String by String: Banjo Secrets Revealed27 February 2012
As mud season approaches, it’s a good time for pickers to do some “woodsheddin’.” With that in mind, here are some more fun banjo tips from a workshop that five-string guru Tony Trischka ran at last year’s Joe Val Bluegrass Festival:
We often think of creativity as being the manifestation of some primal inner force. Such associations, as well as terms like “free expression,” obscure the fact that creativity is fostered as much by constraint as it is by freedom. That’s why a lot of artists find it useful to impose strictures or rules upon themselves. This might mean painting a picture using just one hue, or writing a poem with lines constructed in alphabetical order. In the case illustrated in this video, Trischka gave himself the assignment of composing brief tunes for single strings of the banjo. It’s clear that none of these compositions were meant to be more than clever diversions. Even so, it’s interesting how Trischka draws different moods from different strings— a new spin on the old idea that every key has its own special flavor.
This clip was put together by Cousin Curly’s Minister of Propaganda, Paul Villanova. As you see, Paul’s got some hot editing licks. I’d take my hat off to him, but my stubble might get singed.
Yer Pal— Curly