mudcat.org: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2]


What is a Plectrum Banjo?

Related threads:
Banjo: Windsor' Whirle ' (56)
Frank Proffitt banjos (97)
Billy Faier on Banjo (20)
What's up with Banjohangout.org? (20)
Profitt-style fretless banjo? (39)
Steve Martin banjo video (10)
A Rarity - Thankfully? (16)
Banjo and 'chanterelle' (14)
Banjo: The Novel (9)
Crossing-over to the dark side - Banjos (35)
HELP:Banjo Instructor Wanted (9)
A Tutor (banjo) (3)
Harmony Banjoes (3)


murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 07 Oct 98 - 05:06 AM
Frank in the swamps 07 Oct 98 - 07:48 AM
Bert C 07 Oct 98 - 08:12 AM
Einnor 07 Oct 98 - 10:04 AM
Big Mick 07 Oct 98 - 10:12 AM
Jon W. 07 Oct 98 - 10:39 AM
Art Thieme 07 Oct 98 - 11:13 AM
Art Thieme 07 Oct 98 - 11:28 AM
rich r 07 Oct 98 - 08:05 PM
Art Thieme 07 Oct 98 - 08:53 PM
Big Mick, er Big Gun, er Big Feces 07 Oct 98 - 10:03 PM
Bob Bolton 08 Oct 98 - 12:16 AM
rich r 08 Oct 98 - 12:17 AM
BSeed 08 Oct 98 - 03:49 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 08 Oct 98 - 06:39 AM
Jon W. 08 Oct 98 - 11:22 AM
Art Thieme 08 Oct 98 - 11:35 AM
08 Oct 98 - 11:59 AM
Dani 08 Oct 98 - 12:03 PM
BSeed 09 Oct 98 - 12:31 AM
BSeed 09 Oct 98 - 12:52 AM
BSeed 09 Oct 98 - 02:27 AM
BSeed 09 Oct 98 - 02:28 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 09 Oct 98 - 04:51 AM
BSeed 09 Oct 98 - 12:42 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 10 Oct 98 - 03:20 AM
Big Mick 10 Oct 98 - 11:54 AM
Barbara 10 Oct 98 - 02:09 PM
Big Mick 10 Oct 98 - 02:41 PM
BSeed 10 Oct 98 - 05:33 PM
Barbara 10 Oct 98 - 05:45 PM
BSeed 10 Oct 98 - 08:03 PM
BSeed 10 Oct 98 - 08:06 PM
gargoyle 11 Oct 98 - 12:19 AM
11 Oct 98 - 12:30 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 11 Oct 98 - 03:06 AM
BSeed 11 Oct 98 - 04:12 AM
BSeed 11 Oct 98 - 04:29 AM
gargoyle 12 Oct 98 - 12:19 AM
Bob Bolton 12 Oct 98 - 01:15 AM
BSeed 12 Oct 98 - 01:21 AM
Bob Bolton 12 Oct 98 - 02:06 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 12 Oct 98 - 04:55 AM
Frank in the swamps 12 Oct 98 - 05:48 AM
Bob Bolton 12 Oct 98 - 07:39 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 12 Oct 98 - 08:06 PM
Bob Bolton 13 Oct 98 - 03:33 AM
Bob Bolton 13 Oct 98 - 03:44 AM
Big Mick 13 Oct 98 - 07:07 AM
Bob Bolton 13 Oct 98 - 07:05 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:








Subject: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 05:06 AM

I passed a pawn shop that had a banjo in the window with only four strings. It was labeled "Plectrum Banjo". What are they and what kind of music does one play on them?

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 07:48 AM

A "plectrum" is a "pick". It's probably an irrelevant term as far as any player is concerned, since you can use your fingers, a pick or a ballpeen hammer to rattle the strings if you like. I think marketing people just come up with adjectives because they're compulsively hyperbolic.

Frank in the superlatively sweaty, steamy 'skeeter infested, festering, sloggy sloshy swamps.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Bert C
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 08:12 AM

A banjo with 4 strings is most probably a "Tenor" banjo, very popular in the early part of this century. The neck would be a few frets shorter than a typical 5-string.

