I picked up a copy of this and got it a few days ago.  What a strange book!

The book is arrangements of classical guitar exercises and pieces for "banjo."  Reading through it it is clear that "banjo" is 5 string as many of the Gs are fingered "0."

The LH fingerings are often very strange and in many cases don't follow the normal position playing that I am used to seeing (from first glance).

What is weird is his use scordatura throughout the book.  On some of the pieces it is entirely unnecessary.  Others are playable without it after some slight rearrangement. What the heck is with that?  Who was the market for this?  Were classic banjoists in the 1970s using scordatura like this?  They were not in the US.  In fact, it was/is common in the US to avoid raising the 4th even when it means dropping root notes on "bass elevated" pieces.

A few of the pieces are quite nice but I plan on whitening out all of his fingerings and using more normal positions on some of them.

"Menuett" by Femando [sic] Sor is fingered correctly and is a nice playable piece. 

The book is very inconsistent.

Anyone else know this work? 

At least one piece seems nearly unplayable.

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I used to play his arrangement of 'Cappricho Arabe' which i thought was good. i can't be bothered retuning so have never played anything which required it, I keep a banjo tuned with '4th to D' and that's my sole concession. 

Perspective, Joel.

When you're raised amongst the possums, you learn a lot of different tunings. Clawhammer banjo especially features a myriad of tunings (I don't consider them 'scordatura' since the genre doesn't really have a fixed 'home' tuning). They are simply how the banjo is played. There are many examples of oddball tunings that exist only for a single tune. Some guy played it on a recording and we all follow along because it sounds 'just right' that way.

When I was learning (in the 70s), special tunings were cool. The Scruggs book had a couple of them (actually gCGBD was one). It continues to be a 'specialized' tuning for BG players.

Al Jeffery was evidently a notable player in the UK. I would like to hear some of his recordings. Here's a web shrine for him: https://www.ritawebb.co.uk/al-jeffery

I suspect he was self taught and had his own unique arrangements and methods. Some people cannot conform...and we're often blessed by that.

BTW, Mike Moss posted a video here (back in 2012) of one of the Jeffery pieces, "Andante op 31, No 1." Sadly, the video is no longer available.

In this case scordatura is correct.  The pieces with no changes to the string intervals have no "tuning" specified.

That presumes that there is a fixed standard with which to deviate.

With old time-- the fact that there is a "tuning" only for one piece is the very definition of scordatura. 

AFA Jeffery, at least he did not treat the notation like it is usually treated with scordatura and classic banjo-- change the pitch of a string and then note it as if there were no changes made.

Richard-- I also can't be bothered to retune which is why I will likely not even play these prices.  In fact, I tend to rearrange "bass elevated" pieces so that I don't have to change the 4th.

The physics behind gut strings and changing pitch rules out the likelihood of it being common before steel strings and the 20th century.  Could you imagine everyone waiting around for the banjoist's strings to settle in between dance numbers?

Yes, scordatura fits with Jeffrey...but not with Clawhammer.
I've done a lot of retuning for nylon/nylgut clawhammer. Once the strings are stable, I've never noticed any significant settling required from one to another. I often take my Ashborn back and forth from Briggs "D" to "A"...no problems with "settling".
I guess it is all in what you get used to. When you're in a CH jam, you either retune or sit out.

I also do not like it when notation is used to represent fingering instead of pitch. A second string lowered from B to B flat should be notated as B flat because That'sWhat It Is.        

Scortatura means tuned falsely.  I find it to be an unfriendly pejorative term.   Different tunings on banjo exist for one reason: they create a distinctive sound.  The overtones from the open strings color the other notes. And when played an open string has a different tone color than the same pitch gotten somewhere on the fingerboard. There is nothing false about that.

Each tuning creates a unique sonic atmosphere.  The five string  banjo when played in the old clawhammer style resembles a modified African harp.  A harp is an instrument where each note has its own string.  And that's how it is with clawhammer. Open strings whenever possible gives a characteristic sound. And so many of the open strings are gotten with the *left* hand.  Most of my clawhammer heroes were born in the 19th century and played the way they heard very old people play.

Joel Hooks said:

In this case scordatura is correct.  The pieces with no changes to the string intervals have no "tuning" specified.

