Printed the music for Donkey Laugh today so will be having a plod through that later on after work. Any tips? Cheers. Andy

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My advice... pick a different tune. Donkey Laugh is dire and over done.

What ever came over Joe???...  bad day at the races, I guess.

I fear I have to agree with Ian on this one.  I really wanted this to be a good number.  I enjoyed playing the little tricks.

Amazingly no one I played it for "got it."  The tricks were just weird noises.  The pieces sounds like a hodgepodge of randomness (and not in a good way).  Unless you are a banjoist it does not form a picture like it should.

If you do not play "Ragtime Episode" I recommend it.  This is a "common" piece that people like to hear.  Other classic banjoists tend to know it too.

I would think that the non getting of it is due more to unfamiliarity with the sounds of donkeys than to the sounds of banjos. 

It's a classic...classic.  There's a reason for that.  Convincing execution of the "odd donkey noises" would be key to pulling it off as intended.

Homework assignment for all classic banjo players:  

1-Procure a donkey and a place to keep him/her, and a "girl to feed him/her when I'm gone"

2-Spend quality time with him/her (the donkey, not the girl that feeds him/her in your absence while on tour as a professional classic banjoist) with acute overservational perception

3-Apply steps 1 & 2 to banjo playing

Viola....Joe Morley suddenly makes sense......

Joe Morley and his friend, who has a terrible stutter, walk into a pub.

Joe says to his friend "Hey Donkey, get me a drink." The bartender pours a beer.

Later Joe says, "Donkey, get me another drink." The bartender gets him another beer.

This goes on all night and finally the bartender asks Joe’s friend, "Why does he always call you “Donkey?"


"I don't know. Hehaw-hehaw-he always calls me that."

Hey Jody,

I struggle to understand your obvious affection for our four legged friends.

Perhaps, as coming from Blackpool (noted for fresh air and fun, and donkeys) I have been psychologically damaged, as for many years I have struggled in an attempt to stop my banjo sounding like a donkey.



Jody Stecher said:

I would think that the non getting of it is due more to unfamiliarity with the sounds of donkeys than to the sounds of banjos. 

There's a story that Clifford Essex added the big buzz effect on the D note cos he reckoned it would wear the string out. Which of course he also sold...

I like to think that old Joe played "DL" for the American troops during the war...and it inspired the American versions like, "Buckin' Mule", etc.

Animal noises are a whole musical genre to themselves, everybody does it. No reason the banjo should be different.

"Animal noises are a whole musical genre to themselves, everybody does it."


Now I am losing the will to live ;-))


Is a donkey with 3 legs called a wonkey donkey?

Considering all the lunatic stuff FVE waxed with chickens and kazoos and nose-flutes and whatever else they had in their noisemaker bucket, I'm not going to diss it.

Camille Saint-Saëns did it.

Prokofiev did too...and so did Rimsky-Korsakov. If the Russians can imitate animals and have the whole world like it, why not the banjo?

Yes Marc I agree,

I too like a bit of "Peter  and the Wolf",  but to my ears there is a big difference between representing animals with different instruments of an orchestra and making silly noises on the banjo.

To me the latter is as diabolical as the later FVE Orchestra recordings you mention...

Thank goodness Fred didn't think of making donkey noises along with the hoots, whistles, roosters and the rest!

Certainly they are different...but they're both really the same at their root. We (humans) love to imitate. It may have given us a competitive advantage when we were hunter-gatherers and it certainly was part and parcel to learning to communicate with each other.

When it is well done, it is amazing. And, after all, what are we doing when we learn a classic-banjo tune...we're attempting to imitate a good banjo player (at least, I am). I want to play like Bill Ball or Joe Morley or Ian thereallyniceman. We (well, most of us) are not improvising or composing new stuff.

And yet, we thump the head to produce a drum accent (or roll). We imitate bugle calls ("Patrol Eccentrique" anyone?) and use snippets of familiar tunes.

And yes, I'm simply different. I actually like some of the FVE diabolica ("I wish I was in Michigan" is so disappointing, the effects are limp and half-hearted). No, it isn't as lovely as "The Carnival of the Animals" but it isn't boring either.

Donkeys and Mules have long been favorites of humor (one of my favorite turn-of-the-century newspaper cartoons was called "And Her Name Was Maud" by F. Opper), they make interesting and very recognizable noises (from both ends, unfortunately). I think they get a bad rap (much like banjoists). I like horses...and have never had one not try to bite me (I think I must be tasty to horses). Mules and Donkeys, never a problem. 

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