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Jun 14, 2018 - 8:23:12 AM
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11 posts since 2/12/2018

I play a 5 string, Clawhammer style, BUT, instead of playing melody notes, I chord the music to the words! Now I know this is NOT traditional banjo Clawhammer Old Time playing, but given the fact that those listening can sing along to the music ,I have had no complaints! I usually play with a guitarist and mandolin players, and believe it or not everyone loves this style, because the music is more modern than the old tunes. For instance, the song “Fox On The Run” by Mel Tillus, can be played Clawhammer style playing chords, and some melody notes and can be sung while playing. Note, this type playing is not like playing a tenor or plectrum banjo, because the 5th string is being utilized with a Clawhammer style of play! Playing this style let’s the guitar or mandolin or banjo take a lead! Just wondering if anyone else has played this way?

Jun 14, 2018 - 8:39:55 AM
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47874 posts since 12/14/2005
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Best advice I ever got:

"Kid, it's YOUR banjo! Play it any damn' way you WANT!"
-Ken Haferman, Banjo Expert, Milwaukee, Wisconsin-

 

(Ken excelled in Clawhammer)

Jun 14, 2018 - 8:47:21 AM

KCJones

USA

168 posts since 8/30/2012

You're describing playing the banjo as an accompaniment rather than as a lead. Pretty much every player I've ever seen does this when playing a vocal tune, especially in a group setting where you're mostly playing backup. In your configuration, I would expect the banjo to play more chord backup and the mandolin or guitar to take the lead melody.

It certainly works, and it is a traditional way of playing as far as I can tell.

Jun 14, 2018 - 9:09:53 AM

11 posts since 2/12/2018

KC your right on! I was having a mental anxiety playing this way, because even though I was actually clawhammering the instrument, I knew I was not letting people listen to so called”traditional “ banjo playing. But when playing old time melody songs, the people listening always wanted to hear the other style I was playing, which was Clawhammer chording! So I guess your right...it could be considered another traditional way of combining both methods!

Jun 14, 2018 - 1:32:17 PM

10 posts since 1/25/2017

John,
I like to sing while playing, too, and my partner is a fine lead guitarist. I'm curious what rhythm you're using when playing the backup chords. Is it a bum dit-ty with the "bum" and "dit" full brushes?

Jun 16, 2018 - 6:25:23 AM

11 posts since 2/12/2018

That’s exactly what I’m doing.

Jun 16, 2018 - 6:27:38 AM

11 posts since 2/12/2018

That’s exactly what I’m doing.

Jun 18, 2018 - 9:43:03 PM
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John Gribble Players Union Member

Japan

4449 posts since 5/14/2007

Johnny, I suggest you listen to some master self-accompanists like Cathy Fink and the late Pete Seeger. There are lots of ways to make clawhammer accompaniment interesting.

Jun 19, 2018 - 6:13:57 AM

Jim Yates

Canada

6412 posts since 2/21/2007
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quote:
Originally posted by John Gribble

Johnny, I suggest you listen to some master self-accompanists like Cathy Fink and the late Pete Seeger. There are lots of ways to make clawhammer accompaniment interesting.


Cathy has and instruction tape (No doubt a DVD by now) on Homespun Tapes.  One of my students let me borrow this a few years back and I was quite impressed.
And of course every banjo player who is properly fanatical must have a copy of Pete's banjo book.

Jun 19, 2018 - 6:27:29 AM
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Lew H Players Union Member

USA

2027 posts since 3/10/2008

You can also use clawhammer to play a chord for each melody note--or most of them, and a few melody notes as individual notes on the banjo. I initially thought this one-chord-per-note style was what you were talking about. I have posted an MP3 of The World is Waiting for the Sunrise on BHO using this style. I've always been a chord guy anyway.

Incidentally, I think Fox on the Run is a Manfred Mann song originally.

Jun 19, 2018 - 6:37:22 AM

Helix Players Union Member

USA

11030 posts since 8/30/2006

Blazing Saddles: at the end of the movie, it's clawhammer as they ride into the sunset, we should all do this.

Jun 19, 2018 - 5:15:07 PM

Jim Yates

Canada

6412 posts since 2/21/2007
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quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

You can also use clawhammer to play a chord for each melody note--or most of them, and a few melody notes as individual notes on the banjo. I initially thought this one-chord-per-note style was what you were talking about. I have posted an MP3 of The World is Waiting for the Sunrise on BHO using this style. I've always been a chord guy anyway.

Incidentally, I think Fox on the Run is a Manfred Mann song originally.


You are right about Fox On The Run.  Written in the late sixties by Tony Hazzard and first recorded by the English rock band Manfred Mann.  I believe it was The Country Gentlemen who introduced it to the bluegrass genre, though I first heard it by The Good Brothers in the early seventies.

Jun 20, 2018 - 1:44:19 PM

11 posts since 2/12/2018

Thanks for all the replies. I wanted to post this method of playing because sooo many people buy their first banjo with the idea that Scrugg style is the only way to play a banjo. And after a little while of trying, they just give up and sell their banjos, never realizing that there are many, many ways to enjoy this instrument. This statement can be somewhat justified by the number of instruments that are for sale on eBay, local sales sheets, etc. They just almost sell them for nothing! I think everyone who loves to play the banjo, should enlighten others as to the different methods of playing, that way I would think that given the choice between giving up trying to learn one method, the door is open for them to learn other methods and styles of playing, that could be enjoyed, thus increasing the number of people that would keep the banjo in their lives and playing it!

Jun 21, 2018 - 10:16:40 AM

Jim Yates

Canada

6412 posts since 2/21/2007
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Here are a couple of examples of how I play back up banjo clawhammer style.  Please ignore the treble clef; I just had that piece of paper handy.


Edited by - Jim Yates on 06/21/2018 10:19:53

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