Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I've been watching several tutorials about Clawhammer since Mark Weems mentioned this. One thing is the concept of "down". Down in the right hand motion can be directed straight toward the head of the instrument. it can also be interpreted as aiming toward the floor. How do you all interpret this?

Another difference is watching the brush of clawhammer where the first finger and the thumb make contact with the string in a slight delay, whereas Stroke style has the finger and thumb making contact with the string at exactly the same time. 

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I agree with trapdoor- that a new thread would be ideal if we are going to specifically discuss the minstrel/stroke style tutor books' written definitions, as opposed to discussing clawhammer techniques as you seem to be asking about in your original post, Tim.

Let's go a bit further here and see if there is any interest in this.  

My original thread included this:

Another difference is watching the brush of clawhammer where the first finger and the thumb make contact with the string in a slight delay, whereas Stroke style has the finger and thumb making contact with the string at exactly the same time. 

I got this directly from the tutors.

I want to explore where it went...but also want to somehow ground this in a somewhat conclusive agreement about what the original motions were like.  

"...the brush of clawhammer where the first finger and the thumb make contact with the string in a slight delay,..."

Tim, sorry to be so dense, but yes I saw the video moment of Fink that you posted to clarify what you wrote above...I understand what she is doing in the video, but I still don't understand what you mean by your above statement, thus I cannot respond to your specifics.  I don't understand what your description is saying- it doesn't make sense to me and the video moment doesn't explain your description for me.  I don't know of any 'delay' and am not sure which string you are referring to when you say "the string".  

Also im confused when you say you "got this directly from the tutors"- yet the tutors didn't talk about clawammer vs stroke style.  Sorry, I know you mean something more specific but I'm not getting your message.

I mean that her first finger hits the strings first, and then her thumb does.

In Stroke, they are laid down at exactly the same time.

Strum, have you read those parts of the books?

And I know the tutors don't address Clawhammer, but many people speak as though they are one in the same.  

I was hoping to establish the small things that make them different, and also try to see how one became the other. 

Thus, her "down" goes towards the ground, and across the strings. That is why her first finger makes contact first, before the thumb. The tutors imply down is towards the head, making a Strike, or Combination  making contact with the finger and thumb at the same time.

This, ( in my opinion ) is a small thing that changes the over "groove" and rhythmic drive of the styles.

You are talking about a BRUSH?  The thumb is not usually used for actually executing downward brush in clawhammer.   ?   In clawh, the fact that the thumb winds up sitting on the 5th string at the end of a brush is incidental, and not everyone does it.  It only winds up there (optionally, up to you) at the end of a brush in case you need it for a thumb note right after a brush, or for a location anchor.  This does not translate to a 'delay' of any kind, in my view.   Keep in mind that in her video clip, Kathy's thumb winding up pressing down on the thrumb string after the brush is not making any note at all- the thumb is merely coming to rest as an anchor point- the thumb makes NO SOUND or note during the actual 'brush'- it's not 'hitting the string'- more just coming to rest on it.

Timothy Twiss said:

I mean that her first finger hits the strings first, and then her thumb does.

In Stroke, they are laid down at exactly the same time.

She places importance upon this as a primary move in Clawhammer.

The Strike is the primary motion in Stroke style.

The thumb is not required to make a sound in Stroke either, as a Half-Strike is played.

The thumb comes to rest in both styles. 

Did you read the three excerpts Strum?

I was just reading the Briggs "Manner of Playing". I find the "strike and slide to" requirement to be very difficult to do beyond a very slow practice speed (depending on the tune, I can do it while playing very simple tunes like "Juba" that alternate between 1st and thumb)...and I think it was only meant to describe the motion from a 'minutiae' perspective. Once beyond that, tunes up to speed, etc., the players first finger usually is in a constant state of striking, getting out of the way or preparing to strike again.

And again, I don't like to bring my thumb to rest on the 5th, as I feel it is an unnecessary movement which requires a recovery movement (if that string isn't going to be played) and a preparatory staging movement for a thumb strike on another string.

I don't think it is a bad description...but I don't think it is meant to be used rigorously as "the one true way". As far as CH is concerned, it could easily be a basic description of CH. I often make students whack the head (as loud as they can) with their fingernail when playing the 1st string. Later, they learn to back off if they want to.

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