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Down Up Dick
05-06-2014, 12:54 PM
Well, it's been a long, up hill crawl, but I'm finally making some progress with my clawhammer strumming. I've been banging away at it for awhile now, and it's starting to make sense. I'm using Aaron Keim's Clawhammer Ukulele book now, and it's pretty good. I have another one, but it's more difficult, and I don't know the tunes which makes it hard to tell if I'm playing correctly or not.

I can read tabs, but I have to think about them. It's not like reading music. Anyway, reading tabs slows me down, but I'm getting better.

Is there anyone else trying to learn Clawhammer? Can you read the tabs and make sense out of them? Have you gotten any speed up?
Let's talk.

Papa-Ooke
05-06-2014, 02:12 PM
Clawhammer? Really? I wasn't aware of this. I thought that was just something for banjos. What kind of music? Bluegrass? Or what? I'm very interested, tell me more please.

Papa

wodan22
05-07-2014, 02:42 AM
I am a bit curious about the whole clawhammer ukulele thing as well. I am a clawhammer banjo player, and even what technically defining "clawhammer" in the banjo community can be very difficult and lead to heated debates.

So, what constitutes clawhammer ukulele? Is it down picking with the lead finger, then strumming, then hitting the top string with your thumb (the so called "bum ditty")? Is it double thumbing? Is there drop thumb?

I am really curious about this and how it translates to the uke, but would like a bit more info.

Also, as far as clawhammer tabs-I read them for banjo. I am going to assume they would be similar for uke, but with one less string? Is there something specific giving you trouble? Or is there an example of a tab that you could link that were giving you trouble?

I can give you a few pieces of advice. Don't try to play from the tab. Try to memorize the song and get rid of the tab as soon as you can-otherwise the tab will become a crutch and you will not truly "learn" the song. Break the song into phrases or segments of a few measures. Play it slow until you can play it well. Repeat it until you can play it from memory. Proceed to the next phrase and repeat. Often phrases will contain similar elements, so once you memorize one phrases, later phrases will be easier to memorize. Once you can play the song from memory, you will be able to play it much faster and easier than if you played from the tabs.

Down Up Dick
05-07-2014, 05:15 AM
Sure one can Clawhammer a Uke, and yes all those elements that you mentioned, wodan22, are included plus a few more like hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides. It's all there because of the high G string which is a similarity between the Uke and the Banjo.

Go to You tube and check out Clawhammer Ukulele. Aaron Keim, Richard Hefner, Ken Middleton, et al are there showin' one how to do it.

Thanks for the advice, wodan22, but I don't have any particular problems except that I'm old and have trouble remembering what I've learned. Breaking the tune into phrases is a good idea. I use it all the time with my other instruments. I've taught myself how to play my flutes by ear, and now I'm working on getting better at it.

Papa-ooke, I like to play folk music, and, since Blugrass is folk music played with specific instruments, I like it too.
I enjoy all kinds of folk music. And learning is a joy.

Phluffy the Destroyer
05-07-2014, 07:34 PM
I'm just curious why (and to some extent...how) you're playing music you don't know. You clearly have an internet capable device and there's an awful lot of bluegrass on Youtube.

wodan22
05-08-2014, 04:13 AM
I'm just curious why (and to some extent...how) you're playing music you don't know. You clearly have an internet capable device and there's an awful lot of bluegrass on Youtube.

I wasn't sure if this was directed to me, or to the OP?

SeattleSean
05-08-2014, 05:43 AM
My summer project is to learn how to claw hammer -- bought Aaron's book a while ago and am looking forward to giving it a go in a couple of months!

Having worked quite a bit on finger styling the last few months, I definitely agree with woodan that tabs pretty much suck and it's better to avoid or minimize using them -- for me it is an unnecessary layer of abstraction that hinders me from really getting the song.

wodan22
05-08-2014, 08:35 AM
My summer project is to learn how to claw hammer -- bought Aaron's book a while ago and am looking forward to giving it a go in a couple of months!

Having worked quite a bit on finger styling the last few months, I definitely agree with woodan that tabs pretty much suck and it's better to avoid or minimize using them -- for me it is an unnecessary layer of abstraction that hinders me from really getting the song.

I should probably revise my statement. Upon re-reading it, it comes across as very much anti-tab. I think tabs are great, when properly utilized. They are a great learning tool and an excellent way to communicate how to play a song for people who don't read music. However, they are a tool, and should only be used when it is to your benefit. They should not be used as a crutch, to your detriment. They are not a substitute for sheet music, that you should use every time you play a song. You should use the tab to understand how to play the song and commit it to memory. Once you have it memorized, throw that tab away, and play from memory. Your playing will be cleaner, smoother, and more consistent, and it helps you be able to play by ear better. Then again, this is just my personal opinion, and I am quite frequently a wrong idiot.

Down Up Dick
05-08-2014, 10:32 AM
Seattle Sean, you oughta join our group. You might it. I think it'll be folksy.

Phluffy (if I may call you that), I'm sorry but I don't understand your comment. To whom are you speaking?

kypfer
05-08-2014, 11:30 AM
Is there anyone else trying to learn Clawhammer? Can you read the tabs and make sense out of them? Have you gotten any speed up? ... I'd been wanting to learn some "not-bluegrass" banjo for a while, but was struggling, for various reasons. Then I saw a second-hand banjolele in a shop window and bought it on a whim. Now ... what to do with it? Then I discovered the concept of clawhammer ukulele and the whole thing came together in a couple of weeks or so. Now I can apply a basic clawhammer backing to many songs (which is mostly what I'd wanted to do in the first place, but hadn't really recognised it) both on the banjo and the ukulele.

So, the reasons for my success :

1. A couple of good YouTube videos on clawhammer basics ... just sitting in front of the screen and picking along.
2. An absolute ear-worm of a tune that I REALLY wanted to play ... in my case "Old Joe Clark" as played by Pete Seeger, but it could have been several others, in hindsight, "Cripple Creek" for instance.
3. A strap, so's my left hand could move around without hindrance and my right hand could concentrate on "clawhammering" without worrying about dropping the silly thing. Again, in hindsight, this is possibly the most important factor. The traditional strapless grip on the ukulele may be fine for the traditional one-finger strumming style (not knocking it, just saying), but when trying to learn a whole bunch of new skills, one less thing to worry about is always a good thing.
4. Learning to read tab, simply because so much of this style of music is presented in that format. It's also useful to have a recommended picking pattern to work from, at least in the beginning. You can always change things around later to suit yourself. It's probably important, initially at least, to learn the tab for a tune you already know "in your head", so's you know what the timing should be and whether or not you just played a wrong note. Once you're used to playing tunes you already can hum from tab, then's the time to branch out to tabs for tunes you don't know well (or at all).

Just my tuppence worth ... YMMV ... but enjoy :)

SeattleSean
05-08-2014, 12:27 PM
I should probably revise my statement. Upon re-reading it, it comes across as very much anti-tab. I think tabs are great, when properly utilized. They are a great learning tool and an excellent way to communicate how to play a song for people who don't read music. However, they are a tool, and should only be used when it is to your benefit. They should not be used as a crutch, to your detriment. They are not a substitute for sheet music, that you should use every time you play a song. You should use the tab to understand how to play the song and commit it to memory. Once you have it memorized, throw that tab away, and play from memory. Your playing will be cleaner, smoother, and more consistent, and it helps you be able to play by ear better. Then again, this is just my personal opinion, and I am quite frequently a wrong idiot.


Tabs were really hard at first for me to 'get', but then once I did get them it struck me that they have a very limited utility and can both engender bad habits and also be a crutch versus just learning how to read music. I still use them from time to time, but to your point I try to only use them as a kick-starter to get my brain around how I should be approaching fingering, etc.

