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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Up or Down with index finger


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/75216

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janolov - Posted - 02/08/2007:  10:19:11


quote:
Originally posted by banjozane


The banjo was never meant to be such an instrument.



What was the banjo meant to be?

If we go back to the minstrel period (about 1840 - 1890?). I would say that minstrel banjo was melodic in some way. The surviving banjo tutors (by Briggs, Converse, Buckley etc) from that period present banjo pieces that are more melodic than rythmic or chordic. Still it wasn't "fiddle melodic" but more a try to use the banjo's unique properties for solo performance.

The melodic banjo discussed in this thread is more that the banjo plagiarizes the fiddle part ("fiddle melodic") without emphasizing the banjo's unique properties.

Janolov

banjozane - Posted - 02/15/2007:  17:05:57


The Banjo was meant to be a versatile instrument. It could be an accompaniament, or a solo instrument. The banjo's own characteristic construction and design bear witness of it's creator's intent! It's loud, bossy, and meant to be heard!

BTW

I wasn't being so snide as to try to cite the original inventor, or teach a lesson on the origins of evolutionay banjology. I was just drawin' an inference.

Bluegrass Rocks, but Old-Time Rules!

Clawdan - Posted - 02/15/2007:  17:21:02


quote:
Originally posted by banjozane

The Banjo was meant to be a versatile instrument. It could be an accompaniament, or a solo instrument. The banjo's own characteristic construction and design bear witness of it's creator's intent! It's loud, bossy, and meant to be heard!...


Versatile, yes, but not "loud ..." In it's most original US configuration, it is skin headed, gut strung, earthy and bold. The "loud and bossy" doesn't happen until the addition of tone rings, resonators, plastic heads, metal strings and metal picks. Seems that banjo has become what it was never originally - but tradition is innovation to bring it up to date.

I notice most of us in the ot crowd tend to attempt to reproduce the more mellow, thumpy and deep toned history and shun the bright, loud and "bossy". Perhaps another thread?

Play nice,
Dan "Ain't no bum-diddy" Levenson
Old Time Music and Dance
www.ClawhammerBanjo.us
Author of Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch, A guide for the claw-less - a MelBay Publication
and Old Time Festival Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo (MelBay 20313) - 117 tunes tabbed for clawhammer banjo with standard notation and suggested chords.
Tune list at http://www.folknet.org/dan/FestTunesBJBook.htm

banjozane - Posted - 02/16/2007:  01:48:56


By Brassy, I meant Character.... not sound.... as far as the volume goes.... banjos were as loud as technology allowed. When I see a picture of pre civil-war era people dancing around a banjo picker... it makes me think of an instrument that was designed to be heard..... but then again.... i'm no historian.

Bluegrass Rocks, but Old-Time Rules!

rinemb - Posted - 02/16/2007:  20:16:55


Don't you wonder how that lone minstrel banjo player sitting on a stump could even be heard by a dozen or more dance partners swingin and stompin-even if they were dancing on dirt? I once had my 110 YO Stewart/nylgut strings out where there was nearly perfect quietness...no street noise, no rustle of tree leaves, etc., none of that white noise and background noise that is always there around civilization. You would be surprised how loud the Stewart sounded. Brad

May not the incidence of success, nor the pretense of retirement-Lessen the want of enlightenment.

Dave Vinci - Posted - 02/17/2007:  11:22:03


quote:
Originally posted by rinemb

Don't you wonder how that lone minstrel banjo player sitting on a stump could even be heard by a dozen or more dance partners swingin and stompin-even if they were dancing on dirt?



Hey, been there, done that! I play a minstrel banjo with skin head and gut strings and have played for folks dancing. If folks are dancing outside on grass or dirt or whatever, it works just fine, HOWEVER, inside a barn with a wooden floor and folks with period correct footwear (wooden heels, etc) it can get purty loud with all the stompin' going on. It's still fun though!

Dave Vinci

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Jim Treganza - Posted - 02/12/2007:  14:17:23


I'm brand new at this and want to take a few lessons. I've been unable to find anybody who gives clawhammer lessons less than 45 miles away from Stockton, CA. I work for a local theatre and we were even unable to find a picker to play with the orchestra in a recent show! For money! Does anybody know somebody who plays old-time banjo in this neck of the woods? I really don't want to drive to Berkeley or Sacramento. Thanks.

Clawdan - Posted - 01/08/2007:  14:06:12


Hi Folks,
Bob Carlin and I are planning a workshop weekend in Austin in late March this year. Wanted to start by giving you a heads up and see who is interested. I'll be glad to keep you up to date of details as they develop.

Play nice,
Dan "Ain't no bum-diddy" Levenson
Old Time Music and Dance
www.ClawhammerBanjo.us
Author of Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch, A guide for the claw-less - a MelBay Publication
and Old Time Festival Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo (MelBay 20313) - 117 tunes tabbed for clawhammer banjo with standard notation and suggested chords.
Tune list at http://www.folknet.org/dan/FestTunesBJBook.htm

ukjonathan - Posted - 02/13/2007:  13:42:16


hi I thought the striking of the strings with the claw hand would be the hardest bit, but no I'm wrong! I can hit the strings in various configurations but can I hell get the bum ditty bit. It just sounds like ting, ting ting. I strike my 1st bottom string then strum down following on by thumb off the drone string. But still no bum ditty. Anyone help? I guess this is the hard bit?

