Uncle Bill's Banjo Book!

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Uncle Bill's Banjo Book!

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Uncle Bill’s Banjo Book

“Bill is a wonderful banjo player who ably communicates his techniques in a clear and precise manner.  I wish I had these instructional materials when I first started learning to play clawhammer style!”

-Tony Trischka

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The 5 string banjo style know as “clawhammer” or “frailing,” (We’ll call it “frailing” from here on.) actually derives from the West African players of the “Jeli Ngoni,” and various other West African plucked instruments. This makes sense, since the banjo itself was derived from it antecedents in Africa. However, in the styles of West Africa, the players will often switch back and forth from one technique to (3 finger – to frailing – to strumming) in the same song, while American banjo players usually stay with one technique per song. (or per lifetime.)

Since most stringed instrument styles involve plucking from yhe “palm side” of the finger, so that the flesh of the finder makes contact, and then the nail(if there is a nail), the frailing is unique in that the pluck starts with the nail’s “outer” surface. (That’s the part you migh put the polish on if your so inclined. However, doing so will gunk up your strings.) This takes advantage of the antural “advance & retreat” of the hand, characterizing frailing as the most drum-like of all American banjo techniques.