Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 51

Thread: Old time VS Bluegrass

  1. #1
    Registered User Jefa432's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Louisville KY
    Posts
    61

    Default

    I am trying to start an old time/traditional stringband(eg Foghorn Stringband, Reeltime Travelers etc.)The trouble is when we play old time songs we always tend to sound more like bluegrass instead of old time. What would be some suggestions to get more of the old time sound. Or better yet what makes the old time sound as opposed to bluegrass? Thanks
    You got time to breathe, you got time for music.

  2. #2

    Default

    Floppy/thinner pick, a little out of tune , think "shuffle", lots of open strings, and pretend you're a fiddler. Don't forget to emphasize the back beat, that's what gets the dancers really going. Less or no "chop" at all, that's not really a tradition in old time.



    Tim




  3. #3
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    7,940

    Default

    The guy who taught me OT mando said that until you really have the OT "flow" and know what will fit and what won't in that genre, stick with straight boom-chuck open chords on rhythm, no chops, emphasizing the bass strings. Stay off the treble strings except for occasional emphasis. On lead, play the melody straight until you really get the OT sound down. Improvization is more subtle in OT.

    Also, in OT, the lead melody instrument, usually the fiddler, or the best fiddler in the group, leads everything. Everyone follows what that one "Alpha" instrument is doing in all respects and no one ever plays at a higher volume level than that instrument.

    The guitar should not play any leads or melody, but should concentrate on boom-chuck strums with three note bass runs to "announce" chord changes. The bass, if there is one, should be subtle. The banjo should be playing clawhammer style, either without a resonator or muted somehow and should help keep the ryhthm steady by hitting on chord tones and just key melody notes, something that some banjo players don't get because it is not thier role in BG. OT banjo instructors preach, "You don't have to play the whole melody! Keep the rhythm!"

    I should say these are all "rules" that can be broken when your group really knows what it is doing in OT, but as the saying goes, you need to really know the rules before you can break them.




  4. #4
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Warwick, NY
    Posts
    3,905

    Default

    I may be wrong but doesn't everybody play melody together and there is very little (if any) rythm playing?

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    South of Cincinnati
    Posts
    399

    Default

    In Old Time music the guitar is playing bass walks as well as rythmn primarily, the banjo is claw hammer or drop thumb style and the mandolin is usually playing along with a melody line, not much chording, the fiddle is the lead and the bass is doing what the bass does. This is what I noticed watching the old time string bands.

    Just my 2 cents
    What The ....

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Centerville, OH
    Posts
    250

    Default

    The old time sound was much more mellow from the mando to be sure, as already inferred by everyoen else. #Pick up an old A model or old flatback if you don't already have one. #That will help to get the right "tone". #If you want authenticity you need to realize that Old Time was originally played on pre Gibson instruments. #It was played in East KY, East TN and WV, where the Scotch-Irish settled after migrating here from the potato famine. #They didn't have Gibson A's. #They originally played on bowlbacks and later adopted flatbacks. #Think about the sound of old flatbacks, which have a deeper sound as they have more body volume making their resonance lower.

    I agree that the old time music was based around dancing, so the backbeat does have to feel different than bluegrass.

    Keep workin' at it!
    Scott
    2006 Weber "Special Edition"
    1915 Larsons Brothers Flatback

  7. #7
    Registered User Fred Keller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Sandstone, MN
    Posts
    779

    Default

    I don't know the lineup of the band you've got, but a few thoughts I have are these:

    Make sure the guitar is not doing Lester Flatt g-runs. Walking bass lines are ok, but think Carter-family and not Del McCoury Family.

    Mando stays off the chop as was said above. Learn the melody. Strum the rhythm like Vernon Clifton and other old mando players did. Think of Soldier's Joy. Now instead of picking the notes, strum the chords to the rhythm of the tune. Learn a harmony line to the melody--this can be quite beautiful when it's done in moderation.

    I don't think you need to change picks, but when you play leads on mando you definitely want to get some drones in there. I totally agree with the notion that open strings are your friends.

    Don't take "breaks." Old time is not an improvisational music form the way bluegrass is. There's room for it in subtle ways, but it's not right up front like it is in BG.

    If you've got a banjo player, is he/she Scruggs or clawhammer? It's tougher to get an oldtime sound with Scruggs-style. One way to get a more OT sound is to have them play without picks.

    You mentioned that when you play OT SONGS you get into trouble. Make sure that when you sing, you don't do bluegrass harmonies. Most of the time, the lead and the fifth (or the third) is about all the harmony you need for OT...if you have any at all. When an instrument plays a solo, don't play a break. Play the melody. Or you can all play the melody together.