Frode B - Posted - 02/13/2007:  18:09:53


What would you call this fingering technique? http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ct0PbWwY5g8
It's me, and I have been fooling around with the banjo for a couple of years without any guiding. I'm a guitar/pedal steel player so I guess I am mixing it all up on the banjo.

The banjo is a Bart Reiter special ( thanks mr.Balch!)


Frode
Oslo, Norway

Rimstick - Posted - 02/11/2007:  23:52:42


Gang -
Looking for some advice here. I got the "bum tiddy" going pretty good but it still doesn't consistantly sound like music. One of the problems I've identified is that my strum is making music, whereas when I listen closely to recordings, I think the strings should sound more "dead", as if I was muting them by "chiming" at the 7th fret. More of a wash board rasp than musical notes. Hope you can follow that.

I've moved my elbow closer to the rim, which raised my hand position. This in turn put a very flat attack angle on the strings for the lower fingers and helped some.

I fully realize there are some times you need the strum to "chord" as part of the song, but I'm talking about the ability to generally produce a "beat" that gets your toes tapping and sets the beat of the song.

Any ideas?



Regards,
Rimstick


Uncle Dave Macon makes me laugh !!

Ron Ortegel - Posted - 02/01/2007:  11:52:07


How well does the brass plate to the fifth fret position work on a fretless? Anyone have experience with this?

MarkJohnson - Posted - 02/12/2007:  07:29:17


I have always felt that the tune, Cold Frosty Morning" was a moody piece of music to say the least and best played in a minor key. We recorded it in the key of "A Model" or "Mountain Minor/Sawmill Tuning".

I just figured out how to post this tune to my Hangout Homepage for anyone who is in the process of learning this piece. It is another perspective on a great old tune. MJ


Madgenius - Posted - 02/14/2007:  12:17:59


Hi

Can anybody recomend a good place to find a whole bunch of easy to play 2 and 3 chords songs suitable for clawhammer and mandolin (both beginner)

Thanks in Advance

Danny

"Music is a joy to me, sometimes living in it is the only safe place to be" Brian May

Stev187 - Posted - 02/07/2007:  08:06:22


quote:
Originally posted by ZEPP
For those who are unfamiliar with Arnie's and Chris's work, they are required listening for all my students! Absolutely great stuff!



On another thread, Zepp mentioned "required listening" for his CH banjo studnets. What recordings do folks think should be on that list?

I'll start by adding just one: Cathy Fink's Banjo Haiku. There are many others, but I am stark raving mad about this record.

Let's build a "required listening" list on this thread... What would you add to the list?

Steve
Flint, MI
-----------------------------------
Current Old-Time Ohrwurm: "New Money,"Doc Roberts

jojo25 - Posted - 02/08/2007:  14:17:08


with thanks to Tobias for the link
what is the name of the tune played in this clip?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utgc...ated&search=

and where can I buy a good recording of it?...a tab?...standard notation

I think this is going to become my next obsession

Banjonically yours

Joe

Faelan - Posted - 02/14/2007:  16:07:30


I hurt my claw finger! I am also a firearms enthusiast, so I've also hurt my trigger finger, it's very dear to me, thankfully it's nothing major- just throbbing right now and can't play!

What to do in the mean time?

chip arnold - Posted - 12/26/2006:  23:06:10


Do you go to festivals?

Which ones?

Do you go to teaching camps?

Which ones?

Play with a plan
Chip

tdignon - Posted - 02/11/2007:  16:36:54


I'm anxious to find an instructor to help me patch over some of the rougher habits I've acquired through book-banjo-learnin'. Have been having a lot of trouble finding people through a search engine, thought you guys might know best. I'm open even to New York City though I'm hoping to find a teacher as local as possible (preferably New Paltz, Woodstock, Poughkeepsie, Kingston area.)

Thanks so much,
Terry

N8116B - Posted - 05/18/2006:  13:39:11


Do any of you stuff a rag or anything in the pot behind the head to mute the sound? I have a heard a few players who sometime have things in the pot and was wondering how common this is.

---------------------------
Scott
---------------------------
Instruments:
1. Bart Reiter Galax
2. Deering Goodtime Special (looking for a new home)

jojo25 - Posted - 02/14/2007:  17:33:52


Chip wrote (in the thread about festivals and specifically about Clifftop)

"There are dozens and dozens of jams going at all hours of the day and night. Some very open and some very closed."

How do you tell which are open, or find the ones that are open...and good? I go to Clifftop alone, all the way from Wisconsin, and I've had the most fun at Clifftop when I've stumbled upon one of those open jams...but I've also been stymied by finding that figurative "closed" sign flashing in neon

any suggestions?

Banjonically yours

Joe

Piotyr - Posted - 02/13/2007:  18:26:35


My fingers are 3/4" wide and cover too much fret space when playing a chord. Also they are short -- so it;'s really hard to get enough arch
to allow an open string to ring freely.

I think I need a banjo with the widest possbile fingerboard to accomodate my situation. Any suggestions about what banjo(s) might have widest fret areas? Particularly at the nut end, where they start out smaller?

Thanks.

Piotyr

chip arnold - Posted - 01/31/2007:  22:33:38


Dan suggested this thread after the "clucking" thread veered off in this direction.

Dan said: "P.S. I won't respond further to this issue (melodic players) on this thread any further, since it is really off the poster's topic, but it would make an interesting topic of its own."

