Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

So it's been at least a few months since march and have made good progress thru briggs tabs like 7 tunes left to master before it's wrap. It has been a blast and I took like fish to water. Very chunky, funky stuff.

At about half way thru briggs I began the converse yellow book, and was totally surprised by how "thumby" everything is. Thumb's doing stuff it wasn't doing in briggs however equally funky with a lil less chunk. I have been moving thru this guy at a slower pace since i have to read everything and it's not just a big book of tabs. I have also been converting each song into tab as i learn it so in the future i can rip thru it like i do briggs.

And the other day I began to dig into the winners primer and was so surprised by how "loopy" it is. makes me think of double dutch jump ropes in the sense that i cant think too much about what i'm doing or I mess up, get better results just doin the dang thing. a bit lacking in the funk and chunk departments for the most part but so very fun to play. Also after playing a few of the tunes enough i can kinda bring the funk and chunk as i see fit.

At first I was struck with this notion that briggs is the best. It might be because it's what I heard first. It was my gateway minstrel tutor, makes me wanna dance more. maybe i just love the congo prince jig. Still got to really dig into the rice book but in due time.

But I have come to appreciate the style variations a bit as of late as it keeps me from developing lazy patterns while playing. This thumb aint just for droning ya know. I also *really* enjoy playing the walk arounds.

Either way it's been a fun journey and all you guys n gals posting videos regularly on youtube have been a **huge** help.

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Thank you so much, Tim!

I would say that the Yellow Book is as solid and definitive of Stroke as the Briggs. Very consistent. Worth looking in the 1886 to see how he changed his concept...a bit.

As you find editing errors, let me know. Perhaps someday I'll make a formal publication. I think we all need it. The tab has been done, but notation is difficult to read. Just a hunch now-I bet he had this done for quite a while. Not really in the fold of 1865 is it? He had the wild Green Book the. 2 in the same year??? nah   Rice used that old format of description too.  Quite "thumby" as most notice.

Anybody want to see a version with no fingerings?

I am curious, are the rice or first buckley book available as tab anywhere? I spent a bit a time on the rice book over weekend and found that the brain begins to read the notation in the book on it's own after a while (not really but kind of). If i think about it too much my brain breaks but I sort of got it to half click over the weekend. i swear a few months ago i played juba with the aid of tim's videos and when i got to where did you come from i quit the rice book assuming i was missing some piece of the puzzle. But now it's workin a lil better for me.

oh and that tune hog eye in winners is sumthin else too, first half makes me wanna break dance haha

I have not seen tab versions of Rice or Buckley, though Bob Flesher's books have quite a few selected pieces from both of them as well as Converse.

I decided to break away from tab after a couple of months of playing, since reading notation opens up all of the period materials, not just those that others have selected. Then again, my background as a symphonic musician made it pretty easy to teach myself to read banjo music from notation.

I used to play a sax long ago but the ability to read sheet music never really came back but to be fair I have not given too valiant an effort. I can consume a lot of tabs which why I like em. I feel like the rice book is gonna help it all kinda click tho. Also playing songs I already know by memory while looking at the notation really helps connect the dots too.

Either way, that is good to know because if I start tabbing either of the two books out at least it will potentially be of some help to someone else.

For tabs I would primarily suggest Joe Weidlich's book.  Bob Flesher's books are also good, but he has taken a few liberties.

Weidlich, J. (2004). The Early Minstrel Banjo Technique and Repertoire. Aneheim Hills, Ca: Centerstream Publishing.

I actually ordered all three of those books last week :)

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