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Thread: Bluegrass instruments

  1. #101

    Default Re: Bluegrass instruments

    What Ivan and Allen said.


    Tom
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  3. #102
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass instruments

    I lucked into a LP originally issued in the '50's, I believe, called Sacred Songs of the Virginia Trio. It was a compilation of singles recorded for sale through a live radio show from Cincinnati, I believe. The Virginia Trio was Jim and Jesse McReynolds with Larry Roll. Nothing but guitar and Jesse's astounding cross-picked mandolin, and absolutely stunning harmony singing.

    Well, is it bluegrass? Sounds just like Jim & Jesse & the Virginia Boys, without bass and banjo. You could link it to "brother duet" singing, like the Blue Sky Boys or the Monroe Brothers; you could link it to "early bluegrass" and the later Jim & Jesse sound. You could compare it to contemporaneous acts like the very early (pre-1950) Stanley Brothers, or the Osborne Brothers band with Jimmy Martin.

    Categories are useful; categorical thinking can be stifling. I concede that if one attends a performance, buys a recording etc., expecting a particular style, and gets something that's not quite what was expected, one can feel disappointed -- even "swindled," I guess, if one's mind works that way.

    I have two broad musical categories: music I like, and music I don't like much. These categories exist independently of what section of the record store I'm browsing, or what the concert is billed as, or what instruments are on stage. If I go to a festival expecting music that I'll like, and I don't like what I hear, I feel disappointed, but I generally don't blame that disappointment on the music's being misrepresented as to its category.

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  4. #103
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    Default Re: Bluegrass instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Yes Ralph, I sure did back then, I don't know how things go at European festivals but, often when parking lot picking, tuning tends to wander, getting twenty people to use a fork to tune is virtually impossible, so, yes that was indeed a "distinct advantage" in 1976.

    My post was a comment on your post #52 where you talk about a performing professional group having the "distinct advantage" (over other groups) in using a harmonica instead of a tuning fork. There was no mention of parking lot picking.

    On my first and only trip to the USA, in 1969, I did jam at two festivals. In Bean Blossom I walked around with my mandolin looking for small gatherings without mandolin, joining them for the fun of mutual listening and sharing ideas. In Berryville I jammed mainly with Doug Green and his Detroit area buddies. Doug was then the bass player with Bill Monroe, but his main instrument was the guitar. We had no trouble getting in tune with one another. I never once joined a jam with 20 participants and I don't recall ever hearing or seeing such musical parody.

  5. #104
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass instruments

    Allen - It does seem very often to me,that we humans are a really weird species when it come down to our thinking on certain things. For example,how many songs sung/played by 'duos' do we accept as ''Bluegrass'' - lots of them. Take the hugely famous recording of Ricky Skaggs & Tony Rice "Skaggs & Rice". It's performed on Guitar & Mandolin only,not even a hint of another instrument. There's no way on earth that i would not consider it to be a Bluegrass recording because the 2 musicians are Bluegrass musicians performing song duets as Bluegrass musicians do. (the other band members usually have a nap during the proceedings). Then consider the same songs done by non-Bluegrass musicians - do we feel the same way about the performance ?. I'd have a hard time considering it a 'Bluegrass' performance simply because the musicians aren't from a Bluegrass background.
    Is that even rational ??. Now,supposing,that unknown to me,those performers were part of a Bluegrass band - if i suddenly found that out,i'd bet a $million that my perception of their performance would change. I think that our ''perception genes'' need re-programming,'cos right now they're pretty much off base !!,
    Ivan
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  7. #105
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bluegrass instruments

    My point Ralph, is that they were always at pitch, throughout a set. Many bands used to get "off" through the course of a set back then, and no, I never saw anyone break out a fork to tune on stage. Now with the magic of the tiny electronic tuner, one can go from jam to jam at a festival and be far more close to everyone else. And the ease with touching up tuning during a set is vastly improved. Some variation still happens, capos may tweak things from time to time but, it sure easier than it used to be.
    Sorry for not being as clear as I might have been.
    I have been to several festivals where there have been easily fifteen to twenty folks jamming, almost "bluegrass orchestra". It's usually a little muddy but, everyone was having a good time, except for the one who just got there as a favorite tune was ending.
    You should have seen it!
    Timothy F. Lewis
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  8. #106
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    Default Re: Bluegrass instruments

    I don't consider it bluegrass just because a " blue grasser" is preforming it. I don't think a song is not bluegrass because it was first done in another field. Bluegrass is a style of music with a certain beat or drive,yes instruments and singing styles lend themselves to that drive better than others, but the drive (not the speed) is what makes it 'grass. Years ago I heard a contestant on a miss America pageant play a harp with such drive that I remarked that maybe heaven wouldn't be so bad with a bluegrass harp.

  9. #107
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    Default Re: Bluegrass instruments

    I said I wouldn`t do this BUT...The instruments aren`t what makes it bluegrass, neither is it the people that are doing it , It is the way it is played, a nice smooth tempo on the guitar and not being thrashed like a rock and roll guitar, also the message that the words are sending, the way the harmonies are being presented.....All of those things together make it bluegrass....You need certain instruments ( guitar, banjo, mandolin/fiddle and bass) played in a certain way and singing done in a certain way so that the voices blend with the instruments (lead, tenor, baritone & sometimes bass), any variation of those and it will most likely fall into a different category, like new grass, old timey, folk even rock and roll.. The Louvins are one of my favorite groups but they are not bluegrass but a lot of their songs were later performed as bluegrass by other bands, the one missing instrument was a banjo, add that and they would have been bluegrass because they had all of the other qualities that I mentioned....

    This can go on forever and we will not all agree and I know I am most likely just wasting my time, but think about it and be fair in your judgement whether it really is bluegrass or just some music being played....

    Thanks for letting me sound off and I mean no disrespect to anyone or any kind of music that is termed bluegrass....WHAT EVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT....

    Willie

  10. #108

    Default Re: Bluegrass instruments

    Just came from another list of bluegrass instruments that included lap steel and ukulele/banjo uke. My group loves my banjo uke, although I am working on an f style mandolin kit and just got a short scale tenor banjo. You guessed it, I'm a uker that wants to play bluegrass.

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