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Help: 6/8 time on banjo

chip a 16 Jul 01 - 04:13 PM
Mooh 16 Jul 01 - 05:03 PM
RangerSteve 16 Jul 01 - 06:15 PM
BanjoRay 16 Jul 01 - 07:14 PM
TishA 16 Jul 01 - 07:17 PM
Charcloth 16 Jul 01 - 10:28 PM
Geoff the Duck 17 Jul 01 - 04:45 AM
Geoff the Duck 17 Jul 01 - 04:48 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 17 Jul 01 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,John Leeder 17 Jul 01 - 05:31 PM
chip a 18 Jul 01 - 10:36 AM
Geoff the Duck 06 Sep 01 - 09:09 PM
Charley Noble 07 Sep 01 - 08:21 AM
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Subject: 6/8 time on banjo
From: chip a
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 04:13 PM

I heard a fiddler playing a bunch of jigs the other night and got inspired. I play two finger banjo and I wonder if any clawhammer or two finger pickers have done much with 6/8 time. It's a little tricky as you change back & forth from index to thumb lead every third beat! Have you worked this out? I'd be interested in knowing what others have to say.

Chip A.


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: Mooh
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 05:03 PM

Check out Ken Perlman, one of the better traditional players using the 5 string.

Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: RangerSteve
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 06:15 PM

As Mooh said, Check out Ken Perlman. As far as I know, no other clawhammer player has even tried. The main reason may be that you don't make use of the 5th string when you're playing 6/8, so the effect is kind of like flat picking a 4 string.


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: BanjoRay
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 07:14 PM

Ken Perlman does a superb 6/8 version of Foggy Mountain Breakdown which he calls Earl's Jig! I heard him do it at a clawhammer banjo workshop, and all the banjo players in the room fell about. The trouble with jig time using clawhammer is you can't just get away with bum tittying the chords when you're not sure of the tune, you have to work out a proper melodic sequence of notes which gives a complicated set of hand movements - very difficult to bluff. Ken Perlman always plays the full melody with embellishments, and I suspect they're all worked out well in advance. I'm useless at it.

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: TishA
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 07:17 PM

On the little I've worked out so far, I've been using the fifth string although not near as much as in 2/4 time. I'm finding that I don't use it for rhythm but as a filler in long melody runs. Today I printed out sheet music for a couple of jigs. I guess I'll try to stumble through them later. I don't know any jigs so I don't have them running in my head.

I will check Perlman out in a few minutes.

Thanks. Anyone else?

Chip A.


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: Charcloth
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 10:28 PM

Ken Perlman has a book & CD on "basic" claw hammer banjo & teaches a few jigs among them is "Haste to the wedding" It is really a nice book but is not for beginners!


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 04:45 AM

Being a clawhammer player in England - most sessions you find tend to be mainly Irish music, so I used to be limited to vamping along with chords. This quickly becomed boring. When an Irish session started in the village, 5 minutes walk up the street, I went along and after a while started experimenting. First I used clawhammer techniques to create rhythmic patterns within the chord shapes I was using to back up reels and jigs. Some of these proved to be very effective, filling in the spaces around the melody. Later I started to develop my own style of playing to get as much melody line as I could reasonably fit in. Some tunes can be played, but others are nigh on impossible - it mainly depends on the direction of runs or arpeggios.
With jigs, I found that I mostly ignored the fifth string, instead using a lot of drop thumb onto the other strings. As many of the tunes are in D or even A, I had to work on ways of playing in those keys without needing to retune from standard open G. Forming a barre over strings 1,2 and 3 at the second fret leaves the D and f# of the fourth string accessible for lower runs. I could then split each bar into a group of three notes playing in a pattern I H I, I H I. with the tiniest virtual pause between the two triplets. The odd full chord thrown in at appropriate moments can also be effective for emphasis.
When playing with others, they will be mostly playing the melody line, so it isn't always necessary for the banjo to be simply echoing them. Try counter melodies based around the back up chords. Intersperse melody line, when it is playable, with chords and rhythm when the melody falls into a pattern incompatible with the physical restraints of clawhammer. Most important - HAVE FUN!
Quack! Geoff the Duck!


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 04:48 AM

Oh - and yes - try to track down Ken Perlman. His playing is incredible, I watched him play a few years back and couldn't even count how many fingers he has on his hands.
GtD


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 08:53 AM

Chip-- you said you are a 2-finger player; this might be a good time to think about adding another finger so you can get a 3-finger roll. This would give you as a backup pattern TIMTIM . . (alternte thumb on 3rd or 4th string with thumb on 5th string) once you've gotten used to that you can start playing melodies, using as the "basic rule" don't play two notes with the SAME finger consecutively. Garry Owen (in G tuning) fell together very well that way, as did some O 'Carolan tunes (Maggie Brown)-- Irish Washerwoman is a little harder as you will find yourself having to cross fingers. . . anyway it CAN be done and it's worth doing! good luck


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: GUEST,John Leeder
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 05:31 PM

As a clawhammer banjo player who plays a lot with "Celtic" players, I worked out a way of playing jigs, although some tunes are more accessible than others. It's hard to describe, but basically each 6/8 measure consists of two sets of triplets. You use your down-stroke ("I" = index, although some people use the second figure) for the first and third notes of the triplet, and fill in the middle note with whatever works -- hammer-on, pulloff or dropthumb. So the notation could be I-H-I I-P-I or whatever.

For a "single jig" (to use dance terminology), the middle of the triplet could be a rest instead of a note. It coud also be a 5th-string thumb note, to keep the rhythm going.

Then I bought an octave mandolin, and now I usually use it for jigs.

The first tune I worked out in this style was "The Rakes of Kildare"; others were "The Swallow's Tail", "The Blackthorn Stick", "The Two Penny Piece", "I Lost My Love" -- those are ones I can think of at the moment, without sitting down with the banjo.

It works with some tunes, and it's fun, but for many it's more trouble than it's worth, I figure. However, I'm in the midst of composing a jig on the banjo. Perhaps it'll work out interestingly for the fiddlers of this world.


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: chip a
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 10:36 AM

Thanks for all the response.

I've been using this pattern to form the tripletts: ItiTit (caps showing emphasis) This works fine, though it means re-setting my brains for emphasis alternating between thumb and index. I'm using hammers, pulls & left hand plucks etc. in there as well. When my thumb wants a note on the first string, I find it further up on the second string. That seems to work. I'll probably never get where I can do this smoothly or fast enough to play with other real live people, but it's fun anyway. Now I'll have to find a few more jigs to work out and practice on.

Chip A.


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 09:09 PM

Keep at it!
GtD


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Subject: RE: Help: 6/8 time on banjo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Sep 01 - 08:21 AM

Very instructive. This problem is usually a severe shock to 5-string banjo players the first time they encounter it in a session. Thanks for the tips.


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