So how about it? Do you consider yourself a melodic player? A rythm backup to the fiddle only? Like or dislike ornamentation?

That oughta' be enough to start.

Play with a plan
Chip

Dave Vinci - Posted - 02/09/2007:  12:25:19


Hi All,

I frequently play banjo solo and in public. Basically, where I go, the banjo goes. I do some re-enacting and bring my fretless along where I play all pre-1840 stuff which most of the public should know but frequently doesn't. Needless to say I play the melody so hopefully folks will recognize the tunes. One thing I have noticed is that if I embelish the tune too much, folks can't tell what I'm playing... maybe, that's a skill thing on my part but I don't think so.... I was wondering if that is a common experience.

Dave Vinci

BRASMAN - Posted - 02/09/2007:  12:30:27


Well I can not play good enough to do that to a tune yet. LOL
However I have heard tunes that I could not recognize for the above mentioned reason though. They did not sound bad but I just could not recognize them.

Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

chasgrav - Posted - 02/09/2007:  12:31:15


I would tend to doubt that it's the embellishment that crosses them up. I'm very often surprised by how many people don't have any familiarity with even the ubiquitous oldtime tunes, (Arkansas Traveller, Buffalo Gals, Girl I Left Behind, Scotland the Brave, et al). I think the world is fundamentally very different for generations raised after the 1960s! OTOH, some people just really don't hear melodies at all, and may not spot a tune they've heard all of their lives. I guess we're all just wired differently!

arnie - Posted - 02/09/2007:  12:39:54


Keep it clean - within your abilities to make it sound easy for the listener. Some folks (like Adam Hurt) can play complex and clean - he's got that skill down.

Arnie Naiman
http://www.merriweather.ca/Records.aspx?ID=2

dbrooks - Posted - 02/09/2007:  12:59:48


What Arnie said.

To vary a phrase, the audience is always right.

David

chip arnold - Posted - 02/09/2007:  13:45:04


It's important when playing to learn to lift the melody above the rest of whatever you're doing on the banjo. Just a little more firmness or accent on the melody notes, maybe a little space or breathing room at the beginning and end of melodic phrases, a series of 1/4 notes among the 1/8 note busyness to keep focus on the bones of the tune.
Have a listen to my banjo hero on his website.
http://www.willkeys.com/html/screen.html
Although Will played with others he was masterful as a solo player. Listen to how clearly he defines a tune while still putting lots of other stuff in there too.
Arnie says listen to Adam Hurt and you should......but you should listen to Arnie too and you can do that on his BHO homepage.


Play with a plan
Chip

trapdoor2 - Posted - 02/09/2007:  14:39:41


The only public playing I do is at a local coffee-house. I've never really had any patron 'recognise' a tune...but I can't say there are lots of people out there familiar with Briggs, Buckley or Converse.

Many people have problems differentiating between instrumental tunes (I have a terrible time remembering tune names). All they hear is a continuous string of notes; sing to them, though, and they suddenly hear the tune. If the tune has a strong "hook", it will usually get some nods of recognition. Morley's "A Banjo Oddity" has the "Pop Goes The Weasel" quote and it makes follks look up from their newspaper and smile.

Dave, have you explored the Minstrel Banjo group in Google Groups? Or perhaps visited the Banjoclubhouse? http://www.milfordmusic.com/Banjo%20Audio.htm You might enjoy it.

Also, you should pop into the Banjolounge some evenings. I usually try to drown out the BG players with cool old Fretless tunes. Sometimes it actually works! http://banjolounge.ivocalize.net/

Cool banjos in your photos.

"If banjos needed tone rings, S.S. Stewart would have built 'em that way."

===Marc

ajbadger - Posted - 02/09/2007:  15:33:50


I think it is the responsibility of the player to play the piece that that it is recognizable. Embellishment is good but it can become noise to the point of making the tune something it is not. I have heard extremely skilled banjo players bum-ditty popular tunes into oblivion. So, sometimes, it is not so much a lack of talent but intent. They have to know that they are doing this and that is their choice.

I personally prefer that people can recognize what I am playing while keeping it somewhat banjo-unique.

Sincerely,

AJ

http://phritzysworld.wordpress.com
===============
"Reason is the slave of desire."

rinemb - Posted - 02/09/2007:  15:59:42


I like to hear the melody of the tune as well. However, since you are playing solo and therefore probably playing the tune several times through I think it would be "cool" to say; play first time through fairly straight-with melody of tune obvious, then maybe the next to the last time through-LET IT ALL HANGOUT, then last itme through bring it home on the melody. (Our guitar player used to do that in our Western Swing days, and sometimes we just had to go have a beer then come back and reel him in.) Brad

May not the incidence of success, nor the pretense of retirement-Lessen the want of enlightenment.

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 02/09/2007:  17:22:26


I find that most fiddle players can't recognize tunes they KNOW when played on banjo solo unless you give them the titled too. I don't think most people are oriented to hearing the banjo as melody.
Even when I used to play "melodic" banjo I found that most people didn't recognize the tunes - whether played by me or one of the well known melodic superstars of the era.
It remains a question as to how much more any of them would have known were it solo fiddle. I think the public knows "Turkey In The Straw". Beyond that you can play just about anything fast and noisy when they ask for "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and they don't seem to know the difference.

