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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Hearing the Melody...Fiddle vs. Banjo


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/51065

soppinthegravy - Posted - 05/06/2019:  09:26:11


A guy with whom I play music says he can't hear the melody in my fiddling as he can when I play the banjo. Thoughts?


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 05/06/2019 09:26:43

Dan Gellert - Posted - 05/06/2019:  13:49:24


Listening to the clips you have posted, I hear the melody well enough, but then I know those tunes. If I didn't, I can imagine it being hard to hear, because your time is very uneven and your phrasing is unclear. I recommend some serious woodshed time with the dreaded metronome.

I haven't heard your banjo playing, but I'll bet your timing is much better on that instrument. If you've got a backup picker or two who keep good time, and listen to them while playing, you can sort of get away with being a bit off on the fiddle, but if the banjo player is not dead on the beat, it will be real obvious and annoying.

Dan Gellert - Posted - 05/06/2019:  14:22:56


Wait a minnit! is that you, Daniel? Looking at a couple of other threads you're on, I HAVE heard your banjo and it is terrifically good rhythmically. and I went back to your audio clips and realize that I was judging by the first time or two through on those.. a couple of them are indeed kind of rough at the start. and looking at that one video of your "debut" back in 2011, you definitely know how to lock into the backup rhythm with the fiddle!

Dan Gellert - Posted - 05/06/2019:  14:29:08


and to cross-reference the thread on pain and numbness, practicing SLOW and steady is always a good idea. focus on the downbeat and on staying relaxed.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 05/06/2019:  15:07:22


Recently someone told me that I played a tune such that it was unrecognizable..but He didn't KNOW the tune... Had he listened before trying to play a long he would have been able to differentiate the various parts of the tune.. Many tunes have similar A and B parts.. Advise...those new to them to sit back a while..first....Then jump in..

ChickenMan - Posted - 05/06/2019:  16:24:06


What Dan said. I was going to suggest a metronome before but you weren’t asking (the pain/numbness thread).

To be honest, I often have trouble hearing the melody from a banjo DESPITE having learned several tunes from a banjo player (he played melodic three finger so..).

farmerjones - Posted - 05/06/2019:  16:38:57


Still vexes me how some tunes it seems ornimenation is part of the melody. (Don't ask me a title) But who doesn't strip a tune down to learn it? But I've also heard tunes over syncopated and/or over orinimented.

Asfaras banjer, i figure y'all are talkin about OT bum-ditty banjer. Cuz, Scruggs style, the melody might be every third note. Chromatic style banjer is definately playing melody. And if you can play a hornpipe on a banjer like Bill Keith, my hat is off to you.

Arguably, the violin/fiddle is a melody instrument. If for no other reason, the pitch/clef range in the orchestral spectrum.

soppinthegravy - Posted - 05/06/2019:  16:42:19


I call melodic style contest style, because it seems as if you have to play it or at least incorporate elements of it to win, nowadays, plus, it reminds me of contest-style fiddling.


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

What Dan said. I was going to suggest a metronome before but you weren’t asking (the pain/numbness thread).



To be honest, I often have trouble hearing the melody from a banjo DESPITE having learned several tunes from a banjo player (he played melodic three finger so..).






 


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 05/06/2019 16:43:53

soppinthegravy - Posted - 05/06/2019:  17:32:38


Yeah, I play the bum-ditty stuff. Most Old-Time folks seem to love Keith and hate Scruggs. I think they both brought great stuff to the table. My favorite guys for a long time have been what I call the Mount Rushmore of banjo songsters: Uncle Dave Macon, Grandpa Jones, Bashful Brother Oswald, and Stringbean, all of whom influenced Leroy Troy, who is the reason I got into the banjo in the first place. I got into fiddling later, frustrated that nobody who played breaks played the melody and vice-versa.


quote:

Originally posted by farmerjones

Still vexes me how some tunes it seems ornimenation is part of the melody. (Don't ask me a title) But who doesn't strip a tune down to learn it? But I've also heard tunes over syncopated and/or over orinimented.



Asfaras banjer, i figure y'all are talkin about OT bum-ditty banjer. Cuz, Scruggs style, the melody might be every third note. Chromatic style banjer is definately playing melody. And if you can play a hornpipe on a banjer like Bill Keith, my hat is off to you.



Arguably, the violin/fiddle is a melody instrument. If for no other reason, the pitch/clef range in the orchestral spectrum.






 


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 05/06/2019 17:35:57

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 05/07/2019:  08:03:07


Hmmmm .... I often have trouble hearing the tune over the ornamentation of many players on many instruments. Banjo can be very frustrating to follow at times. Thanks be to solid rhythm players and those that restate the melody regularly. R/

TuneWeaver - Posted - 05/07/2019:  08:27:51


My friend Larry, has his own way of playing his banjo.. I can't describe the style but often when he starts a tune I can't identify it unless he calls out its name..

stumpkicker - Posted - 05/07/2019:  14:10:49


You mean banjo players actually know that the idea of “melody” exists? Well I’ll be hornswaggled! Who Knew?! devil

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 05/07/2019:  16:20:46


No matter what instrument is being played, it takes time, practice and a good ear to be able to express the melody lurking within the notes. Yeah, the fiddle is probably the foremost purveyor of melody apart from the human voice, but it's shocking how so many players, though they hit the proper pitches, don't seem to understand or be able to convey the phrasing that underlines the melody...an element that is crucial for getting a tune to make sense.
That being said, I've heard plenty of banjo players who can make the instrument sing, no matter what style they play in and no matter how many notes they stick in along the way.

