Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I use the Converse Combinations as bedrock for this style. A few pages over, it gets even better....the "General Exercises - Banjo Style". Here is a twisty serving of well fingered phrases. Anybody elese using these? It is clear that this man did not think of "Banjo Style" as something to be forgotten. Instead, he solidified this style....into an art form.

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I like em'-- the first page or so is like one big Juba with variations.  I love his combination lines.

I really don't like the whole "drop thumb" term and concept as a special skill that the modern simple method books use.  It should be taught from the start to anyone wanting to learn banjo styles.

I will look into these Converse exercises!   Thanks for pointing us beginners to them specifically, Tim.

Joel, I couldn't agree more.  When I started clawhammer I was told to NOT try drop thumbing until later on.  Big, big mistake.  It was such a struggle to bring drop thumb naturally into my playing after the fact.  I advise DT as a fully integrated tool from the very beginning.

I also couldn't agree more on both points. "Drop Thumb" is an essential tool, no different than any other technique and should be taught as such. I would go as far as to not give it a specific name; special titles give things scary powers in the minds of men (and women). ;-)

I have the whole set of exercises tabbed out if anyone wants 'em.

I'll take the tab Trap!  Let me know the best way to get em!  Thanks! 

I'll admit ignorance to the term "drop thumb", not having plduged into Converse much.  If it's in Briggs too, I'll admit to jumping into tunes after mastering Juba from Tim's tutoiral vid! :-x

Ditto to what Strumelia said.  I was lucky enough to have a teacher that taught drop thumb from the very beginning, and now it is something second nature that I don't even really have to think about doing.  I was astounded to find out that there are people who have played for years or are even considered "professionals" that can't or won't drop thumb.  And it is a skill that can add so much to your playing.

I'll try to remember to post them here tonight, Matt.
 
Matthew Mickletz said:

I'll take the tab Trap!  Let me know the best way to get em!  Thanks! 

I'll admit ignorance to the term "drop thumb", not having plduged into Converse much.  If it's in Briggs too, I'll admit to jumping into tunes after mastering Juba from Tim's tutoiral vid! :-x

I first learned to play clawhammer about 35 years ago.  Various people have all kinds of rules about what you can and can't do to play "authentic" clawhammer.  These rules are just a lot of baloney of course.  I was lucky enough to be taught by Nowell Creadick who started me out with drop thumb from the beginning.  "Old Molly Hare" is about the best excercise imagineable for learning this technique.  Also I see no bright line between clawhammer and 19th century banjo style techniques.  If you already know one or the other, you simply practice and perfect a few new techniques.  Ignore the rules for "authenticity."--Rob Morrison
Genford Brewington said:

Ditto to what Strumelia said.  I was lucky enough to have a teacher that taught drop thumb from the very beginning, and now it is something second nature that I don't even really have to think about doing.  I was astounded to find out that there are people who have played for years or are even considered "professionals" that can't or won't drop thumb.  And it is a skill that can add so much to your playing.

Ok, here's a pdf of the 1886 Converse exercises. Carl sent me some handwritten TAB and I keyed it into TablEdit.

I hate to complain about a great effort here Marc, but the entire point is the hand planting down as a Strike, or Combination, as indicated by the black lines. Can you find a way to add those? Also, the dotted rhythms are not there for the most part.

Speaking of Tabs, anybody have the Tab for "Grape Vine Twist"?  Or other stuff from Rice's 1858?  I'm goin beyond Briggs.

There are some in the Harpers Ferry Book on this site.

Have fun

 

Thanks Tim!  Found it!  I was playing by ear from one of Carl's videos and from your site. After looking at the Tab, I actually got WAY closer than I thought I would've!  Guess this banjo thing was meant to be :)

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