For enthusiasts of early banjo
From Slave Songs of the United States, 1867
That is a very nice tune, but what I am hearing as Paul plays it is not what I am seeing when I follow along with the written music. I understand that the music notation is an incomplete transcription of the music itself, but the difference is more than just expression; I am hearing notes played that are not on the sheet, e.g. in the third measure. It also sounds as though some of the written notes are silent in the performance, such as the leading note of the last measure. That gives the music a syncopation that is not apparent in the written score.
As a novice, I am wondering how you pulled the music out of that minimal description of it in the notation. For those of us with with less experience, how do we squeeze music out of the dots on the page?
I agree, and I bet they are very accurate....but it does beg the point that transcribing is much like translating....a skill that requires the interpretation and discretion of the receptor who is making it black and white with notation. I think these are remarkable. I also think it should give us cause to look at the tutors and some of the transcriptions there. When is it an accurate rendition...and when not? Are not many of those snapshots in time also?
Thank you for the explanation. I am attempting this music somewhat in isolation, so I don't know if the process I go through is a dead end or not. I think I go through a process similar to the one that you have described... without the oatmeal... but my fingers do not yet come up with such nice embellishments. For example, they have never told me to leave out a note for a syncopated effect. They did discover once quite by accident the marvelous minor second chord that makes the banjo really twang.
As an aside, I hang out more with visual artists than I do musicians. I have been painting far longer than I have been playing the banjo. We get the same sort of questions and give the same sort of answers.
Q: "Why did you put that color there?"
A: "Because it is correct".
Being in the arts is not an exact science.
Thanks for those comments Paul.
Paul that was a great description of how you came up with a 'banjo arrangement' to back up your singing the unadorned melody part. We all know that when we play banjo, we don't merely play melody notes only- we use the thumb string as syncopated note, we brush chords and other stringhs, add pull-offs and hammer on notes, and use a themb to drop onto other strings, etc etc. These 'banjo moves' are not done on fiddle for example- the fiddle has its own characteristic 'fiddle moves'. So when we are presented with a written plain melody line of a tune, we have to kind of let our familiar 'banjo moves' happen, and suggest themselves as we play the melody. Like Paul, I find this happens most if I don't overthink it- I just first find the melody and start playing it, and the thumb string is usually the first thing that asserts itself, followed by other typical banjo moves. This can happen over many playings. Once some of it is taking shape as a banjo version, I can then more consciously experiment in adding some little 'banjo move' or ornamental bit that might sound interesting and less generic. The extent of the banjo 'arrangement' depends a lot also on whether you are intending to sing or if it's going to remain instrumental.
The melody is the dominant thing
Yeah, without the melody we might as well be playing hammered dulcimers. =8-0 (lololol just kiddinnnnng!)
Relating to the idea that music in print can somehow represent a performance in the past......the one I have a strong impression of in that sense is "Whoop Jamboree" from Rice 1858. It sounds like one that may be done a bit different all the time...and being an improvisation developed from "Juba"....anybody else hear "Juba " in this??
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