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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 8:22 pm 
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its not the obvious or most common banjo for irish traditional music. but it can apparently be done. so, do we have fans?
ken perlman fans?
what tunings are people using? are we fingerpicking, flatpicking, or frailing g-d forbid?
what tunings are we using?
anyone playing IT with a bluegrass banjo?
any keith tuner fans?
i just started playing with this-basically when i can't pump the bellows anymore, or when i know the neighbor wants to sleep.
lets share info, tabs, playing hints

meir


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 9:52 pm 
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I sold my Gibson Mastertone in order to finance my first set of Uilleann pipes - one of my better life changing decisions. I still have an old Gibson long neck banjo that I bought nearly 40 years ago. I get it out now and then, but not for very long. I used to do both fingerpicking and clawhammer/frailing on it, but I'm way out of practice now.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 10:32 pm 
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I bought a Deering Sierra just 5 weeks ago. It's my first 5-string in about 15 years. I haven't tried much ITM with it, but I do play a couple of fiddle tunes in A mixolydian (Salt Creek and Red-haired Boy) mostly single-string style with the capo on the second fret and playing as if in G.

For those who aren't familiar with it, "single-string" is a lot like flatpicking, except that you use your thumb for downstrokes and your finger for upstrokes. I use my middle finger most of the time, as it's the longest and strongest. I try to throw in some three-finger rolls occasionally, just to make it sound a little more like traditional Bluegrass, but I'd probably avoid that for ITM.

I'm using standard gDGbd tuning. As a result, most of the left-hand fingering is the same as on guitar.

A bit of experimentation shows that I can also find all the notes I need for a number of tunes in E Dorian (Swallowtail Jig, Morrison's Jig, Road to Lisdoonvarna, Tralee Gaol) and D major (Boys of Blue Hill and Fisher's Hornpipe--where three-finger rolls do work nicely on the arpeggios). My only problem with these is that I play them on guitar with the capo on the second fret as if in Dm and C, respectively, which doesn't work, as it loses the low D note. So, I'd have to do some extra work to get them up to speed on the 5-string.

If you're working tunes out from scratch, it's probably worthwhile to try out D major tuning a'DF#ad or f#DF#ad for tunes in D, and D minor tuning a'DFad or fDFad capoed on 2 for E dorian.

Another possibility for D major (and probably B minor) is C major tuning gCGbd with the capo on 2. Modern clawhammer players seem inordinately fond of double-C tuning gCGcd, which you could also capo on 2.

I'd be interested in hearing about results from trying any of those. For the moment, I think I'll stick with guitar and mandolin for ITM, and reserve the 5-string for Bluegrass.

In Bluegrass, Ralph Stanley uses D tuning for "Hard Times" (not the Stephen Foster song) and Earl Scruggs uses it for "Reuben" and "John Henry". Scruggs uses D minor tuning for "Nashville Blues" and C tuning for "Home, Sweet Home".

So far, I'd say that I wouldn't play the 5th string at all in this style, unless maybe capoed up to avoid having to go up to the 7th fret.

Margaret Barry played 5-string. I saw a reference somewhere on the Web to her "idiosyncratic clawhammer style", but it doesn't sound much like clawhammer (downpicking) to me--especially with all those tremolos. Take a listen at Amazon.com to the tunes and songs on Her Mantle So Green and I Sang Through the Fairs. To me, it sounds like it might be single-stringing or flatpicking with some brushes. The arpeggios on slow songs, like "My Lagan Love", "The Galway Shawl", and "The Factory Girl", sound like flatpick to me. It's a bit harder to be sure of the strumming on faster songs, and when she's backing up Michael Gorman and others on Her Mantle So Green.

If you need to be even quieter, there are a variety of mutes available. Most clamp onto the bridge one way or another. My current one is made of wood (purchased online from Deering), and pushes on from the top. I've seen an aluminun one made in much the same style. I've also seen a brass one that's sort of like a big hairpin or paper clamp, lined with something that looks like the curly part of Velcro, that appears to slip on from one side below the stings, and another brass one that seems to screw on somehow.

The mute also reduces noisy overtones from the head, resulting in more sustain and a purer sound that is interesting on its own--kind of dobro-like. Jack Hicks, who was playing with Bill Monroe at the time, got a similar effect on the song "Making Believe" on a Buck White album (County 735) by sticking wooden closepins on either side of the bridge.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 6:30 am 
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piperdoc wrote:
are we fingerpicking, flatpicking, or frailing g-d forbid?


