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Boogie Bogen - Posted - 11/10/2019: 14:51:02
I realize not everyone likes banjo bands, but I'm thinking of starting one in my town. Any advice? Who are the best banjo bands out there?
I'm considering starting with a core group before opening up to the public. Part of banjo bands is the various levels of players, encouraging people to learn the banjo, strengthening the banjo community, etc. I'd also like to make good music!
The core group will include plectrum, tenor, banjo uke, banjo mando, 5 string scruggs, 5 string clawhammer. Hopefully a cello banjo. There aren't many 4-string players here unfortunately.
If you were crazy enough to start a banjo orchestra, how would you do it??
G Edward Porgie - Posted - 11/10/2019: 15:25:05
Part of making good music with a banjo band is proper arrangements of songs. I suggest that if you don't have this ability yourself, that you find someone who does. That person should have some familiarity with all the types of banjos you wish to include.
Also, you might consider adding a couple of other instruments from time to time. A little percussion never hurts, and maybe a bass of some sort.
SunnylandBob - Posted - 11/10/2019: 18:38:52
With the expected diversity of instruments (and skill levels) involved, I'd suggest beginning with a fundamental core group of selected tunes which represent the styles/catalogs of tunes you'd like to play. I would also recommend some form of bass. Cello banjo might suffice, but an acoustic bass or similar low pitched instrument will offset the natural upper range bias of the instruments you listed.
Early string bands were known to play popular tunes including arranged ragtime pieces, marches, and specialty numbers (usually featuring dance and/or vocals) but there's nothing to stop you from reaching into folk or various pop catalogs, too.
Dynamics are sometimes an issue. Try to get the group to play controlled, keep steady tempos & hear each other well. Don't ever underestimate the value of being the best backing/support player each member of the group can be...it makes the person you back up the best they can be and the group becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
In any case, as noted above it makes sense to have arrangements - likely a well written lead sheet & "roadmap" of breaks/repeats/verses or sections to start for most basic players - supplemented with specific harmony & accompaniment parts to be used by capable reader/players.
Joel Hooks - Posted - 11/10/2019: 18:43:00
Twice a year we have a "banjo orchestra" at the American Banjo Fraternity... it is the only time we can get a room full of classic banjo players together.
It is all 5 string instruments of the different sizes/voices-- Piccolo, Banjeaurine, Regular Banjos, and Cello or Bass Banjo.
I'd love to do it year round but I have yet to find one classic banjoist in southern New Hampshire, let alone a dozen+.
For the most part we play arrangements that were published for this sort of thing, but we also play many arrangements by members. All the parts much match for them to work. It helps if all are reading notation too. Free for alls tend to sound like a bunch of noise.
Dgbectrum - Posted - 11/13/2019: 05:52:16
I was in a band called "Banjobreakers", with a 5string, a plectrum, a mandoline-banjo and me on the contra-banjo (that you can see in my profile photograph).
It was a very powerful combo and, since there was different size and kind of banjo, the arrangement came out easily enough.
Unfortunately at that time there wasn't today's technology, so it last no video or record, but only few pictures.