Tabs can be 'very' useful when employed by someone like a John King in his classical uke book, where he advocates specific fingering in order to maximize resonance, a la the campanella style.

Downup - sorry, i'm not sure what group you're speaking of!

Down Up Dick
05-08-2014, 02:34 PM
The Banjolele Group of course. You can do clawhammer on a regular ukulele too, and, when you've learned, buy a Banjolele.

This goes for kypfer too, and anyone else who wants to try somethin' different. Plunka, plunka, plunka's fine, but how about more and different--stretch!

kypfer
05-08-2014, 10:13 PM
Plunka, plunka, plunka's fine, ... yours might plunk but my old John Grey rings out like a bell since I fitted a new vellum, it's really too loud to play indoors in the evening, so I do all my practising on my Kala wooden concert, keeping the banjolele for when I'm not going to make too many mistakes or annoy the neighbours ;)

As for "stretch ...", I'm starting to play some of Jamie Holding's arrangements of lute music for ukulele, and just for something really different I've got another soprano with Aquila "5th's" on it, so I can use tenor banjo, mandolin or fiddle arrangements "as written" ... that'll keep me stretched for a while ;)

Phluffy the Destroyer
05-08-2014, 10:53 PM
I apologize for the confusion. I wasn't aware there was more than one person in the conversation that wasn't familiar with the music they were playing. Since others besides the OP seem to be playing music they don't know, I suppose it's an open question...

ukuleletim
05-09-2014, 03:21 AM
I need to check out Aaron's book. I love his playing and arrangements. But for anyone looking to start from scratch I have a basic clawhammer tutorial on youtube. I've arranged dozens of tunes for clawhammer ukulele (even Greensleeves) and it is really a fun and satisfying way to play.

Down Up Dick
05-09-2014, 04:50 AM
When I started playing the ukulele, I used any old music in my singing range that had chords, and everything went more or less fine. But when I got music that had both the staff AND tabs or maybe just tabs, I often got confused. So I dropped the music on the staffs and began to use only tabs when possible. I prefer reading music which I do very well, and, when I read it, I can hear the tune in my head (which I don't with tabs). But so much ukulele music is in tabs, I suppose one has to compromise. I don't understand why guitar and ukulele players use tabs. Other string instrumentalists don't, and keyed instrumentalists don't. Anyway, I think they're a pain too.

kypfer
05-09-2014, 05:33 AM
But so much ukulele music is in tabs, I suppose one has to compromise. I don't understand why guitar and ukulele players use tabs. Other string instrumentalists don't, and keyed instrumentalists don't. ... as someone who's only recently (2-3 years) learnt to read music (after 40+ years hacking chords), I was a little reticent about learning another skill when I met tabs, but I made the compromise when I found music I wanted to play that was only readily available in tab format. I'm pleased I did. Whilst I find there's very little difference between a melody line written in one system or another, when it comes down to polyphony (two or more notes at the same time, ie chords) and picking patterns, I feel tab has it's advantages, especially with a re-entrantly tuned instrument like the ukulele or 5-string banjo or even partial chord shapes "up the neck" on a guitar, when there may one "easy" way and several "difficult" ways of playing the same collection or sequence of notes.

Just my tuppence worth :)

Down Up Dick
05-09-2014, 05:52 AM
Kypfer, you're probably correct, and I'm not very far into my use of tabs--just a newby. However, other string and keyed instrumentalists don't use them. I don't often see that they tell us which finger to use except in exercise books. Piano players have 88 keys to play with 10 fingers and maybe an elbow or two, and they don't use them. Everyone else who plays music learns which strings to fret or key to press, and some have to read two staffs! But I'll keep whacking away at them, until I master them too.

wodan22
05-09-2014, 05:52 AM
I apologize for the confusion. I wasn't aware there was more than one person in the conversation that wasn't familiar with the music they were playing. Since others besides the OP seem to be playing music they don't know, I suppose it's an open question...

There may have been some confusion on both sides. I don't play music that I am not familiar with (although there may have been someone else in the thread who did?). However, after I mentioned that I played clawhammer banjo, you made a bluegrass reference. Clawhammer banjo is generally not used to play bluegrass, but is often mistaken for bluegrass. Hence, I thought you might have been referring to me. No worries.

Down Up Dick
05-09-2014, 06:04 AM
My Lord, Destroyer, do you know every song in the book? Sight reading is one of the most difficult things for musicians to learn, and it's a big help to us to be familiar with a tune we're working on. When learning a new and difficult strum and reading the dreaded tabs and trying to Ditty the Bum, it's a big help if one knows what the mess is supposed to sound like.

kypfer
05-09-2014, 07:37 AM
I'm not very far into my use of tabs--just a newby. However, other string and keyed instrumentalists don't use them. I don't often see that they tell us which finger to use except in exercise books. Piano players have 88 keys to play with 10 fingers and maybe an elbow or two, and they don't use them. Everyone else who plays music learns which strings to fret or key to press, and some have to read two staffs! ... all true, but for keyboard players there's only one place on the keyboard for a particular note, not three or four, the same (mostly) for woodwind and, possibly, brass. Most fiddle music only ever has two notes at most at one time, it's (mostly?) only fretted stringed instruments that can have four (or more) notes played at the same time that can be played at different places on the fingerboard, so having an indication of the preferred choice of fingering for any particular chord is very useful if one isn't a trained musician who's learnt all the preferred sequences a part of their education.
Don't get me wrong, I struggled against tabs for some time before finally succumbing relatively recently - I've since found they really are useful things to be able to use :)

Down Up Dick
05-09-2014, 01:44 PM
Well, pianists do use different fingerings to play complicated runs and so do bowed string players and we flute players. However, I think we've done this debate to death; you may well be correct about the tabs.
In the recent months I've taught myself to play my flutes and whistles by ear, and maybe that's what I'll do with my Ukes. I whistle all the time too; I wish I could play as well as I whistle. It's comin' though; my collection of "by ear" pieces is growing all the time.

Phluffy the Destroyer
05-09-2014, 07:37 PM
My Lord, Destroyer, do you know every song in the book? Sight reading is one of the most difficult things for musicians to learn, and it's a big help to us to be familiar with a tune we're working on. When learning a new and difficult strum and reading the dreaded tabs and trying to Ditty the Bum, it's a big help if one knows what the mess is supposed to sound like.

I've never pretended to know a whole lot of music. I simply try to learn how a song should sound if I don't know it. According to your opening post, you don't know what the music you play is supposed to sound like:


...I don't know the tunes which makes it hard to tell if I'm playing correctly or not.

I was just curious how and why someone would try to play music they don't know well enough to at least have an idea whether or not they are playing it correctly. Gosh, it's wonderful and all that you apparently do try to familiarize yourself with your music choices, but that's not what you said 3 days ago.

trickcyclist
05-09-2014, 07:56 PM
... all true, but for keyboard players there's only one place on the keyboard for a particular note, not three or four, the same (mostly) for woodwind and, possibly, brass. Most fiddle music only ever has two notes at most at one time, it's (mostly?) only fretted stringed instruments that can have four (or more) notes played at the same time that can be played at different places on the fingerboard, so having an indication of the preferred choice of fingering for any particular chord is very useful if one isn't a trained musician who's learnt all the preferred sequences a part of their education.
Don't get me wrong, I struggled against tabs for some time before finally succumbing relatively recently - I've since found they really are useful things to be able to use :)
A lot of baroque and renaissance lute music was written in tablature because of the 'multiple positions for one note' issue. They put the rhythm above the staff (just like we do today) but they tended to use letters instead of numbers for the fret position.
So, the problem and various solutions have been around for a looong time, since at least 1300 ad!

kypfer
05-09-2014, 08:46 PM
Phluffy wrote :
I was just curious how and why someone would try to play music they don't know well enough to at least have an idea whether or not they are playing it correctly. For me, it's pure curiosity. There must be thousands of old tunes that just never see the light of day any more, often because they were never widely published in the first place. Digging through old (or even new) tunebooks for some hidden gem is an endless source of pleasure for me. Since I threw off the restraints of only playing something I'd heard someone else play and learnt to read music for myself, my musical horizons have widened immeasurably :) Some of the tunes don't appeal to me, inevitably, but there are many that do and it's rarely a week goes by without adding at least one new tune to my personal tunebook.

