notation both) appear static and paced, you need to learn to “swing” it – playing both before and after the beats in order to get the right sound. There is a lot of syncopation in this one and you will need to get the sound of it into your head in order to play it musically as well as notationally. Don’t let that stop you, just know that it is very difficult to express a lot of this in written music (tab) without making the tab so confusing it seems unplayable. Just think of this as a “start here” and build the music as you get more comfortable with the notes.



 



I always suggest finding a good fiddle version to listen to. After all, they are responsible for the melody and you may follow as much or as little as you like, but you do have to know the melody. I guess I have always looked at it as the fiddle being the color photo (sky is blue, grass is green) while the banjo is the Black and White photo. Sky is still up and grass is down by you have a little more latitude to shade behind the fiddler and a melody can be less “defined”. Can be why it is always difficult to learn a tune from a banjo player no matter how good they are. SO, remember to give it some texture and undertone to that color melody. We are not restricting ourselves to JUST the melody notes, we just want to make sure it is still in there as we come and go from it. In this case we have several fiddle versions of Clyde playing the tune and I have included one here.



 



When I write a tab (just like when I play a tune over and over) I like to start as basic as possible both to give newer players a chance to “get it” and to give a clear playing of the melody before filling it in. Notice in the first couple of measures of the first pass through the tune, I left it really basic. Just quarter note downbeats and a couple of drop thumbs and only one hammer on. That is your basic melody line and from there I start to add more thumbs, h’s and p’s both to start to fill in some back beat melody and add texture and flow to the tune.



 



In measure 9 of the A part (and again in the 8th measure of the B part) I shift into the lower register to avoid going up the neck for the Bm chord (yes, B minor) and notes surrounding it. It is unnecessary to go there and all the notes you could want are available in the lower register. Fiddle will take up the higher register making your part more supportive and filling in the end.



 



One more note about tab in general and this one in particular. I like to write different variations through out for similar phrases to give you options. That means if you like one variant – say the first four measures – because of the sound or it is just easy to play and you like the simplicity of the sound, you can put it in in place of measures 5-8 – which has the same melodic structure but more ornamentation or fill. That is totally up to you. Likewise when I play it here, it is not exactly as tabbed either because I just went with it, made a “mistake” (i.e. missed a tabbed note) or who knows, it is just another variation for you to use and a way to hone your hearing to playing skills. Again, up to you.



 



I hope you enjoy the tune and we all get lots of information from each other as to different versions and get to hear your interpretations of this great tune. Everyone has a different take; there are many different twists and lots of ways to get some of the same notes I get as well as other notes that work.



I’m looking forward to hearing yours. So play the tune, enjoy the process and...



 



Play Nice,

Dan Clawdan Levenson

Clawdan.com



Author of Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch – A Mel Bay Publication



 


Edited by - Clawdan on 03/09/2019 13:56:56


banjukebox - Posted - 03/09/2019:  14:28:21


This is a great tune that I only recently learned prior to traveling to the SWOTSBG. Indeed, it came up in a few of the "D" jams I had the pleasure of participating in. I was sorry to hear of your recent injury that kept you from attending. The gathering was well organized with lots of opportunities to share tunes. I hope you have a quick and full recovery. I'm looking forward to Centralia and possibly to returning to the Southwest again next year.



Here's the version I came up with (based primarily on the fiddle playing of Rayna Gellert):



Five Miles From Town



And a link to the Tab:



Five Miles From Town (Tab)

JanetB - Posted - 03/09/2019:  16:04:01


Sorry to hear about your accident, Dan, and wishing you a speedy recovery. Thanks much for your tune. Your slow version and tab should be very helpful for those who want to learn.  Five Miles from Town was TOTW eight years ago, described as a "squirrelly tune," and the discussion is interesting:  TOTW 2011 post of Five Miles from Town.   Beautiful playing, Pat!



