Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

804
Banjo Lovers Online


Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Nov 22, 2021 - 8:46:54 AM
4245 posts since 10/13/2005

I've been thinking about this question lately. Locally there have been a few more new-to-us fiddle players show up at the jam. Some of the more obscure tunes they play don't always sound like they are as banjo easy/friendly. Any tune that drops below the note of D can be problematic, or not. Seems like Possum Up A Gum Stump does OK when the tune drops below D while the banjo goes up to capture the right notes. What prompted this post is looking at Henry Reed's Reel which was played yesterday at a jam and today seeing Jimmy Sutton's comment post about HKR where he says, "I will probably be howled down but to me Henry King's Reel is an excellent FIDDLE tune. Transferring it to banjo kills the thing stone dead." Yet on another tune, Around The Horn, I had another banjo player say he thought it did not make a good fiddle tune whereas I came up with an arrangement that I like as one of my favorite fiddle tunes to play. All this sort of leaves me wondering whether it the question above is true or it's my failure to come up with a viable arrangement. Must be a reason that the old jam "chestnuts" are frequently played. Anyone else thinking about this too? Thoughts? banjered

Nov 22, 2021 - 3:01:14 PM
like this

R Buck

USA

3044 posts since 9/5/2006

It depends on how you approach the fiddle tune. It takes quite a bit of figuring on some tunes, but if you know your instrument, you can get most tunes. I still don't do many rags or jigs clawhammer, but then that is another story. You have to be into a very melodic place for those tunes with a lot of thinking outside of the box to pull those off IMHO.

Nov 22, 2021 - 3:14:01 PM

2801 posts since 3/30/2008

When transposing a song from one instrument to another, I'm not sure if it has to be done as an exact transcription, but the song can be adapted & altered to accommodate the particular instrument of the player. I feel an artist has a license to make the song the best it can be on one's own instrument.

Nov 22, 2021 - 4:06:35 PM
like this

1715 posts since 2/9/2007
Online Now

Sometimes a tune is real good on the banjo, but not in the same key the fiddle plays it... or in the the commonest tuning for the key.

Nov 22, 2021 - 6:12:45 PM
likes this

Bill H

USA

1800 posts since 11/7/2010

Some tunes may take a half hour to transpose and arrange, and others weeks. Some of my arrangements work better than others. Jumping into an unfamiliar and difficult tune in a jam is another thing entirely. If I like the tune I make it homework.

Nov 22, 2021 - 6:19:02 PM
like this

TomL

USA

70 posts since 1/26/2008

A banjo can help a fiddle on most tunes, but clawhammer may not be the best style to use, depending on the tune. No reason for an old time player to be limited to one style

Nov 22, 2021 - 7:35:53 PM
like this

7384 posts since 11/4/2005

Before you can play a fiddle tune on the banjo, you have to turn it into a banjo tune. I realize tdennis already said that. And as Bill said, some take a couple of hours, and some take a couple of weeks, and I've had a few take a couple of years. But I have been playing fiddle tunes on banjo for 50 years, and I can probably count on one hand the number I've given up on.

- Don B.

Nov 23, 2021 - 12:51:42 AM
likes this

m06

England

10700 posts since 10/5/2006

Don’t forget that your own natural preference will influence your thinking. My instinct is that is a big part, rather than any particular fiddle tune presenting an insurmountable technical problem on banjo.

Nov 23, 2021 - 2:25:07 AM

Jimmy Sutton

England

253 posts since 9/30/2013

A classic case in my experience is a the tune that a banjo player who I have played sessions with for many years, he insists on playing J P Fraley's Wild Rose of the Mountain. The lack of sustain just makes the tune plod especially when no fiddle is present. It really is painful.

Nov 23, 2021 - 4:30:24 AM
like this

7384 posts since 11/4/2005

Originally posted by Jimmy Sutton:  "A classic case in my experience is a the tune that a banjo player who I have played sessions with for many years, he insists on playing J P Fraley's Wild Rose of the Mountain. The lack of sustain just makes the tune plod especially when no fiddle is present. It really is painful."

I respectfully beg to differ.

