Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I mentioned that weird trill from "Luke West's Walk Around" in the Green Converse. There are two of them. I am speaking of the one on page 61. Look at that piece and notice the trill with instructions, and check it with the directions in the front. Tough little thing to play. I could not quite get it at a brisk tempo, so I played the trill in another way. Anybody else stumbled with this one? 

 

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Hi- Im Rob Morrison, a new guy. The only person I ever heard play this as written is Joe Ayers. I couldn't figure it out either, so about ten years agoI sent him a flattereing letter with all the bells and whistles and a CD to boot. His wife sent me back a nice letter with a couple of free publications and the message that Joe was far too busy with other important matters to be able to reply to my query. I don't know if this technique is a state secret, or what. The way I fill in the hole is to brush the unison notes with my third and second fingers, in that order. This produces a sound a bit like horses hooves or the rhythm in the William Tell Overture. This sounds pretty good, actually, and is in keeping with the general feel of the song, but it ain't what Joe Ayers is doing. The other thought I had was to wind the 5th string down to match the pitch of the first string and double thumb the whole mess. I haven't tried this. I think the 5th string would probably be too sloppy. Well anyway it's nice to know I'm not the only one to experience this problem.
Did you see it live, or is it recorded? I just can't seem to find it on my tape. I can see doing it as written at a slower tempo, but this is one of the few tunes with a tempo marking. "Quick"...what the heck is that??

Rob Morrison said:
Hi- Im Rob Morrison, a new guy. The only person I ever heard play this as written is Joe Ayers. I couldn't figure it out either, so about ten years agoI sent him a flattereing letter with all the bells and whistles and a CD to boot. His wife sent me back a nice letter with a couple of free publications and the message that Joe was far too busy with other important matters to be able to reply to my query. I don't know if this technique is a state secret, or what. The way I fill in the hole is to brush the unison notes with my third and second fingers, in that order. This produces a sound a bit like horses hooves or the rhythm in the William Tell Overture. This sounds pretty good, actually, and is in keeping with the general feel of the song, but it ain't what Joe Ayers is doing. The other thought I had was to wind the 5th string down to match the pitch of the first string and double thumb the whole mess. I haven't tried this. I think the 5th string would probably be too sloppy. Well anyway it's nice to know I'm not the only one to experience this problem.
I think I tabbed this one out some time ago. Of course, the MIDI plays the trill w/o problem...but I may have put in my own fingering...or I may have simply given up! I'll look for it this evening.

"Quick"...isn't that English for "Allegro"? ;-)
Quick to them (19th Century) may have a slightly different interpretation. To never put a tempo marking on anything, and then say "Quick" impies that he wants you to haul ass on this one. "As written" means using those two strings, as Converse states it. I see no problem with one string trill and a turn at the end, but what bothers me is his specific instruction. He is going for something I can't see (or do) yet,
Let me see if I understand the mechanics of the trill properly. As I understand it, the indicated note (in this case, a B) is alternated with the next scalar note "above" (in this case, C#). So, to make the trill per Converse's playing notes, one holds down the B on the 2nd string (third fret/position) and the C# on the 1st string (2nd fret/position)...and twiddles away with the RH (ostensibly the index & middle but I suppose one could do this with the "finger wiggle" type of twiddle).

To get the turn at the end, one requires an A (the first scalar note below the B), right?

It seems to me that this would indicate a 1st position barre (or partial). Apologies if I seem dense, I'm at work and haven't a banjo to reference (of course, I'm just naturally dense anyway...).
Hmm... Two issues...

1. Could be an early example of the cross-string trill. The first discussion of it is in Robert Bremner's 'Instructions' for the so-called English Guitar, published in Edinburgh in 1758. He said play the two notes of a trill on adjacent strings, as harp players do. This allows both notes to ring on. It works especially well when one of the notes is an open string. Classical guitarists use it often, especially David Russell.

2. I wouldn't pay too much attention to tables indicating the 'correct' classical way of interpreting the trill sign, even in a banjo book. Most of them try to imitate keyboard publications, where it is much easier to do fancy trills with turns.

How you do a cross-string trill with stroke technique, I'll leave to you guys, but I wouldn't worry about adding a turn at the end. Quite often the word trill just meant 'do a twiddle here'.
I guess the main thing is, will it sound different than a tremolo (tremelo?) when executed. Anyway, if anybody listens to my version of Luke West Walk Around, let me know if I sound way off base. If you saw a trill as seen there without a footnote, would you use 2 strings?
The answer in which you seek will be found in ABM 17:59 and page 12 of Stewart's "Observations on the Banjo and Banjo Playing"
I don't know what ABM 17:59 is. I read the Stewart. Here is the Converse. I still wonder, how is the prescribed trill movement in Luke West's Walk Around different from a tremolo? The definitions read almost the same. Very few spots get the attention of the author like that one (pg 61 Green Converse). How fast would you play this tune? Joel...can you please demonstrate your interpretation of this?


deuceswilde said:
The answer in which you seek will be found in ABM 17:59 and page 12 of Stewart's "Observations on the Banjo and Banjo Playing"
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ABM 17:59 = Analytical Banjo Method page 17, para 59...same thing you posted. However, this description does not = "trill". Please turn in your hymnal to 19:69 for his discourse on the trill.

Ok, I've messed about with this (and I did TAB it out some time ago). I cannot see how anyone but John Masciale could perform this trill at more than a walk. I think it sounds best at 90bpm (Moderato). Setting the metrognome @ Allegro (108bpm) turns the trem into something you might expect from Alvin, Simon or Theodore. Also, if one wishes to add a turn to the end, it is completely lost at those speeds.
Okay, I'll look at that. Consider the trill description above (Green Book). Not much different except the turn. So, how fast do you think Luke's Walk Around should go.
(I know this is all pretty picky small stuff, but where else you gonna talk about it??)

Trapdoor2 said:
ABM 17:59 = Analytical Banjo Method page 17, para 59...same thing you posted. However, this description does not = "trill". Please turn in your hymnal to 19:69 for his discourse on the trill.

Ok, I've messed about with this (and I did TAB it out some time ago). I cannot see how anyone but John Masciale could perform this trill at more than a walk. I think it sounds best at 90bpm (Moderato). Setting the metrognome @ Allegro (108bpm) turns the trem into something you might expect from Alvin, Simon or Theodore. Also, if one wishes to add a turn to the end, it is completely lost at those speeds.
I would think allegro was at least 120.

Trapdoor2 said:
ABM 17:59 = Analytical Banjo Method page 17, para 59...same thing you posted. However, this description does not = "trill". Please turn in your hymnal to 19:69 for his discourse on the trill.

Ok, I've messed about with this (and I did TAB it out some time ago). I cannot see how anyone but John Masciale could perform this trill at more than a walk. I think it sounds best at 90bpm (Moderato). Setting the metrognome @ Allegro (108bpm) turns the trem into something you might expect from Alvin, Simon or Theodore. Also, if one wishes to add a turn to the end, it is completely lost at those speeds.

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