Comment by thereallyniceman on November 8, 2022 at 17:45

I wonder if this is being played at the correct speed?

Comment by Jody Stecher on November 8, 2022 at 18:16

What I think I hear is a plectrum playing on the long gut strings of a five string banjo tuned to A tuning: aAEG#B, on a recording which is sufficiently speeded up on playback to raise the pitch a half step. I think I discern the sound of the open strings and from I deduced the tuning as well as from the chord inversions. I don't think he was tuned up a half step. Bearing in mind that A 440 was not universal/standard in 1901 it still sounds speeded up a bit. 

Comment by Mike Bostock on November 8, 2022 at 21:55

I need a lie down after just listening to that recording. Has to be a plectrum. If that was fingerstyle then someone would've had to slip something seriously enhancing in his cocoa.

Comment by Jody Stecher on November 8, 2022 at 22:29

A recent thread on this site about a different recording by Clark(e) established that he played with a plectrum and advertised himself as the foremost banjo plectrologist of the age.  There was also controversy about his tuning;  the sensible conclusion was that he tuned a 5-string banjo the usual way for his times. Of course it's possible that he tuned in various ways and had more than one banjo. But on this recording I think I hear chord shapes that are voiced as CGBD (at lower absolute pitch) would typically deliver on the long strings.

Comment by Trapdoor2 on November 9, 2022 at 22:20

AFAIK, Berliner discs were meant to be played at 80rpm. If played on a 78rpm player, it would be just a tad lower in pitch (but not much, only 2rpm delta).

I have 17 Berliner discs but none with banjo, dammit.

Comment by Jody Stecher on November 10, 2022 at 14:15

Perhaps he was tuned f Bb F A C,  a step below C tuning /  a half step above A tuning.

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