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Ummm. Is Playing Banjo Like Playing 2D Mario Brothers For Anyone Else?

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Oct 20, 2019 - 6:22:08 AM
356 posts since 6/12/2017

I'm a millenial, 36. That means around about 1989 I got my first Nintendo system when I was about 7 or 8, and grew up my entire youth playing 2D video games. Such that Mario starts at the left side of the screen and you make various hand movements in quick succession in order to keep Mario on track to the end without "dying". You might have to dodge fireballs, goombas, turtle troopers, pits, hit high up bonus coins or question blocks, etc in quick succession if you want to get the to end.

People have told my my playing is robotic based on a few vids I have posted. I have progressed enough to play tunes, by my timing still leaves much to be improved. Even when I am conscious of this, I find myself quickly losing track of timing and just trying to hit each "obstacle" (note) as quick as I can. I realized that when I am playing off tab that I am in the same kinda mental mode I used to be in when I played 2D video games. Start on the left, hit that note up high, slide here, 3 open quick open 4th strings, a bum ditty, okay almost half way through now without "dying".

I just noticed the mental process in my brain seems to be the same, and I am wondering if anyone else has had that experience?

Oct 20, 2019 - 6:37:19 AM

35 posts since 11/29/2012

I started about a year ago. Banjo, especially old time styles, is like a blend of guitar and bass--which I've played for 38 years. Bass and banjo, especially old time styles, are drums... that's how I think about the multitasking, a human fallacy. I find practicing with a metronome helpful for building muscle memory. And, I find making random noise, noodling, keeps it fun, playing along with music, even if I'm not there yet. Good luck!

Oct 20, 2019 - 6:39:52 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

158 posts since 10/9/2019

I don't think so, but I can understand why you would.
I do find it to be an amusing thought... lol

Oct 20, 2019 - 6:58:32 AM
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Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

39991 posts since 3/7/2006

When I grew up there were no computer games, and we used dice and deck of cards when playing.

I think timing should be important in the Mario games. When you jump at the bad guy you should have the right timing, not to early and not to late. The difference to music is that timing in music is often strictly time based or rhythm based, but in the Mario games the actions can be more unexpectedly without thought of keeping the rhythm.

So the advice for you is to forget the Mario brothers when playing banjo. Most banjo music is strictly rhythmic and there are no unexpected actions you have to rush for or wait for. A banjo tab may perhaps be seen as a Mario game where all actions and events are taken place in a rhythmic and predetermined order, and you have to play the right note at exactly the right time, otherwise you are out of game!

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:09:16 AM

2490 posts since 4/19/2008

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:18:54 AM

Fathand

Canada

11508 posts since 2/7/2008

To develop timing, play backup with other people. Go to jam sessions and concentrate on playing backup. Country jam sessions where people are playing slower Hank and Merle 3 chord tunes are the easiest to get you started.

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:40:15 AM
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

39991 posts since 3/7/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Fathand

To develop timing, play backup with other people. Go to jam sessions and concentrate on playing backup. Country jam sessions where people are playing slower Hank and Merle 3 chord tunes are the easiest to get you started.


One of the problems the OP has is that he lives in a country without old-time jams and without too many other old-time players. But there are a lot of jam opportunities through Internet. It is also possible to create own jams by TablEdit.

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:55:30 AM

5182 posts since 12/20/2005

I would highly recommend the AP, Strum Machine.
It doesn't cost much and it's about as user friendly as anything can be.
I started using it almost 2 years ago. It's been tremendously helpful for me to improve timing.
Also, I have seen many posts on this forum from other players indicating the same results.


Oct 20, 2019 - 8:33:14 AM
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

39991 posts since 3/7/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

I would highly recommend the AP, Strum Machine.sa with different chord progressions. 
It doesn't cost much and it's about as user friendly as anything can be.
I started using it almost 2 years ago. It's been tremendously helpful for me to improve timing.
Also, I have seen many posts on this forum from other players indicating the same results.


A problem (or is it a challenge with the Strum Machine is that a lot of the Old Time tunes usually are played in a lot of different versions. The last weeks I have studied Salt River a.k.a. Salt Creek and I found that each version (I studied about six different versions) has its own chords. So when using the Strum Machine you have to know what version you want to play and be sure that the version on the Strum Machine is the version you want to play. But when the version in Strum Machine is the version you want to play it is a great tool!

Oct 20, 2019 - 8:14:44 PM

5182 posts since 12/20/2005

I'm not sure what I did to put that photo in the previous post.

I'm not affiliated with Strum Machine, in any way except as a subscriber.
You can add songs to it, in any key, as long as it is 3/4 or 4/4 time.
You can also modify existing songs, so that it can match a specific version of any tune you are working on.

