I'm new on this website and the reason why I wanted to be part of it is that I live in France, a country where 5 string banjo is synonym of bluegrass, and Clawhammer or Minstrel banjo completely unknown.
I've been played more round peak style since I started playing the banjo but ther is thas version of Arkansas Traveller in Buckley and Converse method books that I would like to play to begin Minstrel banjo. I don't read music and i don't manage to play it by hear so my question is does anybody has transcription of this part in tab?
If you want tabs you might find this book an absolute gem. It has a a variety of tunes from the different instructors, including 2 versions of Arkansas Traveler (Converse and Buckley).
Thanks, this book looks interesting to me
but I read this comment on it that make me hesitate:
"I bought this book and am totally lost. It clearly has huge potential but why are the tunings of each piece not mentioned? Every tab I have ever seen describes how the banjo is to be tuned for that particular piece such as, "gDGBD" being the most common. However these are not anywhere to be found in the book. How is one to know how play the tune? Have I missed something? It must be in the book but I can't find it. Page 19 gives a general account of certain tunings in the 19th century but that doesn't help you when you come to a tune say on page 200. I must be missing something because no one would write a book of TABs and not mention what tunings they are supposed to be in. That would be like asking someone to spell a word when they don't know the alphabet. Can anyone help me?"
What do you think?
I will, thanks!
a last question if you mind, are Minstrel tunes to be played with clawhammer?
We call it stroke style, but the differences between that and claw hammer are very subtle, so the short answer, especially when reading tab is yes.
Besides the stroke style that has already been mentioned, a lot of these tunes can also be played in the so-called "guitar style", plucking the strings with the fingers instead of a down picking with the fingernail. Dave
In addition to all the other good advice here posted, I'd suggest getting Tim Twiss's brand new stroke style instruction book with CD. Great to work through it slowly and learn in a progressive way. Also, watch Tim's free video lessons here (I believe under "resources'?).
As a fellow claw player, I will give you my advice- rather than approach minstrel tunes and playing style purposely from a clawhammer angle, I think it's better to just approach the stroke style with no clawhammer preconceptions- choosing simple tunes rather than choosing tunes because they are 'clawhammer-y' and therefore in your comfort zone. The goal (I assume) is not to play minstrel era tunes in clawhammer style, nor is the goal to merely play clawhammer on a minstrel style banjo. It's a distinctive repertoire and a distinctive playing technique, though it overlaps here and there with other repertoires, time periods, places, and playing techniques.
I started with Juba. That's as simple as it gets. Yet Juba played in stroke style has a slightly different feel to it that if you just 'think clawhammer' while playing it. There is a subtle difference. As you build on your stroke style technique, the overall sound and effect will be distinct from clawhammer....UNLESS you approach it all from a determined clawhammer mindset, trying to make what and how you play fit into the clawhammer box.
Everyone must decide what their personal goals are. Once I had a clear goal in my mind, I found it was less of a burden, and I didn't have to worry so much about sounding like a beginner all over again...sounds nutty, but I hope that makes some sense! :)
I'll give a second on Tim's book. It shows each song with tab and standard notation. The songs are accessible-playable-and make me feel like I've accomplished something after playing.
Thank you every body for your replies! So glad I can talk with banjo passionates. I completely agree with the idea of being a beginner again. I'm gonna try this stroke style.
It's amazing, I'had never realised that american soldiers came with the banjo. Is this during the WW1 that banjo was introduced in Europe?
We just won back the Alsace in our WW1 reenactment two weeks ago... I felt like playing my banjo too. Welcome to the group.
I'm used to see a lot of various tuning in clawhammer songs, that's why I was a little bit worried about that.
But, why do you think reading notation so necessary?
Joel Hooks said:
Hi Sylvestre, that reviewer clearly did not read the text. The term "tuning" has caused lots of confusion.
With early banjo, the intervals will all be the same as the socalled "bluegrass G tuning" with the fourth string lowered one full step.
All music written for the banjo other than the modern era folk styles will be written using that set of intervals. Any changes are otherwise noted, the most common being "bass elevated"-- same as the "bluegrass tuning."
Don't give up on notation! Better to start with it then having to go back to it like I did. I would have saved myself a lot of time.