Just my tuppence worth ... YMMV etc. etc ;)

kypfer
05-09-2014, 09:07 PM
Deleted message - please ignore - managed to submit the same posting twice !?!

Down Up Dick
05-10-2014, 04:37 AM
Well, I'm glad that's settled. Now I can get on with my fumbling.

Meteorite
05-10-2014, 11:56 PM
Yes DUD, I have been trying to learn clawhammer. (By that I mean pinging a string with the back of my index finger, brushing all the strings and then plucking the fourth string with my thumb).
I think I am doing it correctly but I do find the initial pluck of the string with my index finger nail is difficult. My index finger seems too springy to ding it properly.

Down Up Dick
05-11-2014, 03:55 AM
That sounds correct, but you've gotta do it over and over 'til it starts to feel natural. You can strum with your index finger or middle finger. And it's a downward motion (into the strings). It really does take getting usta. The first "ping" is your melody note; the rest ("brushing and plucking") is the Bum Ditty or Tock Ticka. There's lots of lessons on You Tube (Clawhammer Ukulele) Aaron Keim has two or three good ones and his book is good too and easy to understand. Richard Hefner is also good and so is his web sight. The Bum Ditty just takes a lot of practice, and then, one day, it'll come to you. Good luck.

kypfer
05-11-2014, 08:03 AM
I have been trying to learn clawhammer. (By that I mean pinging a string with the back of my index finger, brushing all the strings and then plucking the fourth string with my thumb).
I think I am doing it correctly but I do find the initial pluck of the string with my index finger nail is difficult. My index finger seems too springy to ding it properly. ... everything that Dick said, it is one of these skill that really does come with practice. If you're feeling that your index finger isn't doing the business for you, try using your second finger, they really do need to be held quite rigidly in relation to the rest of the hand, whichever finger you use. It's the wrist movement that effectively does the work, the thumb and fingers should be held relatively immobile in a "claw" shape. Maybe try and figure out a single note plucking action that works for you, then add the "brush-thumb" to that, rather than trying to do it all at once. The whole action does seem a little un-natural at first, but it will come with a little practice.

To quote from Pete Seeger's banjo tuition book "It took me about three or four months to get this down smoothly, so don't be impatient"

If it took Pete Seeger, effectively a professional banjo player, that long, I think the rest of us can have a little leeway ;)

Down Up Dick
05-11-2014, 11:24 AM
At first the Bum Ditty was difficult, and then reading the darn tabs and fretting with my fingernail gave me the yips. Now, putting it all together does a job on me. I can fret the tune, and I can Tock Ticka, but together it's a tangle. However, the more I work on it the better it becomes. I only hope my Golden Years last long enough for me to get it.

wodan22
05-12-2014, 02:09 AM
Yes DUD, I have been trying to learn clawhammer. (By that I mean pinging a string with the back of my index finger, brushing all the strings and then plucking the fourth string with my thumb).
I think I am doing it correctly but I do find the initial pluck of the string with my index finger nail is difficult. My index finger seems too springy to ding it properly.

I'll throw in my 2c on the clawhammer, just because my teacher teaches it differently than some folks, and on the off chance that it might help.
The best description of how to hold the "claw" of the clawhammer is to place a credit card or a remote control in the palm of your right hand, then wrap your fingers around it to as if to hold it steady. If you remove the credit card/remote, your hand is in the basic position.
Some people think the clawhammer hand should be really rigid. I was taught that it should be fairly relaxed. I say whatever works for you. Some people create the movement from the elbow/forearm, but I was taught to do it from the wrist. I don't think either is the "right way", just whichever works best for you.
One thing I will recommend if you use your wrist instead of your forearm: Hold your right arm straight in front of you, fingers pointing straight. Now just let your hand go limp from the wrist and your fingers are go limp and drop. This is how I was taught-you don't have to bang the strings; you can more or less let gravity do the work. Also, the arm should be almost perpendicular to the strings (more than 45 degree angle). If the arm was totally perpendicular, you couldn't hit the strings, so angle it just slightly enough to be angle to hit the strings. When you relax the hands, per the above exercise, the fingers should naturally fall to the strings. If you imagine your finger nails as a clock face, the strings contact the nail at around the 10 o'clock position, not the very tip (12 o'clock). Most people find that using the index finger gives you a loud, powerful, punchier sound, whereas the middle finger gives you a more mellow sound.

Anyway, like I said, this is just how I was taught. If it at all helps, use it. If it doesn't help or doesn't make any sense, ignore it and keep on doing whatever works for you. Good luck!

Walden
06-07-2014, 07:01 PM
I came to ukulele from 5-string banjo, and so I've been clawhammering it all along. Tuning my banjo to GDGBD tuning is equivalent to tuning my ukulele to GCEG. The difference between playing them is negligible.

Has anyone tried clawhammer with a six-string tenor ukulele, with the octave 1st and 3rd courses?

Down Up Dick
06-14-2014, 05:33 AM
I have a six-string; I'll look into it.

Down Up Dick
06-15-2014, 04:48 AM
Well, I tried it a little, and it had a very nice sound. I'll fumble with it some more--thanks, Walden.

Ukejungle
06-17-2014, 04:11 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxVtV2wojyo

this is pretty cool.

IamNoMan
09-30-2014, 10:23 PM
Hi guys,
I'm brand new to the uke but have grown old to old time music and clawhammer style. My current concerns are learning ukelele strums.

A lot of this discussion misses the point of clawhammer style. Clawhammer style is not a strumming style at all. It is a downpicking style AND an approach to playing music, (mostly by ear). Besides the Plunktity plunkity technique clawhammer style uses a vertical arm or wrist motion, not a rotary wrist motion. IMO the choice to keep the right hand clenched or to open the hand up is a personal one.

Check these out. Pay attention to the banjo and uke players' right hand and the sound

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=clifftop+ukelele
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjVniqh-YPg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6fHVyQ3Nps&list=PLZwBtJWVzArfyvLAVbXQVaH4863n_l9MV&index=8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPLZO1vydD8

I hope this is helpful.

kypfer
09-30-2014, 10:42 PM
My current concerns are learning ukelele strums.

A lot of this discussion misses the point of clawhammer style. Clawhammer style is not a strumming style at all. It is a downpicking style AND an approach to playing music, (mostly by ear).
Interesting observations :)

Not something I'd specifically thought to quantify, but for those who find the need to define styles into pigeon-holes, probably a useful consideration :cool:

twentytabby
10-01-2014, 06:16 AM
I'd have to agree that clawhammer is more of a downpicking style than strum, although there is a strum component in basic clawhammer. Highly melodic clawhammer can have very little strumming in it.

Down Up Dick
10-01-2014, 06:35 AM
Apparently, there are lots of ways to teach/learn clawhammer.

