Swanee Echoes on Classic Fingerstyle Banjo

Composed by Alfred Kirby in the UK, Swanee Echoes is the "Zumba" of classic Banjo playing. You get a real workout in this one.

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Comment by thereallyniceman on March 26, 2013 at 16:23

Well, this is all Richard Ineson’s fault. He recently posted the score for Alfred Kirby’s "Swanee Echoes" and commented:

“Most of Kirby's solos remain unpublished, but he was a gifted composer for the banjo and it is a matter of regret that perhaps, his best work will never be played again. Swanee Echoes is a challenging solo which you will enjoy.”


Well, I decided to give it a try, and he was right… it is challenging!!!!


I have never heard a recording of it but if Ernest Jones played it, my version is about half the speed that it should be, but my fingers just won’t go fast enough, particularly in the last section where there are loads of Bananas.

Bananas???  Yes, Bananas.

All “real” musicians, particularly handbell ringers, like myself, will be familiar with the rhythms:   Twi-dd-ly-dee   and maybe even:  1 Ba-na-na, 2 Ba-na-na

This piece in 2/4 time, has both and at some speed too:

Comment by Mike Moss on March 26, 2013 at 16:29

What a fine solo. I remember having a crack at it some time ago and I had to give up on it though I was impressed by the quality of the composition! The idea is simply brilliant... a characteristic, timeless "banjo tune" all ragged up for the 20th century!

That was a really good performance too, you really brought out the tune and the rhythm, and  although I couldn't help noticing the onset of panic towards the end of the piece it didn't affect your playing in the slightest!

This tune is going straight to my top 10 list of favourites. It's an absolute cracker!

Comment by Richard William Ineson on March 26, 2013 at 16:54

A hard tune to play, you did a good job.

Comment by Alan Sims on March 26, 2013 at 17:37

superb Ian.great tunes as well .Might try it when i reach about 75 .Like the sound to.

Comment by Rob Murch on March 26, 2013 at 17:41
Brilliant Ian. I like this tune, certainly looks a fingerful! That banjo sounds great too.
Comment by Trapdoor2 on March 26, 2013 at 17:46

Excellent! Joe Morley liked those bananas also. For a good while, I called them the "Morley Motif". I shall now call them bananas...

Comment by marc dalmasso on March 26, 2013 at 20:01

Yes excellent Ian  ; congrats for this one

" Springtime " is missing  ; Any " client " here ?

Comment by thereallyniceman on March 26, 2013 at 21:31

Thanks for the kind comments. It was fun to learn, even if only as a fingering exercise !!

I have added the full score for "Swanee Echoes" and a first banjo score for Kirby's "Springtime" to the MUSIC LIBRARY if anyone would like to have a go.

Comment by Jason Smith on March 27, 2013 at 2:56

Excellent job!  I will put that one on my "to do" list.

Comment by German David Patarroyo on March 29, 2013 at 22:56

Nice Tune Ian :)

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