That presumes that there is a fixed standard with which to deviate.

With old time-- the fact that there is a "tuning" only for one piece is the very definition of scordatura. 

AFA Jeffery, at least he did not treat the notation like it is usually treated with scordatura and classic banjo-- change the pitch of a string and then note it as if there were no changes made.

Richard-- I also can't be bothered to retune which is why I will likely not even play these prices.  In fact, I tend to rearrange "bass elevated" pieces so that I don't have to change the 4th.

The physics behind gut strings and changing pitch rules out the likelihood of it being common before steel strings and the 20th century.  Could you imagine everyone waiting around for the banjoist's strings to settle in between dance numbers?

I agree, Marc. My wife plays with Nylon strings and uses a variety of tunings in combination with a variety of right hand techniques.  She has often retuned nylon strings on stage between songs  and there is no dead air and no pitch drift. The retuned string stays right where she puts it.

Trapdoor2 said:

Yes, scordatura fits with Jeffrey...but not with Clawhammer.
I've done a lot of retuning for nylon/nylgut clawhammer. Once the strings are stable, I've never noticed any significant settling required from one to another. I often take my Ashborn back and forth from Briggs "D" to "A"...no problems with "settling".
I guess it is all in what you get used to. When you're in a CH jam, you either retune or sit out.

Strange--when I raise the 4th to D it slowly goes down a 1/4 step by the time I am into the second strain of the piece I am playing.  I must have bad strings.

Scordatura = detuning, it is no more derogatory or condescending than any other musical term. Perhaps during the folk revival it was a sensitive subject but a little research today shows that it is the correct term for alternate tuning.  Of course the folk revival also gave us the bawdy terms of "pulling off" and "hammering on" (I got a good laugh with Walter Kaye Bauer's self published tutor where he refers the then modern term of "yanking off").

To quote the great Folklorist Buell Kazee  "Banjo tuning is a very difficult thing for the typical mountaineer 'cause he is not educated in the fretting of the banjo by chords therefore he has to get as many open strings as he can so he tunes to suit that."

Anyway, conclusion: Alternate Tunings were cool in the 1970s so that is a reasonable theory why Jeffery jammed his book full of them.  I don't know anything about Spanish guitar playing so it could be possible that it makes them finger closer to the guitar versions of the pieces.

Moral-- Take the two pieces I like from the collection and toss the rest of the book on the stack of dusty music never to be played again.

Bad strings? No, you have to know how to tune. After tuning up to D you need to play the fourth string hard for 2 or 3 strokes or simply push down on the string with the right thumb.  This brings the pitch down. Turn the peg again until the pitch is D and it will remain in tune. Another trick is to tune slightly sharp and then play 2 or 3 forceful strokes. The string pitch will descend to D. All of this takes as long as 7 seconds.

Scordatura is intended to mean false tuning or mistuning. I am not making this up.  The tern was not in use in the folk revival. It was in use in the 18th century all over Europe. 

Buell Kazee was not a folklorist, great or otherwise. He was a clergyman. He was an excellent musician but a poor logician. It it no more difficult to tune a string to the pitch the mountaineer desires for a particular piece of music than it is to tune that string to the "correct" pitch.  If his ears are reliable enough to tune to gFDCD or gDGAD they are also reliable  enough to tune to gCGBD.  It is not more difficult.
Joel Hooks said:

Strange--when I raise the 4th to D it slowly goes down a 1/4 step by the time I am into the second strain of the piece I am playing.  I must have bad strings. 

Scordatura = detuning, it is no more derogatory or condescending than any other musical term. Perhaps during the folk revival it was a sensitive subject but a little research today shows that it is the correct term for alternate tuning.  Of course the folk revival also gave us the bawdy terms of "pulling off" and "hammering on" (I got a good laugh with Walter Kaye Bauer's self published tutor where he refers the then modern term of "yanking off").

To quote the great Folklorist Buell Kazee  "Banjo tuning is a very difficult thing for the typical mountaineer 'cause he is not educated in the fretting of the banjo by chords therefore he has to get as many open strings as he can so he tunes to suit that."