    That's enough from me. Sorry to run on!
    Lost on the trails of The Deep North

  8. The following members say thank you to Fred Keller for this post:


  9. #8
    Registered User Jefa432's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Louisville KY
    Posts
    61

    Default

    Thanks guys, thats exactly the kind of info I was looking for. The comment about the old A model is interesting, I never thought about that. #While I was typing my post earlier I started thinking that it could also be the songs we are chosing. #Any suggestions? #Also, does anyone know a web site/message board as good as this one that is set up for old time? #Thanks again, you guys hav been very helpful.
    You got time to breathe, you got time for music.

  10. #9
    Registered User Fred Keller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Sandstone, MN
    Posts
    779

    Default

    There is an old time forum:

    Sugar In The Gourd

    I do think A-styles are more widely accepted in OT (and they do have that lovely rounded, slightly plinky tone), but I don't think that should stop you from playing an F-style either. Compton and Long are doing some dang fine OT stuff on F-style mandolins.
    Lost on the trails of The Deep North

  11. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,923

    Default

    I lean towards the Old-Time style, and am a big fan of The Carter Family repetoire.

    In my efforts to find musicians to play with, I have run acorss two primary 'deal-breakers' ... stylewise.

    a) Three-finger banjo players, or players of other instruments who nevertheless want that fast pickin' sound in the group.

    b) Players who get bored playing melody and want to improvise more breaks.

    Both of those tendencies will pull the group sound away from Old-Time and towards ... well, something else. Bluegrass, Jamgrass, Hippie-Jug-Band, FolkPunk. There are all sorts of string band variants, old and new.

    I'm very happy these days playing in the Brother Duet style with my sweetie. Me on guitar or clawhammer banjo, providing the harmony singing. Her voice is all she really needs, but she's also making a good effort to learn mountain dulcimer.

    The Monroe Brothers are a good middleground between Old-Time Coutry Blues and the later defined Bluegrass sound.

    Good luck finding that sound that most stirs your soul!

    - Benig




  12. The following members say thank you to Michael H Geimer for this post:


  13. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Listen to Carl Jones's playing (check out CDs by Carl Jones and Beverley Smith). That should teach you all you need to know.
    Cheers,

    Mike

  14. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,923

    Default

    These two make for some good listening.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Doc_and_Clarence.gif 
Views:	141 
Size:	65.7 KB 
ID:	18790  

  15. #13

    Default

    Grab some of Pete Sutherland's stuff too, he's like the
    Itzhak Perlman of old time.

    Tim

  16. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    19

    Default

    In addition to Compton/Long, Skip Gorman plays some incredible OT on F-style mandos, in addtion to an old Regal he plays the snot out of.

    Give Curtis Buckhannon a listen.

    I also really like the sound that Caleb K. gets out of his F-style with the Foghorn Stringband.

  17. #15
    Registered User cooper4205's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Kingsport, TN
    Posts
    2,057

    Default

    is that clarence or tom ashley with doc?
    Wes
    "i gotta fever...and the only prescription is more cowbell!!"

    '87 Flatiron A5-JR/'25 Gibson A-JR

  18. #16
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Alameda, California
    Posts
    2,418

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by (cooper4205 @ Oct. 05 2006, 19:21)
    is that clarence or tom ashley with doc? #
    Yep. Wasn't amazing how similar those guys were?

    http://www.clarenceashley.com/about.html
    Just one guy's opinion
    www.guitarfish.net

  19. #17
    Registered User cooper4205's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Kingsport, TN
    Posts
    2,057

    Default

    he was a slick 'un weren't he?
    Wes
    "i gotta fever...and the only prescription is more cowbell!!"

    '87 Flatiron A5-JR/'25 Gibson A-JR

  20. #18
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Alameda, California
    Posts
    2,418

    Default

    There are lots of different kinds of "old-time" mandolin playing, and it ranges from the ragged-but-right approach to a more refined chamber sound to really driving pre-bluegrass style. In my mind, bluegrass is just a particularly well-developed branch of contemporary old-time music, but scholars differ.

    I would concur that among many slippery characteristics is the preference for ensemble melody playing over individual solos, open string chording over closed-position chop chords, and soloing that hews close to the melody.

    For string band ensemble playing, I like the Kenny Hall recordings with the Sweets Mill String Band. I think they've been reissued recently.

    And I really liked the way Jerry Mitchell played mandolin with the old Gypsy Gyppo String Band. Their LP is hard to find, but worth looking for. That was my favorite mandolin-driven sound of the '70s revival bands.

    Clyde Curley has a nice tape of old-time mandolin in a string-band setting with the Oxymorons.

    For the old-time brother-duet style, the Blue Sky Boys are pretty hard to beat. The early Monroe Brothers stuff is spectacular, but even in that setting Bill is playing in a pretty advanced, idiosyncratic style. And don't forget the Louvin Brothers.

