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Jun 20, 2021 - 3:56:59 PM
1 posts since 7/23/2013

Hey y'all,
I've been searching for years for sad/ melancholy songs that are played on the 5 string fingerpickin' style banjo and have come up empty handed each time. The closest I've gotten is Big Country by Bela Fleck on the Transatlantic sessions.
When I say sad I mean the gut wrenching sad when you listen to the theme song of Schindler's List on the violin.
Anyone out there feel the same way or have any recommendations?
Thanks

Jun 20, 2021 - 3:59:18 PM
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28 posts since 5/8/2021

A lot of bluegrass standards have lyrics about death or lost love. The lyrics of No Mother or Dad are some of the saddest of any genre, but that song does nothing but make me smile.

The Stanley Brothers have a recording of East Virginia Blues from An Evening Long Ago, and I think it's a very sad song done in a bluegrass style. BUT............    there's no banjo. I think Ralph is doing three finger on a mandolin. 

Edited by - struggle_bus on 06/20/2021 16:09:18

Jun 20, 2021 - 4:06:08 PM
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timacn

USA

570 posts since 7/30/2004

"Run, Sister, Run" by Tommy Thompson and The Red Clay Ramblers from the play A Lie of The Mind by Sam Shepherd is about as sad and dark as you can get. Great song, but a tragic tale.

Jun 20, 2021 - 4:33:17 PM
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3837 posts since 5/29/2011

Listen to some of the recordings of the Osborne Brothers. Sonny never had any trouble making a banjo sound sad.

Jun 20, 2021 - 4:59:50 PM
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346 posts since 11/29/2012

Steve Martin had a theory about this on his first comedy record, "Let's Get Small":
m.youtube.com/watch?v=UaGBIfUoB78

Jun 20, 2021 - 5:01:36 PM
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346 posts since 11/29/2012

Ola Belle Reed could definitely spin some existential yarns with her lyrics and played banjo to match.

Jun 20, 2021 - 5:20:51 PM
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57679 posts since 12/14/2005
Online Now

"Wildwood Flower" is a right bouncy tune, but add Woody Guthrie's lyrics about the sinking of the Rueben James, especially that last verse:

"Many years have passed, but still I wonder why...
The worst of men must fight, and the best of men must die"

And then there's "Nantucket Maid", about a whaler's widow.
And "Run, Mary, Run", about the slaughter of children by Herod's soldiers.
If a pile of dead babies doesn't make you sad, what might???
(See attached)


Jun 20, 2021 - 5:55:24 PM
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1517 posts since 2/9/2007

Dock Boggs

Jun 20, 2021 - 6:03:54 PM
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jacot23

USA

195 posts since 12/13/2012

How about Mandy Tyner 's version of Bury Me Beneath The Willow Tree

youtu.be/L3LFuyRpg5s

Edited by - jacot23 on 06/20/2021 18:06:53

Jun 20, 2021 - 6:35:45 PM
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1040 posts since 1/26/2011
Online Now

I’ve been playing with a band doing Gold Heart Locket. It’s a really sad song.

Jun 20, 2021 - 6:42:57 PM
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Bill H

USA

1648 posts since 11/7/2010

Then there's Pretty Polly and Darlin Corey.

Jun 20, 2021 - 7:22:07 PM
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6288 posts since 9/21/2007

Ballad #1 by Alfred Cammeyer is pretty good. Cammeyer composed several that would fit the bill. Also Emile Grimshaw composed many sentimental pieces that are very good like “You and a Canoe.”

youtu.be/JDsrqPKEQZ4

Jun 20, 2021 - 7:25:49 PM
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Lew H

USA

2649 posts since 3/10/2008

Put your banjo in sawmill tuning to make some sad bluesy music.

