Banjo

My main banjo site is HERE

“Rob brings many things to the table that the four-string banjo world desperately needs: A high level of music education/knowledge, a proven, critically-acclaimed performance record on several fretted instruments, a strong sense for historical preservation, a delicate musical touch on an instrument mostly known for loud and fast entertainment, and—the thing I personally need the most—a swift kick in the pants! He is raising the musical bar for all of us, and I for one look forward to the hard work ahead just to try to keep up.” Ron Hinkle

There are three basic techniques for playing the historical banjo:

1. Fingerstyle - not dissimilar to guitar fingerpicking – For info on my work with the Classic banjo go HERE

2. Plectrum or pick style – used mainly on 4-string Tenor and Plectrum banjos – For info on my work with the early Tenor and Plectrum banjo go HERE

3. Stroke style – hitting down on the string with the index or middle finger – I do not play this style much, but you can learn all about it on this site.

Pegs on Cole Banjorine, c.1890

 

4 responses to “Banjo

  1. John W. Pierce

    Rob, don’t know how you feel about oriental music (Vietnamese, specifically) but here’s an instrument and technique you might find interesting. Sort of a three string fretless (and very long necked) banjo-like instrument, and a one finger strike-in-both-directions technique (as well as I could tell from the video). I believe this is the instrument known as the Dan Tam, but I’m not certain. If so, it’s covered with snake or lizard skin and is remarkably close to a banjo sound.

    • Cheers, John. Thanks for that – it does indeed sound like a gut-strung fretless banjo. Where is the percussion sound emanating from? Inside the body? And is it some kind of gourd? Very nice.

  2. John W. Pierce

    I’m pretty sure that the jingly percussion sound is from an instrument made from several chains of linked metal rings joined at the top and played by bouncing it up and down (by somebody off-camera). Various web pages say the dan tam has a soundboard with holes in it and is covered in snake skin. They also say it’s played with a pick as well as fingers. I saw a short video of pick playing but I accidentally closed the window and can’t find it again. Played that way, it sounded like a very deep banjo playing something close to slide Delta Blues. I couldn’t find a better description of it in English. It’s a little annoying that I don’t know more about it since I actually plucked at one a bit, a very long time ago. I’d mostly forgotten about it until somebody posted that video on the Delcamp forum. Anyway, I’m glad you found it interesting. Cheers – John.

    • There are a few moments where the jingle syncs perfectly with her finger stroke, but that might just be good ensemble playing! But it did make me wonder. There are some African instruments with jingles on the instrument. Anyway, I do appreciate hearing this. Thanks again, John.

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