I've been listening to a ton of music on Pandora and have Old Time Clawhammer saved as my go to station. I hear a certain style played by folks like Frank Proffitt, Kyle Creed and many others - including names I've never heard of. Then I listened to Pete Seeger and his up picking style which sounds kind of like what the old timers played but maybe not exactly. But as I look at it compared to standard bum ditty it seems the only difference is picking up on a string rather than frailing down on a string with the back of the nail. I play standard bum ditty and add in some drop thumbs, slides, pull-offs and hammer ons mostly to back up my singing. I'm starting to feel the need to go beyond bum ditty and add some other skills.... as long as it doesn't take too long to learn! I wouldn't even mind someone in the NYC area who I could work with... So I guess what I'd like to know is where to find resources on the 'how to' of those old styles.
pick up either copy of Art Rosenbaum's first two books: Old Time Mountain Banjo, The Art of Old Time Banjo
I'd suggest that you listen to a number of clawhammer players of the old school. From their sound, you might find a direction that you'd like to go. My suggestions:
Kyle Creed, Fred Cockerham, Hobart Smith, Tommy Thompson, Walt Koken, Wade Ward, Oscar Wright and I'm sure others will be recommended. You might find some music on-line but you should be able to get CDs or download stuff from Amazon, for example. The three CD set of Clawhammer Banjo (County Records) is tops.
Searches on this site may be useful
Pete Seeger’s book: How to Play the 5 String Banjo. Written in the 1940s and revised in the 1950s, it’s still in print and covers a vast array of techniques.(it is, incidentally, the source of the terms “hammer on” and “pull off” which Seeger made up (not the techniques - the names).
Edited by - Marc Nerenberg on 12/07/2017 20:09:09
"I'm starting to feel the need to go beyond bum ditty and add some other skills.... "
It would be worth while to learn to "Double Thumb" (drone is sounded each time the hand goes back up).
There are many Youtube videos of Dwight DIller playing, and he mostly plays a "Double Thumb" rhythm.
There is an archived BHO thread with a link to a video of me playing with a double thumb rhythm if you are interested:
The banjo in that video is one I built last Spring, and when I took it to the Vandalia Gathering Dwight Diller liked it enough that it is the one he played for his concert. There are over a dozen Youtube videos of him playing that banjo in that concert.
I build them better than I can play them, but the Vandalia videos were taken too far away from the stage to be able to see Dwight's hand, but you can see mine if you go to that thread and watch the video.
'Proposal' 1 hr
'Joy to the World' 4 hrs
'White Christmas' 4 hrs