Bert C. 5-String Picker


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Einnor
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 10:04 AM

I saw one in a pawn shop in Powell River for $350. I don't know if that is reasonable or not. Does'nt Frank in the swamp have a spooky kind of romantic zingto it. I think I will be Einnor in the tall timber. Just does'nt quite do it does it girls?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Big Mick
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 10:12 AM

I have a four string tenor banjo that I play with a pick in the Irish style. I guess I would describe the style as flatpickin banjo.

I love Frank's Mudcat name. I think I will add the name of where I live.

All the best,

Big Mick of Gun Lake. (no kidding)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Jon W.
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 10:39 AM

There is a difference between a tenor and a plectrum banjo - the plectrum has a longer neck and is tuned lower (I presume). Plectrum banjos were what they had before the 5th string was added. Deering Banjos still makes both types as well as 5-strings.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 11:13 AM

A plectrum banjo is played with a flatpick (or plectrum) only. Not with the fingers,

It has 22 frets---the same length as a non-Seeger 5-string banjo.

Plectrum banjos are the LEAD INSTRUMENT in the banjo band.

It is tuned to the normal c-tuning on a 5-string. Chords are formed all up and down the neck. The main melody note is carried on the FIRST STRING, not inside the chord usually. That makes it easier to accentuate the melody with the flat plectrum pick while playing complex chord structures and progressions.

The TENOR BANJO has a shorter neck--20 frets. It's tuned differently and ALMOST ALWAYS plays a HARMONY to the plectrum banjo in the banjo band.

These bands were VERY poular in the 1960s in "BANJO BARS" like Your Father's Mustache---a bar chain all over urban America then. The bands wore 1920's period clothes and so did the waitresses.

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 11:28 AM

Mick, (think I'll call you BIG GUN)I ought to change my name too!

I'll be THE PRINCE OF PERU.

That's my hobo name given to me in an official proclamation by the hobo king (at that time) Luther the Jet (Luther Gette), a wonderful singer and composer of hobo ballads of the high iron. He is the only HOBO KING who ever had a PHD in French Literature! (TRUE)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: rich r
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 08:05 PM

The concept of a banjo band is pretty scarey.

Any aquariests out there might consider the plectrum banjo as an interspecific hybrid between a plecostomus and a banjo catfish.

rich r


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 08:53 PM

AQUARIESTS??? What's THAT???

I was born a CANCER, but I didn't like the implications so I had a sign change operation.

Now, I'm a feces.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Big Mick, er Big Gun, er Big Feces
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 10:03 PM

I am so confused. I came to this Forum with a clear understanding of the music I love and perform. I am now reduced to discussions about the Peruvian Prince of Aquarian Feces shooting guns.

Mick (or what the hell ever else you want to call me.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 12:16 AM

G'day all,

...Er, just to get back to banjos, I'm no expert (own two, but just fiddle about with them - Hey! Maybe that's what I've been doing wrong!) but I remember being told that the Plectrum banjo long predated the Tenor banjo and was designed for melody playing.

In order to facilitate this, they left off the drone string of the traditional 5 stringer ... and I have seen a few with a 5 string neck and a wooden plug in the hole where the 5th string peg would have been.

It is interesting that, in Australia, where we seem to have adopted the banjo after the 19th century minstrel shows toured the goldfields areas, there is little tradition (outside of the folk revival) of playing the drone string. In country areas you used to come across old players who played chord styles for dance music with what had started out as a 5 string banjo, but now had the 5th string - and often its peg - removed.

The Tenor banjo appeared later, in the jazz era, and was given a shorter neck with heavier, tighter strings, to get a sharp, loud sound that would cut through all those loud brass instruments.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: rich r
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 12:17 AM

Art, your sign change operation (plus or minus) alerted me to the fact that I had too many vowels. I often suffer from loose vowels. It should be "aquarists". The world is porperly divided into two groups, the aquarists and the antiquarians. The former are all wet and the latter are often rather dry.

