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Mar 1, 2021 - 2:42:46 PM
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11694 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Rich Weill

Nor can it be that waltzes should be played as waltzes, period 


Of course not.

Any piece of music can be played differently than the way it was written. That's artistic license. But words have meaning. Waltz, by definition has three beats per measure. So once you play a waltz in 4/4 it is no longer a waltz.

Bobby Darin's be-bop Mack the Knife  is the same song as the original from The Threepenny Opera.  But it's not the same type of song as the original. The popular version may well sound better to most people. But it would probably be out of place in the context of the show for which it was written -- just as a song written as a waltz played in 4/4 is out of context and just plain wrong for people who want to dance a waltz.

Whether most songs written as waltzes sound better played in 4/4 is entirely a matter of opinion. You asked if you're in the minority for preferring to play them not in 3/4. Were you prepared to accept "yes" as an answer?

Mar 1, 2021 - 2:53:42 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

57065 posts since 10/5/2013

Another beautiful waltz on the banjo by Gina Furtado. (Gina Clowes at the time of the recording)
youtu.be/GQ2FrgHDXgI


 

Edited by - chuckv97 on 03/01/2021 14:57:07

Mar 1, 2021 - 2:56:40 PM

3514 posts since 5/6/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by Rich Weill

Nor can it be that waltzes should be played as waltzes, period 


Of course not.

Any piece of music can be played differently than the way it was written. That's artistic license. But words have meaning. Waltz, by definition has three beats per measure. So once you play a waltz in 4/4 it is no longer a waltz.

Bobby Darin's be-bop Mack the Knife  is the same song as the original from The Threepenny Opera.  But it's not the same type of song as the original. The popular version may well sound better to most people. But it would probably be out of place in the context of the show for which it was written -- just as a song written as a waltz played in 4/4 is out of context and just plain wrong for people who want to dance a waltz.

Whether most songs written as waltzes sound better played in 4/4 is entirely a matter of opinion. You asked if you're in the minority for preferring to play them not in 3/4. Were you prepared to accept "yes" as an answer?


I'll confess to being quite surprised at the BHO reaction. I've heard so many great 4/4 versions by professional players. If they don't appeal to a great many listeners, why are they that common?

Mar 1, 2021 - 3:01:57 PM

chuckv97

Canada

57065 posts since 10/5/2013

Because one of the criticisms of bluegrass is that everything starts to sound the same, especially when hornpipes are sped up and straightened out and waltzes become non-waltzes. “Before I Met You”, a F&S standard caught my ear as a 20 year-old, before I even thought about it being in 3/4 time. Many Stanley Brothers songs are in 3/4 time, although often as a fast waltz time.

Edited by - chuckv97 on 03/01/2021 15:03:57

Mar 1, 2021 - 3:14:43 PM
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11694 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Rich Weill
I'll confess to being quite surprised at the BHO reaction. I've heard so many great 4/4 versions by professional players. If they don't appeal to a great many listeners, why are they that common?

Because anything can be overdone. It doesn't relly take a great many waltzes changed to 4/4 to prove that in the right hands it can sound good. A good melody is a good melody. I get it. So I'm not going to be purist and say never do it.

But that wasn't really the topic. You specifically asked if you're in the minority preferring to play most waltzes in 4/4

I'd ask: aren't there enough good 4/4 songs to play?

Mar 1, 2021 - 3:18:17 PM
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2770 posts since 11/15/2003

I love 3/4 time.
I play knoxville girl as an instrumental with up the neck break.

3/4 time is usually not liked by pickers with less than scruggs timming...it gave me fits when i was younger..now its like falling off a log.

Warp!

Mar 1, 2021 - 3:43:22 PM
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Owen

Canada

8403 posts since 6/5/2011

I have a somewhat vague notion of what you guy are discussing, but since  can't make a worthwhile contribution, I'll just add a couple of observations and then crawl back under my rock.   

Sometimes when I watch couples dancing,  different couples appear to be doing different dances.... not the steps or patterns, but the timing.  When I ask my wife what dance they're doing, her answer is invariably "Don't ask me; I don't know."  

Pre-Covid I occasionally attended a coffee house jam.  One time I made an aside observation that I was having some difficulty knowing which guitar player's chord changes to follow, as 3 different guitar players seemed to be using 3 different chords [keys??].  As we were dispersing for the night a participant who had heard my earlier comment sidled up to me and said "You don't want to watch ________ and _______; they don't know what they're doing."

.... now back to regular programming.   wink

Mar 1, 2021 - 4:52:10 PM
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2636 posts since 2/10/2013

All 3/4 tunes are not waltzes. Some are "Airs". I think "Ashokan Farewell" sounds like an Air.
They aren't played at a steady regular tempo. Lots of pauses and variations. When I played Irish fiddle tunes I played "Airs" often. They really get listeners attention. They may be the only Irish fiddle tune that was not written for dancing. Tunes like Reels, jigs, hornpipes, ane polkas.