I've played this tune two ways, with a higher B part ending and a low part, as I do here.  The timing is tricky if you play along with Clyde Davenport and I'm not convinced it's consistent.  I agree with Dan, if we're playing the banjo along with a fiddle it's best to let the fiddle lead.  So if I solo I don't have that challenge, and if I'm with a fiddler I'd want to adjust my playing/timing to follow the fiddle.


RG - Posted - 03/09/2019:  16:24:25


One of my favorite fiddle tunes, great TOTW Dan!  I play a thumb lead version of his "Five Miles", will try to get it recorded and posted... Clyde played this on the fiddle in standard tuning, it is quite a feat!


Edited by - RG on 03/09/2019 16:26:43

Clawdan - Posted - 03/09/2019:  18:17:44


quote:

Originally posted by banjukebox

This is a great tune that I only recently learned prior to traveling to the SWOTSBG. Indeed, it came up in a few of the "D" jams I had the pleasure of participating in. I was sorry to hear of your recent injury that kept you from attending. The gathering was well organized with lots of opportunities to share tunes. I hope you have a quick and full recovery. I'm looking forward to Centralia and possibly to returning to the Southwest again next year.



Here's the version I came up with (based primarily on the fiddle playing of Rayna Gellert):



Five Miles From Town



And a link to the Tab:



Five Miles From Town (Tab)






Nice Pat. Yes, having spent the year putting the Gathering together it was a bummer not being able to be there. BUT I have a great committee that really has spread the responsibilities around and stepped up to fill in for me since I couldn't be on site all weekend. Actually, Emmy and I did get over Saturday afternoon for about 2 hrs. I was only 5 days post op so I didn't last too long but we did have a great jam. Hope to see you in Centrailia.

Clawdan - Posted - 03/09/2019:  18:20:46


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

Sorry to hear about your accident, Dan, and wishing you a speedy recovery. Thanks much for your tune. Your slow version and tab should be very helpful for those who want to learn.  Five Miles from Town was TOTW eight years ago, described as a "squirrelly tune," and the discussion is interesting:  TOTW 2011 post of Five Miles from Town.   ..






Very clean Janet! Thank you. Recovery is going well. Already off the walker and onto a cane. Got out to do some walking in Saguaro National park today. Was quite healing.


Edited by - Clawdan on 03/09/2019 18:27:05


hweinberg - Posted - 03/11/2019:  07:42:28


Happy to see that life is returning to normal for Dan and the team. Thanks to all for versions of a great tune. I don't know why, but this tune always makes me smile when I play it.

carlb - Posted - 03/11/2019:  10:58:34


Just to add my 2 cents to this wonderful tune. My setting based on the fiddling of Clyde Davenport.


Clawdan - Posted - 03/11/2019:  14:17:46


quote:

Originally posted by carlb

Just to add my 2 cents to this wonderful tune. My setting based on the fiddling of Clyde Davenport.






Very nice Carl!

carlb - Posted - 03/11/2019:  21:06:52


quote:

Originally posted by Clawdan

Very nice Carl!



Thanks

BTuno - Posted - 03/12/2019:  09:00:35


Thanks for posting this one Dan. I learned it some years ago from Tom, Brad and Alice's recording; took a long time as they play it fast and I didn't know about slow-downers then. I heard about your accident from Sawyer at a Jam in Berkeley last weekend. Sorry about that, but you never seem to let things slow you down. Speedy Recovery! Hope to see you this summer
Bruce

Clawdan - Posted - 03/13/2019:  08:56:40


Thanks Bruce! Hope to see and play with you this summer! Centrallia Gathering for you?

maryzcox - Posted - 03/13/2019:  11:12:10


Here's a real pretty banjo/fiddle version from Lucas Poole and his lovely wife.



youtu.be/6UZ-xGifT5s



Best wishes,



Mary Z Cox



maryzcox.com



 

Clawdan - Posted - 03/15/2019:  09:41:52


Thanks Mary. Lukas is interviewed in the April issue of Banjo Newsletter's Old Time Way. Quite a young man and an incredible musician and instrument builder.

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