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Thread: Banjo Tunes

  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannon Fodder View Post
    Probably just Thumbstrum, but Clawhammer sure sounds better at events than Bluegrass picking.
    Guess it just depends on what you're used to hearing at events.

    Hank Trent
    hanktrent@gmail.com

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by hanktrent
    Is clawhammer period? It seems different from what I hear some of the more-researched banjo players playing at events.
    No. Although minstrel and clawhammer are similar styles, clawhammer is postbellum. There's actually a current conversation in the minstrel banjo forum about the difference in the two : http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/forum/...ing-on-history It's a six page discussion which starts about hardware, but it moves into a discussion about minstrel verses clawhammer.

    For nonbanjo players, the similarity between minstrel and clawhammer is that the strings are played downward and off the back of the fingernails. A big difference in the two is that clawhammer emphasizes the use of cords to keep the melody while minstrel is played with individual notes and combinations of notes. Bluegrass differs from both in that the strings are picked upwards with the meat of the fingers instead of downward off the backs of the nails. That's why bluegrass players need picks on their fingers. They've done played all the meat off their finger tips.

    That's just style. The hardware used then verses now is completely different. If you hear someone playing banjo a hundred feet away, odds are the strings are metal. They should be gut. White plastic heads are also very common on modern banjos when they should be goat or calf skin. The overwhelming majority of banjos did not have frets. Fretted banjos existed, but they were just being introduced. Tuners should be friction pegs, not gears.

    It's uncommon at mainstream reenactments to see period banjos played in period style playing period music from sheet music of the day. It's more common to see modern banjos playing clawhammer versions of period-esque music like Goober Peas or Marching Through Georgia from modern compilations.
    - Silas Tackitt

    "I consider him a humbug, a man of small capacity, very obstinate, not at all chivalrous, exceedingly conceited, and totally selfish." - - Lafayette McLaws about James Longstreet.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    It is also very dependent on what area you are from. The people in the appalachian mountains had been playing clawhammer style for years, but since the mountainous regions were fairly isolated, it did not receive much publicity. It was a great wonder to the world when a southern boy named Joel Sweeny played clawhammer in the early 1840's.

    Although i have to disagree on the differences between the styles. There really is no difference between the two styles, as some tunes use chords in the clawhammer style, as some do not. More advanced clawhammer tunes have hardly any chords at all, the chords being formed by a double/drop thmb technique using the resonance of the skin head. I know that the banjo player for the melodians uses a chord style.

    Many confuse clawhammer with the style that Pete Seeger played. Although Pete plays in a similar style, he does not always utilize the traditional clawhammer method. For example, if you watch his hands you will see that he sometimes does both a downwards and upwards brush, while clawhammer is exclusively downstrokes.

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