Mar 1, 2021 - 5:14:14 PM
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3514 posts since 5/6/2004

At the risk of prolonging this game of Whac-A-Mole —

I wonder if mathematics plays a role in this. It's been said (I know because I read it somewhere) that one of the great challenges of Scruggs-style is that 8 is not evenly divisible by 3. But 6 is.

Does asymmetry help produce the magnetic sound that draws us to the banjo? (Like the allure of the often dissonant 5th string.) By contrast, does the symmetry of playing in 3/4 produce a less dynamic banjo sound?

Just a thought. Let the beatings begin.

Mar 1, 2021 - 5:43:55 PM
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1706 posts since 7/4/2009

I really don't understand asking for people's opinion and then getting defensive when they give it.

Mar 1, 2021 - 6:02:28 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

57065 posts since 10/5/2013

Bluegrass banjo definitely has an excitement to it, what with the 3-note rolls , the high drone, and the syncopation. But it’s an instrument that has the same notes as most others, and to limit it to fast bluegrass tunes might be doing it a disservice. (the classic banjo players know this).  Even Earl branched out, as exemplified by his “Foggy Mountain Special” where he played a swing tune with a lot of single string technique. Don Reno, Bill Keith and many others played jazz and old pop tunes. When I was younger I didn’t think a banjo could do much with slow tunes ; “I’m so much younger than that now”.

Edited by - chuckv97 on 03/01/2021 18:04:27

Mar 1, 2021 - 9:39:41 PM
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3514 posts since 5/6/2004

quote:
Originally posted by UncleClawhammer

I really don't understand asking for people's opinion and then getting defensive when they give it.


There are opinions, and then there are snide remarks. When I list a bunch of true waltzes that are also commonly played in 4/4 time, I don't need to be told that "a 'waltz' played in 4/4 time is no longer a waltz." And when I cite "Waltzing Matilda" solely for purpose of showing that a 4/4 song can still have the word "waltz" in the title, I needn't be told: "'Waltzing Matilda' has nothing to do with waltzing."

My original post solicited opinions about the 3/4 version of these songs versus the 4/4 version. Hence, the title of this thread. However, if you look through the various posts, you will see many responses which, collectively, were to the effect: only a banjo incompetent with no music appreciation, who doesn't know what "waltz" means and must capo at the 7th fret to play in D, would ever prefer the 4/4 versions of these songs -- and, by the way, don't act as if you invented the idea.

Others confined themselves to the topic at hand. No quarrel there. And chuckv97 posted two specific examples of waltzes that might change my mind. Special thanks to him.

Over and out. 

Mar 1, 2021 - 10:03:48 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

57065 posts since 10/5/2013

Thank you, Rich. It takes a thick skin to be a banjo player, and a thick skin to weather the skinning by BHO members at times. Sally forth,, the show goes on! :-)

Mar 2, 2021 - 4:23:20 AM
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80 posts since 2/7/2020

You’re right, Rich. My response was unnecessarily snide. I’m not a fan of 3/4 songs done in 4/4, assuming I know it’s was originally done in 3/4. I think 3/4 time is something worth trying to do even though it’s difficult for most (including myself).

Mar 2, 2021 - 4:57:03 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1144 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Rich Weill

At the risk of prolonging this game of Whac-A-Mole —

I wonder if mathematics plays a role in this. It's been said (I know because I read it somewhere) that one of the great challenges of Scruggs-style is that 8 is not evenly divisible by 3. But 6 is.

Does asymmetry help produce the magnetic sound that draws us to the banjo? (Like the allure of the often dissonant 5th string.) By contrast, does the symmetry of playing in 3/4 produce a less dynamic banjo sound?

Just a thought. Let the beatings begin.


I'll dive in on this one.  With a bump ditty on a banjo, or a boom chucka on a guitar, or a straw berry on a fiddle, the main melody notes fall on the 1st and 5th beat (out of eight) in a measure.  Sometimes a 3rd or 7th as well, mostly as a transitional note.  

Now a Scruggsy banjo.  If it's pinches or square rolls, same thing.  But, ahhh, the forward roll!   Now all of a sudden you are getting main melody notes on the 1st, 4th, and 7th beats!  Wow, what a difference!  The 7th still falls mostly into the realm of transition.  But, ahhh, that 4th beat!  Coming in "too soon", when it belongs on the 5th beat. This is the absolute essence of the whole thing.  This is what puts the giddy up, the drive, into the whole thing.  This is what tricks the brain into thinking "hey, this is really fast!" when it's actually not really all that fast. 