- Don B
 

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 11/23/2021 04:31:03

Nov 23, 2021 - 6:16:06 AM

Jimmy Sutton

England

253 posts since 9/30/2013

I respectfully suggest that you are playing at a different tempo than J P played it which changes the feel of the tune completely.
My friend who I refer to above plays it nearer to J P's timing and it doesn't work

Nov 23, 2021 - 6:44:05 AM

m06

England

10700 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Jimmy Sutton

A classic case in my experience is a the tune that a banjo player who I have played sessions with for many years, he insists on playing J P Fraley's Wild Rose of the Mountain. The lack of sustain just makes the tune plod especially when no fiddle is present. It really is painful.


Insistent and painful? Have you tried finding a different banjo player.devil

Nov 23, 2021 - 11:06:30 AM
like this

7384 posts since 11/4/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Jimmy Sutton

I respectfully suggest that you are playing at a different tempo than J P played it which changes the feel of the tune completely.
My friend who I refer to above plays it nearer to J P's timing and it doesn't work


You can suggest that I am playing at a different tempo, but you would be wrong.  wink I am playing it at the exact same tempo as Fraley on the recording I worked it up from, his 1974 Rounder album with his wife Annadeene on guitar.   We are both at  95bpm.  Listen to the two and see for yourself.

J.P. and Annadeene Fraley, 1974

The audio track from my video above

Now, you might think the "feel" is different, or something like that, but I've played it along with lots of fiddlers, and it always seems to complement them pretty well.

That's a great album of fiddling, all up on YouTube, for anyone who hasn't heard it.  I learned six other tunes from that album, including Cluckin' Hen, Birdie, Sail Away Ladies, Goin' Down the River, and Denver Belle.  One of these days I am going to work out The Roosian Rabbit.

- Don Borchelt

Nov 23, 2021 - 12:50:18 PM

Jimmy Sutton

England

253 posts since 9/30/2013

OK DanI accept what you say about timing is correct but it just confirms for me that a good fiddle tune doesn't always make a good banjo tune. Short staccato banjo notes just cannot reproduce what J P does with his bow.
Incidentally I am well aware of J P's first album and bought it when it was first issued. I have several others too plus a number of recordings which I made of him over the years since I first met him in 1982. The recording of Wild Rose which he did for me did include an excellent banjo player as an accompanist.

Nov 23, 2021 - 12:52:26 PM

Jimmy Sutton

England

253 posts since 9/30/2013

Apologies Don for misspelling your name.

Nov 23, 2021 - 1:01:35 PM
likes this

Jimmy Sutton

England

253 posts since 9/30/2013

Mike in North Somerset.

One crap tune now and again I can accept. I didn't say he was a bad banjo player it's that one tune where he insists on playing lead that is irritating. We have been playing in the same sessions every week for around 30 years and even before that on odd occasions.

Nov 23, 2021 - 1:07:55 PM

140 posts since 11/9/2021
Online Now

Good players will always be able to adapt and find a way to cover the tune, albeit phrased a bit differently or add some ornaments. I wrote a tune years ago, Cape Horn Hornpipe; hornpipes are notoriously hard for banjo, but one of the guys at our jam sessions came up with a great version of it. Note for note, no, but he covered the prime phrases.

Nov 25, 2021 - 4:15:47 AM

8320 posts since 3/17/2005

Jimmy Sutton, who was the banjo player with J.P.?
If you still have it would you post your recording of them here?

Edited by - chip arnold on 11/25/2021 04:17:31

Nov 25, 2021 - 4:27:32 AM
likes this

8320 posts since 3/17/2005

Don Borchelt, first time I've heard you play that one. Beautiful and I think JP would hve loved it. He loved playing with Will and your playing very much has a lyrical feeling like Will. 

Edited by - chip arnold on 11/25/2021 04:30:52

Nov 25, 2021 - 12:28:53 PM
likes this

Jimmy Sutton

England

253 posts since 9/30/2013

Chip,

There were two banjo players present but the main one was Peter Gott, playing as accompanist, not trying to carry the melody. That in my humble opinion is the only use for a banjo with Wild Rose, but whatever floats your boat.

