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Jun 6, 2022 - 7:39:12 AM
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76887 posts since 5/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by HarleyQ

Are you doing any melodic here??


youtube.com/watch?v=CiJHkj5KPL0


What I'm doing with this piece that got us to Jackson,Mississippi VA Celebration of the Arts in 2016 is trying not to in any way get in the way of Mama Beth's singing.I suppose there's a bit of melodic here and there but this is a vocal number and deserves all energy going to Beth's voice.

I play lots of different ways depending on what I see as fitting the moment.

Jun 6, 2022 - 7:56:22 AM

8217 posts since 8/30/2004

Ha! I wonder if  bill keith and bobby thompson thought that imitating piano styles would shape their playing. This is all new to me steve. I'vr been teaching piano for over 50 years and never thought of that. Very new way to think about melodic and scruggs style banjo...
 
Originally posted by steve davis

Piano style would emulate the dance hall piano rhythms for one thing,Jack.Mixing chord melodies and harmonies with melodics.Danceable stuff.
I love the way a piano backs a fiddler and am drawn to that.I think a more accurate description of my playing involves the piano as much as the fiddle.


Jun 6, 2022 - 8:10:42 AM

8217 posts since 8/30/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Jack Baker
Ha! I wonder if  bill keith and bobby thompson thought that imitating piano styles would shape their playing. This is all new to me steve. I'vr been teaching piano for over 50 years and never thought of that. Very new way to think about melodic and scruggs style banjo...I've always thought that most medodic banjo came from fiddle tunes. Piano is certainly the most influential of all instruments melody wise  but!!
 
Originally posted by steve davis

Piano style would emulate the dance hall piano rhythms for one thing,Jack.Mixing chord melodies and harmonies with melodics.Danceable stuff.
I love the way a piano backs a fiddler and am drawn to that.I think a more accurate description of my playing involves the piano as much as the fiddle.


 


Edited by - Jack Baker on 06/06/2022 08:13:14

Jun 6, 2022 - 8:13:43 AM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

As I look back I have had much more experience fitting in with good piano players.
Vaughn Meader sideman for 10 years.Vaughn was comfortable playing guitar to anything,but was more a piano man.Playing banjo side to a piano bar is a challenge and demanded fitting with whatever was happening on the keys.
We only played a handful of bluegrass tunes and mostly 40s and 50s big band and popular selections.Spur of the moment decisions as many songs I hadn't heard before.

A quick ear was mandatory and colored by what the piano had just played.

Jun 6, 2022 - 8:18:08 AM

8217 posts since 8/30/2004

In your musical experience yes, piano would be very important Steve...But I don't think that would be the case for most banjo players...thanks for discussing this Steve. See, we can do it with no muss or fuss...laugh
 
 
Originally posted by steve davis

As I loback I have had much more experience fitting in with good piano players.
Vaughn Meader sideman for 10 years.Vaughn was comfortable playing guitar to anything,but was more a piano man.Playing banjo side to a piano bar is a challenge and demanded fitting with whatever was happening on the keys.
We only played a handful of bluegrass tunes and mostly 40s and 50s big band and popular selections.Spur of the moment decisions as many songs I hadn't heard before.

A quick ear was mandatory and colored by what the piano had just played.


Edited by - Jack Baker on 06/06/2022 08:22:16

Jun 6, 2022 - 8:21:12 AM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

My Mom taught piano,my Grandmother next door played piano and pump organ and they both played piano in our Advent Christian Church.My Brother and Sister played piano very well,but I stuck to guitar and banjo.

Some of my favorite piano listening is hymns well played.Piano stylings reside in my brain forever.

Jun 6, 2022 - 8:23:50 AM

8217 posts since 8/30/2004

Yes, hymns are just great on keyboard, especially the Organ...Jack

Originally posted by steve davis

My Mom taught piano,my Grandmother next door played piano and pump organ and they both played piano in our Advent Christian Church.My Brother and Sister played piano very well,but I stuck to guitar and banjo.

Some of my favorite piano listening is hymns well played.Piano stylings reside in my brain forever.


Jun 6, 2022 - 8:27:10 AM
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76887 posts since 5/9/2007

We are creatures of our environment and choices.