Loup - Posted - 05/07/2019:  16:58:56


As I unsderstand this topic,is it the style of the player that is making it difficult to follow.I listen a lot to Kenny Baker and he puts a lot of extras in his tunes but still makes the tune recognizable.Any further on this topic would be helpfull.

soppinthegravy - Posted - 05/08/2019:  09:28:31


Here's some melody for you, in pre-Keith Bluegrass styles. Old-Time is my favorite, but there's no denying the greatness of these guys.


Scruggs


youtube.com/watch?v=Bqci8CdgkzU


Stanley


youtube.com/watch?v=Ur7cXcU5Nlk


 


 


 


 


quote:

Originally posted by stumpkicker

You mean banjo players actually know that the idea of “melody” exists? Well I’ll be hornswaggled! Who Knew?! devil






 


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 05/08/2019 09:30:54

soppinthegravy - Posted - 05/08/2019:  10:19:09


Y'know? I'd kinda like to know which of my fiddle recordings on here is the worst offender concerning obscuring the melody. Let me know, and I'll make some sheet music showing what I was intending to do for comparison/contrast.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 05/08/2019:  12:50:46


if you want the melody to stand out, i think standard practice would be to use standard tuning, and keep the melody above the drones, accompaniment, or chords. And single strings played cleanly would be the answer, or clearly stating the melody has ventured underneath the accompaniment

Close obscure harmonies and weird chord inversions (3rd or even 7th in the bass) resulting from open tuned instruments, and double stops, etc, will obscure the melody and take some getting used to for a new listener or player to hear the melody.

Add a Bass and a guitar, playing standard chords with the root or 5th in the bass to put things more into perspective, and things might get easier to hear maybe? or arrange stuff on the instruments in question to be able to hear the melody. i think most stuff where the melody sits nicely on an open tuned solo fiddle has probably been written for, or arranged for, an open tuned solo fiddle?

But then again folk might sometimes enjoy the obscurity of the melody, and enjoy the harmonies that the players are putting across, leaving the melody to the listeners imagination?? who knows...if it sounds good it is good...

Then there are the the questions of Dynamics, rhythms,emphasis and interpretation that come into the equation....

TuneWeaver - Posted - 05/08/2019:  13:18:18


quote:

Originally posted by soppinthegravy

Y'know? I'd kinda like to know which of my fiddle recordings on here is the worst offender concerning obscuring the melody. Let me know, and I'll make some sheet music showing what I was intending to do for comparison/contrast.






To choose the worst offending tune means that  we'd have to listen to ALL of your stuff!!!   Anyway, I've listened to a Lot of it and you are an amazing fiddler for someone your age...I'd say GENERALLY, that if you would slow down your playing and try to play "pretty"... you'd find that all the notes are already there but don't always FLOW together well.. I can say this because I need to work on that myself....It often sounds (to me) like you are rushing..You did ask.. I find NO tune that obscures the melody..you got melody...!!!

ChickenMan - Posted - 05/08/2019:  19:10:57


You slow down to better speed up. For many (most?) people the rapid pace that bluegrass and some old time, like what is played there in your part of Tennessee and parts of Missouri is hard to hear. By that I mean there’s more information flying by than the average listener can catch. You are already familiar with the tempo. By slowing it down a notch or two, nothing ridiculous, your muscles will get a better feel for the tune, as will your ears. The subtitles that make for affective dance fiddling as well as performance fiddling are at first better heard and absorbed at a slightly slower speed. Too slow and the feel changes, whether you like it or not. You will have be the judge of how slow.

Don’t forget the metronome. Or a 5 minute recording of you stomping TO a metronome. Whatever it takes to strip your practice “accompaniment” down to just a beat. It will make you a stronger fiddler in the long run. It’s best not to lean too hard on backup musicians if you are going to lead a dance band. smiley


Edited by - ChickenMan on 05/08/2019 19:14:24

RobBob - Posted - 05/10/2019:  05:10:39


I hear this from other fiddlers who then say I heard you play a dance and the melody was clear but it is not when I sit down to play with you. Well as I was taught many years ago by a fellow who is still alive today way up in the Smokies, each fiddler has their own dedahlatahs. They add those little twists that are all their own. Kenny Baker said he could tell who was fiddling by their bowing, note choice and double stops.
As for banjo picking, if you can't hear the melody stick to the fiddle. The banjo may be above your pay grade. I teach banjo players how to get the melody to show out or to back up a fiddle. Two different ways of playing the banjo.

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