When I played golf, I had lots of books telling me how to do it the "best way". One of them was by Arnold Palmer, he gave me a very valuable piece of advice: One should pick one teacher or book to follow, and thus avoid becoming confused with 'leventy seven different instructions. Well, I didn't get much better at golf, but I did become less confused. I try to stick to his advice. That's one of the reasons I didn't want to buy Ukulele Aerobics. I already had enough information.

Keep on strummin'. :old:

twentytabby
10-01-2014, 07:03 AM
I don't know if there's a lot of different ways to teach clawhammer, I think it's just a hard thing to describe exactly with words. It's much easier to show a person how to do it than describe it. Even watching videos doesn't give you the whole picture since half of what is going on is hidden behind the claw of the hand.
Years ago I was clawhammering away on my banjo and someone came up to look at my hand and said they couldn't figure out how different sounds were coming out. The plucking nail was hidden behind the claw of the hand. He couldn't see which string I was hitting since all the down strokes looked the same. My husband laughed and said it magic. :)
There are a lot of videos out there that will show you the wrist or forearm action - it usually looks pretty much the same to me. It's very much a muscle memory thing achieved by practice.
There are probably different ways to practice it. This is what I remember:
When I was taught clawhammer, I was taught to just practice hitting the first string (the one closest to your lap) with the nail. Then add the strum and thumb. Just do that over and over. Just do chords and hit that first string until you're doing it without thinking about it and are hitting that first string accurately. Then start practicing with hitting the other strings. Once that's accurate, then the left hand gets to do a lot of work for adding melody.

Down Up Dick
10-01-2014, 07:27 AM
twentytabby, what you say is one way to do it, but there are other ways. That was the point of my last comment. If I do it your way, what'll I do when someone else comes up, and says: Oh, your fist is too tight or too loose, and your arm is too crooked or too straight. It's much less confusing to follow one source, and then pick up hints from old timers when one has a problem. But thanks anyway.

Keep on strummin'. :old:

IamNoMan
10-01-2014, 08:45 AM
Apparently, there are lots of ways to teach/learn clawhammer.:

There are indeed many ways. Tommy Thompson, Mike Seeger and Roger Sprung have all looked at my "style" of Clawhammer and sadly shook their heads. Dewey Balfa smiled and said let's play "Jambalaya" :) .... BTW Clawhammer is very good for Cajun songs.

IamNoMan
10-01-2014, 10:19 AM
@Phluffy the Destroyer: I play music I don't know or even understand because of the joy it brings into my life. The notion of "The Correct way to play something" is abhorrent to me. There is a wrong way of course but I aim for Ragged but Right.

@Down Up Dick: you absolutely correct in following one source. I would suggest you ignore most of the "what it looks like" comments and use "what it sounds like" as a referent. If it sounds right, it is right. In this regard if it sounds right to you, IT IS RIGHT!

Have you considered the drone aspect of clawhammer approach? The 4th string on the uke is a G note. On the banjo the 5th string is a G note as well. Both are ~ an octave above the lower strings. On the banjo the 5th string is seldom fretted, (its shorter in length); It is mostly played open ie it is always the same note sounding -a drone. The drone string becomes a counterpoint to the melody lines of the other strings. This works well in the Keys of C,Em,G and Am. On the banjo if you are playing in the key of D,E,A and their relative minors you would need to tune or capo up two frets, (A drone), in order to sound the drone.... The uke is both simpler and more complex. You won't need to retune but you will need to fret the 4th string more often. The important thing to remember is when you are playing the 4th string as a drone it will be the same note throughout the entire tune or medley.

The drone is also used to drive the rhythym of the song/tune. In this thread folks speak of "Bump A Tit Y" technique this is 4/4 time. Many old time and cajun tunes use 2/4 or cut time. the sound here is "Plunk A Plunk A" where the thumb drops onto the drone note at each "A" This drives the rhythem of the song, tune or dance. Try to keep it constant for the dancers' sake. CAUTION: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! You can effectively use clawhammer drone techniques on the ukulele but you must understand the concept. It is not easy to graphically represent in TAB or music notation (except time signature). Playing along with videos is OK but the best way to learn this is playing with other people....and ... get somebody to hold your beer!

twentytabby
10-01-2014, 11:10 AM
Since your first post says you're comfortable with the strumming/picking part of clawhammer, I'll address two of three questions you had in that post.

"Is there anyone else trying to learn Clawhammer?
"Can you read the tabs and make sense out of them? Have you gotten any speed up?"

I can read tabs and they make sense to me. I've never been able read tabs for the first time and play them at speed immediately. I can get up to speed with tab tunes with practice. I haven't read tabs in a long time because it got easier to just pick a tune out by ear or by looking at standard notation ( I can hear a tune in my head when I look at standard notation).

Down Up Dick
10-01-2014, 11:46 AM
twentytabby, yes, I can read the tabs, but they still slow me down. And yes I can read music -- both clefs, and I, too can hear the music in my head. In fact, I'm playing my tuba today. I can pick out tunes on the Ukes using music, but I decided to learn the tabs for various reasons. I think knowing how to read music is what confuses my poor ol' brain. And I too would like to play all of my instruments by ear or from memory (Ha! Not my forte), and I'm learning on some of my other instruments.

I think you may be a little confused. This is an old thread from back in May. I'm farther ahead than I was then.

Play a happy tune. :old:

IamNoMan
10-01-2014, 03:20 PM
I, too can hear the music in my head.... I think knowing how to read music is what confuses my poor ol' brain. And I too would like to play all of my instruments by ear or from memory (Ha! Not my forte), and I'm learning on some of my other instruments.

You raise some interesting issues here. It takes considerable training to absorb all the information on a musical score; much less time to absorb simple graphics (tabs); and even less time to play by ear, (the eyes don't have to process anything); however by ear or hearing the music in your head may be a gift.

I can read music or play music by ear but not at the same time. I cannot hear the music in my head when I read music or tabs. I can read and play tabs at the same time. To a much smaller degree I can read music and play but my timing suffers radically. Playing one instrument improves my playing other instruments, even on instruments I don't play (example: harmonica and accordion are played the same way one by mouth the other by hand). Lots of room for confusion.

In any case I suggest you learn to play by ear if you can, because memory and age are two terrible traitors.

Thankyou for the insight

aamiikaa
10-02-2014, 09:13 AM
Iv tried to learn "the right" clawhammer style couple of times, but i find it too slow. The only song im able to play decent is "oh susanna". For faster songs i ended up combiding clawhammer with fan strum. Picking up separate notes with index finger, strumming down with pinky and using thumb as usual:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ifWsq64-AM

Now, i dont know if you can call this clawhammer but it sounds good with some songs :)

Down Up Dick
10-02-2014, 09:23 AM
Iv tried to learn "the right" clawhammer style couple of times, but i find it too slow. The only song im able to play decent is "oh susanna". For faster songs i ended up combiding clawhammer with fan strum. Picking up separate notes with index finger, strumming down with pinky and using thumb as usual:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ifWsq64-AM

Now, i dont know if you can call this clawhammer but it sounds good with some songs :)

Have you ever watched 'em play clawhammer Ukes or Banjos on You Tube? Some of them go pretty fast. :old:

aamiikaa
10-02-2014, 09:51 AM
Have you ever watched 'em play clawhammer Ukes or Banjos on You Tube? Some of them go pretty fast. :old:

I just need to try harder. Maybe i need to learn some good warmup song :)

twentytabby
10-02-2014, 10:16 AM
I love that tune! I play Korobeiniki on accordion. I never thought to play it on uke or banjo, but I'll try it now.