The Whiskey Before Breakfast variations and a few tunes in "F" tuning are now available on the web at:
http://home.thegrid.net/~fjbrad/id20.html

Lonesome Steve - Posted - 02/09/2007:  18:41:40


If you want your audience to recognize the tunes, try playing stuff by Justin Timberlake and John Mayer. :)

Seriously, I wouldn't expect John Q. Public to recognize .1% of the typical old-time repertoire, embellished or not. And I would agree with OWC that people's ears aren't really tuned to hearing a melody the way it's played on a banjo. Personally, I like the fact that people don't recognize the tunes I'm playing. It gives me all kinds of freedom to make artistic "substitutions" and "interpretations" (i.e. screw up).

nbanta - Posted - 02/10/2007:  22:36:19


quote:
Originally posted by oldwoodchuckb

I find that most fiddle players can't recognize tunes they KNOW when played on banjo solo unless you give them the titled too.



All this time, I thought it was just me. It makes me feel better to know that this happens to the highly experienced players, too!

Ned

--Colorado

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 02/10/2007:  23:20:57


Lonesome Steve
It was public ignorance that allowed me to play flamenco guitar in coffee houses. Nobody knew from nothin' so I could get away with anything. Occasionally some smart alec would accost me between sets to ask why I played Tientos falsettas in Tangos rhythm. I could usually snow them with "Haven't you been to Barcelona recently? It's all the rage."
Then I started playing for a dancer and all of a sudden I had to get right. I ended up doing a lot more work with singers and/or dancers than solo but I always missed the freedom of playing alone - tempo, rhythm, key - nothing was set in stone.
I do that late at night now, playing freeform clawhammer banjo - a little Fred Cockerham, a little Miles Davis, slide into a Beatles tune and come out on "I Feel Pretty". I sometimes wish therewas an audience for it but is there was they probably would want me to sit up straight, stop pausing for a sip of water, and wear something a little more formal than my jammies.

The Whiskey Before Breakfast variations and a few tunes in "F" tuning are now available on the web at:
http://home.thegrid.net/~fjbrad/id20.html

Bill Rogers - Posted - 02/10/2007:  23:34:18


Depends on your audience. The younger set was not reared on the "old standards" either at home or in school. I think the latter is where most folks of my generation (b. 1944) first heard those tunes/songs if they were not in a region of local traditional music. But that material is no longer present in the elementary schools, which have no time for the arts of any kind now that the feds have mandated the whole country become Lake Wobegon writ large.

Bill

stanger - Posted - 02/11/2007:  01:04:43


When I play solo, I play both 3-finger and clawhammer. Some tunes work better in one or the other. I found an audience is usually interested when I give them a short introduction to the tune, and sometimes a little history, and I try to mix in a few new tunes that will work to cover the bases as best I can.

In a pinch, I usually fall back on some story songs by Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie. They always work for everyone.
regards,
Stanger


Edited by - stanger on 02/11/2007 01:05:59

MrNatch3L - Posted - 02/11/2007:  02:42:32


The "statement - embellishment - restatement' model from late 18th and early 19th century classical music serves me well. For example, I do an arrangement of Elanor Rigby. First time thru I am very careful to focus on the melody, so people recognize the tune. Then I do an embellished version, and close with a shortened retatement that again focuses the melody. This approach seems to work well for tunes that are generally well-known.

eickmewg - Posted - 02/11/2007:  07:19:45


Sounds like the classic "theme and variations" form. First time through, the simple melody is displayed. Then all is fair game and the more ornamented, the better.

Bill


'05 Lee Rose Hill 12", #165
'06 Romero 13" custom walnut, #0684

Rimstick - Posted - 02/11/2007:  23:37:51


quote:
Originally posted by chasgrav

I would tend to doubt that it's the embellishment that crosses them up. I'm very often surprised by how many people don't have any familiarity with even the ubiquitous oldtime tunes....


I see the same thing. I'm a Boy Scout leader and when we sit around the camp fire the boys want me to sing "She'll be Comming 'Round the Mountain", "Clemintine", etc that I learned at YMCA day camps and in public school. These kids have never, ever heard these songs. They think I wrote them all !!

When I was in elementary school our music teacher brought her Auto-Harp in once a week or we listened to folk songs on public school FM radio. "Hootnanny" was on TV. Oscar Brand was on the radio Saturday. It gave me the appreciation I needed to enjoy it today. I may not always know the tune's name, but I can sing one verse and whistle the rest. (And in case you think I was raised in the "Styx", this was Atlanta city schools.)

But today's kid (born after 1970) has no idea of the wealth of folk music and folk lore about to be lost. As sales of the "Fox Fire" books show, it's not that it's not appreciated, it's simply a big blank spot in the collective American education.

May I suggest you introduce each song with 1 sentence to "frame" the song's place in American history. That will capture the adult audience, and then play to the kids, because they are the ones who'll remember it.



Regards,
Rimstick


Uncle Dave Macon makes me laugh !!

R.D. Lunceford - Posted - 02/12/2007:  06:22:43


A lot of sad yet true comments regarding the state of our music in the modern world.

