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Aug 14, 2022 - 7:34:18 AM
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15 posts since 1/25/2018

I've been struggling to master the song M-80 by Mike Munford. I've got it memorized and i can play it slowly(110bpm) without issue. I have played this song several times per day, every day, for over a year now. I still cannot get it up to speed. At 126bpm my left hand starts missing notes and tangling up fingers. Mostly I'm landing in the right place at the right time but the tip of my finger is just slightly off, producing a dead thump sound instead of a clean note. I don't have this issue with any other song I've learned so far, or at least not with the frequency it happens in M80, ie every other note. It's very frustrating, what can I do to make it stop?

Aug 14, 2022 - 7:36:11 AM

15 posts since 1/25/2018

Practicing this song with a metronome is also a little weird because theres a kind of bounce to it that you cant recreate with a metronome. I'm not sure if practicing with the metronome is wiring my brain to work against the bounce and causing this conflict

Aug 14, 2022 - 7:46:59 AM
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RB3

USA

1430 posts since 4/12/2004

What is "bounce"?

Aug 14, 2022 - 7:51:10 AM
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1969 posts since 5/19/2018

If you listen to musicians playing iconic solos, and you listen to different performances and recordings of them playing them you will notice they rarely play it the same way twice. There are usually small differences each time.

My suggestion is after a year, you probably have 95% of it down pat. Take the music up to speed and make it your own. Play it as you can to the best of your abilities and work it out to the point you get the feel of the song, but make the playing your own. You will find that the frustration level reduces itself and you will actually be playing what you want.

Professional musicians have thousands and thousands of hours of playing time behind them. Both solo and in group settings. Practice and on stage. Put it in perspective, play away and enjoy the journey.

Aug 14, 2022 - 7:52:49 AM

15 posts since 1/25/2018

Might be the incorrect term. It feels like the space in between notes is not equal all the way through the song. I saw a video of him talking about the song and he said he plays it while thinking of a fiddle bow moving across the strings. Its not a steady flow of notes, but more like short bursts or phrases with slightly longer gaps between the phrases. Its not perfect 1/16 notes all the way through

Aug 14, 2022 - 7:56:02 AM
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8083 posts since 8/30/2004
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Mike,
It's hard to answer your question since you provide no info about how long you have been playing. M80 is at the very highest level of skill...I only spent under 5 minutes learning it (kidding of course--10 mins.). Banjo playing is not "engineering skills" but physical skill. I hear Mike playing all notes evenly but in different phrasings...Give a little more info...Jack

Originally posted by mikeb210

I've been struggling to master the song M-80 by Mike Munford. I've got it memorized and i can play it slowly(110bpm) without issue. I have played this song several times per day, every day, for over a year now. I still cannot get it up to speed. At 126bpm my left hand starts missing notes and tangling up fingers. Mostly I'm landing in the right place at the right time but the tip of my finger is just slightly off, producing a dead thump sound instead of a clean note. I don't have this issue with any other song I've learned so far, or at least not with the frequency it happens in M80, ie every other note. It's very frustrating, what can I do to make it stop?


Edited by - Jack Baker on 08/14/2022 08:02:06

Aug 14, 2022 - 8:10:14 AM
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10009 posts since 8/28/2013

I would do as Alvin Condor suggests: don't worry so much about duplicating one other player and make the tune yours. This may be at a slower pace.

If there is a "bounce" in the tune, it's best to skip that aqnd just play straight sixteenths until you get note placement exactly right. I think sometimes a person can get so tied up in tempo and expression, that they forget the importance of the actual notes.

Aug 14, 2022 - 8:19:46 AM
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4132 posts since 9/12/2016

I love the fact that Mike is such a melodic stylist--I am not going to even try that --but agree with Jack on the phrasing. Melodics do have better and worse right hand patterns for the same phrases .You might try ignoring the timing all together for a portion of practice and concentrate on saying the phrases loud and clear --works in my meager attempts here lately--

Aug 14, 2022 - 8:19:48 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

27714 posts since 8/3/2003

If you've got the song down at a slower tempo, be satisfied with that right now. As has been said, it's an advanced type song and not really meant for beginners (which I presume you are). As long as you can play all the notes correctly at a slower speed, then you've accomplished quite a lot.

