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 Old-time: your preferred accompaniment

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Jimbeaux

Germany
28 posts
since 5/24/16

07/12/2017 00:27:28 View Jimbeaux's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

So this question is primarily geared toward old-time fiddlers.

What kind of accompaniment do you prefer most? 

I'm most interested in what qualities you like in a banjo player for old-time fiddle-banjo duets.

i.e.: melodic, rhythmic or more "round-peaky" clawhammer, or other old time style.

Also, please let me know if you prefer other instruments depending on the type of tune (i.e. clawhammer for most tunes, but plectrum banjo or banjolele for rags).

Or maybe you prefer playing with a guitarist, dual fiddles or with a full stringband?

I'm a CH banjo player who recently started fiddle, so I naturally favor fiddle-banjo duets or full stringbands. 

carlbPlayers Union Member

United States
1959 posts since 2/2/08

07/12/2017 04:45:28View carlb's MP3 Archive View carlb's Photo Albums View carlb's Blog Reply with Quote

I, too, favor fiddle-banjo duets. As I play both instruments, I find usually the banjo needs to adapt their setting to match the fiddle. The highest points in my fiddle-banjo duet playing, from the banjo side, is when I meet a fiddler and my banjo setting already fits tightly with what their playing on the fiddle.

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Cyndy

2223 posts since 10/6/08

07/12/2017 08:10:40View Cyndy's MP3 Archive View Cyndy's Photo Albums View Cyndy's Blog Reply with Quote

I am happy playing with any instrument(s) but just guitar would probably be my least favorite. 

At the moment, I have times when I'm itching to experiment with things I sort of hear in my head and my choices for accompaniment would be (in no particular order) bones, feet, body percussion, accordion, field organ, mountain dulcimer, autoharp and/or a second fiddle. 

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Fiddler

United States
3539 posts since 6/22/07

07/12/2017 09:16:24View Fiddler's MP3 Archive View Fiddler's Photo Albums View Fiddler's Blog Reply with Quote

I like banjo - especially melodic. I like a good guitarist, too! Especially one who is sensitive to the tune.

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jefferylong

United States
770 posts since 3/19/09

07/12/2017 12:12:35View jefferylong's MP3 Archive View jefferylong's Photo Albums View jefferylong's Blog Reply with Quote

Personally, I prefer the original band . . . fiddle & banjo, and by banjo I prefer the much more pronounced rythum of the clawhammer banjo. Although, I wouldn't advise it for Contest Fiddling . . . tried it once and was told I should've used a guitar accompaniment, but then the judges were not Puritans. 


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ChickenMan

United States
3109 posts since 9/26/08

07/12/2017 13:16:39View ChickenMan's MP3 Archive View ChickenMan's Photo Albums View ChickenMan's Blog Reply with Quote

For a dance, I like guitar/banjo pairing but to be honest, my experience has been rather unpleasant where accompaniment is concerned. I've had more people ruin my playing experience than enhance it. There are 4, maybe 5 people I've enjoyed playing with - two banjo players and three guitarists (one of whom I often differ with his chord choices but he keeps great time). I almost prefer playing solo or with one other fiddler If they like to play second and being seconded.

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farmerjones

United States
1231 posts since 10/22/07

07/12/2017 13:57:14 View farmerjones's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Somebody on a D28 or D35, and a doghouse bass. It's hard to find a good doghouse player, but when you do, it's something special.

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BanjoBrad

United States
2748 posts since 6/21/07

07/12/2017 15:03:58View BanjoBrad's MP3 Archive View BanjoBrad's Photo Albums View BanjoBrad's Blog Reply with Quote

I prefer a good CH banjo, but a (not a Dxx) good Old Time guitar player with a 000 or 00 body guitar (I own a Martin 000-15S, myself) works also.  I'm not a fan of the overly-bass sound of the Dreadnaughts.

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Jimbeaux

Germany
28 posts since 5/24/16

07/13/2017 01:01:46 View Jimbeaux's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

For a dance, I like guitar/banjo pairing but to be honest, my experience has been rather unpleasant where accompaniment is concerned. I've had more people ruin my playing experience than enhance it. There are 4, maybe 5 people I've enjoyed playing with - two banjo players and three guitarists (one of whom I often differ with his chord choices but he keeps great time). I almost prefer playing solo or with one other fiddler If they like to play second and being seconded.

