People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

Aside from John Carty, who are some people banjo and a less controversial instrument? And do you think their banjo playing has any influence from the other instrument?

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

Sorry Arthur but I have no idea how to interpret or respond to your question. I think you need to elucidate.

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Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

Cathal Hayden plays fiddle and banjo as well. He’s stunning on both, don’t know if one influences the other or not though!

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

I’m not quite certain I understand the question(s). Are you asking about people who play banjo and another instrument and does their banjo-playing have an influence on their other instrument or vice-versa?

Gerry O’Connor plays banjo and fiddle. Not to be mixed up with the Gerry O’Connor that plays fiddle.

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

On the question of influence on other instruments, I suppose it might be that mandolin players have adopted the "treble" ornament from banjo players. Although I’m not sure about that.

There is evidence of mandolins being part of Irish trad going back to the 1920’s or 1930’s. Martin Fay of the Chieftains mentions in their autobiography that he had an uncle who was famous in local trad circles for playing mandolin when he was a child. That places it somewhere in the 20’s or 30’s. Maybe the banjo players copied the mandolin players. :)

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

Gerry O’Conner plays fiddle and mandolin.
Barney McKenna played button accordion and mandolin.
Charlie Piggott plays button accordion, though no longer plays banjo.
Finbar Furey plays pipes as well.
Pecker Dunne played fiddle and mandolin.
Most banjo folk can double on mandolin (octave or otherwise), but I’m not sure how controversial that insturment is.

I don’t have any specific answers for them, but I’m reminded that so much of ITM is in emulation of fiddle and pipe techniques and the central place those instruments play in the music. Throwing in a chord is like jabbing the regulators; triplets, hammer-ons, and pull offs can imitate most of the chanter ornaments; you can even drone an open string if the notes are advantageous. Not all of that is great for a session, but it’s great to have in your tool box. Fiddle is hard to pin down because it’s so similar and different all in one- double stops and playing in other positions on the neck come to mind.

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

Oops. Looks like I left out a bunch of words. I meant to ask about people who play banjo and another melodic instrument.

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

……..a change is as good as a rest?…..

I find it’s nice to experiment/discover differences when playing a familiar tune on a different instrument as well as sharpening up my overall playing. Often going back to my main instrument I realise there are differences in my playing. Good or bad - who can say?

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

i mainly play fiddle, but i also play a little bit of banjo and flute (none at a very advanced level though!). i’ve found the flute has contributed a lot more to my fiddle playing than the banjo has, especially around ornamentation and phrasing. most of the things i’ve learnt from the banjo seem specific to that instrument and haven’t really carried over. i’m certainly no John Carty or Gerry O’Connor though…

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Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

A couple of things about the banjo.

I’ve found that it also helps in exercising my fingers and general ease of movement around the fretboard.

Also, I will use the "one finger per fret" approach even on a 17 inch model. I’ve found that this technique is quite useful for certain tunes on the mandolin where I may use slightly unorthodox fingering on some of the trickier phrases. Only on occasion, of course.

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

From the way the question is phrased, I assume it refers mainly to notable players so perhaps making reference to my own playing is not appropriate to this thread. Also, I am not a banjo player per se (although I own a tenor banjo and used to play it a lot in sessions and gigs) - my ‘home’ instrument is the mandolin (or was until I took up the fiddle). But I would say that I have something of a banjo player’s approach to playing the mandolin in that I mostly employ (for jigs and reels, at least) a pick-every-note policy (rarely use hammer-ons or pull-offs) so whatever way the mandolin might influence my playing of other instruments is much the same as how the banjo might influence someone’s playing. In addition to mandolin, I play whistle and fiddle: although I began playing whistle at roughly the same time as the mandolin, it was always a secondary instrument; the fiddle, which I began playing ten years after starting the mandolin, has become my instrument of choice.

When I took up the fiddle - which I did, for good or ill, without any tuition - my playing was necessarily informed by the instruments I already played, i.e. mandolin and whistle. The whistle was key, I believe, because it meant I already had an understanding of finger ornamentation (cuts, taps, rolls etc.) and a feel for the placement and timing of those ornaments. But my style of mandolin playing involves quite a lot of picked triplets, used in various ways (single note triplets, mordants, triplet runs etc.) and I was able intuitively to transfer these to the fiddle in the form of *bowed* triplets. 15 years after starting the fiddle, my execution of bowed triplets (and everything else) may still be much in need of refinement, and there may be nothing unique among fiddle players in the way I ornament a tune, but I can confidently say that certain types of ornamentation in my palette were acquired from my mandolin playing experience rather than through listening to other fiddle players. I have also learned a huge amount, however from listening to, watching and talking to other fiddle players - and, even before I took up the fiddle, fiddle players were a major influence on my mandolin playing.

In short: Yes, the mandolin has influenced my fiddle playing. But so has the whistle.

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

Part of my CV as a player has been the list of melodic instruments played and those that can serve a dual purpose. Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, Mandocello, Cittern, Bouzouki, Tenor Banjo and 5 String Banjo, all fit that definition of dual purpose (either played melodically or as chordal background). Pennywhistle, Lap Harp, GH Bagpipes and bellows blown Smallpipes, are listed as melodic only. Piano would be another that can be used either, although I generally don’t use it for chordal accompaniement, and have only used it when performing for ballads and other slow tunes.
Thanks to a rather eccentric mind, I’ve no problems switching between an instrument tuned in 4ths to one tuned in 5ths.
There’s a number of other instruments as well, but they’re not appropriate for ITM/STM, so I won’t list those here. Most are only used in other culturally influenced music, and so I didn’t and still don’t spend large amounts of time staying in practice with those particular instruments.

Re: People who play banjo and fiddle (or any other melodic instrument)

Different instruments will require different techniques when playing the same tune. Some tunes go better on one instrument, i.e. fiddle, than another, i.e. accordion. I am a piano accordionist and recall learning a jig. It was straightforward with no issues. However the fiddlers were sure there was a mistake in the notation. Turns out there was a run that had some cross bowing that made it a difficult piece for the violins while the keyboards had no problem.
When learning a tune by ear the learner should remember the instrument it’s being played on.
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord NH USA