Mick (big or little), sometimes you just have go with your confusion, it's a part of the traditonal folk idiot.

rich r


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 03:49 AM

Has Art met his match in rich r? The pair have loaded their pun guns and are back to back (facing each other?), waiting for the referee to start the count to ten. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 06:39 AM

There seems to be a difference of opinion. One is that the 5-string came first and the plectrum was a simplification of that while the other is that the four string came first and the fifth string was added.

Anyway, I now have an idea what it is, although I am not sure I have ever heard a banjo band.

Philadelphians: What kind of banjos do the string bands play in the Mummers' parade on New Years day? I saw plenty of the parades when I was a kid; but I didn't pay any attention to banjos at the time.

Bob. I have noticed that there are very few five-string banjos in second-hand shops here in Sydney, whereas I have seen some four-stringers. Now that I am aware of the tenor vs plectrum. I will look more carefully to see which ones I see most often.

We might have a celebrity in our midst. Bob, are you the Bob Bolton mentioned in "Band in a Waistcoat Pocket"?

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Jon W.
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 11:22 AM

Banjo history is about as reliable as any other form of folklore (I've gotten in trouble more than once here by relying on folk songs for my history), but most of what I've read states that the 5th string was added in 1830 by Joel Walker Sweeney, an American minstrel musician. I'm sure the 4-string predates that considerably. Whether the early 4-strings were played with a plectrum or what, I don't know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 11:35 AM

I mentioned once in another thread:

In olden times banjos were strung with possum-gut-strings. One possum was only good for 4 and 1/2 strings---ie, the 5th string had to quit half way up the neck! ;-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From:
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 11:59 AM

Art,

FECES is the plural of FAX?

Bert.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Dani
Date: 08 Oct 98 - 12:03 PM

Having been only a sometime Philadelphian, and never brave enough to attend the Mummer's parade myself, I have only anecdotal evidence. But last year someone I know attended the parade, and on the walk back to his car after it was all over, he spied a nice banjo case sticking out of a garbage can. Knowing I had a banjo in need of a case, he plucked it out. (Oh... plucked...) Anyway, it turned out to contain an actual banjo. He attempted by means of newspaper advertising to reunite the banjo with its owner, to no avail, so now he is a fledgeling banjo player himself. It is a five string, no bluegrassy-fancy things on it. We have had many chuckles about how it might have ended up there: "... and if I EVER hear that stinkin' banjo again..." or "WHAT?! LAST place??!! That's it! I'm not dragging these feathers around one more year!"

Dani


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 09 Oct 98 - 12:31 AM

Speaking of banjae, plectrum and plucktrum (and strumpet), during the last great disaster (the Mudcat Crash of l998), with nothing else to do, I was surfing banjo sites and one link led me to eBay.com--"Almost heaven, ee-bay--dot--com." I have been spending almost as much time there as on the 'cat. A few days ago I had a five day hold on a 1971 Vega tubaphone, mint condition, until the last day when the bidding shot up from my modest but still beyond my means $600 to finally end at $910. There are five-strings from Kays to Silvertones, plectrae and tenor, banjo ukes, banjolins, banjitars, a sitar, lots of git-tars, violins (not one listed as a fiddle), dulcimers, autoharps, whatzitae and gizmae, etc. I should probably wait a week or so before telling you all for fear that you'll come along and top my high bids.

One other "Almost heaven" I have found recently is Lark in the Morning--somewhat limited on the usual folk instruments, but what a great supply of the less common: steel drums, spoons, stainless steel and wood (!), all kinds of percussion and string instruments from around the world: Asia, including ChinaJapanPhilippinesVietnamIndia/etc. Africa, middle east, eastern Europe, Latin America, and on and on. Just skimming their online catalogue is a gas--and there's a real live store across the bay from me, in San Francisco--at the Cannery. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 09 Oct 98 - 12:52 AM

I tried to jump over to Lark in the Morning, but my Mac froze when I clicked the favorite places button. Anyway, while your browser would probably get you Lark via a key word search, I thought I'd give you the URL anyway:

http://www.mendocino.k12.ca.us/MenComNet/Business/Retail/Larknet/larkhp.html

yup, all that. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 09 Oct 98 - 02:27 AM

