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Banjo Lessons: “Chinquapin Pie”

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[MUSIC]
That was Chinquapin Pie, and I transcribed
from the playing of a wonderful old-time
musician named Hobart Smith, who played it
in the key of A, it up two frets.
But since we're just solo banjo here it
doesn't really matter, in fact,
he did it solo also, but he did play it in
the key of A of the second fret.
Hobart Smith was an amazing, amazing
player.
He played piano, he played guitar, fiddle,
banjo, sang, told stories.
And you can pick up his albums,
I think Rounder Records may have one in
the Smithsonian Folkways.
But you should definitely check him out
for
his his sort of a renaissance man of old
time music.
I'm a big fan.
He passed, I think in the 70s, if I'm not
mistaken.
And he's playing this tune, this
Chinquapin Pie,
which is a, kind of a sweet nut and they
would make pies out of it down South.
Basically you're in G tuning, but
then the second string goes up a half step
from B up to C.
[NOISE] Which gives you this, it's
sometimes called the modal tuning.
It sometime, by doing that you lose the
third degree of the scale.
If you're in G tuning and
you go, Do Re, Mi, that open second string
is the third degree of the scale in G.
And that makes it major.
If you go down a half step from there, you
flat the third.
That gives you a minor chord,
it gives you a G-minor chord by flatting
the third note of the scale.
Do, Re, Mi but it goes down a half step to
B-flat.
Now it's the sad, not the happy banjo
sound.
If you put it up from G, tuning the second
string up a half step to C.
[NOISE] Now, you no longer have any third
at all in the, in the in the tuning.
You've got G which is the tonic one note,
D which is the fifth, G which is the one.
Now, you've got the fourth note of the
scale.
Do, Re, Mi, Fa, it's a C note, and the
fifth.
There's no third any more, so it suddenly
becomes very ambiguous.
Sort of has this major/minor-ish feel
without actually playing,
or actually having the major chord
happening with the open third string.
So, here's Chinquapin Pie, I'll play the
first part slowly.
There's some tricky stuff in this.
[MUSIC]
So
you start with a hammer on, and then a
pull off.
[NOISE] I'm just pulling off with the
ring, three to zero on the first string.
[NOISE] Make it snap and just pull it,
you don't have another string to get in
your way.
You're just pulling off the first string.
I would pull it down, that way.
[NOISE] So, And then the second measure is
quarter note on the first, strum fifth.
And you could use the ring or the pinky on
the fifth fret of the first string.
So, then down to the index on the third
fret of the first string.
Now you go up to the seventh fret.
This is what Hobart Smith does, he pulls
off I'm not sure what finger he's using,
you could use the ring or pinky.
Ze, seven to zero is a pretty big leap.
And back to seven, open first, and then a
quarter note.
And then three zero, two eighth notes.
I'm using the ring for that.
And again, even eighth notes, not rushed.
And then, the last measure is [NOISE] let
me do that again.
[NOISE] Now here's what's called the
dropped thumb style where the thumb,
instead of always being on the fifth
string,
suddenly you're dropping down to the
second string.
And you're hitting the first string, then
the thumb goes on the second.
These are the first two notes of the
fourth measure of part A.
So I would just try that, and when you hit
down, and
everyone has a little bit different way of
doing this but and
you checkout Bob Carlin's lessons to
really get a deeper,
deeper understanding to all the Clawhammer
stuff, cuz that's what he does.
I do it, it's something that I do but it's
not necessarily the main thing since
I'm usually playing Bluegrass or related
music for finger-picking.
But anyway, just to say as you hit down,
I'm using the index you could use the
middle instead, either way, but
I use the index so I'll refer to the
index.
Index down, and then as I come down, my
thumb rests on the second string, and
then as I pull my hand away you activate,
I'm activating the second string.
It's a little trickier to get to these
inside strings
rather than just always being on the fifth
string.
And some people, I think hit down and
then they hit the second string from a
distance,
as if you're picking like this as opposed
to, as you come down on the first string,
having the thumb resting on the second
string, which it kinda naturally does.
And I'm hitting the head sometimes.
Not on purpose, but it does happen, and it
is a rhythmic instrument after all.
Some people, again, Bob does this, they
hit out here so
you don't hear that head hit and it's a
slightly mellower sound, but
for my purposes, I prefer to just do it
this way.
So I hit down, and
then the thumb's resting on the second
string as I hit down, and then all I
do is just, as I lift away, I pluck up on
that string, the second string.
So you, this index, in my case index or it
could be middle, as I say.
Index, middle, I'm sorry, index, thumb.
And then you hit down on the third string
with the index again,
so it kind of crosses over.
So index, thumb, index.
Takes some, some good aiming to make sure
you're hitting the right string.
And again I've grown my index finger a
little bit longer.
My index finger goes out to here, no, my
index finger nail is what I meant to say
just a little bit longer so it acts more
as a pick.
Because if you don't do that, if you don't
have a long fingernail,
it doesn't have to be way long, but enough
to give it a bigger sound.
If you don't have that longer fingernail,
it sounds a little thin,
[NOISE] as opposed to [NOISE] gives it
much crisper sound.
So the last measure again is [NOISE] so
index, thumb, and
then index comes to the third string.
Do a two zero, pull off and then hit the
index again on the third string, and
then on the fourth string as you're
fretting the third fret, so.
Drop the thumb down there, pull off, and
that's the A part, once again.
[MUSIC]
Okay, there's that last measure.
Now the second part, B part, has another
funky, cool thing and
a nice, nice technique that's used a lot
in old time music.
So I'll play it through one more time.
[MUSIC]
So lonesome, I love this tune to pieces.
So it's zero to two hammer on, here's the
first measure,
two eighth notes and then first fifth.
Hammer on now over a string, zero to two
on the second string.
And as you do that, the ring comes down on
the second fret of the first string and
then you pull that off to zero.
So, [NOISE] and then the second measure is
[NOISE] again,
the dropped thumb, index on the first
string,
again, it could be middle, either one.
Thumb on the second, then two to zero
pull-off on the third.
And then the third string quarter note,
first, fifth.
[NOISE] Once again.
[NOISE] Then the B part, I'm sorry,
the third measure of the B part.
Now, here's where this cool thing happens
wherein, you hit the third string,
that's the first note.
The second note I'm indicating this with a
dash before the number.
Which means you're pulling off to an open
first string.
You're not actually hitting the first
string.
Your hand is away, and
you're just plucking it with the left hand
as a pull-off as opposed to
in bluegrass you always hit the note
you're pulling off to.
But i'm not pulling off too, but you
hit the note initially that you want to
pull off.
But, in this case, the right hand is
nowhere to be seen.
Well it should be over here, but unless
you're doing showbiz.
But, and again a good snap on that.
And the very first time I saw this was in
a banjo instruction book from 1857.
And it was Turkey in the Straw and they
had that note activated and
I couldn't figure out what it was and then
I realized, oh yeah,
it's what they do in clawhammers so, more
bang for your buck.
Just hit one note, you get two notes.
And then you go to the third fret of the
third string.
To the fifth string.
Add the index on the second fret of the
second string quarter note,
and then pull off three zero on the first
string, ring to open is what I'm doing.
So [NOISE] and then,
sorry, once again.
And that again, is the same as the last
ending,
last measure I should say of part A.
So, the whole B part is, once again.
[MUSIC]
Just such a cool tune.
Okay, let me play it one more time.
Chinquapin Hunting slowly, and then up to
tempo.
So, slowly.
Two, three, four.
[MUSIC]
And the B part, one, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
And up the tempo.
One, two, three, four.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
That
was Chinquapin Pie and I transcribed that
from the playing of a wonderful old time
musician named Hobart Smith, who played it
in the key of a capoed up two frets.
But, since we're just solo banjo here, it
doesn't really matter.
In fact, he did it solo also, but he did
play it in,
in the key of A capoed at the second fret.
Hubbard Smith was an amazing, amazing
player.
He played piano.
He played guitar, fiddle, banjo, sang,
told stories, and you can pick up his
albums.
I think Rounder Records may have one in
Smithsonian Folkways.
But, you should definitely check him out
for
his his sort of a renaissance man of old
time music.
I'm a big fan.
He passed, I think, in the 70's, if I'm
not mistaken.
And, he's playing this tune.
This Chincopin pie, which is a kind of
sweet nut and
they would make pies out of it down south.
