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Mar 13, 2018 - 5:03:17 PM
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Lew H Players Union Member

USA

2028 posts since 3/10/2008

Some hang outers have been discussing how to play clawhammer in. a bluegrass jam. I play a sort of clawhammer, but in jamming with bluegrassers for decades, a lot of their banjo licks have crept into my playing. I will post a few videos over the coming days showing one or more licks. In bluegrass, as I understand this, a lick is any sort of hammer on or pull off, slide, pinch, or string bend. OR, maybe licks are fillers between the phrases of the melody, or beginning or ending phrases added to the melody.

In the series in this forum, I show how clawhammer can simulate traditional bluegrass licks. Single string, melodic, chromatic, etc. bluegrass may not use these licks at all--or very often. Think, Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Ralph Stanley--the first generation of grassers. I think that's the style we hear in a lot of jams.

I'm new to uploading from smartphone video, so the first one minute video is #3 in the sequence. Also, I've been in a rush to post these, given the recent interest, so the lighting, my narration, some of the picking, are not what I'd like, but passable, I hope.


Mar 13, 2018 - 6:47:29 PM
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Lew H Players Union Member

USA

2028 posts since 3/10/2008

I neglected to say in the first post that these licks are all in open G tuning.
I absorbed this very simple lick from James McKinney, an instructor I met at Suwannee Banjo Camp. (If you haven't heard his playing, check out his youtube videos!) It's not a common lick in traditional bluegrass, but McKinney is not traditional. The lick does have that flatted 3rd note so common in BG.
The lick is made up of:
4th string: Pull off 3rd fret to open, hammer on the 3rd.
3rd string: Pick open for a G note to end.

NOTE: In the video narration, I described this lick wrong: What's above here is the 4 correct notes! My fingers know what they are doing more than my brain does!  LOL

To make this a little snazzier use a triplet pull off:
4th string: Pull off 3rd to 2nd to open, hammer on 3rd fret.
3rd string: Pick open for a G note to end.


Edited by - Lew H on 03/13/2018 18:51:23

Mar 14, 2018 - 5:54:51 AM
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Lew H Players Union Member

USA

2028 posts since 3/10/2008

Here's the second in this out-of-order string of videos: This one is a bit longer and didn't want to upload on several tries. The first video was posted ages ago and can be seen on my BHO homepage, along with videos showing a couple of tunes in this "blue hammer" way of mixing things. The banjo is in open G tuning today. That older video emphasized left-hand triplets to the neglect of the common use of the flatted 3rd and 7th notes in bluegrass (which notes it demonstrated). I briefly 'splain those notes here, then show some some licks using these--especially the flatted 3rd.
Again, I made these videos in a hurry, so my organization, lighting, and picking are not as good as I would like. I'm happy to clarify things, should anyone be interested. I don't know how many other people share my situation of being kind of eclectic in choice of music, but being more an OT/CH picker than BG--or in jamming more with BG folks than OT folks. But if many are interested, I'll keep posting here. Maybe you'll gain new licks--or develop your own--that novice bluegrassers will steal from you: I love it when that happens!


Mar 14, 2018 - 6:19:25 AM
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lilyrose

Reunion

30 posts since 1/10/2016

Thanks Lew,
Your videos are really instructives and don't worry about the quality of the sound, it's ok.
It's so kind of you to share what you have experimented and give us some more techniques to progress on our banjo journey.
have a nice day
mona

Mar 14, 2018 - 9:34:21 AM
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KHO

USA

113 posts since 8/29/2015

Outstanding as always LewH.....Thanks for your unselfish sharing of your talent! If you ever decide to come to N.C. and do a Clawhammer Banjo Camp or Workshop ....i am all in!

Mar 14, 2018 - 12:16:48 PM
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Lew H Players Union Member

USA

2028 posts since 3/10/2008

KHO , Thanks, but I volunteered to do a class at a banjo camp and got nowhere. I'm not known as a instructor: even locally I tell people I will "abet" or "enable" them in banjo picking for free, but I'm not a teacher who gives instruction for pay. Furthermore, my selection of tunes and embellishments is peculiar for what the majority of OT pickers want. Even my right hand picking is weird. So I appreciate your words. Sorry, but my getting into a banjo camp or workshop in NC ain't gonna happen.

Mar 15, 2018 - 5:28:15 AM

jpbrake5 Players Union Member

USA

7 posts since 5/26/2014

Sounds nice, but I gotta be the elephant in the room.

Sounds like Bluegrass picking on an open back banjo. Where's the claw?

Mar 15, 2018 - 6:47:38 AM
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Lew H Players Union Member

USA

2028 posts since 3/10/2008

jpbrake5 , Thank you for saying it sounds like bluegrass. That's the entire point.

Mar 22, 2018 - 2:38:34 PM
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dennism

USA

64 posts since 9/5/2013

Thanks. The subject was getting a lot of noise on another thread without much illumination.

Mar 24, 2018 - 4:30:41 PM
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Beardog Players Union Member

USA

1622 posts since 8/20/2008
Online Now

Hey Lew, I lam enjoying your thread. Thanks for starting it.

I am new to clawhammer banjo, and you inspired me to try some bluegrass licks in more of a clawhammer style. I spent a little time trying to learn "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" using only down strokes, drop thumb, alternate string pull-offs, etc. If FMB ain't the "Classic" bluegrass banjo tune, then nothing is! Some of the licks were kind of tough to figure out, and I certainly need more practice toward speeding it up. Getting the "transposed" licks under my fingers after several years of 3-finger picking is going to be a challenge, but doable. I put some OME heavy strings on my Prucha and stuffed it with a towel earlier today, before trying to learn this tune.

Anyway, here is a video to add to your thread!


Mar 25, 2018 - 5:41:36 PM

Lew H Players Union Member

USA

2028 posts since 3/10/2008

Beardog Hey! That's cool! I'll try to post my version in a while.

Mar 26, 2018 - 3:41:35 PM

5053 posts since 3/6/2006

Interesting topic Lew, I know you mentioned Mike Seeger in here somewhere and thought you might like to hear his version of the Scruggs classic Flint Hill Special I think it's pretty cool.

Mar 26, 2018 - 6:54:17 PM

Lew H Players Union Member

USA

2028 posts since 3/10/2008

Thanks Laurence Diehl ! I have this CD. I was listening to it for the first time in years while driving to banjo camp. The whole album, as you say is "pretty cool." It is good musically and has wonderful parodies. The one that cracked me up the most on listening again is "Jerusalem Ridge," which they played with all major chords. The song sounds mundane, but is really funny if you know the Monroe tune.

I may have said (if not, I'll say it here), Mike Seeger taught "Doing my Time" to some of us in an afternoon workshop on an open back banjo. That evening at the faculty concert, he sang and played it on a gourd banjo. What a hoot!

Mar 27, 2018 - 5:02:02 AM

Terry F

USA

18 posts since 2/16/2015

Thanks Lew. I appreciate all your videos!

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