I would love to hear what made your experiences unpleasant. I love playing backup (clawhammer) to a fiddle, and would like to know what might bother some people. In my experience, we'll just move on to another tune if the current one isn't going as well as we'd like. But generally we're out to have fun and not compete...

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farmerjones

United States
1231 posts since 10/22/07

07/13/2017 06:07:59 View farmerjones's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Not speaking for Billy. The crux to me, is both timing and the proper chord choice. Sure, there's more than one way to play tune, but if you're comping, this is not the time to play your version, if it departs from what's being lead. Because a fiddle has no frets, a fiddler goes by his/her ears. A dissonant chord really sounds bad to a fiddler. The word that comes to mind is sickening. I can pull through a time jumper. I can pull through the wrong chords. What i'm able to do, vs. what i want and love to do, can be two different things. It's frustrating, because it seems so simple. After all, it's usually just a two or three chord tune.

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Jimbeaux

Germany
28 posts since 5/24/16

07/13/2017 07:27:41 View Jimbeaux's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones
 

Not speaking for Billy. The crux to me, is both timing and the proper chord choice. Sure, there's more than one way to play tune, but if you're comping, this is not the time to play your version, if it departs from what's being lead. Because a fiddle has no frets, a fiddler goes by his/her ears. A dissonant chord really sounds bad to a fiddler. The word that comes to mind is sickening. I can pull through a time jumper. I can pull through the wrong chords. What i'm able to do, vs. what i want and love to do, can be two different things. It's frustrating, because it seems so simple. After all, it's usually just a two or three chord tune.


Hahaha, so basically just someone who doesn't know how to back up :)

On the other hand, people gotta start learning somewhere...

Btw, I think you've made a good argument for why my learning the fiddle will also improve my banjo playing. I started a thread to that end recently on BHO, and a lot of banjo players were vehement that the ONLY way to improve at banjo was to practice more banjo, and skills won't transfer from fiddle to banjo. Kind of rigid thinking, especially when I'm just out to have fun.

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Mojohand40

United States
861 posts since 6/13/11

07/13/2017 07:43:56View Mojohand40's MP3 Archive View Mojohand40's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

So much depends on the individual musician.  For instance, there is a fellow I've played with at a few jams who plays a little banjo ukulele.  His timing is great and very relaxed; he hits the chord changes and really knows the tunes.  Normally, I would say I don't like Banjo Uke as an accompaniment; in general; but I love when that dude shows up.

Also I would add I don't really like guitars much in Old Time jams. I think they muddy things up at times more then they add;  (BUT...I find them completely ESSENTIAL in Bluegrass jams).  But, again; there is one guitar player I have played with at a few OT jams that is wonderful to jam with.

Banjo to me (and probably most people!) is the best accompaniment for Old Time Fiddle. One thing I don't like from a banjo player is timidness. I hate when they stuff a damper in their pot and play lightly over the neck. Blech!   I'm a long time banjo player and personally, I think the recent fascination with "frailing scoops" is terrible...just my opinion.

In talking to banjo players at jams I've hosted (I got quit a few banjo playing friends); I've learned to change my fiddling a bit.  I'm much more "phrase" oriented; if that makes sense.  In other words; I have become much more mindful of allowing a little space between phrases on the fiddle. 

Hard to explain;  Erynn Marshall touches on it in her DVD.

It's something there in those little spaces that makes the Fiddle easier to play against with the Banjo.  I've noticed it myself among fiddlers who I've played banjo with.  Joe Herrmann has "it" down when it comes to this, but I don't think he could even explain it. It's just some little timing in the fiddle phrasing that makes it easier for the banjo player to lock into.  I've heard/played with some fiddle players (some kinda' famous ones in the OT world) that can play the snot out of their fiddles and have old time feel and sound out the butt...but are just hard for banjo players to "latch onto". It's just a subtle phrasing thing.  Now; I don't know if I have "it"....but like I said I'm MINDFUL of it and that helps.

