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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: melodic vs scruggs


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/74123

twangdaddy - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:38:32


I've been playing Scruggs style for about 8 months now and still have a long way (years) to go, but am considering starting to dip my toe into the melodic waters a bit. For those of you who play both, how much do you enjoy/tend to play one versus the other? I'm wondering if my time now is better spent continuing to focus on Scruggs or trying to learn both together.

Thanks,
Marc

VaBanjoBoy - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:45:17


When I'm playing alone at home i tend to use way more melodic than when i'm on stage. It seem, at least to me, that i am nervous about breaking out the melodic licks for various reason. One being that i tend to lose my drive w/ them, of course that is just me. The other is in the excitement of a crowd i just forget i even know the run/lick and wind up thinking later that "Oh man, I should have put that g melodic run in there!" I really enjoy playing melodic but i always tend to gravitate to scruggs when the iron hits the fire. Hope that helps

"Only sick music makes money today. "
Friedrich Nietzsche
Der Fall Wagner, Sec. 5

Banjocoltrane - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:46:15


I think i may be in the minority, but i introduce my students to melodic style pretty early in the process...much to my suprise, A LOT of people take to it easier than they do scruggs...

My advice is simply play whatever keeps you interested in the banjo...mix it up...

However, i must say this....the majority of time you are playing with a band you are gonna be playing scruggs style...so dont lose sight of that.

I dont even play in a traditional bluegrass band, I do lots of jazzy single string stuff, but i use scruggs style more than anything else...rolling behind the singer, "driving" the band, etc.

Nothing wrong with building on a foundation of both


Edited by - Banjocoltrane on 02/06/2007 13:46:52

SlowPockets - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:53:48


I bear witness to the above. The first song that Jody showed me on the banjo was Blackberry Blossom. I'm not an expert at determining what style a song is in, but the arrangement that he showed me seemed very melodic and it is one of my favorite songs to play. Generally I characterize melodic by an overall lack of 5th string drones, which IMO can get a little repetitive sounding. That and using less open strings. Am I sort of on track here?

GP4 Tom - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:54:15


quote:
Originally posted by twangdaddy

I've been playing Scruggs style for about 8 months now and still have a long way (years) to go, but am considering starting to dip my toe into the melodic waters a bit. For those of you who play both, how much do you enjoy/tend to play one versus the other? I'm wondering if my time now is better spent continuing to focus on Scruggs or trying to learn both together.

Thanks,
Marc


I believe that learning both has definite advantages. I heard a song played by Tony Trischka and Happy Traum of http://www.homespuntapes.com/ playing Follow the Leader using both Scruggs and Reno style and I must say it was great.

I would recommend trying it...what have you got to loose?

Have fun!
Tom

yankee1 - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:55:08


Hey Marc,

I've been playing melodic style for only two years, so I can't say I'm an expert. First of all, I started melodic playing because I was interested in playing fiddle tunes at jams. It seemed that once a fiddle tune started, I was rendered useless. Some tunes I could play scruggs (i.e. Cripple Creek, Salt Creek, Sally Goodin'), but for the most part I could not escape out of the same old scruggs patterns. I took a fancy to tunes like Eigth of January, Blackberry Blossom, and Red Haired Boy. So I started pickin' those out with Trischka's "Melodic Banjo" book. I soon discovered a whole new world of banjo pickin'!

I would encourage you to try out melodic. It ain't for everybody, and too much of it will defintely raise some eyebrows in jams. Talking with some real good pickers,they said a good mix of melodic and scruggs licks is the key. Too much of each can either be too much "spacegrass" or too much of the "same old, same old." I'm gonna catch some heat for that one surely

Be sure to keep up with the Scruggs, and you will develop an appreciation for both styles, and how they compliment each other. Melodic doesn't quite work well with the medium tempo bluegrass cause its got that blues feel. Melodic sounds better for slow waltzes, ballads, and fast breakdowns. Scruggs is good for medium and fast-tempo songs, but harder for slower waltzes (though I am currently learning the "triplet" technique...thanks guys!).

"Fiddle Tunes for The Banjo" was my first recording that I heard melodic playing. It features young Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, and Bill Keith.