    Norman Blake's mandolin playing crosses genres, but I consider him a fine old-time mandolin player. And Jody Stecher, too. Ditto on Carl Jones and Mike Compton.

    Mike Seeger has a nice little book/CD method on Homespun here.



    Just one guy's opinion
    www.guitarfish.net

  21. #19
    Registered User cooper4205's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Kingsport, TN
    Posts
    2,057

    Default

    one of my books for my "country music: then & now" class has a pic of the blue sky boys in it, the mandolin player is playing an old lyon & healy style-A. you also might want to check out some recordings of the johnson brothers, they were another really old string band that had mandolin.

    there are also some really good replies, besides the ones already here, to in a post further down in this section about OT strumming patterns.
    Wes
    "i gotta fever...and the only prescription is more cowbell!!"

    '87 Flatiron A5-JR/'25 Gibson A-JR

  22. #20
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    7,940

    Default

    A must have CD for the OT style, IMHO, is John Hartford's "Speed of the Old Long Bow." It's got liner notes from Hartford where he discusses what "improvization" means in OT. His words are genius and I have never seen advice like that anywhere else. Also, Compton plays mando on it and the tunes are great examples of the sound with a full group.

    I asked Compton about those liner notes at a workshop and he had us try some of the techniques in that workshop. We found out the truth of his words: To do it right, you have to really listen to each other, it's a lot harder than you would think and you never know exactly what's going to happen.

  23. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    1,923

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by
    The early Monroe Brothers stuff is spectacular, but even in that setting Bill is playing in a pretty advanced, idiosyncratic style.
    I know what you mean. Bill's got his own thing going even at that point. That era is my personal favorite for both his playing and singing.

  24. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    19

    Default

    Ditto on the "Speed of the old long bow" record. I've asked Compton about this before and he said, in a manner of words, that he was really just experimenting...listening to what everyone else was doing. That's some damn fine listening, if you ask me.

    For earlier mando work, check out Coley Jones & the Dallas String band, too.

  25. #23
    Registered User Perry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Rockland Cty, NY
    Posts
    1,992

    Default

    I triple “Speed of the Old Long Bow”; I've been listening to it all week.

    The liner notes contain all types of interesting advice.

    The bit about only letting the melody instruments and not the rhythm section play the "off" chords (flat 7's and minors) is particularly intriguing and I suspect a big contributing factor to the "old time sound". It must create quite a bit of tension. Can't wait to try it.

    I’ve also been reading and working with this excellent book which contains quite a few of the tunes on “Speed”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Old-Tim....3122007




  26. #24
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,136
    Blog Entries
    52

    Default

    Boy there are times I wish these comments could be posted at our OT jams. Dead on target from my experience.

    In summary

    Muted clawhammer banjo
    Mandolin playing the melody or a close melodic harmony
    Follow the strongest fiddler
    No taking breaks
    Subtle if any improvisation
    Play sitting down (I added that one)


    Jeff
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  27. The following members say thank you to JeffD for this post:


  28. #25
    john homer
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    stillwater oklahoma
    Posts
    140

    Default

    pick a fiddle tune like "Soldier`s Joy" and listen to bluegrass and old time versions of it. Usually the backbeat, (the 2 and 4) pushes the 1 and 3 pretty hard in bluegrass. But in old time the backbeat is not so "urgent" and the feel of the song is more laid back. So too the tempo is usually slower. Think about what would make the music danceable. An old time player told me once that dancing is the focus of old time not the instrumentalists per say. Course we were playing a dance at the time
    john homer

  29. The following members say thank you to homermando for this post:


Similar Threads

  1. Bluegrass and old-time time
    By hoffmannia2k7 in forum Old-Time, Roots, Early Country, Cajun, Tex-Mex
    Replies: 11
    Last: Jul-03-2008, 1:01pm
  2. Bluegrass/old time jam in norfolk, va
    By jim_n_virginia in forum Jams, Workshops, Camps, Places To Meet Others
    Replies: 4
    Last: Mar-14-2007, 11:54pm
  3. Bluegrass/Old Time jam, Williamsburg, Va.
    By jim_n_virginia in forum Jams, Workshops, Camps, Places To Meet Others
    Replies: 1
    Last: Sep-03-2006, 8:42am
  4. Old Time and Bluegrass Podcast
    By DryBones in forum Old-Time, Roots, Early Country, Cajun, Tex-Mex
    Replies: 0
    Last: Jun-02-2006, 4:21pm
  5. Old Time & Bluegrass Podcasts
    By harwilli55 in forum Old-Time, Roots, Early Country, Cajun, Tex-Mex
    Replies: 0
    Last: Jan-14-2006, 8:09pm

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •