I am learning classic banjo and all the books I have seen are notation. Are there tablature instruction books?

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David, the first thing that caught my eye in your post was "told me to wear red shoes," and I actually bought a pair last week, so in the brief moment I was thinking, "Wow. I am SO set for this classic banjo thing." I mean, if Clarke Buehling says to wear red shoes ... And then I read the rest of the sentence. :)

The only tab method book I know of is the one David Caron mentioned: 'The Fingerstyle Banjo and How to Play It' by Alan Middleton (in  notation and tab).  I would say it is a bit 'dry' - not enough tunes.  

If you want to learn banjo notation, it is worth spending time with the Grimshaw method.  Page 15-17 gives information on the system of numbering chords which Ian has recommended e.g. 'four-one-two' chords which acts as a short-hand for reading music notation for the banjo.  It does take an adjustment from other ways of learning the banjo - if you come from bluegrass, you will be used to seeing tab lines rather than ledger lines and chord form 1, 3, 5 etc as a shorthand.   

Just out of interest, this tune book by Brooks and Denton has an early form of tab:

Brooks and Denton Collection No1

      

Thanks Jody, there seem to be "several" definitions of a broken chord  eg.:

I am sure you know what I mean! The notes within the chord being played individually while the fingers remain in the chord shape  ;-)

Jody Stecher said:

1) Yes, and put your left hand fingers down in the indicated chord position all at once. Don't wait for each note to appear on the page. It makes all the difference in the world for coherent and flowing playing.

2)  Ian, "broken chords" has another meaning. Generally a broken chord is one where only 2 of the expected notes are fingered and played or when 2 are played along with a note or two that are not part of the chord.  I think what you mean is that the notes of the chord are played as an arpeggio ("in the manner of a harp") 1 note after another in sequence, and in the case of banjo, it would be one string after another, which is indeed the manner of a harp.

3) I also prefer Grimshaw's book to Bradbury's. I find the musical pieces and exercises more engaging and satisfying to play and hear.

Ian, it's possible that we were briefly divided by a common language. The operative word here is "another".  I used the word to mean "in addition" rather than "instead of".  As in "let's have another beer" or  "why do you think you need another banjo?"  rather than "she married another".

thereallyniceman said:

Thanks Jody, there seem to be "several" definitions of a broken chord  eg.:

I am sure you know what I mean! The notes within the chord being played individually while the fingers remain in the chord shape  ;-)

Jody Stecher said:

1) Yes, and put your left hand fingers down in the indicated chord position all at once. Don't wait for each note to appear on the page. It makes all the difference in the world for coherent and flowing playing.

2)  Ian, "broken chords" has another meaning. Generally a broken chord is one where only 2 of the expected notes are fingered and played or when 2 are played along with a note or two that are not part of the chord.  I think what you mean is that the notes of the chord are played as an arpeggio ("in the manner of a harp") 1 note after another in sequence, and in the case of banjo, it would be one string after another, which is indeed the manner of a harp.

3) I also prefer Grimshaw's book to Bradbury's. I find the musical pieces and exercises more engaging and satisfying to play and hear.

Funnily, I'd forgotten about that one...and that copy is from my collection!

Interestingly enough, the early Tab writers somehow were more interested in showing which notes were found on open strings and which were "closed" (or fretted). Stewart derided this "open and closed" method...but produced his own Tab, being the wily entrepreneur that he was. ;-)

So, with the B&D #1, you have a redundant system (perhaps a warning system?) that tells you a given note is to be found on the open string if you have a "O" or that to be prepared to find a fret if that "O" is filled in with ink (closed)...and if it is filled in, there's a little number next to it that tells you which fret to use. It works...but a little overboard IMHO. Note value comes from the notation...so you need to at least be able to recognize a crochet from a semi-quaver, etc. If you've gotten that far, how hard is it to finish learning notation?

Regarding tutors, there are dozens out there for a reason. Everybody likes things a little different...and each tutor is laid out just a little different. The Bradbury Method has gone thru numerous iterations over the years and may be the most in-depth of them all...but can be overwhelming without personal instruction. Personally, I think the two-volume set that was published in the mid 1960's is the best Bradbury version.

I find the Grimshaw tutor to be more friendly...but I still default to Tab. ;-)

carrie horgan said:

Just out of interest, this tune book by Brooks and Denton has an early form of tab:

Brooks and Denton Collection No1

      

Red shoes are good, blue shoes especially if made from suede leather tend to get trodden on.



Cynthia Richardson said:

David, the first thing that caught my eye in your post was "told me to wear red shoes," and I actually bought a pair last week, so in the brief moment I was thinking, "Wow. I am SO set for this classic banjo thing." I mean, if Clarke Buehling says to wear red shoes ... And then I read the rest of the sentence. :)

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