In full disclosure; in the jams I've attended over the the last year; I play mandolin about 80% of the time.  I used to think mandolin didn't really fit in with old Time that well; until I heard and played with a very few really good Old Time mandolinist awhile back.

I used to be a pretty fair Bluegrass mandolinist for years before getting into fiddle and Old Time; and at first thought I could just jam right in on old Time sessions with my trusty mando...but quickly learned that Old Time mandolin and Bluegrass Mandolin are two very different styles.  Took me awhile to loose the Bluegrass habits and really "get" old Time Mandolin. Now other players seem to really enjoy my mandolin and even ask me to kick off/lead tunes etc.

So I would say Mandolin CAN be a great accompaniment for Old Time Fiddle; but often isn't because of the mando pickers background.

Anyway; that is my lonnng answer.

 

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farmerjones

United States
1231 posts since 10/22/07

07/13/2017 07:58:29 View farmerjones's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Good conversation.

There is a difference between comping and playing. Many more players. And they arguably think they know how to play guitar, or banjer or whatever. But there's a portion of their Musicianship that hasn't been as developed. Soloists, and singer/songwriters, have a certain portion of their Musicianship well developed. And may or may not know how to comp. And then there are varying degrees of development. Like any language, some are as versed as a Supreme Court Justice is to law. Some are plain spoken. Certainly, both can know what they are saying. 

If you follow Lee's new thread, "Who here plays banjer?" You'll see i play a bunch of instruments. Each has helped me fill in spaces in my Musicianship. I can't recommend or warn against it. It would be a tragedy to dissuade or discourage the next Ricky Skaggs. For me, each instrument, was easier, because Music is Music. Eventually, it gets to be the music's in your head. The gadget is in your hands. Find out where Doe-Rae-Me is on the gadget and give it time to stick in memory, and there you go.

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Jimbeaux

Germany
28 posts since 5/24/16

07/14/2017 01:49:42 View Jimbeaux's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

quote:
Originally posted by Mojohand40
 

One thing I don't like from a banjo player is timidness. I hate when they stuff a damper in their pot and play lightly over the neck. Blech!   I'm a long time banjo player and personally, I think the recent fascination with "frailing scoops" is terrible...just my opinion. 


Loved reading your opinions, very insightful. However, I'm just the opposite when it comes to banjo players, well, kind of. I don't mind when they play over the head, but I HATE it when they whop the banjo head with their thumb every time they hit the fifth string. That really gets on my nerves.

I don't like scoops either, but I do often play over the neck with high string action. I don't think it has anything to do with timidness. That's probably just a characterization of the people you've met. Playing over the neck is actually MUCH louder if you want it to be. Fred Cockerham and Kyle Creed would be two classic examples of how loud and un-timid over-the-neck playing can be. Not even Tommy Jarrell could drown them out with his wild fiddling.

That all said, I don't care how a banjo player plays as long as it sounds good :)

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phiddlepickerPlayers Union Member

United States
512 posts since 8/3/13

07/14/2017 11:49:24 View phiddlepicker's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Whiskey

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Humbled by this instrument

United States
3364 posts since 12/8/07

07/14/2017 17:04:41View Humbled by this instrument's MP3 Archive View Humbled by this instrument's Photo Albums View Humbled by this instrument's Blog Reply with Quote

I especially enjoy playing with other fiddlers I know, hitting harmonies or just droning chordal notes and trading off melodies.

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pmiller510

30 posts since 9/4/07

07/19/2017 06:47:14 Reply with Quote

What kind of accompaniment - Good accompaniment.  LOL

Have had a lot of good back up from different instruments so, based on my experience I'm not picky there.  However, a few details:

1. I really like a strong one beat; don't care much what happens after that, but it's a great anchor.  2. Someone who listens; I'm listening to them and hope they pay attention to me.  

I think this second one is especially critical at a time when fiddle players are coming from many different sources due to the internet/regionalism, etc. (where they learned a tune, who they learned it from, which type of jam, etc.).  A lot of players seem to learn a tune one way, and then don't bother to listen to the fiddler.  So a fiddler might be doing a New England style piece and getting the North Carolina version as accompaniment, or vice versa.  Of course in these mixed situations fiddlers need to listen to each other too.  And I know that we all realize jams are a compromise.  

