Despite popular culture’s attempts to pigeonhole it, I think the banjo is one of the most versatile instruments around. With the number of playing styles, tunings, setup possibilities, etc. you’d be hard pressed to find an instrument capable of a fitting in so well with such a variety of styles and moods.
This week’s tune, played out of the “A modal” tuning (aEADE, or gDGCD (“G modal) with a capo at the 2nd fret)) provides us with another opportunity to showcase that versatility. Raise one string from standard A tuning – a tuning that’s very well suited for bringing out the bright and joyful qualities of the banjo – and you’re instantly transported into a completely different world. A world where the sounds are ancient, mysterious, and brooding.
According to my research, Kitchen Girl was first “collected” by folklorist Alan Jabbour from fiddler Henry Reed of Galax, Virginia. It was then recorded by Jabbour’s “Hollow Rock String Band”, and it seems the rest was history. Many others followed suit, and it made its way into jam circles in short order.
It’s also one of those tunes that sounds great a variety of tempos, and with enough melodic breathing room to allow all those modal banjo tones to waft into the sonic ether.
In other words, no real need to get too speedy or fancy! 🙂
(p.s. – thanks to all for the kind words about last week’s tune with my daughter Jules. As you can imagine, getting to perform with her is a unique thrill for me, and I can’t express enough how much your words of encouragement and appreciation to her means to me.)
aEADE tuning, Brainjo level 3-4
The notes in parentheses are “skip notes”, meaning they aren’t sounded by the picking finger (for a full tutorial on these, go here). And for more on reading tabs in general, check out my complete guide on reading banjo tabs.