Good Luck Marc,

Bryan

yankee1 - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:56:24


Hey Marc,

I've been playing melodic style for only two years, so I can't say I'm an expert. First of all, I started melodic playing because I was interested in playing fiddle tunes at jams. It seemed that once a fiddle tune started, I was rendered useless. Some tunes I could play scruggs (i.e. Cripple Creek, Salt Creek, Sally Goodin'), but for the most part I could not escape out of the same old scruggs patterns. I took a fancy to tunes like Eigth of January, Blackberry Blossom, and Red Haired Boy. So I started pickin' those out with Trischka's "Melodic Banjo" book. I soon discovered a whole new world of banjo pickin'!

I would encourage you to try out melodic. It ain't for everybody, and too much of it will defintely raise some eyebrows in jams. Talking with some real good pickers,they said a good mix of melodic and scruggs licks is the key. Too much of each can either be too much "spacegrass" or too much of the "same old, same old." I'm gonna catch some heat for that one surely

Be sure to keep up with the Scruggs, and you will develop an appreciation for both styles, and how they compliment each other. Melodic doesn't quite work well with the medium tempo bluegrass cause its got that blues feel. Melodic sounds better for slow waltzes, ballads, and fast breakdowns. Scruggs is good for medium and fast-tempo songs, but harder for slower waltzes (though I am currently learning the "triplet" technique...thanks guys!).

"Fiddle Tunes for The Banjo" was my first recording that I heard melodic playing. It features young Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, and Bill Keith.

Good Luck Marc,

Bryan

Myra - Posted - 02/06/2007:  14:19:25


I play few melodic songs like Cripple Creek, Turkey in the Straw and Blackberry Blossom. I still haven't mastered basic melodic left hand fingers the G major scale.

Myra

PIGEONS ARE DOVES. DOVES ARE PIGEONS.

banjomikey - Posted - 02/06/2007:  15:36:31


Learn a few fiddle tunes, or just insert a few melodic licks into your existing scruggs style songs. I just started doing a bit of melodic playing in cripple creek. It's on my homepage, it's not amazing, but it's a step in a different direction for me. You can do the same if you're interested!

Mike

You can pick your nose and you can pick your banjo, but you can't roll banjos into little balls and flick 'em! (_)==='~

uncledaveh - Posted - 02/06/2007:  16:01:49


Just listen to Alan Munde - He mixes Scruggs style and Melodic style EXTREMELY well!

Hot Dog!!!

David "Uncle Dave" Holbrook
Rockdale Ridgerunners

"Now good people, we're going to play this next tune with more heterogeneous constapolicy, double flavor and unknown quality than usual."

sangrej - Posted - 02/06/2007:  16:12:45


I generally start out with Scruggs licks and move to melodic--I think both styles compliment each other very well. One without the other is one dimensional,IMHO.

Sangrejoven
"The way I see it, as soon as a baby is born he should be issued a banjo." --Linus Van Pelt


crowestyle - Posted - 02/06/2007:  16:42:27


A good way to get into melodic playing is by playing songs that have a melodic lick and/or phrase in them. Gold Rush is a perfect example. The hook of the B part is a melodic descending run that works well in some other situations:

---9-----------------------0------------0-----
--------10------------5-------------5--------
---------------------------------5-------------
-----------------------------------------------
---------------0-------------------------------

Learning some melodic versions of simple songs like Cripple Creek is also a good way to add variety to your playing. I'm not big on straight melodic playing, I think it can sound too busy. But tastefully added in the right spots it can really add some spice to your breaks.

"I don't have a girlfriend, I just know a girl who would get really mad if she heard me say that."- Mitch Hedberg

www.myspace.com/crowestyle


Edited by - crowestyle on 02/06/2007 16:45:33

1935tb-11 - Posted - 02/06/2007:  20:32:35


i just mix it up according to the song , some scruggs runs
work better than melodic in certain songs, but as a general
rule you can get closer to the fiddle with melodic. but i just
like to mix it up so as to not get bored with it, and i have
by accident found some very interesting licks and runs when
combining the two.

terry m
n.c.

4 longs and 1 short=banjer ring !!!

JoeZ - Posted - 02/06/2007:  20:39:37


The classic mix of Scruggs and melodic - Ben Eldridge, John Hickman, Alan Munde.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 02/06/2007:  20:57:56


Joe Z wrote: "The classic mix of Scruggs and melodic - Ben Eldridge, John Hickman, Alan Munde."

Three of my favorite pickers, now that you mention it. I am surprised that after all of these years, so many pickers think that the two have to be kept strictly separated, lest they explode or something. I think melodic style by itself is sort of sterile, but use sparingly in combination with bluegrass rolls, it extends the versatility of the latter exponentially.

