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Jun 18, 2019 - 7:05:15 PM
14 posts since 2/17/2019

In his book(Wayne Erbsen) "Banjo for the complete Ignoranus" which I loved, is this an error on the page on drone notes? for basic blue grass teaching. He says drone notes are quick little notes played on the 1st string, should he not mean 5th string ? This is a book for the complete beginner. I tried to contact him but failed or am I making a mistake here. I am a very old man , so it's possibly my fault.

Edited by - brassicaman on 06/18/2019 19:06:56

Jun 18, 2019 - 7:11:56 PM

14 posts since 2/17/2019

quote:
Originally posted by brassicaman

In his book(Wayne Erbsen) "Banjo for the complete Ignoranus" which I loved, is this an error on the page on drone notes? for basic blue grass teaching. He says drone notes are quick little notes played on the 1st string, should he not mean 5th string ? This is a book for the complete beginner. I tried to contact him but failed or am I making a mistake here. I am a very old man , so it's possibly my fault.



Jun 18, 2019 - 7:17:24 PM
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997 posts since 7/12/2004

Wayne describes the drone notes as being played on the first string with the right middle finger. This is consistent - a 5th string note would be played with the right thumb. Musically, the open D first string makes as much sense for these filler notes as the fifth string G for Yankee Doodle played in G. No error here that I can see.

Jun 18, 2019 - 8:01:38 PM

14 posts since 2/17/2019

I don't understand that. I know I'm wrong I just dont get it. Im using his method and have to say I think it's fantastic. I've just been told by the Internet experts that the reason for hitting the 5th string high G is to keep the root of the song in G. I've also been told as a beginner /intermediate player I should be keeping my drone notes to the high G fifth string for now. I'm asking this because I'm trying to become a musician banjo player rather than just an instrument player that's why I like his book. Just this one page about drone notes in Blue Grass I'd have liked some more explanation for the ignoramus. I do However get a much nicer sound playing tunes like Pretty Polly and Ground Hog using my middle finger on the open D. It seems to flow better than when hitting with my thumb on the high G fifth.

Edited by - brassicaman on 06/18/2019 20:02:33

Jun 18, 2019 - 8:10:15 PM
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Mooooo

USA

6895 posts since 8/20/2016

a drone note is any repetitive note...the note drones. So it doesn't really matter what string you drone. Maybe it's confusing because the 5th string is called the drone string. It is usually used as a drone, but not always. You can use any repetitive note as a drone, it doesn't have to be an open string either, it just has to repeat over and over and over...like that note on the bagpipe...if you listen there is always that constant note and they play the melody over that one note...it's the drone note. It is similar to the 5th string or any note you pick over and over on the banjo. You can play the melody on the 3rd and 2nd strings while you use the open 5th and 1st strings as drone notes, or any combinations you like. I hope this helps, good luck.

Jun 18, 2019 - 10:36:40 PM
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Alex Z

USA

3539 posts since 12/7/2006

"Alongside the rolls is another tool that will form the basis of bluegrass banjo playing:  drone notes.  Drone notes are quick little notes that are always played on the 1st string and are used to fill in around the melody notes that are tied together."

The error is not that he is saying the drone notes are on the 1st string -- his example shows drone notes on the 1st string.

The error is that he is saying that drone notes on the 1st string is a "tool that will form the basis of bluegrass banjo playing."  That's a concept I've never run into in 3-finger picking.  Maybe others have.  Yet I don't see the connection of 1st string drone to 3-finger bluegrass banjo.  Old time 2-finger style, yes;  but not 3-finger Scruggs style.

Now, I don't have the book (only the page displayed by the poster)  and there might be some context around why he is bringing up drone notes on the 1st string.

Jun 19, 2019 - 3:40:22 AM
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phb

Germany

1874 posts since 11/8/2010

I would call it a didactic error. Usually the 5th string is the first that comes to mind as a drone string but sometimes is fretted for melody or harmony notes. The 1st string also often is used as a drone string but I think less often than the 5th. I think the statement is at least confusing. On the other hand it took me a while to understand the role of the 1st string as a drone (and then even more how to make it work as a melody string which I'm still not 100% comfortable with) because it was not as obvious to me as that of the 5th string. Perhaps it would have helped me earlier on to get confused like you were and then have it cleared up.

Jun 19, 2019 - 5:55:20 AM

14 posts since 2/17/2019

Thank you very much for these replies, yes it really helps clear things up. My confusuon has kind of helped me, as I've been practicing "drone" notes on both the first and fifth string. Wayne Erbsen's book was truly good value for me. I love the way he gives the reader a basic melody to build around. He gives advice how to do that with various rolls , such as two finger roll, alternating thumb roll, forward roll etc. The only part about playing drone notes is the picture I uploaded (Apart from him suggesting drone notes and pinches, as the beginning building blocks of the bare bones skeleton tab of almost every tune in the book). Although, his book is termed "Blue Grass for the ignoramus " I think it maybe better titled "Banjo Picking for the Ignoramus" as nearly all the songs are old British Irish and American folk tunes (not the usual songs given to beginners such as Cripple Creek etc). He doesn't include hammer ons and pull offs which he has included in his clawhammer book. Next I'd like to tackle some Doc Boggs. Once again thanks for the very nice and USEFUL replies.

