Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cripple Creek Harmony

For this post I thought I might cover a little close banjo harmony.

Twin banjos can sound great and there are a multitude of angles you can approach the harmonizing from. The most common, and the one I'll be using today, is to have one banjo play the straight melody and the other harmonize it in thirds.

A third is the distance from 1 note on a major scale to the note after the next note up the scale. This means if you were playing in the key of G (which is not uncommon on the banjo) and the melody note was a G you would play the note 2 letters up the scale for your harmony note(a B note in this case). For an A note the harmony would be a C and for a B note the harmony would be a D.

Make sense? I will make a future post explaining the thirds harmony more fully but to get right into playing it and hearing what it's all about let's try harmonizing some Cripple Creek.

Most banjo players know a version of Cripple Creek. This here is a fairly standard version...



And here is the harmony part...



Here is a video of the harmony played slow, medium and faster...

video

If you already know Cripple Creek play along with the video and hear the harmony jump out. This is a great tune to have a harmony part for as most banjo players know it and it tends to come up alot at jams. It works nice if you throw it in on the last pass of the tune to finish everything off...just make sure you aren't playing over anyone elses big solo or otherwise stepping on toes. Until next time.

BONUS...

Thought I would add a video of two banjos playing the harmony in response to a BHO request so I convinced my student Doug to help me out. Thank you Doug. Here it is...

video

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