Jun 6, 2022 - 9:06:32 AM

8217 posts since 8/30/2004

yes Yes!!

Originally posted by steve davis

We are creatures of our environment and choices.


Edited by - Jack Baker on 06/06/2022 09:07:01

Jun 6, 2022 - 9:46:58 AM
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6653 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by AGACNP

A conversation between phb, Arnie Fleisher and myself caused me to wonder about others’ approaches to arranging fiddle tunes for banjo in melodic style.

A long time ‘Scruggs’ enthusiast myself, until the past 2-3 years have always done ‘Scruggsy’ arrangements and have been satisfied with that.

Hearing Pikelnys landmark album has ‘ruined’ me, lol, and now I realize I won’t live long enough to arrange and learn all the fiddle tunes I’d like to.

Both phb and Arnie Fleisher, on the “Alternate Tunings” thread, talk about playing Jerusalems Ridge in open G, with noncapoed 5th string. I have arranged an acceptable (to me, anyway) approximation of Pikelnys first “easy” break on his album…almost now up to speed.

A good friend of mine plays both banjo and fiddle, and is a master at arranging fiddle tunes for banjo.

I would be curious to know of others approach to arranging fiddle tunes, and thread drift is welcome/encouraged. Consider this more of a request for a virtual brainstorming session.


Thank you for starting this thread. It has been really interesting and much food for thought. So great to hear and see a thread on real banjo playing here on the Banjo Hangout.

ken

Jun 6, 2022 - 10:55:48 AM
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1346 posts since 1/25/2017

It would be really helpful if the experts who offer advice would post some video that illustrates the points being made.

My approach is to listen closely until I think I have the tune in my head - then I try to build an arrangement one phrase at a time. Here's an example.
 

 

Jun 6, 2022 - 1:13:23 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

66936 posts since 10/5/2013

Another one that I “Scruggs-ified “


Jun 6, 2022 - 1:16:02 PM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

I don't do videos.I just play.

Jun 6, 2022 - 2:05:53 PM

AGACNP

USA

361 posts since 10/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by SimonSlick

It would be really helpful if the experts who offer advice would post some video that illustrates the points being made.

My approach is to listen closely until I think I have the tune in my head - then I try to build an arrangement one phrase at a time. Here's an example.
 

Simon, great rendition of 'Spider,' and really clean picking as always. I'm no teacher, but May try posting a side by side of my rendition of John Barleycorn alongside the fiddle version I learned it from.

Jun 6, 2022 - 2:28:55 PM
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AGACNP

USA

361 posts since 10/12/2011

I actually first heard the tune John Barleycorn from Michael Feagan, but was unable to find his version on YouTube. His version is close to that of Kenny Baker and I have attached a link to that. I have also attached a link to my recorded version...please overlook the mistakes, I tend to freeze when the red light comes on. Oh yeah, that and the really annoying LOUD metronome too. smiley

It's pretty obvious this isn't a note for note copy, but my method here was to slow down the fiddle and match the notes as best I could.
https://youtu.be/xtJoPY5NBxw

https://youtu.be/zabq-nkrpcU
 

Edited by - AGACNP on 06/06/2022 14:29:55

Jun 6, 2022 - 3:18:18 PM
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6653 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by chuckv97

Another one that I “Scruggs-ified “


Very much enjoyed that! Good job!

ken

Jun 6, 2022 - 5:47:34 PM
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76887 posts since 5/9/2007

I love figuring out my own arrangements from scratch by going to abcnotation and listening to a piano play the exact melody as written sometimes with a half-dozen choices of the same tune.Little differences,but not in the structure.

The last one I worked out was Off to California hornpipe because I knew Mama Beth played it on her octave mandolin and I was going to be seeing her the next evening at a music party.And she'll let me know if I don't have it right.

I like abcnotation because they show each tune with regular notation and a written "notation" of printed note letters with simple timing signs and the piano plays those exact notes and time.I feel right at home there.

It's so easy to find the note if you get stuck.I construct the chord patterns that contain the melody and harmony notes,first.Then concentrate on the most efficient approach,keeping the left hand in the same area of the neck for as long as possible before needing to move it.

Jun 17, 2022 - 11:14:34 AM
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198 posts since 10/6/2014

I've been playing 3-finger bluegrass on-and-off since the mid-70's. Early on I got it in my head that playing fiddle tunes was important and spent a lot of time trying to figure out tunes from Cole's 1000 fiddle tunes---rather unsuccessfully at first. I started playing fiddle in 2004 and this increased my interest in old time fiddle tunes.

I take an extremely literal approach, trying to play the tune as written in whatever arrangement I'm working from. I look for tunes that are playable without getting my fingers crossed. Besides Cole's, I work from Christesen's Old Time Fiddler Repertory, Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes, Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes - by Jeff Todd Titon, tunes I learn/transcribe myself, etc. Checkout slippery-hill.com/ if you haven't yet.

I use a lot of hammers, pulls, and slides where my fingers can't get to the notes otherwise and because it sounds nice for fiddle tunes. For the Key of D I like to use aDGBD tuning. Bill Knopf published an arrangement of Whiskey Before Breakfast in this tuning in the Banjo Newsletter back in '74 (I think). I like it because you get two octaves two work with and the full scale is available to you in the second position if you can put your put your index finger on the 1st string 5'th fret, second finger on the 2nd string 7'th fret, and pinky on the 3rd string 9'th fret. I play the second half of Arkansas Traveler in this position.

I started making SCUBA diving videos eventually and recorded myself playing fiddle or banjo to use as background music in them. During the pandemic I stopped jamming and got tired of playing the same tunes over and over. Then I remembered that I'd figured out a bunch of fiddle tunes on the banjo, recorded them for a video, then forgot about them. So I've spent the last year or two re-learning and tabbing them up. I'm collecting them up into a book with the fiddle sheet music on the left page and banjo tab on the right. Originally this was just xeroxes of printed and hand transcriptions but I'm now going through and re-doing things in Musescore. I don't know where this is going---I suspect this format will be a nightmare from a copyright point of view---but it keeps me busy. I have about 130 tunes and am still working up new ones.

I've shared some of the dive videos and videos of me playing in the Sound Off section. You are quite welcome to visit my youtube channel as well. I'm an eternal "intermediate" player...

Here's my banjo playlist:

youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5Y...QtAF8Q3lR

Forgot to mention:

For D tunes I also recently set up my Huss and Dalton banjo in "D" tuning  dADF#A.  I used a guitar A string in the 4'th string position and the rest are banjo strings moved to the appropriate position.  This is equivalent to transposing the D tunes to G.  Put another way, tunes tabbed out this way will be in G if played on a regularly tuned banjo. 

Edited by - Waynebg on 06/17/2022 11:33:00

Jun 17, 2022 - 8:16 PM
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110 posts since 2/13/2008

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis
quote:
Originally posted by Eric A

This thread implies that everything that the fiddle player plays is golden. Every single note is core melody, even though every fiddle player plays things differently, and great fiddle players are famous for never playing it the same way twice.

When banjo players (or dobro, guitar, etc.) chase exact reproductions of fiddle tunes they are chasing a chimera, an impostor. There is no point to it.


Fiddletunes have a definite melody.People choose their own ornamentation.

When I learn a fiddletune I search out a good example of the core melody.For good melody representations of fiddletunes go to abcnotation.com

When I learn from a fiddle player directly I pay attention to the fiddler(s) that many respect.

Lucien Mathiau was one of those great fiddlers.I used to play what I was working on for his advice on if I was on the riught track.There is definitely a point to playing the real melody,but I improvise on many melodies ornamenting what fits.Ornamentation has to keep the real melody close at hand to make any sense.

I enjoy playing the melody very closely the first time through so people know what tune I'm playing.


Wow! I used to play banjo along with Lucien Mathiau at Dick Pelletier's Private Picking Party in Kent's Hill, Maine so many years ago. Also Don Roy was actively playing around Maine, too. And old Slim Tanner. Those were some memorable times that I loved so much. Have a great day, Steve. (Fred Warner)

Jun 18, 2022 - 5:46:58 AM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

I played a few gigs with Don Roy and Dick Johnson a few years ago and was the banjo on Donny"s Headed for a Hoedown and in the put together band that played a "bluegrass" version of "Little Wing" arranged by Don at the State Theater's production of "Are You Experienced" where 30 bands from around the world did a Jimi Hendrix song in their cultural style.

I met Lucien at Sam's Yonder Hill Campground when he was still president of the meat packer's union.
I went to many of Dickie Pelletier's 4th of July weekends and spent most of my time there playing with Brian Mason and the Morse brothers.

We might have played together at Dickie's.Did you ever go to "The Roost" or the old farm in Durham?

I won one of Bob French's Fox banjos at a BMAM raffle/picking party and my main banjo is a '29 tb-2 bought in Rockland that Jimmy Cox converted it in '99.

Thanks for responding,Fred.

Jun 18, 2022 - 7:11:38 AM
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110 posts since 2/13/2008

Hi Steve: I arrived at Yonder Hill Campsite in Skowhegan, ME, a week early back in 1974 or 75 when Simon St. Pierre performed there and Don Reno played and of course Fred Pike and the Kennebec Valley Boys. I helped finish the electrical wiring of the stage and helped with a dozen other chores to ready the place for the upcoming festival.

I made a lasting friendship with so many wonderful folks that I've loved throughout the years, including Brian Mason and his brother Dwayne and of course all the Morse brothers. So many have passed away but the memories are alive and well. I believe I've been to the old farm in Durham with Fred Pike, not sure. I went and stayed at his home in Cambridge if I remember correctly.
I apologize for blowing up this post's topic. It's just such a small world. :)

p.s. Say "HI" to my friend Kip Yattaw if you run into him. :)

Edited by - wbalsam1 on 06/18/2022 07:13:30

Jun 18, 2022 - 8:51:25 AM
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76887 posts since 5/9/2007

I live about a mile and a half from Kippy and will be playing at the Wiley's Corner jam this Monday night.I'll mention you to him,
I recorded with Kippy in the early 90s on a Jim Chard album.His fiddles are bringing good money.

Edited by - steve davis on 06/18/2022 09:00:02

Jun 18, 2022 - 7:23:42 PM
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110 posts since 2/13/2008

He was just beginning fiddle when we met. I think he had learned St. Anne's Reel and some others. I learned a few years ago that he had been building some real nice fiddles. He's a great guy. I met him at Dick Pelletier's.

Jun 18, 2022 - 10:29:19 PM
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Jim Yates

Canada

6856 posts since 2/21/2007

I have arranged a few fiddle tunes for 5 string banjo tuned to open G. The first two came from a book of Don Messer's Favourite Fiddle Tunes. They are The Butcher's Row and The Old Man And The Old Woman.  These ae both reels.
The second two came from Robin Williamson's book English, Welsh, Irish & Scottish Fiddle Tunes.  These tunes, The Perfect Cure and Laudanum Bunches, are both jigs and since the chords changed so quickly, I put them on a separate sheet to avoid confusion.  I really enjoy playing these tunes.. 


Jun 19, 2022 - 12:01:37 PM
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198 posts since 12/15/2005

Hi Bruce AGACNP ,
Great topic! I am a huge fan of old time fiddle tunes. When I started learning to play there were 2 basic ways to approach arranging them for the banjo. The incredibly compelling, rhythmically interesting ( and understandable to me!...) method of Earl Scruggs and the note-for-note accurate yet mathematically impossible (and completely counter intuitive...for me...) method of Bill Keith ( and Bobby Thompson, etc...).
As a Scruggs style player, the way that Earl arranged fiddle tunes made a whole lot of sense but I could tell they were not exactly playing the fiddle melody. And while Bill Keith's approach was technically accurate, I just could not get the so called 'melodic' style into my fingers. Years later, I started to experiment with alternate tunings and have developed a way of accurately reproducing, pretty much note-for-note, most fiddle tunes I come across.
I'm attaching a video of my arrangement of "Durang's Hornpipe" and an arrangement of the down the neck portion as an example of my approach. I like using a lot of hammer-ons, pull-offs and "ghost" hammers/pulls. I've found that using open tunings really REALLY helps as the banjo is vibrating in the key you're playing in already...all you have to do is put your fingers in the right place!


nickhornbuckle.com/home

Nick Hornbuckle YouTube channel


Edited by - Nick Hornbuckle on 06/19/2022 12:03:57

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