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14. Another Update

Posted by Rob MacKillop on Sunday, July 11, 2010

Seems I'm not a regular blogger. Sorry for that, because I know you are all waiting on my every word. LOL. I'm sure you all have better things to do. Anyway, you are reading this, so here goes...

Next year will be a big year for me in that Mel Bay will be publishing four ukulele books and two banjo books of mine, Centerstream, another fine publisher, will put out my book 'The Scottish Guitar' with arrangements of tunes in DADGAD, OPEN G and OPEN D. So that's seven books - each with a CD. I must have been busy! I also have a CD coming out on a French Early Music lable, Alpha, of 17th-century Scottish music on baroque guitar and viol (a sort of gut-strung, fretted cello). The disc was scheduled for release this month, July, but has been put back a year as the company has had some 'management issues'.

Banjo-wise I have been obssessed...the classic style has been ticking along as usual, but I've also been learning tenor - traditional Irish and Scots stuff - and set up a web page on my www.ClassicBanjoRM.com site for that, including a free pdf of 25 tunes culled from Scottish lute manuscripts of the 17th century. Have a listen - some fine tunes there. And lately I've been exploring bluegrass-style playing...

One of my student's insisted I teach him bluegrass banjo, now that he has been playing fingerstyle uke for a couple of years. I protested that I didn't play bluegrass style, but he insisted, and I said I would 'look into it'. Well, I've fallen in love with it. However, I like the sound of it on my gut-strung English banjo from 1900 - bizarre, maybe, but checkout my videos here or on the aforementioned website. It also got some very positive comments on the BG forum here http://www.banjohangout.org/topic/182280 My approach is to not go for blistering speed and volume, but use the right-hand technique - rolls - but in a more laid-back, almost clawhammer-style, on an open back with gut strings. I do use picks for the first time, and am amazed as to how good they can sound with gut strings. Still mellow, but with twice the volume. I'm hearing something between bluegrass and clawhammer. Well, we'll see...

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