Basically, you're in G-tune, but
then the second string goes up a half step
from B up to C.
[SOUND]
Which gives you this,
it's sometimes called the modal tuning.
You sometime, by doing that you lose the
third degree of the scale.
If you're in G tuning and you go do, re,
mi, that open
second string is the third degree of the
scale in G, and that makes it major.
If you go down a half step from there, you
flat the third.
That gives you a minor chord,
it gives you a G-minor chord by flatting
the third note of the scale.
[MUSIC]
But, it goes down a half step to B-flat.
[MUSIC]
Now, it's the sad,
not the happy banjo sound.
[MUSIC]
If you put it up, from G tuning,
the second string up a half step up to C,
[MUSIC]
Now, you no longer have any third at all
in the, in the
[MUSIC]
in the tuning.
You've got G, which is the tonic one note.
[SOUND] D, which is the fifth.
[SOUND] G, which is the one.
[SOUND] Now, you've got the fourth note of
the scale.
[MUSIC]
It's a C note.
[SOUND] And, the fifth.
There's no third anymore so it suddenly
becomes very ambiguous.
[SOUND] Sort of has this.
This major minorish feel without actually
[NOISE] playing, [NOISE] or
actually having the major chord happening
with that open third string.
So, here's Chinquapin Pie.
I'll play the first part slowly.
There's some tricky stuff in this.
[MUSIC]
So, you start with a hammer on.
[MUSIC]
And then, a pull off.
[MUSIC]
I'm just pulling off with the ring,
three to zero on the first string.
[MUSIC]
Make it snap.
[MUSIC]
You just pull it,
you don't have another string to get in
your way,
you're just pulling off the first string.
[MUSIC]
I would pull it down that way.
[MUSIC]
So,
[MUSIC].
And then, the second measure is quarter
note on the first, strum fifth.
[MUSIC]
And, you could use the ring or
the pinky on the fifth fret of the first
string.
[MUSIC]
So,
[MUSIC].
Then, down to the index on the third fret
of the first string.
[MUSIC]
Now, you go up to the seventh fret.
This is what Hobart Smith does.
He pulls off.
[MUSIC]
I'm not sure what finger he's.
Using, you can use the ring or pinky.
[MUSIC]
Seven to zero is a pretty big leap.
[MUSIC]
Come back to seven,
open first and then a quarter note.
And then, three zero, two eighth notes.
[MUSIC]
I'm using the ring finger for that.
[MUSIC]
And again, even eighth notes, not rushed.
[MUSIC]
And then, the last measure is
[MUSIC]
Let me do that again.
[MUSIC]
Now, here's what's called the drop thumb
style, where the thumb instead of always
being on the fifth string,
suddenly you're dropping down to the
second string.
[MUSIC]
And, you're hitting the first string,
then the thumb goes on the second.
These are the first two notes of the
fourth measure of part A.
[MUSIC]
So, I would just try that, and when you
hit down [SOUND] And, everyone has a
little bit different way of doing this,
but [SOUND] and you can check out Bob
Carlin's lessons to really get a deeper,
deeper understanding of all the clawhammer
stuff cuz that's what he does.
I do it, it's something that I do, but
it's not necessarily the main thing since
I'm usually playing bluegrass or related
musics with fingerpicking.
But, anyway, just to say.
[SOUND]
As you hit down, I'm using the index.
You could use the middle instead, either
way, but I use the index, so
I'll refer to the index.
Index down, and then, as I come down, my
thumb rests on the second string.
And then, as I pull my hand away.
[MUSIC]
You activate,
I'm activating the second string.
[MUSIC]
It's a little trickier to get to these
inside strings rather than just always
being on, on the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
And, some people, I think, hit down, and
then
[MUSIC]
they hit the second string
from a distance.
As if you're picking like this as opposed
to.
[MUSIC].
As you come down on the first string,
having the thumb resting on the second
string, which it kind of naturally does.
And, I'm hitting the head sometimes.
Not on purpose, but it does happen and it
is a rhythmic instrument, after all.
Some people, again, Bob does this, they
hit out here so
you don't hear that head hit and it's a
slightly mellower sound, but
for my purposes, I prefer to just do it
this way.
