ok, I have seen in print here particularly folks mentioning the trio when talking tunes, what does this mean ? what is the trio in this context ?

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The history of this term is long and sometimes vague. In this context it indicates a part of a musical composition that is a contrast from what preceded it . In Whistling Rufus for instance when there is a key shift from C major  to F major, that part is the trio.  In the context of the composed "Banjo Solo" the "trio" seems to always be the third part but that may be a coincidence.  In earlier centuries in "Classical Music" (not "classic banjo")  this contrasting part was played by three instruments. Others may be able to provide more complete information about this but that's all I know, and some of it may be wrong.

so is it somewhat like the term "middle eight" ? which I believe once referred to the middle eight bars of a song/tune and nowadays particularly in pop music it is often used to mean just the bit near the middle often using a different chord structure to the rest of the piece, sometimes the solo ? I hear the term often and just wondered.

Jody Stecher said:

The history of this term is long and sometimes vague. In this context it indicates a part of a musical composition that is a contrast from what preceded it . In Whistling Rufus for instance when there is a key shift from C major  to F major, that part is the trio.  In the context of the composed "Banjo Solo" the "trio" seems to always be the third part but that may be a coincidence.  In earlier centuries in "Classical Music" (not "classic banjo")  this contrasting part was played by three instruments. Others may be able to provide more complete information about this but that's all I know, and some of it may be wrong.

Each device provides a contrast. But the trio part in a classic banjo solo is something more formal. It is marked as "Trio" on the page. (not all banjo solos have such a part). And the trio part is not in the middle.  Even though you don't read music you can easily understand the meaning of "trio" by visiting the Music Library on this website. Have a look at Whistling Rufus.  


nick stephens said:

so is it somewhat like the term "middle eight" ? which I believe once referred to the middle eight bars of a song/tune and nowadays particularly in pop music it is often used to mean just the bit near the middle often using a different chord structure to the rest of the piece, sometimes the solo ? I hear the term often and just wondered.

Jody Stecher said:

The history of this term is long and sometimes vague. In this context it indicates a part of a musical composition that is a contrast from what preceded it . In Whistling Rufus for instance when there is a key shift from C major  to F major, that part is the trio.  In the context of the composed "Banjo Solo" the "trio" seems to always be the third part but that may be a coincidence.  In earlier centuries in "Classical Music" (not "classic banjo")  this contrasting part was played by three instruments. Others may be able to provide more complete information about this but that's all I know, and some of it may be wrong.

thanks for the explanation, I am waiting on delivery of the Frank Bradbury book as recommended by some of the players here and, it is my intention to commence learning from that this year, I guess there is a lot to learn but, I hope to enjoy doing so.

Jody Stecher said:

Each device provides a contrast. But the trio part in a classic banjo solo is something more formal. It is marked as "Trio" on the page. (not all banjo solos have such a part). And the trio part is not in the middle.  Even though you don't read music you can easily understand the meaning of "trio" by visiting the Music Library on this website. Have a look at Whistling Rufus.  


nick stephens said:

so is it somewhat like the term "middle eight" ? which I believe once referred to the middle eight bars of a song/tune and nowadays particularly in pop music it is often used to mean just the bit near the middle often using a different chord structure to the rest of the piece, sometimes the solo ? I hear the term often and just wondered.

Jody Stecher said:

The history of this term is long and sometimes vague. In this context it indicates a part of a musical composition that is a contrast from what preceded it . In Whistling Rufus for instance when there is a key shift from C major  to F major, that part is the trio.  In the context of the composed "Banjo Solo" the "trio" seems to always be the third part but that may be a coincidence.  In earlier centuries in "Classical Music" (not "classic banjo")  this contrasting part was played by three instruments. Others may be able to provide more complete information about this but that's all I know, and some of it may be wrong.

When I start to learn a piece I take a pencil and mark it up first.

I presume this is standard procedure among musicians.

There is not always an intro, but if there is I mark it as such "Intro" (if it is not printed with that already).