Uh, oh. There's a space in the URL above where no space oughta be: If you highlight it and copy it to your browser's internet link, make sure to dump that space after the period after ca. Notice the allusion above? Notice how well it scans? It just popped out that way. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 09 Oct 98 - 02:28 AM

Uh, oh. There's a space in the URL above where no space oughta be: If you highlight it and copy it to your browser's internet link, make sure to dump that space after the period after ca. Notice the allusion above? Notice how well it scans? It just popped out that way. --seed

http://www.mendocino.k12.ca.us/MenComNet/Business/Retail/Larknet/larkhp.html

That's funny: I just cut and pasted from the previous post (actually, previous to previous post, i.e., the ante-pen ultimate post)(anybody know where that modifier came from?) and the space didn't make the jump. It's apparently an un-space. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 09 Oct 98 - 04:51 AM

But dani, maybe the guy threw it away because it was the wrong kind of banjo and we still don't know!

I think I will get back into the habit of peering into trash cans!

Bseed, I know Lark in the Morning's site. It is very interesting to browse. Their somewhat harsh return policy and their reluctance to give out information sort-of put me off buying things from them, though. I have heard references to ebay and decided to avoid them for my own peace of mind!

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 09 Oct 98 - 12:42 PM

Murray--That's probably a good idea, but OTOH, if I had any good sense, I'd try to break the 'cat habit. It takes most of my practice time. --seed

and it's eBay, in case you do decide to check it out.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 03:20 AM

I am not sure breaking the mudcat habit would help. I often leave the site with the feeling that there are a lot of others as insane as I am and feel newly inspired to practice ;-}

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Big Mick
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 11:54 AM

It has enhanced my performing as all of you insane eejits expose me to a much broader range of music. Unfortunately it is destroying my personal life as all I do is spend time on the CAT, practice, sleep, go to the day job and perform.

Have you no homes to go to? **grin**

All the best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Barbara
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 02:09 PM

Ah, Mick, I have a life; I have a home to go to; it's just that Mudcat is friendlier and more interesting, and I don't have to do any housework here. I will go to just about any length to avoid cleaning house.[grin]
Blessings,
Barbara


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Big Mick
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 02:41 PM

Aye Lass, and don't I agree with you absolutely. It is a grand place to hang out with lovely people talking all sorts of talk about the music.

Is there a name for the style of playing a banjo with a flat pick?

All the best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 05:33 PM

Barbara, much as I love you, I'll have to withdraw my offer to run off with you. I'm already married to someone who hates housework--even more than I do (and that's what I should be doing now, instead of flaking here on the 'cat). If I leave my wife it'll have to be for someone who loves housework and is independently wealthy--so I guess my wife has no fears of my ever leaving.

"I yearn for you tragically, A.T.Tapman, Chaplain, USAAC" Can you tell me the source of that (which expresses my feelings exactly)? --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Barbara
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 05:45 PM

The only catch to this is Catch 22; I was hoping anyone with as much free time as you was independently wealthy himself...I shoulda just figured you were a musician, like the rest of us... If you're independently wealthy, you can alway HIRE a housecleaner. Yosarian wrote it when he was censoring the letters. Like Big Mick said, if you remember the '60s, you weren't there. Now, for bonus points, what is 'grok', who said it and where does it come from? Blessings,
Barbara


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 08:03 PM

Grok is from Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, another of my favorite books. Grok means appreciate, dig, etc. I can't remember the name of the man from Mars, but he taught it to all his followers, who said, at the end of the book while eating a stew made from what remained of him after the mob killed him, "He groks good."

Here's another for you: "Nice, nice, very nice: so many different people in the same device." You get it and I'll reinstate my offer. love, seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 08:06 PM

Barbara, m'love. I just remembered his name: John Smith. That was a tough one. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: gargoyle
Date: 11 Oct 98 - 12:19 AM

Dear BS

Perhaps, it because we are so alike, and yet so very distant that raises the hackles on my neck.
(Half right, almost full, 3/4 there, off topic)

From the following excerpt you will note that there are many names for "Mr. Smith," "Mike Smith" they range from "Man from Mars" to "bastard"

Stranger In a Strange Land

By Robert A. Heinlain

"We have just learned that the fake messiah, sometimes know as the Man from Mars, has crawled out of his hide-out in a hotel room here in beautiful S. Petersburg the City tha Has Everything to Make you Sing. Appartently Smith is about to surrender to the authorities...."

