Gail Gillespie
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • United States
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Comment Wall (3 comments)

At 16:41 on October 7, 2009, Gail Gillespie said…
Don't play classic banjo myself but am crazy about the old NC & VA fingerpicking styles that borrowed many techniques from classic banjo. Old timers called the style out of drop-C tuning "flat chording," but there were also a variety of 2 & 3 finger roll-based styles.
Love those classic rags--go Clarke, Carole Ann & Curly! & can hear how they relate to the banjo sounds of 20s bands such as the Roanoke Jug Band and of course, Charlie Poole..
At 20:24 on October 7, 2009, Trapdoor2 said…
Hi Gail, welcome to the group. Classic banjo licks...hmmmm. Like Rob said, the genre isn't really "lick based" but there are some common techniques that were used "back in the day". Offhand, I would say that the closest thing resembling a "lick" in the classic banjo world would be either Olly Oakley's "machine gun" triplet/ornament (which is usually thumb-middle-index-thumb on the same note...and very quickly done) or Joe Morley's syncopated thumb-index-pinch-index-thumb lick (I'm working from memory here...I'll have to go find some examples for you). Another common technique is the "octave run" where you hold down the 4th and 1st strings to get octave notes (in G tuning, they're on the same fret) and play an arpeggio run or simple melody. Listen to "Yankee Land" for a good example of that.

"Flat Chording": Never heard of that reference. I wonder if that refers to all the barre chords that work so well out of the gCGBD tuning?
At 4:44 on October 8, 2009, Jody Stecher said…
Hi Gail, how's it goin? Well, as the others have said, the style is more repertoire oriented than lick-based but if one looks at it from that point of view, yes there are characteristic banjoisms to be found. First of all there's the fingerpicked equivalent of the so-called Galax lick, similar to what Marc described re Oakley but in this case on string 3,2,1, 5. There's a oft-used slide from E to G on the bass string (as Earl Scruggs does at the start of Foggy Mtn Breakdown). There's Joe Morley's alteration of thumb and index on the first string (reflected 50 years later by Don Reno), and the so-called "melodic style" (as it's called in bluegrass) of mixing open strings and high notes on low strings is found in abundance by the first decade of the 20th century. Then there's the equivalent of forward roll, reverse roll, and forward reverse. But they tend not to be abstracted apart from context. What *is* abstracted, especially in UK, are chord forms, which are represented by the left hand fingers used. And in fact a good deal of the music is played by moving the left hand from one chord position to another. A lot of 9th and 11th chords, diminished chords, demented and demolished chords make frequent appearances. The best book to get started imo is Emil Grimshaw's "The Banjo And How To Play It". It can be downloaded for free free free :
BTW, you're likely to get more responses (because more folks will see your questions) by posting your questions as a Discussions or a Blog.

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