To relate this to 3/4 time, yeah...  Sounds fine and all, but no magic of the forward roll... :(

That's how I see it, anyhoo...

Edited by - Eric A on 03/02/2021 05:05:54

Mar 2, 2021 - 6:24:29 AM
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phb

Germany

2621 posts since 11/8/2010
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I don't like playing in 3/4 time because I can't do it well (i.e. even worse than 4/4 time) but there are 3/4 songs I enjoy such as "In the Pines". I can't see how they would still feel like the song I like if they were played in 4/4 time. There are many enjoyable 4/4 songs already, I don't want to kill the 3/4 songs I like.

Mar 2, 2021 - 11:13:13 AM
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6087 posts since 10/13/2007

The Stanley Brothers did tons of great stuff in 3/4 time.
ken

Mar 2, 2021 - 11:20:27 PM

Jim Yates

Canada

6720 posts since 2/21/2007

I have always done More Pretty Girls Than One in waltz time, but have heard it done in 4/4 as well.  I played Devil's Dream in 5/4 when I was challenged to do it a few weeks back.  I thought it sounded pretty interesting.  I just stretched some eighth notes into dotted quarters.
 I think adding a few songs with different timing makes a set interesting.  

Mar 4, 2021 - 8:16:52 AM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2625 posts since 3/10/2008

I like the novelty of waltzes converted to 4/4 time. I think it was the Country Gents who put John Prine's Paradise into 4/4, and I like that better than the original. Ashoken Farwell comes out ok in rapid 4/4 time (I've tried it), but I doubt that Midnight on the water would. As beegee notes above, this can work the other way around, although it's rarely done. I tried to get my contradance band to play and sing the old rock tune, Save the Last Dance for Me, in 3/4 time as our ending waltz. They didn't want to.

Mar 4, 2021 - 8:23:07 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

783 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

The Stanley Brothers did tons of great stuff in 3/4 time.
ken


Yes totally! They have a metric ton of tunes in Waltz time. Ralph's sense of timing on 3/4 time is incredible. Especially his super minimalist backup on their gospel tracks. 

Mar 4, 2021 - 8:24:23 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

783 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by phb

I don't like playing in 3/4 time because I can't do it well (i.e. even worse than 4/4 time) but there are 3/4 songs I enjoy such as "In the Pines". I can't see how they would still feel like the song I like if they were played in 4/4 time. There are many enjoyable 4/4 songs already, I don't want to kill the 3/4 songs I like.


I know what you mean. For some reason some 3/4 tunes just mess with my brain so much. I can get the notes and tones out of the banjo but it doesn't sound like a proper Waltz timing tune half the time.

Mar 5, 2021 - 5:38:47 AM
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Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2625 posts since 3/10/2008

I forgot to mention this in my earlier post here. Cripple Creek is not only a hot 4/4 time tune, but a nice waltz if you slow it down and add some minor chords. Unfortunately this is a frailing version rather than the appropriate bluegrass style for this forum.


Mar 5, 2021 - 5:58:50 AM

6087 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

I forgot to mention this in my earlier post here. Cripple Creek is not only a hot 4/4 time tune, but a nice waltz if you slow it down and add some minor chords. Unfortunately this is a frailing version rather than the appropriate bluegrass style for this forum.


laughyes

Mar 5, 2021 - 6:14:47 AM
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3097 posts since 10/17/2009

Does anyone really prefer the 3/4 “Blue Moon of Kentucky” to the 4/4 version?

Yes. 

Though isn't necesarily simply about meter; but also different tempo, pace, flow, phrasing, rhythm, syncopation, groove, swing, drive, feel, expression... shifted emphasis.  (similarly 6/8 blues version just has different feel than upbeat 2/4)

For some folks perspective, tempo often plays a big role; esp as songs/words, how it's expressed and felt, about if giving the space and time for proper expression. 

Some folks it's not and either/or preference, just different; and enjoy diversity.

Of course not to mention that some folks like 3/4 versions because they like dancing.

Mar 5, 2021 - 7:52:58 AM

3731 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by banjoak

Does anyone really prefer the 3/4 “Blue Moon of Kentucky” to the 4/4 version?

Yes. 

Though isn't necesarily simply about meter; but also different tempo, pace, flow, phrasing, rhythm, syncopation, groove, swing, drive, feel, expression... shifted emphasis.  (similarly 6/8 blues version just has different feel than upbeat 2/4)

For some folks perspective, tempo often plays a big role; esp as songs/words, how it's expressed and felt, about if giving the space and time for proper expression. 

Some folks it's not and either/or preference, just different; and enjoy diversity.

Of course not to mention that some folks like 3/4 versions because they like dancing.


And let's not forget that Monroe's 1954 recording didn't have a banjo on it, while the 1946 recording did.

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