"Look at me. I am a son of man."

"God damn you!" A half brick caught Mike in the ribs.....

"Oh my brother, I love you so! Drink deep. Share and grow closer without end. Thou art God."

"Lynch him! Give the bastard a nigger necktie!"

PLECTRUM BANJO

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

I grok you friend, but I hope no one ever uses your material for an "educational research paper."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From:
Date: 11 Oct 98 - 12:30 AM

Banjo players may find this amusing.
From:
Music Lover's Encyclopedia By:
Rupert Hughes and Deems Taylor
Copyright:
1903 by McClure Phillips & Company

Plectrum= A small bit of ivory, metal or shell for plucking the strings of mandolins etc.

Banjo=A long-necked stringed instrument with a broad, round body, covered with a tight skin, which gives the five to nine strings a quaint sound.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 11 Oct 98 - 03:06 AM

In all this banter, Mick's last question wasn't answered. What is the style of playing banjo with a flatpick called?

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 11 Oct 98 - 04:12 AM

Jazz banjo is what the usual pizza palace banjo band plays, using plectrae. Irish banjo (Seamus Egan) is another plectrum style. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 11 Oct 98 - 04:29 AM

Gargoyle--So I got the first name wrong. I didn't go back to the book to look it up; it was just a guessing game, not scholarship, for god's sake. --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: gargoyle
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 12:19 AM

And You Call Yourself an "Educator?"

Blast it BS....there you...I....go again

I've fallen for another of your "pitfalls" and posted "Off-Topic" AGAIN!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 01:15 AM

G'day all ...

1/ Murray:

I must admit that I am the mouthorgan player that shared a mike (in a very primitive PA ... a six channel mixer for about 9 players ... and the leader kept 2 channels for his concertina!) with Ray Grieve for a few years and clearly turned his mind, sufficiently that he spent years researching ... and years more getting published the definitive book on mouthorgan players in Australia.

Mind you, Ray doesn't even play the dammed instrument!

2/ Banjos in Garbage bins.

My older brother (who, admittedly, already played the banjo ... a 5-stringer without the fifth string, but not supplied that way) found a very nice old English 5-stringer in his garbage bin ... not long before his wife left him.

3/ Really Rare Banjos

a few days after first reading this thread, I looked into a secondhand shop on City Road, Newtown (south of Sydney) where there are often interesting old instruments. Actually I pulled up to investigate the strange object that looked like a completely wooden banjo.

It was! A full wooden body, in rather flashy veneer, ... four strings and an electromagnetic pickup. The sign says that it was a Gibson EPB (Electric Plectrum Banjo) ... one of only 18 ever made. The neck was full 5-stringer length but had no bulge or plugged peg hole - therefore made expressly as a Plectrum Banjo.

An artifact of the meso-banjoic era when the banjo bands evolved into jazz bands (or were eaten buy them ... or some such Darwinian fate)?

Does life copy the Mudcat?

Regards,

Bob Bolton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: BSeed
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 01:21 AM

Gargoyle, the total on-topic material on this thread is contained in about twelve postings (two of them mine). I used to be an educator--now I'm just a teacher--of (or if we must be pedantic, in) photography --seed


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 02:06 AM

Er G'day again! The moving finger writes and, having writ,
Reads not but witless ... strikes “Submit ...”
And not all my profanity (much less wit)
Can lure it back to cancel half a word: - Oh ...!

Yeah, well sorry about the typo ... and the miss(plac)ed slash in the HTML ... failing to cancel the bolding.

Hey Max - while you are working on that spell checker ... can you devise an HTML previewer?

Also, to the phantom poster of the McClure Phillips' Music Lover's Encyclopedia; a banjo playing friend showed me some old (~1890s) English sheet music for the banjo - with arrangements for instruments of 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11 strings!