Don't try to play too fast too soon or you'll become a sloppy picker (as you've already noticed). Sure, push it past the limit at times, but when you start to make mistakes and get tangled fingers, slow it back down. You'll get there eventually if you just relax and enjoy rather than worrying about speed.

As far as bounce is concerned, that, too, will happen with more experience and practice and learning to jam with others.

I asked you in a previous thread you posted if there were any jams in your area.  One thing that helped me become a better picker was learning to pick with others, watch, listen, ask questions.   You may have to sit at the back of the jam and just vamp along for a while, but when you feel comfortable enough, try to do a break to a song you know really well.  You'll probably mess up, most usually do, but we've all been there, done that. 

Edited by - Texasbanjo on 08/14/2022 08:23:09

Aug 14, 2022 - 8:30:54 AM

8083 posts since 8/30/2004
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What I wonder and worry about is that the question about these blinding fast melodic tunes is not about the melody anymore, but "how do I play that fast and get all those licks to work?" Jack  p.s. Is the banjo becoming a computer with strings on it?

Edited by - Jack Baker on 08/14/2022 08:34:57

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Aug 14, 2022 - 8:45:44 AM
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15 posts since 1/25/2018

Jack Baker I've been playing for about 6 years or so. I took in-person lessons for the first two years, then later did about 6 months on the artistworks Noam Pikelny class.

Tractor1 I agree, he is phenomenal

Texasbanjo I am a beginner who snuck into a couple of advances classes. I guess one of my bad habits is that I have a hard time focusing on beginner material. If its not challenging me to the point of frustration I can't seem to make myself care about it. Cripple creek and the like don't really do anything for me personally, either to listen to or to play. I know there are some fundamentals to be learned so I still learned those songs but I've been trying for the past few years to incorporate more of the music i actually enjoy into my learning. Try to learn skills as I learn the songs I want in my library. The problem is that most of the songs are outside my skill set, which has lead me to this point of trying to brute force my way through until I make myself crazy.

Aug 14, 2022 - 8:51:24 AM
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15 posts since 1/25/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Jack Baker

What I wonder and worry about is that the question about these blinding fast melodic tunes is not about the melody anymore, but "how do I play that fast and get all those licks to work?" Jack  p.s. Is the banjo becoming a computer with strings on it?


Jack I'm more interested in producing the same feeling in other people that this song produces for me. I get pumped up and happy every time i hear it. I think that comes down to both the actual notes being played, the chord progression etc but also the way its played. It loses that feeling of driving momentum as soon as it starts slowing down and then it isn't the same song anymore.  I don't want to play fast, or melodic or any other specific thing. I want to make people around me happy, and i want to use the banjo to do it. I see the skills and proficiency as a means to that end

Aug 14, 2022 - 9:19:14 AM
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523 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

What is "bounce"?


It's not playing straight - there's a kinda uplift or syncopation in the tempo.

Allen Shelton has bounce in his style of playing. This tune is called Banjo Bounce.

 

Edited by - FenderFred on 08/14/2022 09:20:02

Aug 14, 2022 - 9:19:55 AM
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8083 posts since 8/30/2004
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Thanks Mike...

Aug 14, 2022 - 9:36:56 AM
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2886 posts since 5/2/2012

I watched the video, above, and slowed the playback to .75 and it sounded pretty good to my ears. Then I watched this video.  The "slow" version was too slow, so something in between the fast and the slow would sound better to me.  Also in that video he is talking about the "pulse" he is shooting for when he plays, this, to me, is more of a "feel" thing than a metronome thing.

I also looked at the tab here on the HO.  An almost constant stream of 16th notes.  For the average player, like me, this would probably be a "showpiece" tune.  I'd be thrilled to play it at that .75 playback speed.  The good thing is this arrangement is supposed to be melodic oriented, and I find melodic style tunes to sound good even when played at something slower than performance speed.  

As an aside, about 4 months after I picked up the banjo I switched from clawhammer to 2ftl.  It took me a month to learn and memorize that first tune, and I still didn't have one measure/phrase to the point where it sounded right to me.  I played that tune every day for a year, then one day it happened -- the light bulb went off and that phrase sounded just it was supposed to.  So for me, it was like becoming part of the tune, playing with feeling rather than just hitting the notes.  

