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Recently, while filming some new course content for Brainjo’s “Fiddle for All” course, Adam Hurt played a delightful arrangement of Miss McLeod’s Reel on the fiddle (see below).
(RELATED: If you’ve caught the fiddle bug and want to learn to play in a way that’s aligned with how the adult brain learns music, click here to check out the “Fiddle for All” course from Brainjo.)
It’s a tune I’ve played on the banjo before. In fact, it’s even been a featured Tune of the Week tune before.
Adam’s version, however, had some variations that differed a bit from the way I’d previously played it.
This is not uncommon. It’s rare for any two fiddlers to play the same fiddle tune in exactly the same way, and for the banjo player looking to play along, that typically means adapting what you’d typically do to some degree.
There are many ways you can go about that adaptation, from focusing mainly on providing a solid rhythmic backbone with suggestions of the melody, to a full on “melodic” banjo version in which you attempt to double the fiddle note for note, mirroring all of its melodic and rhythmic embellishments.
(RELATED: Strategies for playing with a fiddler is covered extensively in a dedicated module inside the Breakthrough Banjo course. Click here to learn more about the course.)
So, because I enjoyed Adams’ version so much, for this week’s installment of the Tune of the Week I decided to tackle it on the banjo using the “melodic” approach.
Doing this usually takes a bit of “woodshedding,” both in figuring out the optimal way of grabbing all those notes on the banjo using the techniques of clawhammer banjo, and in doing so in a way that retains the pulsating rhythm of clawhammer. Many times, there are usually some trickier technical elements required to pull this off.
But it’s a challenge I particularly enjoy, and you can learn a lot just by going through this process.
In fact, because I think this process of re-creating a fiddler’s version of a tune on the banjo is such a valuable learning exercise, I’ll be going step by step through the process of creating this particular arrangement by ear, from scratch, in this month’s installment of the Ear Laboratory in the Breakthrough Banjo course.
Below is a video of Adam’s rendition that this week’s arrangement is based on – the first time through with him playing solo, and in the second time through I join in.
Miss McLeod’s Reel
gDGBD tuning, Brainjo level 4
Notes on the Tab
Notes in parentheses are “skip” notes. To learn more about these, check out my video lesson on the subject.
For more on reading tabs in general, check out this complete guide to reading banjo tabs.
[RELATED: Level 2 arrangements and video demos for the Tune (and Song!) of the Week tunes are now available as part of the Breakthrough Banjo course. Learn more about it here.
Click here for a current list of all the clawhammer songs and tunes currently available inside of The Vault