Oct 20, 2019 - 8:28:26 PM

Kye

Canada

22 posts since 3/16/2017

Check out the soundbrenner core, and perhaps the pulse.
I have big hopes.. :) Try youtube...

Oct 21, 2019 - 5:07:11 AM

2724 posts since 10/17/2009
Online Now

Video game analogy does perhaps point to a difference in approach to music, a difference between timing and rhythm.

Timing as quantitative, something you calculate and measure.  Aiming for targets; like in video games.

Rhythm as qualitative, sensory experience you feel. Physical rhythmic movement, like in dancing to a rhythmic groove.

For strengthening rhythm, it's about experiencing, connecting to and internalizing the rhythmic feel; doesn't really require external devices (metronome, strum machine) nor other people.

Edited by - banjoak on 10/21/2019 05:14:58

Oct 21, 2019 - 6:11:09 AM
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9038 posts since 2/22/2007

---" I realized that when I am playing off tab that I am in the same kinda mental mode I used to be in when I played 2D video games--

You have identified the problem so stop doing that.

Oct 22, 2019 - 10:34:16 AM
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272 posts since 4/13/2007

I agree with Bill – stop playing from the tab and really listen to the music you are making. You have the roadmap of where to go, but now you have to learn how to drive.

Take tunes you know well from the tab and just sit back and play. The advice others have about playing with others and Strum Machine etc. is good. Concentrate on making music rather than playing the tune mechanically from the tab. If you make mistakes that's OK - your ears will help you out!

Oct 29, 2019 - 6:17:34 AM

356 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Berry

I agree with Bill – stop playing from the tab and really listen to the music you are making. You have the roadmap of where to go, but now you have to learn how to drive.

Take tunes you know well from the tab and just sit back and play. The advice others have about playing with others and Strum Machine etc. is good. Concentrate on making music rather than playing the tune mechanically from the tab. If you make mistakes that's OK - your ears will help you out!


I have been playing without tab alot lately. A problem I had is it took me two and half years of trying to be able to play a few songs fluently with a bit of drive and from heart in CH. I don't know if I didn't practice enough or I'm an old student at 36, or I'm not naturally musical or what. But it's been a long hard almost 3 years. Until now almost all of my playing has been hard and boring exercises where I'm equally frustrating and discouraged from making so many errors in the song. Plus I didn't realize tab was only an approximation of a song. I don't agree with the the experienced players are saying. It's too hard to play from sound alone when you're starting out imo. I think that comes after you already have a bit of skill and experience with a Banjo, as now I've worked a few songs like Red River valley in double C just from my ear alone. Listen to Boggs over and over again, and sometimes can barely hear the banjo behind his voice. But now I do have an idea if what he is doing but that's only because I've spent months playing Boggs songs (badly), and kinda got a feel for the style now. Another issue I've had is I don't understand music theory. I would by music books and try to play the notes on guitar or strum the chords and none of it sounds like the Carter Family or anything. Wildwood Flower for example every book for CH has different way to play these kinds of songs often with different tunings, none it them sound like the Carter recordings. So I was just confused musically. Now I know there's the Carter Scratch on flatop but you don't have to learn the style to enjoy playing. You can just play the chords with the right rhythm and use your voice for the melody. I didn't know at that. No one tells you on here that kinda stuff.

Edited by - 6stringedRamble on 10/29/2019 06:23:43

Oct 29, 2019 - 6:28:44 AM

356 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by janolov
quote:
Originally posted by Fathand

To develop timing, play backup with other people. Go to jam sessions and concentrate on playing backup. Country jam sessions where people are playing slower Hank and Merle 3 chord tunes are the easiest to get you started.


One of the problems the OP has is that he lives in a country without old-time jams and without too many other old-time players. But there are a lot of jam opportunities through Internet. It is also possible to create own jams by TablEdit.


There's a few people in my area outside Tel Aviv doing bluegrass jams but that doesn't fit my schedule. One thing is that here in Israel, people tend to see everything as "Country and Blues", not understanding the subtleties between various genres within Southern music.

Oct 29, 2019 - 6:32:46 AM

356 posts since 6/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by banjoak

Video game analogy does perhaps point to a difference in approach to music, a difference between timing and rhythm.

Timing as quantitative, something you calculate and measure.  Aiming for targets; like in video games.

Rhythm as qualitative, sensory experience you feel. Physical rhythmic movement, like in dancing to a rhythmic groove.

For strengthening rhythm, it's about experiencing, connecting to and internalizing the rhythmic feel; doesn't really require external devices (metronome, strum machine) nor other people.


Yeah I think it's about struggle to develop muscle memory. On songs I already know well it's much less of an issue for me to jump from obstacle to obstacle as fast as I can. It was just a Weird feeling of jumping through 2d obstacles like Mario again. It's actually started to go away as I feel I've jumped a level recently in playing.

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