Speed is definitely a practice thing and maybe a muscle thing too. If I could travel back in time i bet I couldn't play nearly as fast the first few years I as do now on the banjo. If I don't play for a while, I lose the speed so I think my muscles need to be in shape to play fast.
I think I'm going as fast on the uke since playing clawhammer on it is really very very similar.
Going to fast old time jams helps get the speed and endurance up. Bluegrass jams are even faster.
Also, a lot of notes can be added using hammer-ons and pull-offs in clawhammer, so that can help with speed too.

IamNoMan
12-05-2014, 11:58 AM
I am curious as to how many of you drone on the fourth string when you are playing clawhammer style. I have found that if you do It makes sense to use a 0433 voicing for C and a 2013 voicing for F. I am toying with using a Poole style fingering to drone on the A string when I play in the Key of A or D as well. What do you think?

aamiikaa: Theway your playing is not clawhammer. Whenever you open your hand up, like when you do the fan stroke it gives "real clawhammer" players indigestion. I do it all the time and call it Frailing instead. You can play anyway you like when your frailing.

Nickie
12-05-2014, 02:39 PM
Clawhammer befuddles me, I met Aaron Kein, and treied to learn it. Nope. Ken Middleton does a wonderful job with it, that's what the baritone uke is for!
True, clawhammer has nothing to do with Bluegrass music, it's older. Steve Martin does it sometimes.
Even if I learn clawhammer, I don't want a banjolele....no reason, I jsut don't

Recstar24
12-12-2014, 10:40 AM
Do you guys have advice for playing single notes clawhammer style without striking other strings? I notice when I try to really get some volume, the extra movement and force makes it very messy, it seems like I can only clawhammer softly in order to keep it clean and not strike other strings on the downward nail motion.

Down Up Dick
12-12-2014, 11:29 AM
Do you guys have advice for playing single notes clawhammer style without striking other strings? I notice when I try to really get some volume, the extra movement and force makes it very messy, it seems like I can only clawhammer softly in order to keep it clean and not strike other strings on the downward nail motion.

Clawhammer takes lots and lots of practice. Watch them Clawhammering on YouTube and try to copy them. There are lots of lessons.

After you've struck a string, your finger should rest on the next lower string. Do all your picking slowly and play each note as loud and clearly as you want--but slowly! Do it over and over and then do it some more.

Hey hey hey! Bom-ditty, Bom-ditty all the day! :old:

Recstar24
12-12-2014, 11:37 AM
Clawhammer takes lots and lots of practice. Watch them Clawhammering on YouTube and try to copy them. There are lots of lessons.

After you've struck a string, your finger should rest on the next lower string. Do all your picking slowly and play each note as loud and clearly as you want--but slowly! Do it over and over and then do it some more.

Hey hey hey! Bom-ditty, Bom-ditty all the day! :old:

Ah, I figured it was using some kind of alternate resting stroke, where you strike nail down, but let finger rest momentarily on next string. When I finger pluck with my thumb, that is exactly what I do, so it seems I just need to transfer that skill over to my index fingernail.

I love YouTube, but I am a big fan of books as well, and I like to support our artists. Is the Aaron keim clawhammer book the standard that people use for books on clawhammer?

CeeJay
12-12-2014, 12:18 PM
Clawhammer confuses me a little.....there seem to be so many variations and accepted and non-accepted styles......I don't ,won't ,can't brush down with the nail of my forefinger but pull up and pluck with the pad....almost like a two finger roll...I have been advised that this Pete Seeger Country style method (?) I do it on a five styring reso banjo as well...not at all well ...and I move my thumb ...is this what is meant by dropping thumb..?

Confused

England

Down Up Dick
12-12-2014, 12:18 PM
Well, Recstar24, I have it and like it, but I have trouble reading tabs, and I'm fighting that. If you can read tabs well, then you'll probably like it.

Remember, when you strike, strike down towards the Uke top, and then rest your finger on the next lower string. It's mostly a wrist motion. Try using your middle finger instead of you index finger. You might like it better. It's a matter of personal preference.

Go get 'em! :old:

Recstar24
12-12-2014, 12:25 PM
Excellent - I read tab very well, as well as normal music notation, so both work fine for me.

kypfer
12-12-2014, 12:44 PM
CeeJay wrote:
...I have been advised that this Pete Seeger Country style method (?) I do it on a five string reso banjo as well...not at all well ...and I move my thumb ...is this what is meant by dropping thumb..?
"Pete Seeger style" maybe, but I've not heard it referred to as Country style before. Pete certainly describes plucking down with the thumb then picking and/or brushing up with a finger as one of several styles he describes in his "Play the 5-string Banjo" book(s). Plucking strings other than the 5th (drone) string with the thumb is referred to as "drop-thumb" in a claw-hammer context, but when combined with an upward movement of the finger(s) it's more probably called two or three-finger picking (the thumb is included as a "finger" in this count!) ... I guess blue-grass counts as three-finger picking in this context as well ;)

In my mind, trying to label these styles can only be really useful when one is trying to copy a pre-existing performance. For me, I use whatever sounds like I want it to ... up-pick, down-pick, drop-pick ... whichever :biglaugh:

YMMV, but enjoy the journey :)

CeeJay
12-12-2014, 02:05 PM
CeeJay
In my mind, trying to label these styles can only be really useful when one is trying to copy a pre-existing performance. For me, I use whatever sounds like I want it to ... up-pick, down-pick, drop-pick ... whichever :biglaugh:

YMMV, but enjoy the journey :)

I think your right thought ...after a while I just give up and just play the tune ...that sounds better than trying to slavishly copy something that I'm never going to get right because it's jibing with and working against all the other muscle memory stuff in the old fingers...........

Down Up Dick
12-12-2014, 02:25 PM
kypfer, what does YMMV mean? You've used it before too. :old:

twentytabby
12-12-2014, 07:56 PM
YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

Usually means your experience could be different than mine.

Down Up Dick
12-12-2014, 08:04 PM
Okay, twentytabby, thanks for the translation. :old:

IamNoMan
12-14-2014, 07:44 PM
Do you guys have advice for playing single notes clawhammer style without striking other strings? I notice when I try to really get some volume, the extra movement and force makes it very messy, it seems like I can only clawhammer softly in order to keep it clean and not strike other strings on the downward nail motion.CAVEAT: I am considered a Clawhammer Heretic by many Clawhammer Stylists - They don't object to playing with me however!

I am a old Old Time Musician and banjo plunker. I am a beginner Ukulele player. When playing Clawhammer Style regardless of the instrument precision in striking the right string is very important. When I want volume, not accuracy I use my middle finger. When I want accuracy I use my Thumb-Index or my Thumb-Ring, (Heretical), fingers. The trick, if that is what you want to call it that, is to develop the muscle-memory of the TI fingers so that your thumb and index fingers know their relative position apart for various string locations, ie if each string is a 1/4" apart my TI knows when it is a 1/4", 1/2" or 3/4" gap between them. With practice my fingers have learned just what these distances or increments are regardless of the instrument I am playing! My muscle memory in my right hand is far superior of my left hand. - I have a devil of a time adjusting to various scale lengths on my left hand muscle memory, (and I am left handed to boot).

A second Heresy of mine is that only my drone thumbing digit ever rests on the (reentrant) string after I strike a note and if I am not droning my thumb does not rest on any string at all. This gives me the loudest volume and sustain for each stroke and avoids striking an unwonted string. Since I have not stopped my finger or thumb from moving this allows me extra time/inertia/momentum to select my next set of targets/strings.

Concomitant with all of this is the knowledge or fact that both ears and right and left hand fingers know what the notes sound like on any given string/fret position - well that's the ideal anyway. Don't ask me to read music or tab when playing melodyline or baseline notes when I'm playing Clawhammer Style. This is a heresy for purists who are trying to copy a specific style or song but not a heresy for those who typically play by ear.

None of what I'm saying here has anything to do with the proper way to drone on the reentrant string. That is a different aspect of this sort of style all together.

Down Up Dick
12-15-2014, 04:02 AM
Ya know, IamNoMan, I pick the regular way, but I notice, when I pick single notes, I often hit the wrong string. I don't do it when I'm fingerpicking though. I guess it might be because my strumming hand is in a different position. It's very annoying, but I can stop it if I watch my right hand. However, that slows me down. It seems like whenever I solve one problem, another pops up.

If it ain't one darned thang, it's another 'un! :old:

Recstar24
12-15-2014, 05:02 AM
CAVEAT: I am considered a Clawhammer Heretic by many Clawhammer Stylists - They don't object to playing with me however!

I am a old Old Time Musician and banjo plunker. I am a beginner Ukulele player. When playing Clawhammer Style regardless of the instrument precision in striking the right string is very important. When I want volume, not accuracy I use my middle finger. When I want accuracy I use my Thumb-Index or my Thumb-Ring, (Heretical), fingers. The trick, if that is what you want to call it that, is to develop the muscle-memory of the TI fingers so that your thumb and index fingers know their relative position apart for various string locations, ie if each string is a 1/4" apart my TI knows when it is a 1/4", 1/2" or 3/4" gap between them. With practice my fingers have learned just what these distances or increments are regardless of the instrument I am playing! My muscle memory in my right hand is far superior of my left hand. - I have a devil of a time adjusting to various scale lengths on my left hand muscle memory, (and I am left handed to boot).

A second Heresy of mine is that only my drone thumbing digit ever rests on the (reentrant) string after I strike a note and if I am not droning my thumb does not rest on any string at all. This gives me the loudest volume and sustain for each stroke and avoids striking an unwonted string. Since I have not stopped my finger or thumb from moving this allows me extra time/inertia/momentum to select my next set of targets/strings.

Concomitant with all of this is the knowledge or fact that both ears and right and left hand fingers know what the notes sound like on any given string/fret position - well that's the ideal anyway. Don't ask me to read music or tab when playing melodyline or baseline notes when I'm playing Clawhammer Style. This is a heresy for purists who are trying to copy a specific style or song but not a heresy for those who typically play by ear.

None of what I'm saying here has anything to do with the proper way to drone on the reentrant string. That is a different aspect of this sort of style all together.

THANK YOU! Just what I needed...I think it will take time for me obviously to get the volume I want, but I like your middle finger accomodation! I downloaded the digital PDF of Aaron's Clawhammer book and went through the 1st few lessons, it is excellent! What a great teacher...

twentytabby
12-15-2014, 06:14 AM
Like IamNoMan said, it's a muscle memory thing and the only way to get that is lots and lots of practice. Which means it takes time. And like IamNoMan, I am new to uke but old to banjo. I don't remember if it took weeks or months since I learned decades ago, but I do remember my teacher saying nobody got it right away.
I have the most accuracy with the middle finger used to pick the melody note on whatever string is needed, but I can do it with index and ring finger almost as accurately (which is handy when that finger has the best nail). The ring finger gets the least volume because it is the weakest and I can't hold it as rigid.
Unlike IamNoMan, I do NOT rest my thumb on the reentrant string when striking a note. The hand just knows how far to go for the middle finger to hit the string I want. I don't have any muscle memory gap between the thumb and finger, I have muscle memory of just where to strike the needed string. The hand goes up and comes down where it's needed, hard.
When I demo string accuracy to someone, I just go back and forth across the strings plunking notes from first string to third and back down again. This was what my teacher had me practice long long ago. Back and forth, back and forth.
It's been a while, but what I remember being told by my banjo teacher (I was lucky to have an excellent teacher), is that it's better to go slow and be accurate than fast and inaccurate. Once the accuracy is there, then add speed.
It'll come! And once you have it, you have it forever! I haven't done clawhammer banjo in a couple of years because I was too busy with another instrument for a band. When I picked it up again, I could still do it. When I picked up the uke, I could clawhammer a song almost right away (once I figured out the notes in uke tuning).
Once you get it down, it can be one of the easiest ways to play melody and chord harmony simultaneously. The rhythm of the right hand is easy to keep up for long periods of time with out cramping (finger picking can give my hand a cramp), it's easy to keep a steady rhythm because the right hand is always moving the same way and you can get a good volume. Good clawhammer has a lot of drive to it.
There are a lot of excellent clawhammer banjo videos out there. If the clawhammer uke videos aren't enough, check out the banjo videos. The right hand method is the same.

twentytabby
12-15-2014, 08:47 AM
Just remembered something that could help with accuracy. My spouse just noticed this just now as I was practicing Red Haired Boy and then I remembered being taught this...

The wrist movement is not sideways, but back and forth just like knocking on a door. For grins and giggles I just tried it with a sideways motion and couldn't do squat.

This is a clawjammer banjo video of one of the best clawhammer players I know and who has taught me a lot. I know it's banjo and not uke, but the right hand motion is exactly the same for either instrument. You can see the knocking motion.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJSKh5znWPQ

IamNoMan
12-15-2014, 07:52 PM
This is to re-emphasize Twentytabby's remarks.
Unlike IamNoMan, I do NOT rest my thumb on the reentrant string when striking a note. The hand just knows how far to go for the middle finger to hit the string I want. I don't have any muscle memory gap between the thumb and finger, I have muscle memory of just where to strike the needed string. The hand goes up and comes down where it's needed, hard.Yep that's right you don't want to rest your thumb on the reentrant string to drone. Your not plucking it either. Your cocking it so that the next time your hand rises it sounds the drone. Thanks for the correction Twenty.


Once you get it down, it can be one of the easiest ways to play melody and chord harmony simultaneously....Good clawhammer has a lot of drive to it.Not only that but you can play the baseline and the melody line at the same time - This is easier with Linear tuning on the uke though. What Twenty calls drive I call attack. means the same thing.
The wrist movement is not sideways, but back and forth just like knocking on a door. For grins and giggles I just tried it with a sideways motion and couldn't do squat.

This is a clawjammer banjo video of one of the best clawhammer players I know and who has taught me a lot. I know it's banjo and not uke, but the right hand motion is exactly the same for either instrument. You can see the knocking motion.Words Arrrgh! Again I KNOW what tabby is saying is correct but I see the description differently. The knocking for me comes from a vertical motion instituted at the elbow. Very often when playing uke (not Clawhammer) my hand motion is instituted at the wrist and I characterize it as a rotary motion. The point is the Twentytabby and I are describing the same thing. Only our words are at cross-purposes. Whatever floats your boat. Drift: I haven't seen Dan for years.


Ya know, IamNoMan, I pick the regular way, but I notice, when I pick single notes, I often hit the wrong string. I don't do it when I'm fingerpicking though. I guess it might be because my strumming hand is in a different position. It's very annoying, but I can stop it if I watch my right hand. However, that slows me down. It seems like whenever I solve one problem, another pops up.

If it ain't one darned thang, it's another 'un! Dick, watch your right hand. Its actually more important than the left here. TT is on the mark with get it right then speed up. IDK why banjo players have a reputation for being dumb! And yes Dick it is one thing after another.

stmace
12-21-2014, 03:28 PM
I play in an Old Time group, and wanted to be able to hear myself, so I purchased a beansprout, and am clawing my way through clawhammering. My question is related to the drone (string 4) when playing in different keys. For example, when playing Cluck Old Hen with starting pitches being E, A, G . . . ., the accompanying chords to the tune would be Am and G (mostly Am). Would/Should you done the open G on string 4, or would you use fret 2, sounding an A as the drone?

