Es werden Posts vom Januar, 2010 angezeigt.

Banjo Clips

A friend from Kiel posted 10 banjo clips on his blog. The subtitle means something like: "Sooner or later everbody gets the banjo kick".
I think the session backstage at the Grand Ole Opry reflects exactly what I like most in banjo playing (despite the lady with the banjo - or is it because of?).

Irish Jig

Last thursday Martina and I managed to record "Donnybrook Fair" with less mistakes than the week before. So we dared to record it.
The first part shows our practicing speed. Very much too slow for an Irish jig, but that´s how beginners are supposed to play while learning :-)))
Second part is double speed and sounds more like the speed they do at the Irish session in Kiel. BUT: I faked it. We played this piece twice in a row same (slow) speed and I then used Audacity to speed up the second part. That´s about the "real" speed, we are looking for.
It´s a long way to Tipperary...

I played the banjo part in clawhammer style. A jig is written in 6/8: So I (tried to) give the accent on the one, played a pull off on the two, bumped the three, bumped the four again, hammered (or drop-thumbed or pulled off ) the four and so on (wherever it was possible to me). By such the typical 6/8 rhythm can be accomplished, at least if you can ... (See Mike Iverson for more details).

Where the Banjo Came From

Just after having heard the radio show I mentioned yesterday I came upon a very interesting thread on the hangout about the origins of banjo.

Die Sendung im Deutschlandfunk hat u. a. sehr viele unterschiedliche Banjo-Spielarten (jeweils nur kurz) vorgestellt - und eben die Geshichte des Banjo. Leider kein Wort über die Anzahl der Saiten der frühen Banjos, keine Wort über Mr. Sweeney, der anscheinend nicht die hohe 5. Saite dazuerfunden hat sondern evtl. nur unsere tiefe D-Saite als 5. hinzugefügt hat (s. Hangout-Thread). Und kein Wort über up-picking, downstroke oder gar clawhammer/frailing. Trotzdem eine interessante Sendung. Wer sie verpasst hat, sollte mal versuchen, sie auf der Seite des Deutschlandfunks als podcast zu finden. Ich habe sie aber auch aufgenommen.

Banjo im Radio

Morgen (ja, schon morgen) gibts ne Banjo-Sendung im Radio. Hoffentlich verpass ich es nicht, sie aufzunehmen.
„Von Afrika nach Amerika und zurück, Die Odyssee des Banjos von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Von Christoph Wagner“ am Sonntag, 31.01.2010 · 15:05 Uhr im Deutschlandfunk.

Transcontinental Jam Session, Redux

Martina (aka Katrina with the clarinet capo) got a new instrument, a low whistle (in D). Wonderful sound it has! We tried an irish jig in 6/8th time, but got lost so often that I rather spare you such a piece. (We ´re working on it.)

But how funny is this: The next day I got an email from Dick from Scotland who bought himself a D-whistle too. He recorded "Ashokan Farewell" and invited me to join in.
This is what I accomplished after two hours of recording: Ashokan Farewell with low whistle and banjo.
And if you, my dear reader, want to join the band: You´re welcome!
PS: I tuned the banjo to 445 Hz which seems to fit the whistle better.

Walking in the Parlour

The double CD "Banjo Gathering" has lots of beautiful tunes. From the beginning I liked "Walking in the Parlour". Now I am ready to present it to my dear (one and only?) listener. You can find the tab at the Banjo hangout. It´s fun to snap the 5th string twice in the beginning. I like that bang, hope you too. This seems to be a good lesson to practice your double thump. In fact there´s only two notes which are fretted with your left hand. All the rest are open strings. So you can concentrate on the right hand. Next step would be to throw in an extra brush here or another double thump there. But I´m happy with this version of Walkin´ In the Parlour right now.
Double-C-Tuning, Capo 2nd fret, ren head, nylgut strings, blue moon pillow, nail pick, Saga banjo - lot´s of fun.


There may be a need to learn some wedding music in case it is needed in special occasions, ok, Yanni? For those who like to hammer on "Broyges Tants", here is the tab. Andy Rubin kindly gave me permission to publish his arrangement.
Unfortunately I have no tabs for the Wedding Marches, but it´s easy to frail them in open G-tuning. Runs by ear.

The Eternal Quest 2(~

Missed the Bluegrass Session in Hamburg last friday because of Daisy. Instead I tried a new setup for my Saga.
Broyges Tants
Now it´s a Renaissance head with nylgut strings. I even (tried to) tune the head to Bb. The sound is best to me with a pillow inside the head. I use a Fred Kelly pick on my frailing finger (still the nail issue). With pillow I avoid the ringing resonance and achieve a sound which to me is old timey enough - for the time being.
Unfortunately the frailing feeling differs from that with steel strings. Nylgut is a lot softer.
Let´s see what comes next...
Btw: Montag ist wieder Folk Session im Statt-Café.


Sitting with Jerry in his studio in Hamburg, northern Germany, together with 11 Germans and playing with Andy from Sacramento, USA, the Israeli National Anthem (Hatikvah - Hope) on 12 banjos was kind of , well, special.
This tune is very similar to the „Vltava“ by Smetana, surely he had heard the tune being played by some Klezmorim (for wikipedia go here) - or was it vice versa? Or both of them have worked on an even older tune? Who knows, I don´t.
Anyway, it's Eastern European music material that can be played with American banjos too. It's been a lot of fun! Every now and then even the 5th string was part of the melody, which happens very rarely in the Appalachians, I think.

My favourite piece this evening was "Broygens Tants" (the "dance of the parents in law“). We have learned from Andy that the klezmers in the old days in Eastern Europe were people from the lower classes, earning their living with mostly wedding music. For the "Broygens Tants" …

Klezmer Workshop

Andy Rubin gave us a wonderful evening.
Here is the "First Hamburg Klezmorim Banjo Orchestra", conducted by Andy Rubin, playing "Broyges Tants".

More to come.