In my Cotton Blossom book I wrote:
"... many ancient societies viewed music of paramount importance- they realized that music was the great encoder of values and morals. In addition, history, myth, and genealogies were often borne by a nation’s musical traditions. One of the most disturbing trends I see in present day society is the tendency for the schools to have abandoned the teaching of our traditional songs and stories to our children in favor of the often valueless fabrications of “childrens’ authors and songwriters”. At worst, the goal of these misguided “professionals” is wholly mercenary, and at best, to replace the traditional material they see as out of step with modern sensibilities. Our traditional music became traditional for the precise reason that it suits us best.

I have a sticker on my banjo case that reads in Irish:
"Ni bheidh are leitheidi aris ann." - "The likes of us will never be again."
I suppose it's up to us to see this doesn't come to pass, but its an uphill battle.
The banjo regulary loses out against the video game.

The music is the product of a more patient culture, and the world is different now.


R.D. Lunceford- "Missourian in Exile"
*************************
Model 1865 Bowlin Fretless Banjo

Richard - Posted - 02/12/2007:  06:33:03


quote:
Originally posted by rinemb

I like to hear the melody of the tune as well. However, since you are playing solo and therefore probably playing the tune several times through I think it would be "cool" to say; play first time through fairly straight-with melody of tune obvious, then maybe the next to the last time through-LET IT ALL HANGOUT, then last itme through bring it home on the melody. (Our guitar player used to do that in our Western Swing days, and sometimes we just had to go have a beer then come back and reel him in.) Brad

May not the incidence of success, nor the pretense of retirement-Lessen the want of enlightenment.



agreed !
have a bit of fun with it, as well.

Richard

"There is nothing whatsoever that does not become easier with acquaintance" - Santideva

see my band UPDATED and IMPROVED SITE ! http://www.geocities.com/bottleneck...atitude.html

Nide44 - Posted - 02/13/2007:  14:04:31


"First time thru I am very careful to focus on the melody, so people recognize the tune. Then I do an embellished version, and close with a shortened retatement that again focuses the melody."

Duh ??
Isn't that the way its supposed to be done?
I was raised in a fairly musical family, post WWII and educated in the '50's & '60's as most of the others who are posting on this thread (or maybe a wee bit more age?).
I too, remember my elementary school teachers playing the autoharp for us in class, at least once a week.
Uh.....that was the way all music, from classical, to Pete Seeger's folk music..... happened.
Either the melody was specifically played (or sung), first.....then came the embellishment (the break)..... then back to the melody, to close.(or a minor variation of that formula)
Is there any other way for an audience to really appreciate what is being done?
Especially an audience that has not come specifically to hear/tune-in...... to
a certain genre, or single style of music?(for eductional or specific purposes)
I've played auditoriums, bars, schools, concert halls, county fairs,
living room couches, and cofee houses.
I've usually been in a group (or sometimes as a solo performer) that is just one of others on 'the bill'.
In most cases, the audience has come to be entertained.
(I'm aware of very few other reasons to listen to music)
That's the only formula for pleasing an audience that I'm aware of-
that really works.
It creates an 'understanding' for the song. Especially when prefaced by a story, anecdote, or the background of the particular piece. It creates a recognition factor that is subliminaly pleasing.
It's always worked - an audience wants that, whether they know it, or not.

Bob B
Yup ! Them's red braces


Edited by - Nide44 on 02/13/2007 14:09:08

banjoman.com - Posted - 02/15/2007:  17:23:00


I doubt it is an embellishment problem...unless you loose time when you start to add notes or your embellishments don't work with the tune.

Folks today don't know even the most common tunes from tradition. Moreover, the banjo is an unfamiliar sound to the general public so they can only take it in small doses. In my concerts, I find I have to change to a different instrument after about 3 banjo tunes to give their ears a rest ,if I really want to hold their attention. I can come back to the banjo later in the show but just can't give them too much at one time. I think todays ears are attuned to the low, bass end of the musical spectrum. The higher pitch and short sustain of the banjo is very unusual for most folks.

I might add that this is not true everywhere. I hosted the Tommy Jarrell festival in Mt. Airy last year and a room full of 500 local people sat and listened to fiddle tune after fiddle tune....all evening. And loved it! But that is very, very rare.



David

www.banjoman.com
www.myspace.com/davidholtmusic

twelvefret - Posted - 02/15/2007:  18:03:00


First off..how cool to have a musician like David holt respond. Thanks



[quoteI see in present day society is the tendency for the schools to have abandoned the teaching of our traditional songs and stories to our children in favor of the often valueless fabrications of “childrens’ authors and songwriters”][/quote]

IMHO, schools are not to blame or responsibile for establishing values, traditions, or anything thing else. This realm belongs to the family.

Also, how can we expect traditional music to continue when our society has elected many times to avoid or censure those traditions from which the music sprang from? It is a thought worth of consideration.

To the original poster.... I don't have to know the title to enjoy a beautiful song. That's why timing and tone will aways be important.

Twelvefret <><

"Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple." Pete Seeger

" I 'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park" from the movie, "Cars"

Jacinto Guevara - Posted - 02/16/2007:  15:19:03


I agree with Lonesome Steve.

I have a question about the majority opinion above. Why do y'all have a need for an audience to "recognize" a tune? I would find that endeavor to be one of potentially putting people to sleep. Ajbadge made a statment that isn't "wrong" but I find the 'keep it simple and don't obscure the melody' statement a bit of a contradiction to the whole concept of performance.

Hell, I say borrow, steal, arrange, fake and compose as if your life depended on it. Then knock 'em dead or at least wing a couple of 'em before they string you up.