Jun 20, 2021 - 7:28:39 PM
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Dirtbag2

Canada

4 posts since 6/20/2021

Sufjan Stevens has some pretty sad tunes on Banjo

Jun 20, 2021 - 7:29:50 PM
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Dirtbag2

Canada

4 posts since 6/20/2021

Stuff like this is awesome, but quite sad.

youtu.be/59BRCOiQVKI

https://youtu.be/uceNZtKZAnc

Edited by - Dirtbag2 on 06/20/2021 19:34:12

Jun 21, 2021 - 12:42:54 AM
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phb

Germany

2824 posts since 11/8/2010

Wayfaring Stranger?

Jun 21, 2021 - 12:51:02 AM
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943 posts since 6/25/2006

Nick Hornbuckle.  He plays 2 finger but you can adapt his music to 3finger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvJ-9a2JZjQ

He uses different tunings that give the banjo a haunting sound e.g. Lost Girl in fDGCD sound melancholy played slowly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl1TlZgrZzQ

Max Allard writes some interesting compositions (one to watch): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wb04TGTTiA

I also like listening to Tony Ellis, Steve Baughman and Matthieu Brandt - they play with a lot of soul.  

Edited by - hobogal on 06/21/2021 00:55:19

Jun 21, 2021 - 1:15:08 AM
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banjooud

France

98 posts since 10/5/2010

try Babylon from Don McLean :

youtube.com/watch?v=hb44hKGc4Uc

And :
youtube.com/watch?v=SI4KlQP6oGM

Listen 16 Horsepower too !

Jun 21, 2021 - 1:59:52 AM
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1762 posts since 7/4/2009

Dan beat me to it, but several of Dock Boggs' songs qualify.

Really, any instrument that couldn't capture more than one mood would be fairly useless.

Jun 21, 2021 - 3:41:17 AM
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4366 posts since 5/29/2004

Old Homestead Waltz ......Tony Furtado.

Jun 21, 2021 - 6:26:14 AM
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RB3

USA

1007 posts since 4/12/2004

You can play sad songs on a banjo, but you can't make those songs sound sad. The banjo is an un-sad sounding instrument. If you want sad, get a different instrument.

Jun 21, 2021 - 7:00:56 AM
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1528 posts since 7/14/2004

Alison Brown can most certainly make a banjo weep.

Check out;

Without Anastasia

Carrowkeel, (a funeral dirge)

Drawing down the Moon. 

Jun 21, 2021 - 7:09:18 AM
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2692 posts since 2/10/2013

Go to Youtube and listen to Mike Hedding play Steven Foster's "Hard Time Come Again No More".
You can buy the tab and audio on his website. Not very expensive. Tune is in the key of "C" and would be difficult for new banjoists to play.

Jun 21, 2021 - 7:17:47 AM
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136 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by elilit770

Hey y'all,
I've been searching for years for sad/ melancholy songs that are played on the 5 string fingerpickin' style banjo and have come up empty handed each time. The closest I've gotten is Big Country by Bela Fleck on the Transatlantic sessions.
When I say sad I mean the gut wrenching sad when you listen to the theme song of Schindler's List on the violin.
Anyone out there feel the same way or have any recommendations?
Thanks


Of course you can play a sad song on the banjo, in fact most bluegrass, country and old timey songs are sad, It's just that the banjo makes them sound happy. The violin on the other hand makes a happy songs sad unless of course it's  an Irish jig. Now that will get your toes tappin. 

Edited by - FenderFred on 06/21/2021 07:19:14

Jun 21, 2021 - 9:07:30 AM
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3880 posts since 4/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

You can play sad songs on a banjo, but you can't make those songs sound sad. The banjo is an un-sad sounding instrument. If you want sad, get a different instrument.


I disagree. Step away from standard G tuning and blazing fast Scruggs rolls and the banjo can be as melancholy as any other instrument. 

Jun 21, 2021 - 9:25:35 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

913 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

You can play sad songs on a banjo, but you can't make those songs sound sad. The banjo is an un-sad sounding instrument. If you want sad, get a different instrument.


funny joke

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