Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Beginner Tune of the Month - (May2016) Old Joe

I'd like to post this as the Beginner Tune of the Month for May 2016...
Old Joe, a banjo tune from Thomas Briggs' banjo tutor book of 1855. Here played in minstrel 'high bass tuning' in the key of D...tune your minstrel banjo to d-ADF#A. (You can also play this in regular Briggs 'low bass' tuning if you simply avoid hitting the bass string, since the tune as written does not utilize the bass string)
This is one of the easiest tunes to learn in stroke style/minstrel style banjo, and most of the moves will be familiar to clawhammer players already. But it's a satisfying tune or song for any level of minstrel banjo player.

Views: 270

Comment by Scott Danneker on May 1, 2016 at 5:47pm

Nice one Lisa!  For some reason during the "bum bum" bit I do "bum & bum".  Seems to work for me although I have doubts as to the historical/musical fidelity of my approach. 

Comment by Strumelia on May 1, 2016 at 5:57pm

We should all play it as it moves us personally. I'm playing it 'mostly' as it's written in Briggs:

Comment by Chris Prieto on May 1, 2016 at 8:26pm
Soundin lovely :)
Comment by Tom Taggart on May 1, 2016 at 10:23pm

Good banjo pickin' Strum.  This is a great tune for TOTM.

Comment by Andy Chase on May 2, 2016 at 7:12am

This is a great beginner tune, one of the first minstrel style songs I learned when I got started! The mechanics are right in a clawhammer player's wheelhouse; some drop thumb but nothing too fancy.  It's also a really good song for those (like me) who struggle with singing and playing at the same time, where both the melody and rhythm of the vocals stick very close to the melody and rhythm of the instrument.  One of only a couple of tunes I can sing and play at the same time with something approaching confidence (when I can remember the lyrics, that is.)

Comment by Strumelia on May 2, 2016 at 8:28am

Andy, I just LOVE your singing/banjo/tambo version of Old Joe here!: http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/video/old-joe-2

It shows that we can take this simple beginner tune and take it all the way to full blown fabulous!

Comment by Brian Kimerer on May 4, 2016 at 8:29pm

This tune has caught me, so I tabbed it to see what makes it tick. I find that by translating a tune into tab I connect better with the tune, and it helps me figure it out. Then I can throw out the tab.

The thing that I find most interesting about the tune is the ninth measure, which stands all by itself and changes the rhythm. It seems to reset the rhythm of the tune right in the middle of it.

Is there a name for that? It isn't really a hemiola. Is it a dance step?

Just curious.

I plan on learning this tune.

Here's my tab. I can't play it yet, but it plays OK through the MIDI.

Comment by Strumelia on May 4, 2016 at 9:30pm

Brain that's great, I bet you can play it just fine slowly.  I too find that tabbing a tune somehow helps me get 'inside' it better, changing the written notes into 'finger language'.Like you, once I get playing a tune a lot, I can put the tab away.

Comment by Strumelia on May 4, 2016 at 9:33pm

Oops I wrote "Brain" instead of Brian....too funny 'cause my husband's name is Brian and people often write it as "Brain" and we laugh when he gets mail addressed to Brain.  When he was a kid he saved up his pocket money and sent away for 100 pencils with his name stamped on them, from the back of a magazine.  When the pencils arrived, they were all stamped ...Brain.  Poor little guy!   lolol

Comment by Timothy Twiss on May 4, 2016 at 10:44pm

Is there a name for that? It isn't really a hemiola. Is it a dance step?

Just curious.

It is just a result of the lyric.


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