Edited by - brassicaman on 06/19/2019 06:01:18

Jun 19, 2019 - 9:09:02 AM
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3412 posts since 5/6/2004

Although this is not the example Erbsen gives, think of it this way: In the key of G, you often play the melody on the "inside" strings (strings 2, 3, and 4). So, using a forward roll -- with the thumb playing the 5th string, the middle finger playing the 1st string, and the index finger switching between the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings to catch the melody -- the 1st string is essentially serving the same function as the 5th (although, unlike the 5th, the 1st will change notes as the chords change, e.g., a C chord). It's filling the space between melody notes in a manner that establishes a bluegrass-style rhythm and feel.

Jun 19, 2019 - 10:19:51 AM
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9830 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

The error is not that he is saying the drone notes are on the 1st string ... The error is that he is saying that drone notes on the 1st string is a "tool that will form the basis of bluegrass banjo playing."  That's a concept I've never run into in 3-finger picking.  Maybe others have.  Yet I don't see the connection of 1st string drone to 3-finger bluegrass banjo.  Old time 2-finger style, yes;  but not 3-finger Scruggs style.


In the attached recording, in my half of the instrumental break, I play the melody line entirely on 2nd string in forward roll, FMB roll and maybe forward-backward roll, with 5th and 1st strings open. The open first is a drone, as much as the open fifth.  Recording is from the 1980s, so I don't remember exactly what I played.

I often go after melody on 2nd string, leaving 1st string open.


Jun 19, 2019 - 10:26:23 AM
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1971 posts since 4/5/2006

Taken together, what everyone is saying is right, including Wayne Erbsen. What you're really seeing is that not everyone thinks along the same line, or expresses their thoughts the same way. This is why it's good to have numerous instruction books by different authors. You are exposed to different aspects/approaches to achieving the same end result rather than just one way of doing things. For example, banging on the open 4th string also works. Don't spend too much time trying to figure why it works. For now, just accept that it does. smiley

Jun 19, 2019 - 10:38:31 AM
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9830 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by brassicaman

I've just been told by the Internet experts that the reason for hitting the 5th string high G is to keep the root of the song in G.


That incorrect advice from those so-called experts is proved wrong as soon as you switch to the key of C in G tuning with no capo. You'll still play the 5th string as a G note against every chord. But you're in C!  So much for keeping the root of the song in G.

quote:
Originally posted by brassicaman

I've also been told as a beginner /intermediate player I should be keeping my drone notes to the high G fifth string for now. I'm asking this because I'm trying to become a musician banjo player rather than just an instrument player . . .


I think what you should do is learn to play songs -- from tab or by ear -- then take the time think about what you're doing musically. Much better than arguing in your mind with a concept on the page that you think is wrong. 

If you just play that snippet of Yankee Doodle over and over, it should be clear why Wayne is calling the open 1st string a drone. In case it's not, the short version is: There's no melody happening there. The repeated D note is just filler.  Being a repeated non-melody note by definition makes it a drone. Play that example tab without any of the first string notes. You get the unadorned melody of Yankee Doodle.

quote:
Originally posted by brassicaman

I do However get a much nicer sound playing tunes like Pretty Polly and Ground Hog using my middle finger on the open D. It seems to flow better than when hitting with my thumb on the high G fifth.


You're well on your way to being a musician.

Jun 19, 2019 - 6:12:06 PM

Alex Z

USA

3539 posts since 12/7/2006

A note in a repeated arpeggio does not always function as a "drone."

The point is not that repeated notes other than the 5th string exist.  Can find examples of this here and there -- maybe even three of them.  smiley

Mr. Erbsen's statements are:  "tool that will form the basis of bluegrass banjo playing:  drone notes."  And "always played on the 1st string".

 So the statements mean that (a) drone notes occur ONLY on the 1st string, and (b) such notes on the 1st string FORM THE BASIS of bluegrass banjo playing.

I think he's trying to get to something else, and has jumbled up the explanation.  

Jun 21, 2019 - 1:18:20 PM
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31 posts since 8/25/2009

A slight bit of thread drift.

The "short string" on the banjo has several names.

1) Chanterelle -banjo picking folks don't like this one because it's too high-falutin.

2) Fifth string - Not too good if you're talking about a 3+1 banjo, or a 5+1, etc. where the chanterelle is not the fifth and your thumb typically plays the drone note on the 4th or 6th string.

3) Thumb string -But what about double thumbing/ drop thumbing?

4) Drone string- this thread demonstrates the problems with that, but it's kind of the least evil -or maybe not :-).


Bill

Jun 21, 2019 - 4:35:46 PM

88 posts since 4/1/2016

Wayne is on Facebook. Why not message him and ask the question ?

Jun 21, 2019 - 10:53:51 PM

14 posts since 2/17/2019

I couldn't find the email on Native Ground so I just found his FB and messaged him this thread under my real name with the user name I use on here. See if he replies. However, I've learned a lot from this thread.

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