- Don Borchelt



"Well, I know there's a lotta big preachers that know a lot more than I do
But it could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin' too."

- Tom T. Hall, from The Year That Clayton Delaney Died


Edited by - Don Borchelt on 02/06/2007 20:58:44

joebiker - Posted - 02/06/2007:  23:34:01


I am a new player as well, but melodic has reached out and touched me when I wasn't expecting it to. I am learning Scruggs style but I do like to play Blackberry Blossom in melodic, or maybe Cripple Creek in melodic..Here's one for you..hunt up Scottish Tea by Al Munde from back in the 70's.

By the way..when you find it..I want that tablature back..It disappeared back when I gave up the banjpo years ago and now I can't find it.





Somethings never change with time..there's nothing better than a lick...

Joebiker


Edited by - joebiker on 02/06/2007 23:34:44

flange5st - Posted - 02/07/2007:  10:02:03


...Howdy Twang.welcome to the HO!........ anything that you can learn that will give your"mechanical abilities" a positive movement in your playing is good!........ remember this saying," crawl, walk ,run"......that is a good anology for playing because that's how it works for us all, no matter how frustrating we become at our progress at times...........melodics/ chromatics is a part of the 5- string banjo idiom...........also, is things like continuity, phraseing , and timing.........that's why songs with lyrics are a valuable tool in learning to play.......it helps you "absorb" the song not just learn it.......melodic licks ,IMHO , are better learned after you have a better grasp on the " absorbing" aspect of learning to play , which in it's self takes time......lay the thumb to the ol' five and enjoy .........Peace

twangdaddy - Posted - 02/07/2007:  11:13:37


Thanks everyone for your thoughts & advice. You guys are great! The consensus appears to be that it is definitely worth learning melodic along with scruggs, but mainly as a way to spice up/augment scruggs playing and also to play fiddle tunes. This seems to make a ton of sense, and is probably the way I will approach learning melodic. It doesn't sound like too many folks like to play melodic strictly by itself too much.

In any event, this banjo playing is just one big adventure, so I'll just see where it takes me!

Many thanks,
Marc

AD3AD3AD3 - Posted - 02/07/2007:  13:17:02


I find that my plate is seriously full with just learning Scruggs so that's what I concentrate on. However, like many, I make a foray into melodic from time to time and enjoy it. I think, though, that Scruggs serves better in the band environment. Just an opinion.

Ad3

AD3AD3AD3 - Posted - 02/07/2007:  13:17:47


I find that my plate is seriously full with just learning Scruggs so that's what I concentrate on. However, like many, I make a foray into melodic from time to time and enjoy it. I think, though, that Scruggs serves better in the band environment. Just an opinion.

Ad3

davidcava - Posted - 02/07/2007:  18:38:54


Hi Marc, I believe that you dont have to distinguish between any "style" or "styles". I believe they can all be blended seamlessly in time. Single string "style" as well. All three can be blended into one ...... all come from the brilliant rolls of Scruggs if you look closely. I do believe the styles should be learned independently....but after that, the skies the limit. Best of luck in your studies! the Banjo Rocks! David Cavage www.musicmoose.org

BanjoDiva - Posted - 02/07/2007:  19:18:43


I'm glad somebody started this topic because I came on the BHO tonight to ask a directly related question. I'm a newbie, so please try not to laugh at my ignorance on this... Could somebody please explain to me the difference between these two styles? I bought the Essential Earl Scruggs CD and the "Don Reno: The Father of the Bluegrass Banjo" cd over the weekend. I have listened to them both trying to figure this out, but I just don't understand what I should be listening for. They both just sound like great banjo music to me. **scratching head**

Regards,
Reid
BanjoDiva (which refers more to my attidude than my aptitude at this point!)
RK R-80 #67

Mr. Disco - Posted - 02/08/2007:  09:06:21


-- Arpeggios versus define the difference between Scruggs and Reno to my ear. Scruggs work emphasizes the 1, 3, and 5 of the chord around the melody note while Reno works up to or down from the melody notes using each note in the scale. The difference to my right hand is on Scruggs I'm playing each finger on a different string, Reno I'm often playing on successive notes on only one or two strings so two or three picks in a row hit the same string. My left hand can tell the difference because with Scruggs I'm emphasizing two-, three-, or four-finger chord shapes, in Reno I'm moving my left-hand fingers like a flamenco guitarist around the fret board

Shalom.
-- Mr. Disco

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