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Banjo Lessons: “Plantation Symphony”

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[MUSIC]
Like to do another tune from the classic
or parlor style era and it's a tune called
the Plantation Symphony.
A gentleman who's very into this classic
style of banjo playing from
the early 1900s, late 1800s.
Bridals of the term parlor styles because
he said, when you play Bluegrass,
you don't play parking lot style.
Do you?
I thought it was a point well taken.
But it is something that people would play
in their parlors.
And this is a technically somewhat more
demanding tune.
And it's called, again, the Plantation
Symphony.
And one of the things that people would do
in this era, they would write banjo tunes
and this was composed for the banjo in
such a way that it would
sound like two people were playing, even
though it was just one person playing.
So let me play a little bit of the
Plantation Symphony and
you'll get a sense of what I'm talking
about here.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Yes, that is a happy banjo tune.
It's so much fun to play this stuff.
And noticed a little bit of Yankee Doodle
in there.
[SOUND] And what I find really fascinating
about this tune in terms
of the history of the melodic style 45
years before Carroll Best had
started playing his Cripple Creek, in a
square dance.
Whoever wrote this tune I think it might
be Paul Eno right
around 1900, 1901, somewhere in that
general area.
He was doing the melodic style.
As you notice, the tune starts.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
These are melodic positions right here.
And any correctly reasoning person would
have to say that's the melodic style.
So this tune is kind of the smoking gun
indicating how far back the melodic went.
And it even goes farther back than that
really, but
that's a pretty nice example of it.
[MUSIC]
So you're just using the middle finger and
the index on the fifth and fourth frets of
the first two strings.
And you just slide it up to the ninth and
tenth frets here.
[MUSIC]
And
the tune begins that's more of an
introduction.
[MUSIC]
To G seventh.
[MUSIC]
And then you have a C.
[MUSIC]
And then grab the,
the pinky down here on the fourth fret of
the fourth string.
[MUSIC]
To a barred A chord.
D-seventh.
[MUSIC]
An open third string.
[MUSIC]
Bring the middle down,
let go with the pinky.
[MUSIC]
Let's see.
[MUSIC]
Now, in the single string style, you'll
use the thumb and index, and these days.
[MUSIC]
You go back and
forth between the index and middle finger
on the first string.
[MUSIC]
Here are some sixths, two and four,
four and five, five and seven.
[MUSIC]
Now here's the first example,
at least to my ears, of where it sounds
like there are two people playing.
[MUSIC]
And you've got sixths here.
[MUSIC]
Then you've got the melody.
You've got a note on the third string, but
then you're going.
[MUSIC]
On the first string, back and
forth between the index and middle
fingers.
[MUSIC]
Again, sixths.
[MUSIC]
Down a fret, back up.
[MUSIC]
Down to a five and four.
Four and five, sixth.
[MUSIC]
Now you're doing thirds on
the first two strings.
Five and five.
[MUSIC]
Same thing, thumb on the second string.
[MUSIC]
Action on the first string.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
Up to your A.
[MUSIC]
Bar the index across
the first two strings.
[MUSIC]
More sixths, two and four, four and five,
five and seven.
[MUSIC]
One more fret chromatically leading
you into G.
[MUSIC]
That's the first ending, then.
[MUSIC]
G seventh to G.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Now,
many years before Wes Montgomery was
playing octaves on the guitar,
banjo players were playing octaves.
Now I'm not making a case for
the banjo being the progenitor of Jazz
music, but anyway.
Just kidding.
Here on the fifth fret of the first and
fourth strings,
I'm using the ring and middle and in the
right hand.
In the, in the original sheet music for
this they talk about using the middle and
thumb.
I find it's easier for me to use the index
and index and
thumb instead of middle and thumb.
Whichever you prefer, it's fine.
[MUSIC]
Forward rolls.
Three, two, one, three, two, one, five.
[MUSIC]
More octaves, Yankee Doodle.
[MUSIC]
Back and
forth between the index, middle on the
first two strings.
[MUSIC]
And even though I, I think as I was
playing it earlier, I was going between
a bar position on the first two strings of
the fifth fret and the middle and ring.
In the book, or in the sheet music it
indicates that you should use the index.
But you can go either way, but I like the
index.
Down a fret.
Then ring and pinkie on the sixth and
seventh frets of the first two strings,
respectively.
[MUSIC]
This is the other example of twin banjos,
with just one person playing them.
[MUSIC]
Right here, you're on your C chord.
And they have you using the index and
middle finger.
[MUSIC]
So you're pinching on the first two
strings and then the index comes over to
the third string.
[MUSIC]
Same thing.
[MUSIC]
So one more time, the whole thing.
[MUSIC]
The Plantation Symphony.
[MUSIC]