I have noticed:
1. Banjo players retune when keys change, but that doesn't work so great with nylon strings.
2. On Youtube, Ive seen uke players (C tuning) play the tune in two different keys, but still use the G as the drone.

Ideas?

IamNoMan
12-21-2014, 05:07 PM
Oh boy this is going to be confusing.

Short Answer:
Key of C or G use reentrant G. Key of A,D,E use reentrant A, ( or drone on the open A string - that will work). In other Keys the drone note is only required to sound harmonically pleasing.

Any note that is an octave above the tonic note would work Key of F an f would work but now were getting into the:

Long Answer. - Saint Cecelia give me strength to avert wittiness.

You work at a music academy right? If so talk to a math professor about Pythagorean music theory. Its about logarithmic ratios and harmony as perceived by the human ear. (Harmony as perceived by the human ear varies according to the musical scale use by any particular culture). For our purposes it is related to scale length.

Do you know how to Chime. Make a barre at the 12th fret but keep it a teensy bit above the strings. Strum the strings, If you do it right you will hear all four notes at the tonic, gCEA 0000 and at the octave 12,12,12,12. In essence you will hear 8 notes sound. Two notes for the price of one - that's a chime. The octave occurs at the ratio of 1/2 of scale length. - that is a logarithm. Other possibilities and chimes exist. the 2/3 ratio equates to the 5th fret of the scale. You should be able to get a harmonic chime here as well. In fact this is the reentrant drone for the 5 string banjo. I'm going to stop with the math now. 7th fret is a harmonic chime too. this is the harmonic note used on the reentrant g string of the Ukulele. There are other possibilities.

The long and the short of it is you can use any note for a drone note that is pleasing to your ear in the key your playing in. It doesn't have to be reentrant either. fin.

If you have gotten this far I'm going to do a little rant here.Feel free to ignore it. It is drift. BTW a Rant is a Northumbrian Dance frequently done on table tops and bar stools. I don't really have an axe to grind I just need to get it out. I play by ear. I have never formally studied music theory and probably never will. Whatever music theory I get comes by word of ear; or in posts like these. I recently read a post by someone who was confused by long-winded explanations of music theory dudes and suggested there was some sort of ego trip involved. I don't have a problem with this person or even her/his views. I personally get a lot out of these long winded technical rants, sometimes. Sometimes I don't . When I do it usually takes a lot of rereading and thinking to get these insights. It takes a lot of time and energy and rewriting to prepare technical information in a manner non-tech types can understand. It doesn't always work either. My answer to this post is the result of a lifetime of gaining knowledge in many fields, math, engineering, philosophy and playing music. The music theory types follow in the same path. We are passionate about these things. We make the effort and take the time to make this crazy tech stuff available to you so you can have more time to be happy playing your uke. I want to thank all the nerds who share their specialized knowledge with us. The same goes for the graphical artists and the tab writers too.
Happy Christmas All. I hope you get a can of whirled peas in your stockings.

twentytabby
12-21-2014, 05:44 PM
I play in an Old Time group, and wanted to be able to hear myself, so I purchased a beansprout, and am clawing my way through clawhammering. My question is related to the drone (string 4) when playing in different keys. For example, when playing Cluck Old Hen with starting pitches being E, A, G . . . ., the accompanying chords to the tune would be Am and G (mostly Am). Would/Should you done the open G on string 4, or would you use fret 2, sounding an A as the drone?



When playing Cluck Old Hen on the banjo, I play it in the same key you are playing it in, Am (or "A weird" as my spouse calls this "modal" tuning) and my drone string is A. When I claw it on the ukulele, I play it in Am and keep the G string fretted to A. If any claw hammer banjo players show up to the jam, you'll all be droning together.
Same for Kitchen Girl and Cold Frosty Morning.

IamNoMan
12-21-2014, 07:18 PM
Ubu and Twenty: There is something odd here. It could of course be regional variation. Am is the relative minor of C and Em is the relative minor of G.
When I play cluck old hen in Mountain modal the tuning is gDGCD. Cold Frosty morning likewise except Capo @2 in which case drone is A.
When I play Star of the County Down in Am the tuning is gDGBD.
When I Play Cumberland Gap in Em the tuning is again gDGBD.
Kitchen Girl is a twisted tune. Reentrant E or A is good for the A part reentrant G sounds good for the B part. The fiddlers tuning for choice here.

edit: course if it sounds good to your ear its OK.
edit: When I was learning Alabama Jubilee I initially assumed it was Key of A. I tuned my banjo aDGBD, accordingly. (there is a C, B, Bb run-down pickup that I wasn't aware of) It starts in A. It is a ragtime piece with a I,VI,II,V chord progression. It also has an Am/Dm "bounce" It sounded good with the reentrant A drone. When working on the A part -verse which nobody plays very much I realized Alabama Jubilee is either a C tune or an Am tune. ( It is C. the II chord VI are relative minors in the Key of C and the song ends on a C as well). When I realized I was playing in C I retuned the banjo to gDGBD to see how it sounded. The drone sounded equally good in g or a. (Maybe it sounded better with the g drone but since I am lazy open G tuning is what I use -IDK). Point of this is when you get those pesky modal, ragtime or twisted tunes I guess you can choose the drone a half tone above or below the tonic note probably the tonic note too. - I have to try it and see.

Ukers take note Alabama Jubilee is a fun OT tune with lots of chord changes that are easy on uke or play it melodic clawhammer style.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLUJI3SAFKs -Skillet Lickers. ummm good!
http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/2666

Down Up Dick
12-22-2014, 02:47 AM
All you peeps are blowin' my mind! Now, I not only gotta learn to Bom-ditty and read the dratted tabs, but also tweak the blasted drone every five minutes--Jehoshaphat!

My cup runneth over! :old:

stmace
12-22-2014, 04:21 AM
IamNoMan: "You work at a music academy right?"
Why yes, yes I do. For years, I was trained as an orchestral trumpet player. Playing "by ear," and playing two or more pitches at the same time is relatively new to me.

Pointers, help, assistance, teaching, and learning at all levels - it's all welcome!

ragtimelil
12-22-2014, 05:48 AM
All you peeps are blowin' my mind! Now, I not only gotta learn to Bom-ditty and read the dratted tabs, but also tweak the blasted drone every five minutes--Jehoshaphat!

My cup runneth over! :old:

I simply could NOT get a clear note down-plucking with my finger. I discovered the Seeger style and it makes sense to me. I always play melodies either plucking up with my first and second fingers or thumb anyway so it feels much more natural to me. Now I just have to get the ditty part going.
Thanks for all the inspiration here!:music:

Down Up Dick
12-22-2014, 06:18 AM
I sorta hate to admit it, but I just couldn't stand Pete Seeger back in the day. I've never gotten over it.

Anyway, I think, if one wants to do something like learning Clawhammer, he oughta learn to do it! It's a certain style of playing. If one does it a different way, then it's no longer clawhammer. It's very difficult to learn, because it's different from the usual strumming. One has to sit for hours learning the Bom-ditty, and more hours learning how to down strum. I have a problem knowing which string I'm strumming without looking, but I'm working, working, working on it. One cannot learn to clawhammer in two days. I think I explained the down strum to you once before, but here it is again.

Go very slowly. Forget about volume or speed. With your index or middle finger hit the string with a down stroke towards the Uke top. Then follow through to the next lower string where your finger will rest a moment. Do that about seventy 'leven times on the 1, 2 and 3 strings. When you do the #1 string, you won't have a string to rest on, of course, but follow through anyway. That's the way I'm crawling through the learning process.