Also, I really like a good 3-finger old time banjo player; they seem to have more flexibility than clawhammer-only players. (Not that I don't like a good clawhammer banjo).  

FWIW

 

 


Edited by - pmiller510 on 07/19/2017 06:50:12

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Fiddler

United States
3539 posts since 6/22/07

07/19/2017 07:42:52View Fiddler's MP3 Archive View Fiddler's Photo Albums View Fiddler's Blog Reply with Quote

After some additional reflection, I need to add to my comment above about banjo and guitar.

I also like accompaniment by accordion (piano & button), concertina, hurdy-gurdy, dulicmer (mtn &hammered), flute, recorder, harmonica, penny whistle, piano, strumpf-fiddle, ukele (all variations), tenor banjo/guitar, resonator guitar, steel guitar, bagpipes, autoharp, spoons, kalimba, trap set, tuba, trumpet, krumhorn, sacbut ...

Any instrument can be perfect for accompanying OT fiddling!! Of course, I have preferences, but I have been incredibly surprised at how well some of the instruments sound together.

If I am creating music with someone, I am connecting with them on a very deep emotional and spiritual level. To me that is the epitome of playing music.

**** OPINION WARNING ****

I know this may upset the OT Police who INSIST that OT music can only be played by fiddle, guitar, banjo and maybe mandolin. But, those instruments are relative late-comers to OT music. My understanding is that piano and harmonium (or small pump organ) were prevalent prior to the introduction of banjo and guitar in the mid-1800s. (Eck Robertson has piano accompaniment on his recordings. Piano/harmonium is also present on many of Christensen's recordings of Missouri fiddling.)

I feel that we today are highly influenced by the mid-20th century folk revival with performers who featured guitar and banjo and the seminal groups (Fuzzy Mtn SB, Highwoods SB, Hollow Rock SB, etc) having only fiddle, banjo, guitar and sometimes dulcimer and bass. Added to this is the current availability of early field recordings and commercial recordings having only guitar and banjo. Those instruments were just easier to transport and tune and they were loud enough for the recording devices. But, people made music with what they had and what was in their heritage.

Is there truly an "authentic" OT sound? Is it limited to only a handful of instruments (fiddle, guitar, banjo)?  I think we would be surprised!

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DougD

United States
8230 posts since 12/2/07

07/19/2017 08:00:31View DougD's MP3 Archive View DougD's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Kirk, I think you left out cello, which does appear in old photos of traditional stringbands, and has been used in some more recent groups.



On the other hand, I've had problems in the past with some of the instruments, although it might have been the chopper, not the axe.



I do agree with your point though.


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DougD

United States
8230 posts since 12/2/07

07/19/2017 08:03:15View DougD's MP3 Archive View DougD's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

PS - I meant "with some of the instruments you mentioned," but I've given up trying to edit posts on my tablet.


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Mojohand40

United States
861 posts since 6/13/11

07/19/2017 08:51:44View Mojohand40's MP3 Archive View Mojohand40's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Eefing http://youtu.be/75qIdhCO2DQ  is pretty good accompaniment.

.


Edited by - Mojohand40 on 07/19/2017 08:58:30

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Fiddler

United States
3539 posts since 6/22/07

07/19/2017 10:59:53View Fiddler's MP3 Archive View Fiddler's Photo Albums View Fiddler's Blog Reply with Quote

Yes, Doug, I did forget cello!!

And, yes, the person using the instrument DOES make a difference!  And, the annoying party can even be another fiddler. I know  because I was once that person. Geessh, I was an incredibly annoying newbie! ... and then an arrogant intermediate fiddler. A friend sat me down for an intervention. It stung a bit, but I am thankful.

And, we all KNOW that there is a basis of truth in some of the various and sundry instrument jokes. Here's a small sampling.

Q. What the difference between a <insert your favorite disliked instrument> and a chain saw?

 A. You can tune a chain saw.

Q. Why does everyone hate the <insert your favorite disliked instrument>  right off?

A. It saves time.

Q. What does a <insert your favorite disliked instrument> and a baseball have in common?

A. Everyone cheers when you hit it with a bat.

Q. Did you hear about the <insert your favorite disliked instrument> player who played in tune?

A. Neither did I.


 

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