Posted by Copo on Wednesday, July 20, 2011
So, it's been about five years since I first cottoned on to the joys of 5-string banjo playing - and almost 13 since I got my first banjo (a tenor).
In the meantime, I've acquired a heap of instruments, from ukeleles to mandolins, bouzoukis, guitars and whistles and bodhráns.
The journey's been fantastic: from learning slow-airs in tremelo style on the tenor; getting triplets down and flowing fluid; trying to figure what it was that Pete Seeger could do with his 5-string banjo that I couldn't; wondering what the hell was clawhammer anyway, before being sucked into its world and all the swampy jokes that go with it!; hammering on and off; dropping the thumb; then dropping it on the middle strings.
It's all just amazing and great fun! I don't know what the great mystery to life is, but what I am slowly realising, is that while we're, we shouldn't rush about (like I once did) and should rather take our time, learning all these wonderful little ways to make music sound great (more for the benefit of those who are caught in our cross-fire!) and pleasing.
However, every now and again I swap between learning two new styles (for me) and I get distracted by one or the other. It's not the worst thing in the world to have these two styles to play with because, as I said, I'm in no rush to get to wherever it is we all (or some of us!) go in the end, if anywhere. And, as long as I keep them somewhere in my head, I'll gradually come back to each style and get a bit more understanding of each as I go along.
The two styles at the moment are dixieland tenor banjo style and jigs on the 5-string in clawhammer, both of which I can demonstrate but not play fluently.
So, the crux of the piece is, not the philiosophical take on our paths and journeys in life, but rather any techniques which may be offered for me to try out on each style, for building up fluidity.
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'Banjo- identification' 11 min
'The Pecking Order' 1 hr
'Martin on the peghead' 3 hrs