Anyway, conclusion: Alternate Tunings were cool in the 1970s so that is a reasonable theory why Jeffery jammed his book full of them.  I don't know anything about Spanish guitar playing so it could be possible that it makes them finger closer to the guitar versions of the pieces.

Moral-- Take the two pieces I like from the collection and toss the rest of the book on the stack of dusty music never to be played again.

"Scordatura" presumes that there is a "true" tuning. You can't tune false if there isn't a true.

All of the orchestral strings have accepted 'true' tunings, thus scordatura can be applied.

There are around 65 documented (based on recordings) tunings for the 5-string banjo...inventing a new one is just a twist of the peg away. Some genre (BG, Classic) have base tunings which could be considered 'true' but once you're into the folk milieu, all bets are off...no base 'true' tuning exists. I have sat in jam sessions with three banjoists playing a tune in G...all three tuned differently (it was wonderful).

Meh. We play what we play. I like the sound of the term 'scordatura' but I use 'tunings'.

I think your skinny strings are your tuning problem. ;-)

I'm not a performer...but I stretch the crap out of my strings when I put a new set on. I put them on, tune them up and then pull each one like Robin Hood...you can feel when they're almost at their limit. Retune, re-stretch, lather, rinse and repeat...until they'll hold tune...any tuning. I'm sure you do this also...but maybe not as, um, ham-handedly as I do?

Just pull 'em till they break and then back off a wee a bit. ;-)

Sounds like the book is much like any other I own. Two good pieces is better than some I have!

Nope, I don't pull or artificially stretch my strings.  When I did that in the past I found intonation problems.

I install.  Then I raise each string 1.5 steps above pitch.  The next day they are almost in tune.  I touch up and they are ready to go.

I am perfectly happy with the string intervals staying the same. In the off chance that I am playing in a situation where I have to go back and forth with elevated bass (like my little concert where I played all 13 Bolsover Gibbs pieces) I used two banjos.

Since I am not a performer I don't need to do showmen stunts like explaining that an out of tune banjo will not affect my playing--  I then frow de banjo out ob tune by twisting the pegs.

There's your problem! You can't aspire to be a folk banjoist if yer in tune... ;-)

Was it you looking for the Farland stuff? I finally found a stack of it:

Dussek, "La Matinee" Rondo (1st, 2nd & Piano)

Hayden, Gypsy Rondo (1st, Piano)

Yradier, La Paloma (1st, 2nd, Guitar) two copies.

La Castenara (1st, 2nd, Guitar)

Dancla, 5th Air, varied (1st, Piano)

Paderewski, Menuet, Op. 14 (1st, Piano)

Schumann, Traumeri and Romanze (1st, Piano)

Rossini, Overture, "Wm. Tell" (1st, Piano)

Farland, "Tripping Through The Meadow", solo.

Yes.. well I am interested in them but I doubt I will play any of the twiddly tremolo pieces.  On the other hand I did play Gypsy Rondo at the last rally and have kept it under the fingers as I like to play it.  I should post a video!

I tried to play it for the banjorett video but I just could not make the jumps and hold onto the thing.

I also have a nice copy of his A notation tutor, cloth bound with foil stamping on the cover, that was sent to me in a pile of tutors that came with my Gariepy-FVE.

In bold below is what I have...

Thanks!

PS-- if you decide to mail this to me feel free to include other stuff not already scanned.  I can mail return or bring to the Spring Rally.  I'll be happy to provide a med flat rate box label via email.



Trapdoor2 said:

There's your problem! You can't aspire to be a folk banjoist if yer in tune... ;-)

Was it you looking for the Farland stuff? I finally found a stack of it:

Dussek, "La Matinee" Rondo (1st, 2nd & Piano)

Hayden, Gypsy Rondo (1st, Piano) in the transposed vesion but with no piano

Yradier, La Paloma (1st, 2nd, Guitar) two copies.

La Castenara (1st, 2nd, Guitar)

Dancla, 5th Air, varied (1st, Piano)

Paderewski, Menuet, Op. 14 (1st, Piano)

Schumann, Traumeri and Romanze (1st, Piano)

Rossini, Overture, "Wm. Tell" (1st, Piano)

Farland, "Tripping Through The Meadow", solo.

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