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Aug 30, 2019 - 5:52:11 AM
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John D

USA

426 posts since 11/3/2004

The TOTW for 8/30/2019 is.... The Old Favourite. It's an Irish Jig from County Clare. I learned it by ear in the early 90's from the album "Orb" by the band Boiled in Lead. I play it in A tuning, Clawhammer style, on a Wildwood banjo. I claw this pretty much over the 14th fret throughout the whole tune. My left hand stays in the first position all the way through the tune. It's nice not having to move my left arm up and down the neck, but that means I have to use my pinky and ring finger a lot to get all the notes.

There's dozens of versions of The Old Favourite on YouTube with tenor banjo, flute, whistle, accordion, bouzouki, and fiddle, but no version done clawhammer on a 5 string.

Music and more information on The Session.

Sorry, but I'm not a tab guy.

banjohangout.org/myhangout/med...archived=

Aug 30, 2019 - 8:49:16 AM
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RG

USA

2932 posts since 8/7/2008

That's some fine playing John! You're one of the few players I know that can really pull off an Irish jig on a 5 string, sure is fun to listen to...

Aug 30, 2019 - 12:19:24 PM
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janolov

Sweden

39947 posts since 3/7/2006
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Nice tune, and nice playing!

I have planned to learn to play clawhammer jigs for a long time now. Up till now I usually play jigs three finger up picking, but I think you get more drive with clawhammer (at least when listening to John's version).

Since I am a tab guy I put together a quick tab, based on the music notation in The Session to make it easier to learn. The tab is in the BHO tab archive (TablEdit, pdf and midi).


Aug 30, 2019 - 1:46:38 PM
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2242 posts since 4/29/2012

Great - Thanks for the tab Jan Olov. I've just linked this in the sticky thread on playing jigs so it doesn't get lost in the archives.

Sep 1, 2019 - 6:54:52 PM
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6326 posts since 6/27/2009

That's a neat tune, John, and you are a master at jig time. I'm giving it a try, attempting to keep a rhythm of finger, thumb, finger; finger, thumb, finger (unless there's a hammer-on, pull-off, or tied note). Definitely different!


Edited by - JanetB on 09/01/2019 18:56:59

Sep 1, 2019 - 7:32:49 PM

6337 posts since 8/30/2004

Hi Janet and Jan,
My only question is: how do I teach a student who loves clawhammer as you both wonderfully play it, but how do they, or "one" put chords to these tunes? Is the banjo played like a whistle with no chords needed, just the tune?...this has been a mystery to me for years now.

I play clawhammer yes, but always with a chordal harmony to go with it. Can either of you answer my question?. I love this little tune of course....muchas....Jack   p.s. perhaps my formal education in music has actually interfered with how to hear music....pps. could it be that only the technique is important when playing clawhammer?

Edited by - Jack Baker on 09/01/2019 19:42:35

Sep 2, 2019 - 2:25:57 AM
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

39947 posts since 3/7/2006
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Jack Baker

Hi Janet and Jan,
My only question is: how do I teach a student who loves clawhammer as you both wonderfully play it, but how do they, or "one" put chords to these tunes? Is the banjo played like a whistle with no chords needed, just the tune?...this has been a mystery to me for years now.

I play clawhammer yes, but always with a chordal harmony to go with it. Can either of you answer my question?. I love this little tune of course....muchas....Jack   p.s. perhaps my formal education in music has actually interfered with how to hear music....pps. could it be that only the technique is important when playing clawhammer?


The Old-Time and clawhammer TOTW has been live for more than 10 years, and I cannot remember anyone else than Jack that has asked for guitar chords. The focus is to present a banjo tune, and a lot of the tunes usually are played without guitar accompaniment, so why bother about chords.

However, my TablEdit version in the tab archive contains a guitar accompaniment but I never wrote out the chords. 

Sep 2, 2019 - 6:53:08 AM

6337 posts since 8/30/2004

Hi Jan,
Thank you for replying. Your latest post does have chords and I appreciate that. It makes absolutely no sense to me that Clawhammer has no chords as at any festival or gathering, there is always a guitarist or fiddler playing backup. I will not argue any more about the use of chords on BHO.

