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runrig (3385)


Just another perl hacker somewhere near Disneyland

I have this homenode [] of little consequence on Perl Monks [] that you probably have no interest in whatsoever.

I also have some modules [] on CPAN [] some of which are marginally [] more [] useful [] than others.

Journal of runrig (3385)

Wednesday June 14, 2006
12:51 AM

Devil (and SNL) made me do it

[ #29896 ]

I was fast forwarding through a tivo of Saturday Night Live, which I recorded since it had Neil Young as a musical guest, and I watched some of the skits even though I soon realized that it was a rerun that I had seen before.

One of the skits was Appalachian Emergency Room which was funny in a sick and twisted poking fun at a certain culture kind of way (Neil Young even made an appearance in it), and every time a patient approached the front desk, a bit of Devil's Dream would play, and this got me to trying to figure out how to play it on the banjo.

I once learned to play it on the fiddle, which I am still horrible at, but I can play a not too horrible banjo, as long as I play in clawhammer style, which means most of the song is played with alternate downstrokes of the index or middle fingernail, and plucking with the thumb. I did find one arrangement on the internets, but the rhythm just seemed wrong. The trick to getting a decent arrangement of the song was finding the right tuning, which as far as I know, I've just made up. It's a Cumberland Gap tuning with the 5th string dropped to be in unison with the 1st string (normally the fifth string would be tuned to the third fret of the first string for Cumberland Gap, or the fifth fret for modal/minor tuning).

What's this got to do with Perl? Uh, well, isn't Clawhammer Banjo of universal interest to everyone everywhere? :-) (Ok, it has absolutely flippin' nothing to do with Perl, perl, PERL, or P.E.R.L.) Actually, the below tab was easy to type, but it's a little hard to read due to being horizontally compressed, and it could use a little text post-processing to make it more readable. The entire first part is played with index and thumb, but the second part has a couple of sections that use a plucking technique, where you pluck the string with the third or fourth finger of the left hand (assuming playing right handed).

A part:


B part:

--IPIPIPIPIPIPITIT...etc.         IPIP...etc.

Update: Hmmm, some randomish spaces seem to have snuck into the display of the above tab (the lines should all be the same length). Oh well...must be some good reason for it...I blame pudge anyway :-)

Another update: Looking again, the spaces were not so random, and occurred every N characters, and appeared to be some sort of auto-break-up-long-line-with-no-spaces logic, even though the lines were already broken up with line feeds. So adding a space to the beginning of every line fixed the problem.'s...broken again :-(

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  • Do you favor clawhammer or 3 finger? I never really like clawhammer myself.
    • For me, clawhammer is more natural. When I first bought a banjo, I had already been playing guitar with a clawhammer strum (I generally don't use a pick and don't fingerpick much), and I walked into a music shop thinking I was going to get a "How to play bluegrass banjo"-type book, never having heard of clawhammer. When I spotted the clawhammer books, I thumbed through them, and knew that that was the style for me :-)

      I have the Art Rosenbaum book which covers several styles (clawhammer, two and three finge

    • I never really like clawhammer myself.

      Just wondering if that refers to playing or listening (or both)? :-)

      Anyway, just to add to my previous reply, the first book I bought was Miles Krassen "Clawhammer Banjo", shortly followed by John Burke's "Old Time Fiddle Tunes for Banjo", and my other favorite is a Bob Carlin [] book that has transcriptions of the songs on two of his albums. Sadly, I believe all of these books are now out of print :-(