Edited by - Jacinto Guevara on 02/16/2007 15:22:11

bw - Posted - 02/16/2007:  20:47:05


This kinda reminds me of the time I played John Coltrane for my high school music theory class. When all was said and done, everyone enjoyed listening, but no one really had a clue as to what they had just heard. Another way to look at it is to take a tune such as "Forkey ( or Forked) Deer and listen to David Holt play it for the intro. to the show 'Folkways" and then listen to how Brad Leftwich plays it on his Round Peak cd and then to listen to how I get through it ( I'm not in David's or Brad's league, but I'm a good double A player) and you have the same circumstance: a pleasing tune that folks enjoy, but no one seems to " clue in" on as to what they just heard... Charles Ives once said: "Sometimes people don't hear the music for the notes." Just my infrequent 2 cents...Brian in NC

Dave Vinci - Posted - 02/17/2007:  11:03:47


Thank you all for the interesting comments! Many of the points made make me feel like I'm more or less on the right track with my playing in public.

When I was a kid, ('50s, '60s) whenever my family went anywhere in the car we all sang to pass the time. My Mom likes a lot of the old songs, so we learned some of them there. My Dad was always a performer (a singer really) and I remember him singing every year in the show the Holy Name society did at church. That was a blackface minstrell show by the way and being in Philadelphia, there was always a banjo player. We also got exposed to traditional songs in school, particilarly the Stephen Foster songs which my kids never heard in school. So when my kids were growing up, we sang the old stuff in the car too. I also found that I had to debrief them after each history class they had in school too. I was/am appalled at the corrupt version of history that is being taught. But, I digress....

It was interesting, last night I performed at our local Civil War roundtable meeting with my fretless banjo and that is one venue where just about everyone recognizes many of the tunes. Except for the minstrel tunes from Converse or Briggs, etc. I made a real effort to do the close melody, then an embellished version, then back to the close melody again and the folks seemed to enjoy it. Thanks for the good advice!

Still, where I go, my banjo goes and folks around me get exposed to traditional music whether they like it or not

Dave Vinci

bw - Posted - 02/17/2007:  12:06:50


Dave...I am not sure if anyone has said this yet, but our own R.D. Lunsford and Bob Flesher have produced some wonderful materials/cds that involve taking many of the old mid-nineteenth century tutors and "spicing" them up a into a more contemporary offerring. I have stolen some great licks from them both...I agree that this is a great thread....good luck, Brian in NC

Jim Treganza - Posted - 02/12/2007:  14:17:23


I'm brand new at this and want to take a few lessons. I've been unable to find anybody who gives clawhammer lessons less than 45 miles away from Stockton, CA. I work for a local theatre and we were even unable to find a picker to play with the orchestra in a recent show! For money! Does anybody know somebody who plays old-time banjo in this neck of the woods? I really don't want to drive to Berkeley or Sacramento. Thanks.

Clawdan - Posted - 01/08/2007:  14:06:12


Hi Folks,
Bob Carlin and I are planning a workshop weekend in Austin in late March this year. Wanted to start by giving you a heads up and see who is interested. I'll be glad to keep you up to date of details as they develop.

Play nice,
Dan "Ain't no bum-diddy" Levenson
Old Time Music and Dance
www.ClawhammerBanjo.us
Author of Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch, A guide for the claw-less - a MelBay Publication
and Old Time Festival Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo (MelBay 20313) - 117 tunes tabbed for clawhammer banjo with standard notation and suggested chords.
Tune list at http://www.folknet.org/dan/FestTunesBJBook.htm

ukjonathan - Posted - 02/13/2007:  13:42:16


hi I thought the striking of the strings with the claw hand would be the hardest bit, but no I'm wrong! I can hit the strings in various configurations but can I hell get the bum ditty bit. It just sounds like ting, ting ting. I strike my 1st bottom string then strum down following on by thumb off the drone string. But still no bum ditty. Anyone help? I guess this is the hard bit?

Frode B - Posted - 02/13/2007:  18:09:53


What would you call this fingering technique? http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ct0PbWwY5g8
It's me, and I have been fooling around with the banjo for a couple of years without any guiding. I'm a guitar/pedal steel player so I guess I am mixing it all up on the banjo.

The banjo is a Bart Reiter special ( thanks mr.Balch!)


Frode
Oslo, Norway

Rimstick - Posted - 02/11/2007:  23:52:42


Gang -
Looking for some advice here. I got the "bum tiddy" going pretty good but it still doesn't consistantly sound like music. One of the problems I've identified is that my strum is making music, whereas when I listen closely to recordings, I think the strings should sound more "dead", as if I was muting them by "chiming" at the 7th fret. More of a wash board rasp than musical notes. Hope you can follow that.

I've moved my elbow closer to the rim, which raised my hand position. This in turn put a very flat attack angle on the strings for the lower fingers and helped some.

I fully realize there are some times you need the strum to "chord" as part of the song, but I'm talking about the ability to generally produce a "beat" that gets your toes tapping and sets the beat of the song.

Any ideas?



Regards,
Rimstick


Uncle Dave Macon makes me laugh !!

Ron Ortegel - Posted - 02/01/2007:  11:52:07


How well does the brass plate to the fifth fret position work on a fretless? Anyone have experience with this?

