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For this week’s tune, we’re once again mining the catalog of Mississippi John Hurt, only this time we have a song without words. Or a tune, as we like to say.
Those of you familiar with the tune “Buckdancer’s Choice” will note many similarities, and apparently MJH also referred to this tune as both “Stocktime” and “Buck Dance” (click here to listen to Hurt’s original version that inspired this Tune of the Week). Whether they are tune clones, brothers, or cousins depends on your own categorization schema for melodical ancestry.
Regardless, it’s a delightful tune with a single repeating melodic theme and a lot of bounce. It is a tune for buckdancing, after all.
Much of that bounce comes from a healthy dose of syncopation, or the playing of melody notes on the offbeats. This is a signature of Mississippi John Hurt’s style, and of country blues guitar in general.
If you’ve followed along here for any length of time, you’ll know that my favorite technique for adding syncopations is through the use of syncopated skips. No surprise then that you’ll find a healthy serving of them here.
(RELATED: Click here for the full video tutorial on Syncopated Skips, an excerpt from the Breakthrough Banjo course).
Also note the use of the 5th string in this arrangement as a melody note (1st and 3rd measures). This doesn’t happen all that often in clawhammer banjo (though was a common device for the downpicking minstrel players), but here it’s another means of adding syncopation.
Since with the clawhammer stroke the 5th string is typically played on the offbeat, any time we have a syncopated melody note that’s the same pitch as our 5th, we can call into action for melodic duty (note that the ensuing note will almost always be a skip note, so as to highlight the syncopation).
As mentioned, this tune essentially consists of a single repeating melodic theme. Hurt plays multiple variations, the most common of which I’ve tried to replicate in this arrangement.[NOTE: For those considering adding a Brainjo banjo, this one is played on a “Hobart” model. Click here if you’d like to learn more, or claim one in the next batch]
Slowed Down Video Tutorial for “Stocktime”
I’m currently in the process of creating slowed down tutorial videos in the Breakthrough Banjo course for the songs in the Vault (click here to see a list of the songs currently in the Vault), and below is the one for Stocktime. Given the ample number of skips, syncopations, and the use of the 5th string as melody as described above, I thought some of you may find this of use:
Stocktime (aka Buck Dance)
gCGCD tuning, Brainjo level 3-4
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