Aug 14, 2022 - 9:40:33 AM
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3836 posts since 7/12/2006

I have noticed that there have been a few tunes in my repertoire that have literally taken years before i felt satisfied with how i play it. Just took that long for the brain and fingers to come to an agreement.

Aug 14, 2022 - 10:00:58 AM
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RB3

USA

1430 posts since 4/12/2004

I understand what syncopation is, but I don't understand what it means to not play straight or to play with a kinda' "uplift" in the tempo. If "bounce" is just syncopation, then why do we need the word "bounce". If it is syncopation, it seems that we would be better served to call it syncopation.

Aug 14, 2022 - 10:14:25 AM
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Alex Z

USA

4930 posts since 12/7/2006

M80 is created out of a series of phrases, phrases that are not all uncommon in advanced melodic playing.  For example, the first few measures are much like a "chromatic" version of Katy Hill.

If a player has most of the phrases in the toolbox, then the tune becomes easier to understand, internalize, and play.  You're not playing note by note, but rather phrase by phrase, and the player's mind is on the next phrase coming up, not the next note.

If playing this tune note by note, one note after another, thinking of the next note and the next string and the next finger, then it is a very difficult tune to learn and to play.

From experience, sometimes a player is simply not ready for a particular arrangement.  A couple of years go by, the player learns other tunes, adds more tools to the tool box, and the difficult tune becomes doable.

Since you asked, my advice is, since you've been working on it for a year, put it away for a while, come back to it in 3-4 months.

Aug 14, 2022 - 10:16:53 AM
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523 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

I understand what syncopation is, but I don't understand what it means to not play straight or to play with a kinda' "uplift" in the tempo. If "bounce" is just syncopation, then why do we need the word "bounce". If it is syncopation, it seems that we would be better served to call it syncopation.


It's hard to explain in a text forum. It's kinda like a delay or lengthening of notes. A dotted note for example extends the length of a note, a pause in the measure can add tension in the music. You have got to sit and LISTEN to playing straight and playing with bounce. Best you sit down with a teacher and have him / her explain and demonstrate what bounce is. Syncopation is a word I use to describe changes to note duration in a measure. I am probably wrong in the use of that terminology. Someone will surely come along and correct me if I've got it wrong. It's just how I interpret things. 

Edited by - FenderFred on 08/14/2022 10:32:04

Aug 14, 2022 - 10:32:31 AM
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15 posts since 1/25/2018

thisoldman that video you linked is the one i was thinking of. He explains it better than I did. Its almost like a breath in/out for each phrase.

Every once in a while something clicks and my hand works perfectly for a section but its inconsistent and I can't seem to improve it. I've felt like I'm on the verge of "getting it" for months but it never happens. I've been trying to play through the entire song, working on my back up stuff while also trying to really internalize the feel of the song. I'll play the lead part slowly a few times and increase tempo each time by a few until i start coming apart. Its always around 126, theres some kind of limit I'm reaching

Texasbanjo I missed the question about jams earlier, I think there might still one near me but the ones that existed before covid are gone. I'm in Raleigh, NC. I know there are people who play here, Im just not sure where they're meeting

Aug 14, 2022 - 11:08:22 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

27714 posts since 8/3/2003

quote:
Originally posted by mikeb210

Jack Baker I've been playing for about 6 years or so. I took in-person lessons for the first two years, then later did about 6 months on the artistworks Noam Pikelny class.

Tractor1 I agree, he is phenomenal

Texasbanjo I am a beginner who snuck into a couple of advances classes. I guess one of my bad habits is that I have a hard time focusing on beginner material. If its not challenging me to the point of frustration I can't seem to make myself care about it. Cripple creek and the like don't really do anything for me personally, either to listen to or to play. I know there are some fundamentals to be learned so I still learned those songs but I've been trying for the past few years to incorporate more of the music i actually enjoy into my learning. Try to learn skills as I learn the songs I want in my library. The problem is that most of the songs are outside my skill set, which has lead me to this point of trying to brute force my way through until I make myself crazy.


