Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Converse Analytical and Stroke / Banjo Style Studies

As I mentioned, I combed back through my playlists on youtube to see what I left out. I found about 5 or 6 from the Converse Analytical (banjo style section) that I forgot. One of them is the about the first one after the introduction of the Combination Exercises. "Rattlesanke Jig". As I look closely at it, it is obviously close to the Buckley Version (1860). It is very specifically fingered, using the Combinations. It seems to be awkward at first, but it transforms itself into something amazing as I "get it" under my fingers. It (in my mind) is sort of a key to unlocking the mystery of this style, and differentiating between this style (whatever you call it) and the lighter, lilting, rhythmically moving groove of Clawhammer. It is almost like a "binary" approach, where the hand is either up or down, and finding the ideal placement for combination moves. Done mechanically, it is a stiff and unpleasant feel and sound...get it going, and you are really in to something else...really different. Then I look back, and actually see most of the same right hand markings in Buckley, but I see them in a different way having followed the black lines of the Combination markings in the 1887 book. 

I will do a video study on this, to take a close look at what the right hand does. You ought to try this...seems simple, but it's really different. Lay it down and plant the thumb the way the book describes.   

Views: 107

Comment by Tim Twiss on January 8, 2012 at 7:11pm

I put up 2 versions of Rattlesnake Jig (slow / fast). If you check out the right hand stuff, you may want to visit the page before it with the "Combinations" and exercises. These are THE BEST!! Keep diggin' for that feel. 

Comment by Tim Twiss on January 9, 2012 at 2:04pm

I can't believe some of these I skipped. Like fresh stuff under a Christmas tree...looking at "Walk Into De Parlor"...old style, refined fingering.

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on January 9, 2012 at 3:10pm

I just recently stumbled onto this song in my Minstrel banjo book by Joe Weidlich. After going over it several times it finally took on a nice flow. Now I want to tackle it from the original. Have you posted this song before Tim?

Comment by Tim Twiss on January 9, 2012 at 3:20pm

Which one.."Parlor"? There are several versions..I have done the ones from Briggs and Green Converse. This particular one (1886) not yet.

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on January 9, 2012 at 3:25pm

Oh wow, there is a few hugh? The one that i have tab for is , I believe, from The new and complete method for the Banjo, With or Without a master. It is on p. 209 in "The Early Minstrel Banjo, Technique and Repertoire, By Joe Weidlich. If that that helps.

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on January 9, 2012 at 3:40pm

I just found the version I am thinking of that you covered. Converse 1865.

Comment by Tim Twiss on January 15, 2012 at 6:35pm

Converse fingerings are like choreographing a perfect golf swing....a series of complex motions made simple. Weather you use a thimble or not is not important...it is in the placement of the strikes. The use of a fingerpick is a small matter...it adds volume and tone, but can be cumbersome and limit your finesse and variation in attack. Keep an eye on the bigger picture.  

Comment by Tim Twiss on January 20, 2012 at 8:05am

Next...Boatman's Dance-1886. This is a spectacular arrangement. How did I miss it???

Comment by Tim Twiss on February 1, 2012 at 10:45pm

Okay, last tune in the Analytical. Easiest of them all. It is basically a repetition of of "Cotton Pod Walk Around" from the Yellow book. This one (for hard core Converse fans) departs from much of his pedagogy. This "half, or incomplete strike" is an unusual and awkward move, and I would picture this as a simple Hammer followed by the combination. I did not video this one yet, and my instinct is to not follow the fingerings...yet the point of most of my videos is to demonstrate the written record. I'll stew on this for a day day. Lot of pondering for one stupid little tune...oh well. 


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