Monday, January 28, 2013

Ornamentation for the Irish Mandolin and Tenor Banjo

My big focus last year was on committing to memory as many basic versions of tunes as possible so I could fake my way through sessions and not have to rely on a tablature in a public setting.  In the process I got a little better at playing by ear and more comfortable with winging it in those situations.  I still have a long, long way to go with ear training and that remains my number one area of focus, but I feel like it's time to also start working on ornamentation and melodic variation.  In a way they go hand in hand, I suppose.  Rather than trying to personally write about a topic of which I have little experience, I thought it would be best to link to some other people's articles on Celtic ornamentation, articulation and phrasing.  See below.

Here's a piece entitled Ornamentation for the Irish Tenor Banjo by Chris Smith.  Smith is the author of Celtic Backup for All Instrumentalists, and has a great CD of Irish traditional music called Coyote Banjo that I've been listening to.
Chris Smith

Here's an article on Celtic Mandornaments by instructor and bouzouki master Roger Landes
Roger Landes

And here's a feature on Triplets from tenor banjo enthusiast and Banjo Sessions contributor Mike Keyes, where he uses an unusual song - Stephen Foster's Camptown Races - to demonstrate this technique.
Mike Keyes

In a future post I may write about a triplets and variation exercise from Enda Scahill's Banjo Tutor that I am finding to be very helpful.

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