Happy New Year!
A few weeks ago I received a request to work out the holiday classic “Carol of the Bells” for clawhammer banjo. As I set about creating an arrangement, my mind and imagination began to wander.
It then occurred to me it could make the perfect vehicle for the return of the von Turknett Family Singers.
So yesterday the kids and I got to work, finishing up just in time for the big day.
As surprising at it may seem, no adult beverages were consumed in the making of the video:
Carol of the Bells
I’ll be back again tomorrow for the solo clawhammer version of this tune, a nice way to unwind for some of you after the big day today.
Here was the debut video of the von Turknett Family Singers in 2013.
Frosty Bells, 2013
Salzburg has Mozart.
Bonn has Beethoven.
West Virginia has Blind Ed Haley.
Some people have a knack for composition. It’s hard to articulate the qualities of a great tune, or what makes somewhat a great tunesmith, but Ed Haley sure knew what he was doing. He liked to put in lots of notes, for sure, but each was carefully chosen. No throwaways.
Needless to say, I love playing his tunes on the banjo, and up this week is another one of Haley’s classics: “Half Past Four.” This one always calls to mind an afternoon duel out in the wild west, hence the background I chose for the video.
Half Past Four
aEAC#E tuning, Brainjo level 3
Notes on the tab: You have a couple of options for grabbing that open 2nd string on the offbeat that occurs several times in the B part. Sometimes I’ll use an alternate string pull off, and sometimes I’ll get it with a drop thumb – only in this case, I’m dropping my thumb to a string that’s higher than the one I’ve just struck. This is a less common usage of the drop thumb technique, but one I utilize quite a bit, as there are many situations I find it comes in handy. Both of these options are noted in the tablature.
A few weeks ago, my kids and I decided we were going to work together on an album of music for the holidays, a sequel of sorts to the original “Banjos for Babes” album. Being the holidays, we also thought this might make a good opportunity to give back to those less fortunate than us, so we decided that half of all proceeds from our project would go towards a charitable organization of my kids’ choosing.
And so the “12 Days of Banjo” was born. Our original intent was to have the book of tablature and music out a bit before Christmas, but alas the influenza virus had something else in mind for our family.
We’re all better now, and we figure it’s better late than never. Which is why from now until Jan 1, 2015 we’re making the the 12 Days of Banjo book of tablature and all related audio files available at “pay what you want” pricing.
Here’s what you’ll get:
- A 44-page book (in PDF) of tablature containing 26 arrangements. There are 13 tunes in all, and each tune has the primary arrangement as I played it in the 12 Days of Banjo video series, along with a slightly simplified “Brainjo level 2” version.
- Mp3 audio files of all 26 arrangements, so you’ll know how each should sound before digging in.
- Song List:
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- Deck the Halls
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman
- Good King Wenceslas
- Hark the Herald
- Jingle Bells
- Jolly Ol’ St. Nicholas
- Joy to the World
- Oh Come All Ye Faithful
- Silent Night
- We Three Kings
- Up on a Housetop
- Auld Land Syne
Click the “I’ll Take It!” link below to get it and start downloading immediately. As I said, this is “pay what you want” pricing. Can’t afford to pay anything for it? No problem. It’s our gift to you, and we’re more than happy for you to have it. If you’d like to pay a little something for it, then we’d be delighted with that as well.
As above, we’ll be directing half of our proceeds to those in need. Jules, my daughter and friend to all animals, has chosen to direct her share to the Atlanta Humane Society. Tucker, my son, wants to help give a few folks a warm meal this winter with a donation to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
To hear what the primary arrangement for each of these sounds like, play through the “12 Days of Banjo” video playlist below: