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Aug 8, 2022 - 5:22:39 AM
81 posts since 2/14/2021

I'm working on a late nineteenth century rag called Georgia Camp Meeting. This tune is tabbed out by Hilary Dirlam in "The All-In-One Old Time Jam Book Volume III" for clawhammer banjo and fiddle. What I find interesting is she does not tab any fifth string notes for the entire song. In her comments she says the fifth string is implied (rather curious comment, I think). I'm wondering if anyone else has worked on this tune in the clawhammer style? There are several bluegrass, plectrum and tenor banjo versions but no clawhammer versions on YouTube that I can find.

I might add, there is nothing wrong with her tab. In fact, I, though not given to reading tab, am enjoying learning the tune based on her tab. My personal clawhammer style minimizes the use of the fifth string. So, it is refreshing to see someone as esteemed as Hilary tabbing out a tune sans fifth string. Also, elsewhere in the book mentioned above she tabs in the use of the fifth string extensively.

Aug 8, 2022 - 5:36:57 AM
Players Union Member



4294 posts since 3/11/2004

Nice tune. I may take a look at it. I suspect that what Hilary means by the implied 5th string is play the 5th string whenever you want. Some folks ride the 5th string. Others play it more sparingly.


Aug 8, 2022 - 5:55:49 AM

81 posts since 2/14/2021

I agree, David. In fact she goes on to say "..... try them anyway."

Aug 8, 2022 - 6:09:53 AM
Players Union Member



41839 posts since 3/7/2006

I have seen tabs in Banjo Newsletter by Bob Carlin where he has omitted the fifth string, but he said that he plays the fifth string on every stroke. 

Aug 8, 2022 - 7:54:31 AM

81 posts since 2/14/2021

By the 1900's, the fifth string was going out of fashion for urban banjo players to a large extent just because, I think, of the popularity of ragtime music and how banjo players were used in many dance bands of the era. This transcription of Georgia Camp Meeting is based on the recording of the Leake County Revelers from 1929. They played a tenor banjo. That is probably why clawhammer banjo players have not tried it and why Hilary's playing is so interesting.

Aug 8, 2022 - 8:45:53 AM

7098 posts since 9/21/2007

Correct me if I am wrong, but is this not a cakewalk?

How do you clawhammer/old time banjoists handle the modulation in the trio?

Aug 8, 2022 - 9:13:40 AM

Jim Yates


6856 posts since 2/21/2007

I have a piece of sheet music for Red Wing framed and hanging above my toilet. I really liked the cover art when I found it in a flea market. I notice that the cover says "An Indian Intermezzo by Kerry Mills, composer of A Georgia Camp Meeting."

Aug 8, 2022 - 10:24:52 AM

81 posts since 2/14/2021

A quick look on the internet shows the "At a Georgia Camp Meeting" composed by Kerry Mills (aka Frederick Allen Mills, a classically trained performer and head of the violin department at the University of Michigan School of Music. He borrowed the melody from the Civil War song "Our Boys will Shine Tonight". It is a Cake Walk. By the way, the phrase "That takes the cake!" comes from the custom of the cake walk. Recently, where I lived for many years in West Virginia, we regularly had cake walks at church socials and square dances, cake and all.

Kerry Mills also composed Whistling Rufus and yes he wrote Red Wing and Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis among many others.

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