I recently picked up a second hand, 1962,  copy of this book by Pete Seeger,  and this reference to nylon strings and Fred Van Eps caught my eye. 

I thought other members might be interested to see it.  Is the American Banjo Fraternity still in existence?  Unfortunately, since this dates from 1962 there is no website address!

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There is some good in everybody, perhaps he had an unhappy childhood, and if he was still alive he might be a different person, the years after the war were a difficult period which affected us all in many ways.

John Field said:

Just thought I'd add something to (perhaps) redress the balance a little regarding the late Dr. R. Thornburgh.   His photo appeared in an early 1960's "BMG" magazine here in the UK.  I was in the American Express office in London in the summer of 1964 and recognised (from that BMG photo), that the chap standing in front of me in the queue was indeed Dr.Thornburgh.   Taking my courage in both hands, I asked if it was he, and did he play the banjo?   He replied (warmly) in the affirmative, invited me to the coffee shop, and my recollection of the subsequent conversation is that he was a very friendly, approachable and down-to-earth guy and very pleased to talk banjo...whatever style one played.  (In those days, I definitely wasn't a classic banjoist....).  I never saw him again.  My understanding is that he was an eminent eye surgeon with his practice in California.   I can only assume that he was on vacation in London, UK in the summer of 1964.  My memory of him is entirely positive.....


Jody and Ian, Thanks, That's very good information.  You can slow music down and change pitch with "Audacity", which is in the public domain, but it doesn't do it precisely.  At least, the sliders are very sensitive and it takes a while to get "good enough". 


Jody Stecher said:

Quicktime 7 also can change pitch so you can tune the recording to your banjo instead of vice versa.  ASD does this too and it also has a pretty decent equalizer so you can get rid of fsssssss on the high end and rrrrmmmmm on the low end. Want to hear what Olly Oakley or Vess Ossman sounded like without the out-of-time piano or without mis-harmonized 

Thanks John and Richard.  That's where my comment

'Who knows, he may have been a (I was going to say a really nice man, but that doesn't seem right in these discussions) very interesting and talented person. '

came from.  I didn't know him and he very well could have been a nice guy.  The "I was going to say a really nice man" was a reference to Ian's nickname, not that I thought that Thornburgh wasn't.  Certainly his letter was a function of "place and time".  It sounds like in a different place and time, he really was a different person.  No one is entirely one-dimensional.  

he ( PS ) passed away today  ( january 28 , my birthday )

After all the discussion we've had about the Seeger book, I still hadn't found my copy, just my record.  Late Sunday night, about 2:00 am my time, I was playing my banjo in my little nook when I noticed a box of music that I hadn't seen in a long time that my wife had put there.  There it was, probably the first time I had seen it in 10-15 years.  I read through it page by page, and then pulled out Peggy Seeger's book and went through it.  It was one of those "little did I know" experiences.  So long, Pete. 

"So here's to you my Rambling Boy,
May all your rambling bring you joy.

He left here to ramble on,
My rambling pal is dead and gone.
If when we die we go somewhere,
I bet you a dollar that he's rambling there."  Tom Paxton

What a vibrant thread this has been!

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