Instead of trying out  harder and harder songs that are above your skill level, how about trying to learn to play by ear and add different licks and frills into the songs you already know.  That would be a challenge.   Try taking a song you like but is too difficult for you to play note for note and trimming it down to your level.   Find the melody to the song, work on that and then try putting different phrases, licks and frills.  

You said you didn't care for Cripple Creek because it was boring.  Well, there are several versions of that song.  Have you learned them all?  Have you tried putting different licks and phrases in that song or other songs that you've found boring?   Might find a challenge there, too.

Have you tried working on vocals?   Whether you can sing or not, can you hum or get the melody in  your mind?  If so, try picking out the melody and then putting those extra things in the song and see what you come up with.

Aug 14, 2022 - 2:36:50 PM
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chief3

Canada

1152 posts since 10/26/2003

I think the issue at hand is that you are working hard to "learn the tune" but what you should really do is break the tune down into the specific techniques (skills) that are necessary to "play the tune" well. You "know" the tune but what you are struggling with is the high level of technique (skill) necessary to actually play the tune the way you want it to sound. You can improve technique through repetition but it seems that is not working out well. A more efficient approach is to isolate the technique(s) you are having trouble with and focus on practicing the technique. Learn how the tune is to be played, develop the skills necessary to play the tune and the tune should then fall into place. I recall that Bela Fleck was once asked if he practiced tunes or technique and his answer was always technique.

Aug 14, 2022 - 3:33:54 PM
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15 posts since 1/25/2018

Texasbanjo and chief3 I like the idea of trying to master the technique and then apply it to something I already know well and feel comfortable with, sort of a combination of y'alls advice.

I guess I get confused, once I hear something I want to learn, how do I know that I'm doing it right? Especially without tab, what if my version is full of bad habits and clumsy fingering that will make me a worse player overall or make it harder to learn in the future? How would I know? I have some novice skills but all that does for me is highlight the holes in that knowledge as soon as I try to apply it. Filling those holes highlights more holes. Now i'm learning a thing to learn a thing to learn a thing so that I can learn the song i want to learn. How does anybody ever master this instrument?? Is it just 40 years of being confused and then one day you're Tony Trischka?

Aug 14, 2022 - 4:16:51 PM
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8083 posts since 8/30/2004
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Mike,
Like every beginner, you have to keep at it and it will eventually become like a different language to you. Your mind seems to be set on "I can tackle anything" so that could be a problem...Patience is not easy I know...Jack

Aug 14, 2022 - 7:51:18 PM
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27 posts since 3/17/2022

Okay, by "bounce" I'm pretty sure that we just mean "swing." Shorter note values, like 8th and 16th notes, are played unevenly. It doesn't effect longer note values, so you should still be able to use a metronome.

Aug 15, 2022 - 4:40:12 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

27714 posts since 8/3/2003

quote:
Originally posted by mikeb210

Texasbanjo and chief3 I like the idea of trying to master the technique and then apply it to something I already know well and feel comfortable with, sort of a combination of y'alls advice.

I guess I get confused, once I hear something I want to learn, how do I know that I'm doing it right? Especially without tab, what if my version is full of bad habits and clumsy fingering that will make me a worse player overall or make it harder to learn in the future? How would I know? I have some novice skills but all that does for me is highlight the holes in that knowledge as soon as I try to apply it. Filling those holes highlights more holes. Now i'm learning a thing to learn a thing to learn a thing so that I can learn the song i want to learn. How does anybody ever master this instrument?? Is it just 40 years of being confused and then one day you're Tony Trischka?


I have an idea that you're overthinking the problem.  Lots of people play by ear and don't worry if what they play isn't what Earl or J.D. or Sonny played.   Its called developing your own style and playing your own version of a song.  In other words, improvising on a melody.   And yes, you can do that without using tab.  Maybe not at first, but the more you noodle around and try to figure out the melody and frills, the easier it become.  

I started with tab many years ago.  Found that tab wouldn't work in a jam situation because not everybody played it just like the tab.  So, I learned to play by ear and now I only use tab if I hear a lick or phrase that interest me, just to see if I like it and can use it somewhere.  

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