Regard(les)s,

Bob Bolton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 04:55 AM

Bob. It was that banjo that I saw that caused me to make this posting. I had passed the shop quickly and didn't realize it was an electric banjo. I was back there today and saw it in more detail. By the way, it is called King Street there in Newtown.

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 05:48 AM

Well, if we MUST post on topic...

Any of you banjo players who can get to Edinburgh (Embro), two years ago there was a used book store not far from the grassmarket, past some seedy strip bar, that had a HUGE collection of sheet music downstairs, including a whole box of banjo music I would describe as "parlour music". That is, music from the 1890's through early twentieth century. Duets for banjo & piano, two banjoes, banjo & mandolin, solo material. It was a real treasure trove, I kick myself in the backside now for not snagging it (though I'm not a banjo man). If you're nearby it's certainly worth having a look see if any of it can still be found. My Lady Fair got a lot of violin music there.

An acquaintance of mine plays the tuba. His father recently gave him an instrument he found out bye the street curb, it had been used as a garden planter. Turned out to be an excellent (and expensive) piece of work, it is being rebuilt. Talk about one man's trash being another man's treasure!

Frank who groks the tall timber down by Gun lake.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 07:39 PM

G'day Murray,

To drift completely off topic ... you may have identified an Australian Cultural Oddity - the tendency for roads to change name (and street numbering) at every municipal boundary whilst keeping a spare name hidden up the sleeve: e.g. City Road, Darlington / King Street, Newtown (all Princes Highway).

All this must seem very foreign to Americans who can have an avenue ... with street numbers in the mid thousands!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 08:06 PM

My brother-in-law lives in Phoenix, Arizona. There the streets are on a grid, but they are discontinuous. If you want to get to Blah-Blah Street, you have to know what segment of the grid if lies on.

Now (almost) back to the subject. I am learning to play the harmonica. Is there an Australian style? Grieve really doesn't get into it. At the moment I am trying play some of the songs in "The Bushwackers Australian Songbook" but just straight outharp with no harmony.

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 13 Oct 98 - 03:33 AM

G'day Murray,

Now we are really of topic - again!

It was the matter of "Australian", or at least traditional style mouthorgan that was the subject of the conversation that ultimately led to Ray's book A Band in a Waistcoat Pocket. Ray and I both played in "Rouseabouts Bush Band" in the early 70s (rather earlier than Ray's recollection in that opening sentence!).

After a practice at Greycliffe House, Ray (who played flute) asked me about my full vamping style and I said that I had learned a lot from three 78 rpm records that the collector John Meredith had played to me (and I had taped) in 1967. The artist was named as "P.C. Spouce - Mouthorgan Champion of Australia" - a later record adding the years "1927 - 1935".

Ray's reply was something of an Australian classic: "My wife's grandmother's second husband was named Percy Spouse ... and he used to play the mouthorgan and he won some contests. I wonder if it was the same bloke?" Well, it turned out that it was ... his widow Gerty was still alive and living at Budgewoi, so I interviewed her about Percy. I wrote an article for Mulga Wire and left it at that, but she had a stroke not long after.

Ray and I had brought back memories of Percy's playing and she lamented, in the hospital, that she no longer had any of his records to play, having lent them to some relative who did not bother to return them. Ray chased those I had heard, now with a person in Canberra and got them lodged with the Film & Sound Archive ... them chased the remaining seven records all round Australia, New Zealand and Norfolk Island!

These were filtered by the Sound Archive, remastered and released by Ray as an LP P.C. Spouce - Mouthorgan Champion of Australia. The National Library then asked Ray to write a book on mouthorgan players in Australia, since his researches had covered the whole area so thoroughly ... and they promised to help get it published.

Of course, by the time Ray finished the book, governments had come and gone, funding had gone and gone and we came close to privately publishing, but at last he got a mainstream publisher, Kangaroo Press.

The book is possibly still in print - certainly Ray has copies and there is an accomanying 2 CD set, of the same name, from Larrikin Records as well as a 4 cassette set from Ray's label Bush Lark. The last cassette contains material not on the CDs - Ray's field recordings of old competition players doing their competition sets ... wondrous stuff!