Nov 25, 2021 - 4:33:23 PM
like this

6068 posts since 3/11/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Don Borchelt

Before you can play a fiddle tune on the banjo, you have to turn it into a banjo tune. 

- Don B.


Exactly right.

Not all fiddle tunes are going to work out on the banjo.  Fiddle tunes are typically composed on the fiddle and so naturally fit well on the instrument.  

Unless you're playing melodic banjo, you typically need to boil the tune down to its basic, bare bones melody and then build it back up as a banjo tune by adding typical banjo technique to the basic melody.

Take a listen to the many different versions amd styles of the same tune.  As different as they can be, it is this basic melody, the notes they have in common that makes them recognizable as the same tune.  This is what you want to distill down to and then base a banjo version on.

Nov 26, 2021 - 8:44:30 AM

484 posts since 4/27/2013

Part of the issue with taking tunes to the banjo is that the banjo just doesn't have the range in the first position that a fiddle does; we're essentially missing the low G string and tunes that spend a lot of time down there (like Henry King's reel but also a lot of D tunes that go below the tonic note) become a bit more challenging to adapt. I think that the banjo's "proper" place is one octave below a fiddle, but this just isn't possible with some tunes on a 5 string in standard tuning.

There are several solutions here: jump octaves mid-phrase or between parts; leave out notes that get too low; stay in the same octave as the fiddle by learning to play up the neck. My favorite option is the 6-string (low bass) banjo for tunes that require it, thereby opening up the banjo's range in first position - I've got a post about this here:

https://www.jeffnormanbanjo.com/weekly-banjo-blog/5-things-you-can-do-with-a-6-string-banjo

Henry King's Reel is one of my recent favorites too - I've played it with a fiddler and have chosen to just plunk around on the D string while he's on the low parts for now and then jump back to the melody when he goes higher - works well with a fiddle but sounds like nonsense on its own. I've been planning to get my 6 string out and tackle this one but just havent gotten around to it yet.

To Dan Gellert's point: Henry King's reel works well in double D (key shifted to D as well) because that tuning has the tonic as its lowest note (this will also be the case with a 6 string in G tunes with the low G added). I've also thought about playing this tune in double-D tuning capo-ed a the 5th fret; this will put me in the same octave as the fiddle but will allow me to get all the notes.

Nov 26, 2021 - 8:53:45 AM
likes this

484 posts since 4/27/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Don Borchelt

Originally posted by Jimmy Sutton:  "A classic case in my experience is a the tune that a banjo player who I have played sessions with for many years, he insists on playing J P Fraley's Wild Rose of the Mountain. The lack of sustain just makes the tune plod especially when no fiddle is present. It really is painful."

I respectfully beg to differ.

- Don B
 


(also) - this is just SO good. You really make me want to try a bit more 3 finger playing, Don.

Nov 26, 2021 - 9:54:33 AM
like this

carlb

USA

2326 posts since 12/16/2007

quote:
Originally posted by banjered

Anyone else thinking about this too? Thoughts?


When playing with a fiddler, you can concoct a banjo setting that goes along with the fiddle tune. The setting might, or might not, make a good solo banjo tune, but often can make a really good fiddle-banjo duet.

Nov 26, 2021 - 10:45:48 AM
likes this

6068 posts since 3/11/2006

Right.  The banjo's role is not necessarily to play a note for note version of the fiddle tune when playing with the fiddle.

Listen to some of Wade Ward's Banjo solos from the Uncle Wade recording.  They are classic settings that are at quite a variance from 

the fiddle tunes they are derived from.

Nov 26, 2021 - 12:37:55 PM
like this
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

41330 posts since 3/7/2006

Also think about the Round Peak players, for example Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham and others. They played both fiddle and banjo, but the banjo version differed from the fiddle version. The banjo gave a basic rhythm and at the same time supported the fiddle by playing the essential melody notes (often 2 - 3 notes per measure), and the rest was for rhythm and harmonies with drop thumbs, double thumbs and alternate string pull-offs and other techniques.

Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.25