Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

This comes from the Converse Method of 1865. What makes this interesting is looking at a later piece simply called "Irish Jig" from his Analytical Method of 1886. It is almost identical, give or take a few notes, but you see a few sublte differences in the fingerings. He adds some Hammer Strokes and Combinations into the later version. In this piece it is of little consequence, but notable as we watch his concept of Stroke Style become more refined over a period of years.

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Comment by Ian Bell on February 20, 2010 at 8:59am
Nice playing Tim. This jig turns up (nameless) in an 1850s Ontario tune manuscript I've got. In the '80s I wanted to record the tune and went off looking for a name to call it. I've been running across it ever since. It must have been a real standard for many years, and has more aliases than you can shake a stick at, including: "The Bottle of Brandy", "Daniel of The Sun" ,(very poetic) "The Leg of a Duck", "She's The Girl To Do It", and "Thady You Gander" (? - Irish) It's in many of the old Irish published sources, and Ryan's (I forget which title) and I once heard it as accompaniment for morris dancing by a group of English dancers visiting Ontario. Guess it must be one of those tunes that John Hartford called "ironclad".
Comment by Steven Hedgpeth on February 24, 2010 at 12:12pm
It looks like you're playing that drone note in with your thumb; whereas, that is exactly the place where I started using hammer strikes after I learned about them from you. It's one of few places where I've been able to incorporate them into a tune without disrupting the rhythm.

I bought a CD-book set a few years ago at a used book store that sets a poem by Thomas Moore to this tune played on a harp. (The poem is :'Tis Sweet to Think": http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/32335/).
They play it slower to make the lyrics singable but it's still a lot of tricky words to cram in there. I was going to learn to sing and play it for St. Patrick's Day 2010 but gave up by April 2009. But I did learn to play it from Weidlich's tab with those thumb strikes, but revised it to use hammer strikes after I discovered banjo.ning.com last year. I'm curious as to how differently you play "Irish Jig," specifically whether the thumbed drone becomes replaced at all with hammer strikes.

You are demonstrating what the book says on most of these, right? When you play them away from the book, I assume you just do what feels most natural at the time?
Comment by Tim Twiss on February 28, 2010 at 11:20pm
I am playing it from looking at the Converse 1865. I don't think the overall effect is that different if played as written in the 1886. It is interesting, however, to note the slight change of thought from bar to bar. He obviously marks in the Combination Movements. There are also spots where the Hammer takes the place of the thumb stroke.I find it useful to place Combinations whenever possible. There are many opportunities in other banjo music for such markings. I have found many spots in the famously unmarked Buckley Books. Although I really advocate use of the Hammer, I really like like a repeated thumb movement. It's nice to be able to do either, and choose. One I would have like to seen reworked is "Bee Gum Reel" from the Yellow 1865.
Comment by Rob MacKillop on March 1, 2010 at 3:31am
Here's another way of playing it - in 'guitar' style. MP3 file: Bully For All.mp3


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