Now, all this includes the original ten 78s of Percy Spouse, who was the finest player of true vamping style I have ever heard. He plays the melody accompanied with rhythmic chords made by controlled lifts of the tongue, below the melody hole, but also uses gapped chords (3rds, 5ths and octaves) by cunning control of the angle and placement of the lift. He clearly arranged and controlled the harmony line to improve on the simple Richter scheme's "automatic" harmony and does all this at full speed and with impeccable rhythm.

If you only have the book, you should at least get the CD - and preferably the set of 4 cassettes. The styles you will hear are what was popular and traditional in the late 1800s and early 1900s - before the jazz era and the chromatic harmonica of Larry Adler (who, incidentally, launched the book!). It is a rich, powerful, harmonic music - fully capable of feature solos and veritably A Band in a Waistcoat Pocket.

It is not the only way to play mouthorgan, but it is what the old players aspired to. When Dave de Hugard did a collecting trip in south western Queensland (~1974) - mainly concerned with style of traditional dances and music - he ran into a number of old mouthorgan players and recorded them.

I have a copy of the best of that material and can recognise most of it as being attempts to copy Percy Spouse's competion (and recorded) sets. Percy did for solo mouthorgan contests what Walter Lindrum did for billiards contests ... completely destroyed them! If Percy turned up for a contest, everyone else gave up. They knew they just couldn't beat him (especially playing sets they had copied from his records!)and the contest scene quickly became band oriented, with no more solo contests for years after.

If you want additional material on Australian traditional mouthorgan players, there is a very nice cassette from Wongawilli / Carrawobbity / Pioneer Performers Press of the playing of Bert Jamieson (who died just a year or two back), playing at 91 years of age - blind, severely asthmatic and confined to a home, but still playing 6 hours a day .. he probably kept those lungs going for a half dozen years longer than a non-player - and he played beautifully.

There is an accompanying monograph with a range of his tunes for a paltry A$4 (at least that was the price last time I looked). Check their site at: .

I hope this helps with you harp playing - perhaps this should be placed in a separate thread, but I have answered it where the query came up.

Sorry about all the bored banjoists out there (Yes ... really ... don't I look sorry?).

Regards,

Bob Bolton

PS - Sorry if this is a double-posting. My machine just collapsed haemorrhaging from the task of transferring all those words. I had to re-start the transfer.

RB


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 13 Oct 98 - 03:44 AM

Dang ...

Maybe I should not use angle brackets to highlight URLs - presumably they mean something else entirely in HTML!

Australian Bush Music Wongawilli Style is at: http://wollongong.starway.net.au/~gsmurray/index.html#contents.

This is a site with loads of its own material, as well as links to many other interesting Australian sites.

Re-gards,

Bob Bolton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Big Mick
Date: 13 Oct 98 - 07:07 AM

Fantastic piece of the history, Bob. Stuff like this just keeps me coming back to the Cat.

All the very best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What is a Plectrum Banjo?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 13 Oct 98 - 07:05 PM

G'day even yet again Murray,

Back onto the topic: I mentioned this thread and the Gibson EPB at Backblocks practice last night.

Bob Foggin, who plays my bush music arrangements on fiddle (as long as you restrain him from playing schmaltzy 30s stuff on uke ... or mouthorgan ... or fiddle) believes he has handled and played the same instrument - and owns a copy - one of several made in Sydney by the previous owner.

He has played his copy 'EPB' in local churches and describes it (and the original) as sounding a bit like an Hawaiian guitar. To round out the sound, he added a phaser and says the result is quite interesting for church music (but not very much like a banjo!). They did a bit of experimenting to get a better banjo sound from the electric instrument ... different pickups etcetera but it is hard for it not to be a 4-string electric guitar - for banjoists. There is only one set of pickups and this is fairly limiting.

I also looked at Diagram's World book of Musical Instruments and found illustrations of the full range of banjo band instruments ... Tenor Banjo, Plectrum Banjo and Bass Banjo - about 1.6 metres of monster 4-stringer with a 60 cm head! Just the thing for duos with those Mexican acoustic bass guitars that look as if they are designed to be played by three men and a boy.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 12 August 2:25 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.