I don't understand. Is g-d forbidding only frailing or fingerpicking, flatpicking and frailing. If the latter, what's left? I play what's generally called clawhammer but I don't use the banjo much for Irish music. I do play some tunes and I have taken my banjo to mainly Irish sessions. I generally keep it tuned in double C with a capo on the 2nd fret. It's possible to play in D, A modal, E modal or minor and G in this tuning but it takes some work to learn a bunch of G tunes in it. There's another 5-string banjo player who sometimes comes to the session and plays with a flatpick when he wants to play melody.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:20 am 
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piperdoc wrote:
its not the obvious or most common banjo for irish traditional music. but it can apparently be done. so, do we have fans?
ken perlman fans?
what tunings are people using? are we fingerpicking, flatpicking, or frailing g-d forbid?
what tunings are we using?
anyone playing IT with a bluegrass banjo?
any keith tuner fans?
i just started playing with this-basically when i can't pump the bellows anymore, or when i know the neighbor wants to sleep.
lets share info, tabs, playing hints

meir


Well... I guess I'm on the "g-d forbid" bench, then. :lol: I have a turn of the last century 17 fret Gatcomb. I'm using a standard D tuning (I think). (Obviously, I'm also on the "not anywhere near an expert at it" bench.)

I've a very short list, and the only one that even remotely qualifies as IT is one I know as "the Paddy-Roller Song" - and that's a pretty thin soup for evidence. I am planning on changing that though.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:21 am 
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anniemcu wrote:
I've a very short list, and the only one that even remotely qualifies as IT is one I know as "the Paddy-Roller Song"


Is it an A modal tune? There's a tune called Pateroller which might be related.
Here's a link to a clawhammer tab.

http://clawhammerbanjo.com/tabs/modaltu ... oller.html

There's also a song about the pateroller (sometimes called pater roller) catching a slave. It's some sometimes called The Pateroller Song and sometimes called Run Johnny, Run. "Johnny" is a substitute word for the original word in the title. I don't know the melody to that one.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 10:54 am 
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SteveK wrote:
anniemcu wrote:
I've a very short list, and the only one that even remotely qualifies as IT is one I know as "the Paddy-Roller Song"


Is it an A modal tune? There's a tune called Pateroller which might be related.
Here's a link to a clawhammer tab.

http://clawhammerbanjo.com/tabs/modaltu ... oller.html

There's also a song about the pateroller (sometimes called pater roller) catching a slave. It's some sometimes called The Pateroller Song and sometimes called Run Johnny, Run. "Johnny" is a substitute word for the original word in the title. I don't know the melody to that one.


That link is to the same tune, though I play it in a slightly different tuning (DGBD), so the tab would be different, though the first part is mostly the same.

The song you mentioned is one I remember from a Jimmy Driftwood album, with the situation changed to "Johnny" escaping the revenuers, and is actually, in his song's case, based on a true story, I believe. The case of the name change is very familiar, as there was much great music given highly offensive title at times. Even just knowing the original titles sometimes gives me the shivers. :lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:27 am 
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I sold my 5 string banjo a long time ago. Back then bluegrass/newgrass players were already playing a lot of "melodic" three-finger stuff (i.e. making use of alternate strings to produce a fast smooth resonant melody line without too many fill-in notes like traditional bluegrass banjo has). The style is ideal for traditional dance tunes in general. I'm not sure how ITM ornamentation fits in but I guess that someone has worked that out by now.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 11:20 am 
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Little Green Man wrote:
I'm not sure how ITM ornamentation fits in but I guess that someone has worked that out by now.


I think the main style that 5-string players use for playing Irish music is "single-string" style. That means you use your thumb and index finger like a flat pick and add the middle finger when playing triplets. I've heard a couple of people playing this style. Chris Grotewohl is the best known. The melodic, alternating strings approach is said to not be good for ITM.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:58 pm 
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SteveK wrote:
Little Green Man wrote:
I'm not sure how ITM ornamentation fits in but I guess that someone has worked that out by now.


I think the main style that 5-string players use for playing Irish music is "single-string" style. That means you use your thumb and index finger like a flat pick and add the middle finger when playing triplets. I've heard a couple of people playing this style. Chris Grotewohl is the best known. The melodic, alternating strings approach is said to not be good for ITM.

Melodic style may be a bit too smooth--harder to get the lilt for jigs and hornpipes. I'll have to try it. Single-string is pretty easy for guitar players. (Contrary to what I said earlier, I use my index finger for single-string, not my middle finger. It's clawhammer that I use the middle finger for.)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:46 pm 
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I play Old Timey clawhammer a lot, but don't do much ITM on banjo. Maybe a reel once in a while. "Wind that Shakes the Barley" and "Temperance Reel" come to mind. I have not tried jigs. They feel like an unnatural act to me for clawhammer. It seems like the don't pulse right in the clawhammer style. I play on old Tubaphone and Electric banjos.

I find Reed Martin's recorded verion of "Off to California" to be really beautiful, but kind of twisted in a true hornpipe sense. It might not work that well in an Irish session, but it is a grand version of that tune. Reed Martin is one of my all time favorite players. Truely amazing.


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