Help with Clawhammer Songs

eclecticbanjo

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Is there a resource on UU for clawhammer songs particularly, or a song library? Looking for inspiration on clawhammer style songs, such as old-time or Celtic pieces.
 
Clawhammer is a method of playing. One can play any songs using the clawhammer style. First learn how it works, then find tunes you like to play.

I didn’t care for it with a ukulele, but it’s really good with a 5 string banjo.
 
I didn’t care for it with a ukulele, but it’s really good with a 5 string banjo.
Ha, I’m the opposite. I couldn’t get into it with banjo but am really enjoying it on ukulele. I have about 5 clawhammer songs that I’m practicing with regularity now and its really fun.

Not sure about playing any song with clawhammer. I guess that statement is technically true but I think clawhammer is suited to old time or relatively easy to play songs the best. Once you get into sixteenth notes, such as with classical music, the method becomes way more difficult.
 
Well, to each his own, I guess. Actually, I‘m not very much into ukes. I mostly use mine to accompany my singing. I really prefer my mandolins and banjos, but I play the banjos two fingered now. My fingernails got too old and weak for clawhammer.
 
Well, to each his own, I guess. Actually, I‘m not very much into ukes. I mostly use mine to accompany my singing. I really prefer my mandolins and banjos, but I play the banjos two fingered now. My fingernails got too old and weak for clawhammer.
Mine have been too weak for clawhammer since my thirties, so I've been getting acrylic nails on three of my right hand fingers for a few decades now.

Here's a banjo duet that Al Kirby and I did a little over a decade ago. Al is playing 3 finger Scruggs style and I am playing clawhammer. Our buddy Zeke Mazurek (RIP) jumps in with the fiddle as well. I dedicated this to my darlin', lovely wife, Maggie. Al, Zeke and I called ourselves The North Shore Ramblers since we all lived on the north shore of Lake Ontario.
When You And I Were Young Maggie
 
Nice arrangement! Love the melody line. Did y’all ever pen lyrics?
This is not my song. It was written by a school teacher, George W. Johnson, from Mount Hope, Ontario,in 1864, as a poem for his wife Maggie. It was later put to music by James Butterfield, but, unfortunately Maggie Johnson never got to hear it as a song, since she lost her battle with consumption (TB) before it was put to music.

I often sing this verse to Maggie on our anniversary:
 
Is there a resource on UU for clawhammer songs particularly, or a song library? Looking for inspiration on clawhammer style songs, such as old-time or Celtic pieces.
I've been meaning to reply to your question, but I either kept forgetting, or was too lazy at the time (I mean, there is a lot of typing, thought, and effort involved). Mine is a two-part answer. The first part is to learn the clawhammer technique, and there's an abundance of help available for achieving that. I'll give you thoughts on my technique/style for your consideration. The second part is to adapt the technique to any song available, from any source.

I play clawhammer with a loose claw. Neither my curled fingers, nor my thumb, are rigid. My wrist is loose, and I don't expend much energy or movement in striking notes. I don't pluck any notes at all. It's all in the wrist. My thumb lands on the side of the high g string, and the note is produced when I raise my claw. It's not plucked with my thumb. All other notes are produced when I (lightly) strike a string with my fingernail. Energy conservation is the key to endurance and a happy playing hand.

Here's an example of Wildwood Flower played clawhammer. You may not be able to always hear the bum-diddy in the video, but you will always be able to see every time my thumb releases the high g string, and see it vibrating. The low volume is a combination of my gentle technique, a small 8" banjo head, and a pinhole microphone. It sounds pleasing to me in-person.



If I was to play Wildwood Flower Scruggs bluegrass style, I'd play it differently, for conservation of movement. You'll be able to hear all notes, because they are being plucked. I'm just playing a forward roll, nothing fancy. However, you'll recognize clawhammer as being the laid-back style of play. Also, since we're discussing clawhammer, I'll just play a brief sample.



If I was to doodle Wildwood Flower fingerstyle on ukulele, I'd play it with closed chord positions, to give me more options.

So, what I'm saying is to arrange any song as single notes, arrange those notes in a way that you can strike them with your claw, and play them with a clawhammer technique. I hope this helps.
 
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Yes I purchased Aaron Keim’s booklet and am drawing inspiration from his arrangements. I even added a lyrical arrangement to one of his pieces lately and am enjoying singing it to my girls. I guess my question was more related to a searchable database on UU. For those who are familiar with the Banjo Hangout, they have a searchable database replete with various styles including clawhammer, of which hangout members can post their tabs and compositions on. I‘ve been arranging a fair bit of my own clawhammer pieces lately though to simple melodies. Here’s one that I did recently if you fast forward past my dialogue:



every time my thumb releases the high g string, and see it vibrating. The low volume is a combination of my gentle technique, a small 8" banjo head, and a pinhole microphone. It sounds pleasing to me in-person.

If I was to play Wildwood Flower Scruggs bluegrass style, I'd play it differently, for conservation of movement. You'll be able to hear all notes, because they are being plucked. I'm just playing a forward roll, nothing fancy. However, you'll recognize clawhammer as being the laid-back style of play. Also, since we're discussing clawhammer, I'll just play a brief sample.

If I was to doodle Wildwood Flower fingerstyle on ukulele, I'd play it with closed chord positions, to give me more options.

So, what I'm saying is to arrange any song as single notes, arrange those notes in a way that you can strike them with your claw, and play them with a clawhammer technique. I hope this helps.

It’s an interesting way to play the banjolele in terms of your thumb strikes, its a very faint sound but it sounds like that’s what you prefer so kudos.
 
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