First strain or part is "A"

Second strain is "B"

Often B is followed by a repeat of A, which I mark as [A] in brackets.  Subsequent repeats of previous parts will be marked with brackets around the letter.  I continue the lettering if there are more parts.

The standard popular music form of instrumentals followed an A, A, B, B, A, C (or trio), A format.  Sometimes there are more parts or repeats.  The "trio" as stated usually (but not always) modulates/changes keys (there can be other key changes as well, a common one is a change to the relative minor in the B part which maintains the same key signature). This is pleasing to listeners and adds interest to the music.  "Trio" is typically the third strain (but not always) and can have multiple strains.  

One example of this is Sousa type marches where there is a bridge in the trio called a "Dog Fight."

Always watch your dynamics on the trio as it often changes on the repeat to provide shading and drama to the piece (always watch you dynamics anyway).

The "fiddle tune" format or what I call "short pieces" are A, A, B, B, repeat ad nauseam.  This is fun and great for dancing in the barn/contra dance format but gets dull for sitting audiences (and musicians to play).  

At some point popular music dropped the key change trio for the repeat till everyone playing gets tired of it.  I think this comes from Hawaiian music and hillbilly acts (using fiddle tune format) but I don't know for sure.  It follows the standard "song" format more than instrumental. Often hillbilly versions of popular instrumental pieces will ignore the trio and skip it.

While I mark the parts I also look for things that are strange and make note of all the repeats and associated signs (or playing order).

Then I do my first read through.  

I know this is not exactly what you were asking and Jody did a good job explaining, but perhaps this will help you understand the format of most popular music of the "classic banjo" era.

Each piece of music is a sum of its parts with a story to tell.  Breaking it down makes it easier to learn.

thats great information Joel, thank you, I always break down the parts to learn (by ear for the time being ) the first part of WR is the melody everybody is familiar with, I learned that first then , moved to the next part (the other instantly recognisable melody) I think I should then have gone back to the first part before moving to the F maj part, anyway Clarke Buehling has a good video on youtube where I can for now get some semblance of an arrangement.

Joel Hooks said:

When I start to learn a piece I take a pencil and mark it up first.

I presume this is standard procedure among musicians.

There is not always an intro, but if there is I mark it as such "Intro" (if it is not printed with that already).

First strain or part is "A"

Second strain is "B"

Often B is followed by a repeat of A, which I mark as [A] in brackets.  Subsequent repeats of previous parts will be marked with brackets around the letter.  I continue the lettering if there are more parts.

The standard popular music form of instrumentals followed an A, A, B, B, A, C (or trio), A format.  Sometimes there are more parts or repeats.  The "trio" as stated usually (but not always) modulates/changes keys (there can be other key changes as well, a common one is a change to the relative minor in the B part which maintains the same key signature). This is pleasing to listeners and adds interest to the music.  "Trio" is typically the third strain (but not always) and can have multiple strains.  

One example of this is Sousa type marches where there is a bridge in the trio called a "Dog Fight."

Always watch your dynamics on the trio as it often changes on the repeat to provide shading and drama to the piece (always watch you dynamics anyway).

The "fiddle tune" format or what I call "short pieces" are A, A, B, B, repeat ad nauseam.  This is fun and great for dancing in the barn/contra dance format but gets dull for sitting audiences (and musicians to play).  

At some point popular music dropped the key change trio for the repeat till everyone playing gets tired of it.  I think this comes from Hawaiian music and hillbilly acts (using fiddle tune format) but I don't know for sure.  It follows the standard "song" format more than instrumental. Often hillbilly versions of popular instrumental pieces will ignore the trio and skip it.

While I mark the parts I also look for things that are strange and make note of all the repeats and associated signs (or playing order).

Then I do my first read through.  

I know this is not exactly what you were asking and Jody did a good job explaining, but perhaps this will help you understand the format of most popular music of the "classic banjo" era.

Each piece of music is a sum of its parts with a story to tell.  Breaking it down makes it easier to learn.

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