If you can find a faster, easier way to learn it, then by all means, do it! :old:

IamNoMan
12-22-2014, 06:53 AM
I simply could NOT get a clear note down-plucking with my finger. I discovered the Seeger style and it makes sense to me. I always play melodies either plucking up with my first and second fingers or thumb anyway so it feels much more natural to me. Now I just have to get the ditty part going.
Thanks for all the inspiration here!:music:Lil as Down Up Dick says
If you can find a faster, easier way to learn it, then by all means, do it!I call myself a Frailer because my way of playing is not kosher clawhammer. It isn't important how you manage to get the clawhammer sound. - you should try to get the right sound by all means but you need to know your not playing clawhammer in the orthodox fashion so that when you try to explain it to somebody else they don't misunderstand. If you play "Seeger Style to get the clawhammer feel" say that so people know your talking about something a little different from what they might be expecting. Charlie Poole played OT much the way you describe it. He was so outre and so good they named the style he used "Poole Style". The cover all name for all these clawhammer type styles is Two Finger Style. The only thing for sure about TFS is that it isn't Three finger style= Scruggs style with three picks or Plectrum style which uses a flatpick. In short if you don't use a pick it is two finger style -even if you use all five fingers! BTW Seeger Style is far superior to Clawhammer if you do a lot of singing. Clawhammer is a melodic style as is singing. Its hard to sing melody and play melody at the same time.

Go very slowly. Forget about volume or speed. With your index or middle finger hit the string with a down stroke towards the Uke top. Then follow through to the next lower string where your finger will rest a moment. Do that about seventy 'leven times on the 1, 2 and 3 strings. When you do the #1 string, you won't have a string to rest on, of course, but follow through anyway. That's the way I'm crawling through the learning process.This is a pretty good description Dick. The only thing I can add here is strike the string with your finger nail not the side of your finger.

Dick a lot of people didn't like Pete because he was a Red. USA culture has conditioned us to dislike Reds for almost 100 years. Don't Feel bad or guilty about it. I liked Pete but I knew him personally. Even so he was way over the top a lot of the time.

Down Up Dick
12-22-2014, 07:10 AM
Well, IamNoMan, I couldn't stand him, or phoney Joanie Baez or the rest of that ilk. I've softened a bit in my old age, and I have them both on CDs, but I still don't care much for that crowd.

It was very a tough time to be in the USAF and patriotic. Ahhh, well . . . :old:

twentytabby
12-22-2014, 11:28 AM
Iamnoman,
Kitchen Girl is an A tune around here. The first part is A Mix and the second part A minor (probably A Dorian). A is the tonic for both parts so the drone is A. Played in mountain minor on the banjo capoed up to the key of A.
I have a ten year old recording of us around here somewhere, but in the meantime this is close to what we do.
http://www.cpmusic.com/tradgif/kitchgrl.gif

Down Up Dick
12-22-2014, 11:36 AM
Iamnoman,
Kitchen Girl is an A tune around here. The first part is A Mix and the second part A minor (probably A Dorian). A is the tonic for both parts so the drone is A. Played in mountain minor on the banjo capoed up to the key of A.
I have a ten year old recording of us around here somewhere, but in the meantime this is close to what we do.
http://www.cpmusic.com/tradgif/kitchgrl.gif

How does one drone A or anything other than G? I'm confused. I thought string #4 was always the drone on a Uke.

I was gettin' it before today, but now it's like starting all over again! :old:

twentytabby
12-22-2014, 11:45 AM
How does one drone A or anything other than G? I'm confused. I thought string #4 was always the drone on a Uke.

I was gettin' it before today, but now it's like starting all over again! :old:

I just fret the 4th string. If that gets too hard to do I'll try tuning the G string up to A.

Down Up Dick
12-22-2014, 01:00 PM
ubulele, say I am playing in the key of C, and I fret an F chord. Do I drone with the open G string or the A part of the F chord?

The previous passages have confused me. :old:

CeeJay
12-22-2014, 02:58 PM
Hey, Ubulele ,indulge me a second would you mind ?

Dorian mode is a mode played relative to major scale beginning on the second note of a scale ....for example C major scale you would start on D note ?
C major is CDEFGABC so you would play D to D instead ?

Now , is that C Dorian or is it D Dorian? I would assume (dangerous, I know) that to differentiate it, it will be D Dorian.

If so then does that follow that the dorian mode of any key is to take the second note of that key as the start point and therefore the name of the mode.

So then C Dorian would be taken from key of Bb or ( A# )...Bb surely , it's too late to go plinking the keys on the pianner or a uke ....trixy things Modes ..need to take abit more notice of 'em ...

I do like the pentatonic maj/and minor.....but I'm not a classicist ...well not yet.....more strings to bows etc.

IamNoMan
12-22-2014, 03:13 PM
Wait your turn Ubulele ;)
There is a lot of high end banjo talk going on in these last couple of posts.

When dealing with the ukulele I am going to make some assertions here that the OT crew may not agree with. Please correct my errors guys. D U Dick you don't have to retune so much as all the banjo bozos declare. We're all Bozos on this bus. Use the g and A strings for your drone fret to provide a closed note drone when you have to. - as Twentytabby suggests. Where she would retune I would just not drone. Nobody says you have to do it all the time.

Dick when you drone on the a string you are not really playing clawhammer. you are rhythmically up striking, not plucking the A string with your R or P. I find it easiest with Pinky. UMMV. You can also fret a string for a closed drone 0001 should work as a drone for the key of F I think.:p edit: (this drone could also be closed 3000. if as surmise we a in Key of F here you would be droning on alternating strings 3000 When Playing a C7 chord, 0001 When playing F chord, Bb chord could drone in either closed position dependent on tune. This is not as confusing as you might think since both of the drones are frequently closed anyway because of the chord voicings. Don't use F 2013 though.
The reason i am so hesistant here is Cajuns are about the only OT musicians I know of who play out of F and then it is only when the fiddle is tuned slack(dropped a full tone).

Son of a gun! Ubulele your getting better with your communication skills. I got most of that first time thru. The Aeolian scale is still a mystery. You've taken the twist out of Kitchen Girl. Identification of Mountain modal=Dorian confirms what i've suspected for a while. My crowd plays Amodal tunes as Gmodal. We play outside at night and the virtuoso's play the banjo so we call the tune an avoid excessive retuning. When I play with folkies I tune to Open G, (capo as re'd), and play mixolydian and modal tunes with a lot of slides. I have never tried the Bb tuning but I compensate for that with slides. ( also do slide work up to the 7th Fret 4s) I really hate retuning same as Down Up. I note as well that the 7th in the Dorian scales you consider somewhat dubious is the 3rd order harmonic in the Pythagorean scheme of things. By definition any harmonic must sound acceptable to the ear.
I've just discovered the uses of the sus chords in the past month but haven't had time to explore them yet. I suspect I will find I already use them especially in monotonous G tunes like Sally Goodin and Chicken Reel. - Ubulele it seems we are pretty much in accord here except for one thing:

Cumberland Gap has two tunings ascribed to its name in my part of the Appalachians. One of those is gDGBD.:cool: Don't ask me why IDK. Ubulele please put some more details in your profile. Ubulele next year some time maybe you could post on the Circle of Fifths? Pretty Please with a cherry on top?

Down Up Dick
12-22-2014, 03:39 PM
Good Lord, I've got a lot of reading ahead of me. I hope I can understand half of it. :old:

CeeJay
12-22-2014, 04:33 PM
Thanks . Noted and inwardly digested.

Cheers