A Book Of Five Strings - online tutorial

Strategies for mastering the art of old time banjo.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Coupon Codes



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
Eighth Note Patterns
Once you can play some quarter note runs smoothly the next step is to start working on eighth note patterns.
An eighth note is literally half of a quarter note. What this means in terms of the banjo is that we have to cut the "bump" in the bump < dit-ty in half ( 1& 2& 3& 4&).
Hammer-On's & Pull-Off's
These two easy techniques are used to split a quarter note in half. Your picking hand only has to worry about hitting a string. The fretting hand does the rhythmic work.
At it's most basic a hammer-on involves nothing more than striking a string and, while it's still ringing, hammering your finger on a fret. This shortens the initial sound of the string and sets off a second tone creating the "1&" count of a pair of eighth notes.
Example One
In this example we are striking the third string open and then hammering our finger onto the second fret. This is cutting the "bump" in half to produce two eighth notes. You will also notice that I shortened the "dit" to only strike the first and second string. This is optional, but it's worth practicing because sometimes you are going to have to play the strum "around" fretted notes that may clash with the open chord.
A pull-off works just the opposite from a hammer-on. You fret a string, strike it and, as it's still ringing, pull your finger off of the fret.
Just like a hammer-on, this shortens the initial sound of the string and sets off a second tone creating the "1&" count of a pair of eighth notes.
Example Two
Here we have a pull-off exercise that's pretty much a carbon copy of example one. Compare the sound of this exercise to the earlier hammer-on version. It should sound the same because we're working with the same strings, the same rhythm and the same fret, but the fact is that these two techniques yield very different results.






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III