Posted by Rob MacKillop on Tuesday, September 16, 2008
A big week. My first banjo, an Enoch Tradesman Fretless, arrived on Saturday. It sounds good - old timey, somewhere between minstrel and folky, which is where I am at just now, so that is a good thing. It has developed a zing when I pluck the fifth string, but I have the entire banjo world working on a solution. Watch this space.
My second video upload (Briggs' Breakdown) has had some interesting comments, both on the video page and elsewhere, including private emails. Seems a lot of people like the quiet, introspective, almost Romantic interpretation, and while still enjoying it, some have pointed out that the true minstrel stroke is much more vigorous, a hammering down onto the string. I can see that in the magnificent videos by Carl Anderton and Tim Twiss - those guys really have that technique down pat. I guess I am aiming for somewhere in between - a rhythmical stroke which retains as much subtlety as possible. That's the Holy Grail for me.
Of course, one is always free to develop a new style for ones-self, and any passer by who wants to do something similar. But I have a healthy respect for tradition, and continue to explore different styles and techniques. Every style has something good in it worth absorbing. I have not yet thrown my (drainpipe) hat in with the minstrel crowd, but they are a very interesting bunch, with some really interesting discussions, players and philosophies.
Just added a new video, Briggs Jig. Experimenting with resting my thumb gently on the index finger when it has the time to do so.I've noticed this relaxes my hand, and I've seen minstrel-maestro, Tim Twiss do something similar.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 @5:53:12 AM
You have correctly identified Tim Twiss as a minstrel-maestro. and someone to watch. And the good news is that you will develop your own style over time.
For me, it took years of playing before developing what I consider a personal style, shaped largely by listening to and playing with fiddle players.
Rob MacKillop Says:
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 @6:23:15 AM
Sure. We all get there eventually. Usually when we stop trying so hard!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 @8:59:29 AM
I am so enjoying your documentation of Stroke Style evolution, both in your comments and your videos. Re: the thumb resting on the index finger, Converse, in his extensive description of this movement on page 14 of the Analytical Method, concludes his remarks by saying "The perfection of this movement is not so much dependent upon length of stroke, velocity, or strength, as firmness and directness". I also find that my hand relaxes when I use the Hammer Stroke. It adds support, and allows the hand to relax while firmly striking a note.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 @3:15:17 AM
I got a Enoch Tradesman Fretless on Saturday (9-13). I am on the same fretless path. Lots to learn.
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