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My Old Kentucky Home

Posted by Mike Moss, written by Alfred A. Farland


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- Play count: 518

Size: 9,947kb, uploaded 4/28/2013 6:48:14 AM
Genre: Traditional / Playing Style: Classic

I wasn't really sure if I should upload this recording, but since this is about as well as I'm every going to play this one I thought I might as well. I've been struggling with this monster for over a year and, well, here are the results. Plenty of mistakes, some passages I still couldn't play smoothly if my life depended on it, crappy uneven tremolo... so, for me, this is a way of burying this solo for once and for all. The arrangement, in itself, is very nice, but it is far too demanding, so unless you're the ghost of Fred Bacon, don't waste your time on this like I did. There are plenty of great, pleasant and easy arrangements out there that are just as effective and a lot easier. Now that I got that off my chest... here's some small talk about this piece. My Old Kentucky Home was originally a minstrel song by Stephen Foster, which was introduced to the public by the famous Christy's Minstrels. Even though, like many songs from that time, the song contains ethnic slurs, Frederick Douglass, the African-American abolitionist and intellectual, said of it that "[it stimulates] the sympathies for the slave, in which anti-slavery principles take root and flourish." It has since become the state song of Kentucky, and, recently, the lyrics have been cleaned up to remove the ethnic slurs. Alfred A. Farland wrote and played this arrangement sometime in the 1890s, and it became an instant favourite with his audiences. The presence of such classic, "characteristic" banjo songs in Farland's repertoire is a nod to his origins -- he worked in a minstrel troupe for a number of years -- and to the audience's expectations. Although Farland never recorded this solo, his pupil, Fred Bacon (of the Bacon banjo co.) played two of the variations in his medley of Southern airs. This recording is available on the website of the Library of Congress, and you would do well to listen to the lightning-fast rolls to see how it's meant to be played. I find the rolling variation to be particularly awkward due to the fact that, unlike Scruggs rolls, these are triplet rolls and the melody is carried by the third string. The structure of the piece is as follows: - Intro - Theme - "Brilliant" variation - Minor variation (tremolo on 3rd and 4th strings) - Rolling variation - Tremolo variation This style of playing is known as Classic fingerstyle banjo. For more information visit:

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