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So much music, so little time.
Even just limiting yourself to the world of traditional folk for source material, you could spend a lifetime and never reach the bottom.
Yet, sometimes it’s fun to stretch a bit, to move outside the boundaries of traditional banjo tunes and see what else we might adapt to the 5-string.
Sometimes it works out well, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Other times, though, you figure out a way to shape the peg so it fits quite nicely. And, in doing so, you usually learn something in the process.
So, even if you’re a purist, harboring no desire to play anything outside the realm of the tradition, I’d still recommend trying your hand at some non-traditional material, even if it’s just for learning sake.
It’s a great way to expand your ideas of what’s possible with clawhammer.
Besides, were it not for people pushing up against the musical boundaries throughout the course of history, we’d have no traditions to uphold in the first place.
The best place to start doing this sort of thing, in my opinion, is with the music you already love that you don’t associate with the banjo.
This week’s song, Mr. Tambourine Man, has long been one of my favorites. I’ve played it for quite some time on guitar, but only recently decided to adapt it for the 5-string.
I’ll continue to post music outside the realm of traditional banjo from time to time, partly to inspire and motivate you to do likewise, and perhaps spark some ideas for how you might go about it (Breakthrough Banjo members can look for a Module soon all about adapting music to clawhammer banjo).
But also because it’s great fun.
Mr. Tambourine Man
aDADE tuning, Brainjo level 3-4
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”
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.