MarkJohnson - Posted - 02/12/2007:  07:29:17


I have always felt that the tune, Cold Frosty Morning" was a moody piece of music to say the least and best played in a minor key. We recorded it in the key of "A Model" or "Mountain Minor/Sawmill Tuning".

I just figured out how to post this tune to my Hangout Homepage for anyone who is in the process of learning this piece. It is another perspective on a great old tune. MJ


Madgenius - Posted - 02/14/2007:  12:17:59


Hi

Can anybody recomend a good place to find a whole bunch of easy to play 2 and 3 chords songs suitable for clawhammer and mandolin (both beginner)

Thanks in Advance

Danny

"Music is a joy to me, sometimes living in it is the only safe place to be" Brian May

Stev187 - Posted - 02/07/2007:  08:06:22


quote:
Originally posted by ZEPP
For those who are unfamiliar with Arnie's and Chris's work, they are required listening for all my students! Absolutely great stuff!



On another thread, Zepp mentioned "required listening" for his CH banjo studnets. What recordings do folks think should be on that list?

I'll start by adding just one: Cathy Fink's Banjo Haiku. There are many others, but I am stark raving mad about this record.

Let's build a "required listening" list on this thread... What would you add to the list?

Steve
Flint, MI
-----------------------------------
Current Old-Time Ohrwurm: "New Money,"Doc Roberts

jojo25 - Posted - 02/08/2007:  14:17:08


with thanks to Tobias for the link
what is the name of the tune played in this clip?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utgc...ated&search=

and where can I buy a good recording of it?...a tab?...standard notation

I think this is going to become my next obsession

Banjonically yours

Joe

Faelan - Posted - 02/14/2007:  16:07:30


I hurt my claw finger! I am also a firearms enthusiast, so I've also hurt my trigger finger, it's very dear to me, thankfully it's nothing major- just throbbing right now and can't play!

What to do in the mean time?

chip arnold - Posted - 12/26/2006:  23:06:10


Do you go to festivals?

Which ones?

Do you go to teaching camps?

Which ones?

Play with a plan
Chip

tdignon - Posted - 02/11/2007:  16:36:54


I'm anxious to find an instructor to help me patch over some of the rougher habits I've acquired through book-banjo-learnin'. Have been having a lot of trouble finding people through a search engine, thought you guys might know best. I'm open even to New York City though I'm hoping to find a teacher as local as possible (preferably New Paltz, Woodstock, Poughkeepsie, Kingston area.)

Thanks so much,
Terry

N8116B - Posted - 05/18/2006:  13:39:11


Do any of you stuff a rag or anything in the pot behind the head to mute the sound? I have a heard a few players who sometime have things in the pot and was wondering how common this is.

---------------------------
Scott
---------------------------
Instruments:
1. Bart Reiter Galax
2. Deering Goodtime Special (looking for a new home)

jojo25 - Posted - 02/14/2007:  17:33:52


Chip wrote (in the thread about festivals and specifically about Clifftop)

"There are dozens and dozens of jams going at all hours of the day and night. Some very open and some very closed."

How do you tell which are open, or find the ones that are open...and good? I go to Clifftop alone, all the way from Wisconsin, and I've had the most fun at Clifftop when I've stumbled upon one of those open jams...but I've also been stymied by finding that figurative "closed" sign flashing in neon

any suggestions?

Banjonically yours

Joe

Piotyr - Posted - 02/13/2007:  18:26:35


My fingers are 3/4" wide and cover too much fret space when playing a chord. Also they are short -- so it;'s really hard to get enough arch
to allow an open string to ring freely.

I think I need a banjo with the widest possbile fingerboard to accomodate my situation. Any suggestions about what banjo(s) might have widest fret areas? Particularly at the nut end, where they start out smaller?

Thanks.

Piotyr

chip arnold - Posted - 01/31/2007:  22:33:38


Dan suggested this thread after the "clucking" thread veered off in this direction.

Dan said: "P.S. I won't respond further to this issue (melodic players) on this thread any further, since it is really off the poster's topic, but it would make an interesting topic of its own."

So how about it? Do you consider yourself a melodic player? A rythm backup to the fiddle only? Like or dislike ornamentation?

That oughta' be enough to start.

Play with a plan
Chip

Dave Vinci - Posted - 02/09/2007:  12:25:19


Hi All,

I frequently play banjo solo and in public. Basically, where I go, the banjo goes. I do some re-enacting and bring my fretless along where I play all pre-1840 stuff which most of the public should know but frequently doesn't. Needless to say I play the melody so hopefully folks will recognize the tunes. One thing I have noticed is that if I embelish the tune too much, folks can't tell what I'm playing... maybe, that's a skill thing on my part but I don't think so.... I was wondering if that is a common experience.

Dave Vinci

Alby - Posted - 02/16/2007:  15:33:42


Been playing Scruggs for a while , like to try clawhammer, Ive looked at few instruction sites and all say first part of the strum is a downward strike with index finger,this I find very difficult, I seem to be able to work it with an upward pluck , would this create problems later in more complex tunes.

Snowman217 - Posted - 02/16/2007:  15:42:28


i don't think so...i don't play clawhammer yet...but i have been working on it and it seems to be just however you wanna play it.
most things like that work if thats how you practice them often enough.

