A Book Of Five Strings - online tutorial

Strategies for mastering the art of old time banjo.

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Example Nine
The timing for example nine shouldn't be that tricky. Your picking hand isn't doing anything in the first measure except playing four quarter notes. It's the fretting hand that's doing the work, and if you really look at it there isn't that much going on. This is one of those licks that can sound impressive or difficult, but at its core it's just the basic frailing strum.
The count is 1& 2& 3& 4&, 1 2& 3 4&.
Another way to split notes in half is to play a slide.
A slide is where you play a string at any fret and, while it's still ringing, drag your finger up or down the fretboard to another fret.
The effect of a slide is similar to a hammer-on or pull-off in that you are breaking a note in half, but the thing that makes a slide unique is the way it blends the two notes together. A hammer-on or pull-off creates two distinct notes. A slide eases into the next note.
The thing I love about slides is that you can get so many different sounds just by changing the amount of pressure on the string. You can keep a steady pressure all the way through the motion for one sound, but if you alter the pressure along the way it can change the whole effect.
Example One
In this example we are sliding on the second and fourth strings. The tab may look different from the basic frailing strum at first glance, but if you look closely you will see that your picking hand is only playing a basic frailing strum. Like the hammer-on and pull-off slides are completely independent of the picking hand. You are creating the sound of four eighth notes, but your right hand is treating it like a quarter note and two eighth notes. The count is 1& 2& 3 4&, 1& 2& 3 4&.

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