"There are but two really fundamental principals or movements governing the action of the right hand in this (banjo) style."
The Hammer
The Combination
Trust this man. He published this statement in 1886.
How true, How True.
In fact banjo playing can be thought of as only two movements, a single strike and a double strike. Of course it is how you put the two together and on what strings that makes it interesting.
If there are any mathematicians out there can you give me all of the possible combinations of, two fingers, five strings, and two ways of striking on one 4 beat measure??? My eyes glaze over just thinking about it. How about 2 measures? 3 measures? and so on.
One way of learning is by just learning to play songs. But that kind of locks you into the pattern of that particular song (or songs). One of the things that these type of exercises do is teach you to move your right hand in different ways and not get locked into a particular pattern. One of the things that i do, like Ron, is to start looking for patterns in various songs. It helps to simplify thing when you can break them down to simpler elements.
Here is something interesting you might want to try with the Converse combinations. If you look at the combinations they start with the finger leading on the first beat. Can you play the combinations(or something like them) with the thumb leading on the first beat? An example would be taking a 1215 combination and playing it 5152. and then doing that for all of Converse's combinations.
For beginners it is hard enough just dealing with 2 of 3 strings sometimes, which is why exercises like the Converse combinations can be helpful. learning some dexterity with the right hand and starting to recognize pattern in songs.
Study the Stroke tunes in the Converse Analytical. The marks are mind blowing, but the result is beautiful.
I'm going to stop (for a while) learning tunes like they were a discrete unit.
Instead i'm going to work on learning the Movements in various combinations
until I am more proficient. That will be my "vocabulary"
Then I will be able to put them together as the various tunes require. Then I'll
feel that sense of satisfaction I've been seeking all along.
Yes, then the key is to erase the seam and make it seem effortless....connected....musical, and flowing. Yet, there will be something distinctive in there that separates it from all other banjo styles.
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