David Smith

Locust, NC

pickinman94@yahoo.com

Bill Rogers - Posted - 02/16/2007:  15:55:21


I respectfully disagree; clawhammer is very flexible, but it is also, by definition, all downward. "However you wanna play it" comes with the limitations of striking downward and not playing by flicking your fingers at the strings. "Pete Seeger" up-picking, with the lead note being played by the index picking upward, isn't as adaptable for fiddle tunes and playing single notes at a fast tempo.

Bill

chip arnold - Posted - 02/16/2007:  16:00:36


If you want clawhammer, you gotta downpick. Stay with it and it'll come to you soon enough. There is an up-picking style where the hand is in the air and the finger picks up instead of down as you describe. Several folks who pick that way are members of the Hangout and will probably respond to your post. Nothing wrong with it at all....it just ain't clawhammer. And later on you're likely to find it limiting.
Go out and get yourself some learning material or, if humanly possible, a teacher. One who actually knows what clawhammer banjo playing is. Several members here have excellent material available.

Play with a plan
Chip

chip arnold - Posted - 02/16/2007:  16:01:50


Guess I was posting while Bill was.
What he said!

Play with a plan
Chip

ummy123 - Posted - 02/16/2007:  16:10:21


I myself had this very same problem. Having plated Scruggs style and also guitar ( both require up pick technique) I found it easy to fall into up-picking and asked the very same questions you have.
I was advised by some very able pickers to follow whatever came to me and suited me, and to this end I continued to up-pick Seeger style i/e basic strum technique. There are hundreds of tunes that you can learn and most clawhammer tunes can be up-picked with little difference in the playing, the only main difference is the sound which differs in down-picking clawhammer and up-picking Seeger style. Clawhammer has a more solid driving beat which is difficult to maintain in the up-picking style, but nevertheless, can be a very attractive sound in it's own right. I was advised by Ken Pearlman, No Less! that if I up-picked naturally then carry on doing so, but he also told me that up-pickers develope into melodic players. I now love the up-picking style and although I have also a love of the clawhammer sound I do what's best for me. Sometimes up-picking can be difficult in Jamming situations but what the hell.

chip arnold - Posted - 02/16/2007:  16:25:50


FWIW.....If you think you just have to pick up instead of down, why not rest your fingers on the head (like you do with your Scruggs stuff) and learn one of the Old Time finger styles?

Still though, if you were attracted to clawhammer's sound to begin with, my advice is to work at that first. Don't change horses too quickly. It's awkward at first but soon you'll be playing easily.

Play with a plan
Chip

FretlessFury - Posted - 02/16/2007:  16:30:47


I agree with Chip. There's a dearth of old-time finger pickers. If you're gonna up-pick anyway, learn some of the great old two finger stuff.

Downpicking isn't any more difficult than up-picking. It's just a matter of training your muscles. Repitition is the name of the game.

Tom Collins

--------------------------
www.newhottimes.com

Red hot old time music.

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 02/16/2007:  17:22:45


The thing about downpicking is that at first it is very unnatural to almost everyone who has played a fretted instrument. Save for flamenco and some South American stuff ALL guitar fingerstyles are based on picking upward all the time. Consequently you are out on a brand new limb reduced to once again being a beginner.
The Up side is that once you "get" the down picking to work it is just about the easiest way in the world to play the banjo. Frailing is a "knack" and it is the ONLY technique you need to play the banjo part for any old time melody.
Once you can frail you can then go on to "Drop Thumb" aka "Clawhammer". Adding this one technique makes it possible to play ALL the notes of 90% or more of all fiddle tunes.
There are no complicated rolls, no "back" picking, nothing else is needed. So the one technique can serve you jes'fine if you wish, and adding a second will allow you to play like Ken Perlman. You literally don't really need to do anythign else to play the banjo - all other techniques are optional and in fact there is controversy over whether they should be used at all.
I do suggest you find someone to watch your right hand and help you over the hump - it does not have to be a real "teacher", just someone who knows how to frail and can point out where you need to be more careful.
Two and three finger picking are great but you can learn to do them quite easily from frailing and it is a whol lot easier to find frailing tabs to learn a repertoire.

The Whiskey Before Breakfast variations and a few tunes in "F" tuning are now available on the web at:
http://home.thegrid.net/~fjbrad/id20.html

vega long neck - Posted - 02/17/2007:  17:48:23


Alby,
I guess it's what you're used to. In the 60s I started with the Seeger up pick method and was quite comfortable with it. It ISNT CH simply by its definition, and there are always the purist who love to point it out.... Big deal. Once I started to use more double thumbing and melody lines, I found that I had better accuracy (and speed?) using all down stroke. Bottom line, I will use both methods depending on what I want to play, sometimes in the same song. You also get nice variations in the sound by being able to switch. As far as awkward or hard to learn; practice, practice, practice...

Scott

FretlessFury - Posted - 02/17/2007:  18:13:23


quote:
Originally posted by vega long neck
It ISNT CH simply by its definition, and there are always the purist who love to point it out.... Big deal.



It's not a matter of being a purist. If you like the sound of clawhammer and want to learn it, up-picking is not going to help you get there.

I see this question come up every few months here. Someone posts and expresses interest in learning clawhammer, but asks if up-picking is ok to do instead because it initially seems easier. Well, of course up-picking is ok as long as you don't think it's going to magically make you a clawhammerer.

There is only one way to learn clawhammer and that is to play clawhammer.

Tom Collins

--------------------------
www.newhottimes.com

Red hot old time music.

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