Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 12, 2019 at 18:38

Continuing my exploration of Cammeyer's music...

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 12, 2019 at 19:25

I think the ZB likes you!

Lovely, of course.

Comment by marc dalmasso on May 12, 2019 at 19:50


Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 12, 2019 at 22:17

Thanks, USA Marc.

WTFrick? French Marc?

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 12, 2019 at 22:25

LOL, Gene Sheldon! What a great banjoist. No need for a mask on that guy.

I just spent some idyll time tabbing this one. The harmony with the 2nd banjo in M4 is eye watering...


Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 12, 2019 at 22:56

Hi Marc. I do different fingering in m.3, and David Wade does something different from both of us in his mini intro to the zb. The original notation is a little unclear, asking for the second string to be used, but his fingering of the g note is awkward if you take it on the 2nd string. David changes the third finger to the second here. You've opted for a 3-string barre at the 7th fret. I continue the line f, e, eb down to the d at the third fret, then Camm's fingering makes more sense, and the notification to stay on the second string.

Whatever, it sounds good all three ways, so I'm not going to lose sleep over it. 

The harmonies in m.4, I see as (per 8th note) 

F, C7, Bbm (the common IVm), C7, G (V of V), Db major (should the g# be ab? This could be a bVI falling to the V7), C7. What do you think? Sounds fairly straight-forward to me. 

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 13, 2019 at 0:23

I did not actually have a banjo (they're all packed and ready to move to South Carolina) in my hands, so I really just went with my gut on m3. I try to keep the original fingering if at all possible but the original just didn't look right...

I know naught from the technical harmony of m4, all I can tell you is that it sounds quite discordant...I would post the mp3 but somehow it won't let me. The attach box keeps telling me that the file is 'undefined'.

Ning has may be that the "video" section doesn't like mp3 files. I'll post it to the 'discussions' section and see if that works. 

Comment by thereallyniceman on May 13, 2019 at 8:02

Rob, I have a question. When you record your videos what software are you using to alter the sound of the zither banjo?

Added reverberation? Enhanced bass?  The reason I ask is that I have never heard a zither banjo sound like this, neither in live playing nor recordings. It sounds almost guitar like or gut strung. It sounds nice, but not like a zither.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 13, 2019 at 8:35


I use a Rode NT4 mic into a Foster FR2LE hard disk recorder for a pure clean sound. In the sound-editing software (Wavelab Essential 6) I chop the beginning and end off and raise the volume level if needed (and it usually is). And that's it. In the past I added reverb, but now I go for as professional a clean sound as my budget will allow. Then, while editing the video, I mute the sound from the camera, and line up the better sound file. It takes time and effort, and I do it because I care. And, of course, there is no enhanced bass!

I think it sad that people try to attribute my sound to something mechanical. I've worked hard for literally decades to perfect my touch on the strings - be they nylon, gut, brass or steel - and I sound the way I do because I've worked at it. 

When I did a lot of banjo work before, I got hounded by similar comments, people saying "You're cheating" or "you're not a REAL banjo player". Well, I think it's about time you just accept that this is how I sound when I play these instruments. It is as real as any recording can be. I do have a fairly reverberant living room, but it's no concert hall or professional studio, that's for sure. 

When playing classical guitar I do so without plucking with nails - just flesh. And I do so on gut strings. That's unusual these days. People say I'm not a real classical guitar player either. It's really quite depressing. Tone is the most important thing to me, it's my inner voice, and I seek it out on every instrument I play. I might not be a real banjo player or a real guitar player, but I really am me. This is the way I play.  When you say it doesn't sound like a zither, you really mean it doesn't sound like what you've heard other players (including yourself) draw out of a zither. 

Now, I'm perfectly content for people to not like the sound I make, as I learned LONG ago the first rule of performance: You can only please some of the people some of the time. But I do get saddened when people try to attribute my sound to something mechanical or digital. Every day I try to seek out a beautiful sound, whether the mic is on or not. You might not think it is an appropriate sound, but it is my sound. 

Sorry for the mini rant :-) And no hard feelings. I do get passionate about sound, and make no apologies for that. 

I sold a classical guitar a month ago for three grand to a guy who lives in Edinburgh. He came round complaining that it didn't sound anything like as good as what he heard on a video I had made. So I played it for him there and then. He apologised, and signed up for ten lessons. True story. The money has financed my recent banjo acquisitions.

Now, let's just move on. 

Comment by thereallyniceman on May 13, 2019 at 8:58

No need to "Sigh" Rob. It just doesn't sound like any zither banjo I have heard so that is why I asked if you are using reverb and a "warm and fuzzy" filter. 

It is nice you can get that resonance out of such a small diameter vellum and with steel strings.

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