[MUSIC]
So, I hit down and
then the thumb's resting on the second
string as I hit down.
And then, all I do is just, as I lift away
I [SOUND] pluck up on that string,
the second string.
[MUSIC]
So, you, it's index, in my case index, or
it could be middle as I say, index,
middle.
I'm sorry, index, thumb.
And then, you hit down on the third string
with the index again so
it kinda crosses over.
[MUSIC]
So, index, thumb, index.
[MUSIC]
Take some.
Some good aiming to make sure you're
hitting the right string.
And again, I've grown my index finger a
little bit longer.
My, my index finger goes out to here, no,
no.
My index fingernail is
what I meant to say just a little bit
longer so it acts more as a pick.
[NOISE] Because if you don't do that,
[NOISE] you don't have a long fingernail.
Nail, it doesn't have to be way long but
enough to give it a bigger sound.
If you don't have that longer finger nail
it sounds a little thin.
[MUSIC]
As opposed to,.
[MUSIC]
gives it a much crisper sound.
So, the last measure again is.
[MUSIC]
So mi, index,
thumb and then index comes to the third
string, do it to.
Two zero pull off and then hit the index
again on the third string.
[MUSIC]
And then,
on the fourth strings as you're fretting
the third fret.
[MUSIC]
So, you got the thumb down there,
pull off.
[MUSIC]
And, that the A part, once again.
[MUSIC]
And, here's that last measure.
Now, the second part, B part, has a lot of
funky cool thing in it.
Nice technique that's used a lot in old
time music.
So, I'll play it through one more time.
[MUSIC]
So, lonesome.
I love this tune to pieces.
So, it's
[MUSIC].
Zero-to-two hammer-on, here's the first
measure.
[MUSIC]
Two eighth notes and then first, fifth.
[MUSIC]
Hammer-on now o, over a string.
Zero-to-two on the second string.
[MUSIC]
And, as you do that, the ring comes down
on the second fret of the first string,
and then you pull that off.
[MUSIC]
To zero so,
[MUSIC].
And then, the second measure is
[MUSIC]
Again, the dropped thumb,
index on the first string.
Again, it could be middle, either one.
[MUSIC]
Thumb on the second and
then two-to-zero pull-off
[MUSIC]
on the third.
[SOUND] And then, that third string
quarter note first fifth.
[MUSIC]
Once again,
[MUSIC].
Then the B part.
[SOUND] I'm sorry.
The third measure of the B part.
[MUSIC]
Now,
here's where this cool thing happens
wherein you hit the third string.
[SOUND] That's the first note.
The second note.
I'm indicating this with a dash before the
number.
[MUSIC]
Which means you're pulling off to an open
first string.
You're not actually hitting the first
string.
[MUSIC]
Your hand is away and
you're just plucking it with the left hand
as a pull off.
As opposed to in bluegrass, you always.
Hit the note you're pulling off to, but
I'm not pulling off to, but
you hit the note initially that you wanna
pull off.
But, in this case, the right hand is
nowhere to be seen.
Well, it should be over here, but unless
you're doing showbiz, but.
[NOISE] And [NOISE] again, a good snap on
it.
[NOISE] And,
the very first time I saw this was in a
banjo instruction book from 1857.
And, it was Turkey in the Straw and they
had that note activated.
And, I couldn't figure out what it was.
Then, I realized, oh, yeah.
That's what the deal with the clawhammer,
so.
[MUSIC]
More bang for your buck.
Just hit one note, you get two notes.
[MUSIC]
And then,
you go to the third fret of the third
string,
[MUSIC]
to the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
Add the index.
So, on the second fret of the second
string, quarter note,
and then pull off [NOISE] three zero on
the first string.
Ring to open is what I'm doing.
So, [NOISE].
And then, [NOISE].
Sorry, once again, [NOISE].
And, that, again, is the same as the last
ending last measure, I should say,
of part A.
So, the whole B part is.
[SOUND] Once again.
[MUSIC]
Just such a cool tune.
Okay, let me play it one more time
Hunting, slowly and then up the tempo.
So, slowly, two, three, four.
[MUSIC]
And, the B part.
One, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
So, here's Chicken Pan Pie up to tempo.
One, two, three, four.
[MUSIC]