Friday, September 6, 2013

Learning Banjo Tunes in the Cyber World

I’ve just uploaded my first Tune of the Week essay on the Banjo Hangout website:

The Banjo Hangout “Tune of the Week” (TOTW) Group and its weekly thread was organized as a way to get clawhammer players involved in sharing their knowledge of the linages of old time tunes, and providing video examples of how these tunes are played in a way that shows the unique regional twists to old time instrumentals.

I’ve been finding the TOTW exercise an interesting way to learn a new banjo tune.  I usually hunt through the various versions until I find one that sounds as though I can find it on my fingerboard. 

I tape that version on my iPhone – using the “Voice Memo” function – creating a 10 to 20 minute loop, and then play it while I’m jogging with my hounds the next morning at about 0500. 

I keep the volume soft, and the iPhone sits in my pocket, so it’s low enough to hear but not loud enough to disturb anyone else who might be out at that hour.   

That digs the tune into my brain, and I’m pretty much able to find at least some artifacts of the core tune once I pick up the banjo later in the day. 

While not necessarily as satisfying as sitting at the feet of an accomplished old time Master and learning the tune the traditional way, for those of us who live in areas deprived or archaic banjo and fiddle music, it is a good internet-driven substitute.

Take a detour in your day and explore the index of these great TOTW “lessons:”

Play hard,


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