Bluegrass Banjo Sheldon Friesen

Banjo lessons, teacher, performer – Vancouver / Surrey, BC

Archive for the category “Tablature & Sound Files”

High On A Mountain Sound File

Previously, I posted my tablature arangment for “High On A Mountain”. I thought that in this post I would follow up with a sound file for the same arrangement.

The song is played at a fairly moderate tempo but does not drag in anyway.

Listen closely for that slide all the way up the neck to get a sense of what your trying to accomplish as you practice this piece.

You’ll also notice that the song is played in the ‘key of D’ giving you a much different sound on the banjo than we are normally used to hearing when the banjo is played out of a G position. The capoed fifth string along with the different chord inversions we encounter in this key make for a unique sound that is especially pleasing for this particular piece. You might like it so much that you will think I purposfully chose to play it in D for this reason, but in fact, I chose D because my voice feels most comfortable there with this song.

So here it is: High On A Mountain

Keep at it!


High On A Mountain Tablature


In this post I want to deal with a topic that many banjo players resist. Playing in the ‘Key of D’.

All right, all right now, pipe down! It’s not that bad. I know your banjo is tuned to ‘G’. I know every song written should be played in ‘G’. I know ‘G’ is God’s key signature. Well, that’s going a bit far but I really do understand.

Nevertheless, we banjer pickers will need to play in ‘D’ from time to time.

You have a couple of options. You can retune your banjo and learn to play in a new tuning. I personally try to stay away from this option because it really is a nuisance in a jam or concert setting.

You can’t really capo up to the seventh fret and still sound respectable so you are often left with playing out of a ‘D’ position. I generally capo my fifth string up 2 when playing in ‘D’. This brings the fifth string up to an ‘A’ which works really well in a ‘D’ key signature.

Ok, here’s the tab.

This break of ‘High On A Mountain’ has some really nice highs to catch the soaring melody line. It also makes good use of the open forth string to give it that deep old-timey sound that a song like this cries out for.

With a little work, you’ll be feeling like your playing up in –

“Them Thar Hill”

Old Joe Clark Sound File

I’ve heard banjo players tell me that they can play Old Joe Clark just fine at home but, when it comes to playing it at a jam, well it just doesn’t hold together.

What is it about this old fiddle tune that messes up so many banjo pickers?

Old Joe Clark has a unique melody line in the ‘A’ part that defines it. The problem is that this melody line emphasizes beats most banjo players are not comfortable with.

I’ve recorded a break for you to listen to. Listen for the melody line in the ‘A’ part and listen for the metronome in the background. Notice where the melody notes fall. If you have trouble hearing the metronome all the time, tap your foot to help you identify where the beats are.

This should help you get that Old Joe Clark to behave himself at the next jam.

Once, you licked the ‘A’ part, I’m sure you’ll find the rest of the song easy to master since the melody adheres to a more normal meter.

Here’s the link to the sound file: Old Joe Clark.mp3

Cripple Creek Tablature

Here is an intermediate arrangement of the traditional tune Cripple Creek. You’ll want to practice it capoed on the 2nd fret since it is usually played in the key of A during jam sessions.

If you find that you can’t keep up with the thumb work in the B part, create a drill for yourself using an alternating thumb roll at slow speeds. Slowly increase the speed of the roll as your hand warms up.

Don’t get discouraged if it takes a long time to build up the speed of thumb work. It is normal to find this part difficult and to get up to speed.

No you’re not weird! Well on second thought you do play banjo. Right?

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