didn't know this song was ever recorded more than once. a much clearer recording. though now i am confused of the tuning as i can hear open strings in places that aren't when i play it? Can someone please tell me the correct tuning for this???? thanks in advance

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HI Chad, what do you mean by "tuning?"  The pitch that the recording is in might not be the same as the current 440, etc.

 According to the interview he gave while in England (as well as various sources) he always played in standard.  Even pieces marked "bass elevated."

According to the book "The Banjo On Record"  A Little Bit Of Everything was recorded only one other time, also by Vess Ossman.  The year was 1912. The place was New York City. Copies in various condition exist of that recording and of the 1922 recording. Some of the copies of the older recording are clearer than the more recent one and vice versa. There are several copies of each recording on the internet and each one plays at a different speed and therefore at a different pitch. On the 1922 recording here on this Ning website the *playback* is slightly sharp of A 440, and on this version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-bPs0WUiSw

the pitch is considerably higher.

But the playback pitch tells us nothing about the actual pitch to which the banjo was tuned. The banjo would have to be tuned to the orchestra and there is no way to know if they were perhaps flat or sharp to A 440, which at the time was not universal standard pitch (and which once again is not). As Joel says, there is no doubt that the tuning was g CGBD, but we can't know how high or low those notes actually sounded during the recording session because we don't know at what speed the music was recorded and for what playback speed the discs and/or cylinders were manufactured (each company had it its own playback speed in the early days).

We also have no reason to believe that Vess Ossman consulted the same printed version of the piece that you may have seen (certainly not the one on this website which is a transcription of one of the Ossman recordings and therefore after the fact),  or to think that he  consulted any written music for this banjo solo. I would think not, as the piece is just what it claims to be, a little bit of everything, which he would certainly have memorized and had  "at his fingertips". The orchestra of course would have to have a written score.  Also — and this may be more relevant to your question — the transcription (which you may or may not be using as the basis of your fingering) may be of the 1912 recording and if it is accurate (no guarantee of that) and shows that Ossman on that occasion played the pitches of G, B, D and high G on open strings, that doesn't mean he didn't obtain these these pitches in closed (fingered, non-open) positions in 1922. For the low C of course, he had only one option. But that "C" sounds as high as E on some playbacks of the 1912 recording and as D on some of the playbacks of the 1922. I have no doubt that Ossman fingered the tune to begin in C minor. Was he tuned higher? Maybe. But the unknown variables are so great that he could have been tuned *lower* than A 440 and playback could still be higher.

thanks for the replies. i always thought and heard Vess was in standard G tuning aswell. someome had recently posted a video here or maybe elsewhere and played this tuned to C? i think that and the open strings i hear in the clearer recording made me wonder.i do not read music so what i play is by ear. appearently i have figured this song differently because i am hearing open strings where i don't play them.in a way this will help the( *igger in a fit?) part i have fingered atleast 3 differnt ways and even slowing the tune down to almost a stop,i could not get it to sound right.back to the banjo-  thanks again

The first part is ripped from Darktown Dandies by Joe Morley, not N*** in a Fit.

"Standard" is just like "G" only with the fourth string lowered one step to "C."  Vess claimed, and others backed this, that he did not raise the fourth.  So he did not play in "G" tuning.

Jody, a "A Little Bit of Everything" that English banjoist played.  While I am not supported by anything but my own gut and the timeline, I like to think that on returning to the US Vess was constantly asked "so what do the English play?"

Vess responding "I'll play a little bit of everything."  

After all, it is a medley of British banjo tunes.


Didn't Tommy Glynn write 'Nigger in a Fit'? The use of 'Darktown Dandies' as the intro, in this medley, has always puzzled me - Ossman was rather scathing of Morley's playing, at the time, (1903) he said, "I gave him the 'Favourite March' and he made nothing of it". The 'Favourite March' is not very demanding technically and I would have thought that Morley would have played it well on sight. Having slighted Morley's playing, it seems strange to me that Ossman would have used Morley's work in this medley.
Joel Hooks said:

"Standard" is just like "G" only with the fourth string lowered one step to "C."  Vess claimed, and others backed this, that he did not raise the fourth.  So he did not play in "G" tuning.

Jody, a "A Little Bit of Everything" that English banjoist played.  While I am not supported by anything but my own gut and the timeline, I like to think that on returning to the US Vess was constantly asked "so what do the English play?"

Vess responding "I'll play a little bit of everything."  

After all, it is a medley of British banjo tunes.

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