Brenda Reviews

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Jamie Francis:  The Complete Tune Playing Toolkit for 5-String Banjo

www.melbay.com

Publication ISBN 978-151-346-812-9

 

The banjo is a unique American instrument with origins in Africa.  The four string banjo or tenor, enjoyed popularity in jazz and Irish music, but the five string banjo with its drone 5th string has enjoyed more recent popularity in folk and bluegrass music.

The book with its accompanying 100 online song passages takes a comprehensive approach to current styles using many of the traditional songs that players learn for jamming in groups or playing in smaller bands.  Banjo tablature is used to indicate fret position on the strings, and the book takes care to explain note duration and the use of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and bends with release.  Jamie also explains the different modal scales with a careful consideration of the changes in the scale using flatted or sharped notes.  Scruggs three finger style and the difference between melodic picking on open strings contrasts with alternate picking or rolls.  Fifty six detailed exercises help the learner develop a flowing style with patterns and scales before progressing to individual songs.

The 40 songs comprise a wide range of genres from old time tunes like June Apple, Cherokee Shuffle and Red Haired Boy to the Virginia Reel.  The wide range of rhythmic patterns found in Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes and polkas give the learner a wide range of style to practice and learn.  A guitar rhythm track is added to all the songs to help timing and give the learner a chance to blend with another instrument.  The accompanying online audio makes the music accessible regardless of your practice area, and the songs can be downloaded to play on computer, car, laptop or phone.  This is an ideal tool for an intermediate banjo playing wishing to add more variety and style to their playing.

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