I've had William J. Ball's LP on my Discogs wantlist for a while but apparently never thought to look on youtube...?

Anyway, it's a real cracker, and I'm still going to get the LP someday:


Good morning, I just added a WARC of the late Hal Allert's very good classicbanjo dot com to archive.org.

Hal's website was a very nicely curated collection of sheet music, MP3 files generated from MIDI generated from said sheet music, tutor books, photographs, and other information generally related to classic style banjo.

Hal was a good guy and put a lot of work into this site, and he was very generous with his own arrangements, and general knowledge of the subject... I don't *think* he would mind.


CW: all of the racism you would expect from predominantly white composers of popular music in the early 20th century.

To be clear: I don't think that Hal was racist (nor are most people still interested in classic style banjo), but popular culture in that musical era sure was.

I spent the first half of the day wrangling the piano accompaniment for Brooks & Denton's 'Tyro Mazurka' (1890) into ABC format, and the second half of the day playing along to it. Still rough around the edges but the piano part makes it more fun to practice.

While searching for Schottische accompaniment patterns I was reminded of Herman Rowland's "Sunflower Dance" (originally published as "With The Tide Schottische") which for some reason is the classic fingerstyle banjo piece commonly recommended for beginners (in much the same way that "Cripple Creek" is the first tune a lot of clawhammer/bluegress players start with)

It's a good not-too-hard piece that gives you a great feel for the style in terms of picking patterns and transitioning up and down the neck, but there are far better beginner materials out there (A.J. Weidt's Elementary Studies was what really got me started archive.org/details/A.J.WeidtB)

But I'd forgotten what an earworm it is! I should really re-learn it, plus the 2nd banjo part, and properly record it.


Follow-up: I did actually write a trio section for this with the intention of recording and releasing it yesterday (mostly as a nod to myself for putting the first version out 4 years ago) but I decided I didn't feel like

1. doing the fussy last-pass details on the sheet music (it's pretty close but not 100% yet) and

2. putting in the time in to learn my own composition

...not for yesterday, anyway. This should be released as a footnote.

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So my ADHD brain had me taking another look at classic style banjo arrangements of Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag (you know, to record and release for Arbor Day 2022, because that's *minimally* how long it will probably take me to learn it well enough to record)

This was not the first time; there are a couple of arrangements out there in various keys in G and C (not surprisingly for 5-string banjo tuned gCGBD/gDGBD) but they never feel or sound quite right to my ears.

I watched a few clips of Aaron Jonah Lewis playing his own arrangement, and when I took a close enough look at some of his chords I was delighted to realize he's playing it in the original A♭major, which is why it just sounds correct in a way transposed arrangements often don't. Typical classic banjo gymnastics aside, it doesn't even look too tortuous.


I just encountered this as a direct-to-facebook video post, and wanted to make sure it was available elsewhere. The sound quality is dreadful but it's still fantastic.

William J. Ball was an incredible classic style banjo player - there are some clips of him from the 1980s on YouTube that I should mirror as well peertube.social/videos/watch/3

Welp, it has already been a year since I recorded this song from 1872, which means it's also been a year that I've been spinning my wheels on the EP recording project I learned it for. Trying to get that back on the front burner, it feels like a few things have been slowly coalescing over the last couple of months. peertube.social/videos/watch/d

Re-upped the premium trial, I'd forgotten how satisfying it is. Here's a duet by Herbert J. Ellis called "Cobler Breakdown", written circa 1900.

...and here's the first strain of "Banjoland," once through. I've got the whole piece about 90% "under my fingers" as the saying goes, with the remaining challenges being to put all the parts together without stumbling, and play it maybe a little bit faster.

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to this recording I did some years back of "A Christmas Carol" by Alfred Cammeyer, written circa 1900. Cammeyer wrote for 5-string and plectrum banjo with a singular sentimentality.

My playing is rougher around the edges than I remember, but when is that ever not the case?


I wrote a thing for the equinox. I began working on this *last* fall and managed to get it cleaned up for this year. Not sure I'll have it rehearsed enough to record tonight but I can at least share the dots:



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