Accompaniment is part of Old Time music and Bluegrass and always has been...People on BHO are often newbies who don't know the difference or just want to play the banjo tune alone....I will not bother you again but I do think that you are dead wrong musically....Jack

Sep 2, 2019 - 8:26:57 AM

865 posts since 8/7/2017

Jack Baker
Jack, the strum-thumb bit of the basic frailing stroke (3 stroke sequence: strike strum thumb) automatically plays a chord accompaniment. The strike plays the melody note. More melodic clawhammer adds more melody notes (beyond the strike) with drop thumb, pull-offs, hammer-ons. These techniques eat into the chord time, which may be what you are thinking of when you say claw does not include chords. John D's arrangement is mostly melody, so I can see where you'd think claw does not use chords...but this beautiful arrangement is very far from basic frailing :-)

Hope this helps.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 09/02/2019 08:28:03

Sep 2, 2019 - 8:42:12 AM

6337 posts since 8/30/2004

Hi Brooke,
I appreciate your post. I've been teaching banjo claw and bluegrass for over 40 years so I do know what you're talking about. Your idea of clawhammer is to just strum the chord only and that that would take care of the chord backup issue. What if the song has a melody line also?

I just got a call from a student who wants to play his claw tunes I just gave him but forgot to put in the chords. People want to play with other people but they do not know what the chords are as they do not know clawhammer tunes but they are used to music containing chordal back up....thanks anyway. I do believe that reducing clawhammer style to nothing but bum ditty or bum a ditty will eventually lead to limiting the banjo to the very minimum....J

Edited by - Jack Baker on 09/02/2019 08:43:12

Sep 2, 2019 - 10:15:20 AM
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6326 posts since 6/27/2009

I re-did my tab for the key of A with chords for you, Jack. I think of chords as described in the Nashville number system. This tune has the three main chords -- the I, IV and V chords. For folk songs (learned through my guitar background) the V chord is often a seventh chord, but I like the sound of the major chord better. When I chordally strum along with The Old Favourite I use a strum, then a space (like a tied note), then a thumb drone on the 5th string. It provides a rhythmic back-up for the tune that uses the clawhammer hand positioning. Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more.


Sep 2, 2019 - 11:07:20 AM
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6337 posts since 8/30/2004

Thank you Janet....great arrangement too...J

Sep 2, 2019 - 11:14:20 PM

6326 posts since 6/27/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Jack Baker

Thank you Janet....great arrangement too...J


You’re welcome, Jack. Are the chords meant for guitar or banjo?  Do you only need the letter names of the chord?  When I play them on banjo for this particular tune I use more than one chord formation for the three chords (i.e. by going up the neck — it gets a more harmonious accompaniment).  

Sep 3, 2019 - 5:42:27 AM

6337 posts since 8/30/2004

Thanks Janet,
I just meant for guitar accompaniment....Thanks so much...Jack

Sep 3, 2019 - 6:04:35 AM

6337 posts since 8/30/2004

Hi Brooke,
Got your email and all is well. Thanks....Jack

Originally posted by Jack Baker

Hi Brooke,
I appreciate your post. I've been teaching banjo claw and bluegrass for over 40 years so I do know what you're talking about. Your idea of clawhammer is to just strum the chord only and that that would take care of the chord backup issue. What if the song has a melody line also?

I just got a call from a student who wants to play his claw tunes I just gave him but forgot to put in the chords. People want to play with other people but they do not know what the chords are as they do not know clawhammer tunes but they are used to music containing chordal back up....thanks anyway. I do believe that reducing clawhammer style to nothing but bum ditty or bum a ditty will eventually lead to limiting the banjo to the very minimum....J


Sep 3, 2019 - 6:09:29 AM
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dbrooks

USA

3672 posts since 3/11/2004

Jack Baker , I have been writing clawhammer tabs for 10 years or more and almost always indicate chord names above the tab lines. I too mean it for guitar. I started writing tabs for my own use at contra dances. Our fiddler would mention and demonstrate a new tune he was working on, but it could take 6 or 8 weeks or more before he felt comfortable enough to play it at a dance. By then I often couldn't remember my arrangement, so I began tabbing them for quick recall. (I never played from the tab. It was only intended to help me recall the arrangement.)

Soon after I began sharing the tabs with others in the volunteer band and adding the chord names to help the guitar and mandolin players. At about the same time, I started a monthly old-time jam and sent out tab, music audio files and web links for a "tune of the month." Again, the chord names were intended to help those playing other instruments. Even her on the Hangout, when I post a tab for someone, I add the chord names unless it is a highly modal tune. I also add the comment that chords are intended for the guitar player, if there is one. So I have agreed with you for a long time about the value of chords in clawhammer tabs.

Clawhammer uses tunings to maximize the use of open strings. As a result, partial chords or even somewhat discordant open strings may be brushed in melodic arrangements. Ken Perlman is one of the few in my mind who plays a lot of closed chord shapes when playing melodic clawhammer.

David

Sep 3, 2019 - 9:41:31 AM

6337 posts since 8/30/2004

Thank you for the post David....Jack

Sep 20, 2019 - 2:04:57 PM
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1362 posts since 4/29/2013

A little late posting, but here’s my take out of A, though I’ve seen several arrangements in G. 


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