Sometimes when adapting a song for clawhammer style, everything works out perfectly. Other times, modifications to the original are in order to maximize its potential on the five.
For example, you could play “Battle Hymn of the Republic” in its original 4:4 time signature, as I’ve done in the first part of the video. There, four beats is the fewest number we can use to convey the right note emphasis “ONE two three four ONE two three four.” Formal and stately, with gravitas befitting a patriotic anthem.
In my opinion, however, clawhammer shines best with a recurring two beat emphasis (ONE two ONE tw0). And if we transform the rhythm of the original into a recurring two beat pattern (creating what might be termed a “double time” feel), we end up with what I play in the remainder of the video.
For whatever reason (perhaps it’s because we are bipedal creatures?), recurring two beat units are more apt to set our feet moving than recurring four beat units.
But don’t let the math intimidate you – listening to the video, your ears will easily discern the difference.
Battle Hymn of the Republic
gCGCD tuning, Brainjo level 3
Notes on the Tab
In the tab above, you’ll note I’ve tabbed out both a “lead break” (something to play in between verses) and the “vocal backup” (what I play while I’m singing).
Notes in parentheses are “skip” notes – to learn more about skips and syncopated skips, check out my video lesson on the subject.
For more on reading tabs in general, check out this complete guide to reading banjo tabs.
PRIOR SONG OF THE WEEK EPISODES
- Episode 1: “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow”
- Episode 2: “Gumtree Canoe”
- Episode 3: “Crawdad Hole”
- Episode 4: “Oh Susanna”
- Episode 5: “Freight Train”
- Episode 6: “Grandfather’s Clock”
- Episode 7: “Hop High Lulu”
- Episode 8: “Been All Around This World”
- Episode 9: “I’ll Fly Away”
- Episode 10: “Leaving Home”
- Episode 11: “Poor Orphan Child”
- Episode 12: “Mr. Tambourine Man”
- Episode 13: “Swanee River”
- Episode 14: “Big Sciota”
- Episode 15: “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms”
- Episode 16: “Darling Corey”
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.