Briggs' Breakdown (Fretless banjo piece from 1855)

July 23, 2016 11:07 AM

Yet another quick solo tune from Briggs' Banjo Instructor of 1855.

posted by usonian (5 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

A sprightly tune fit for dancing after a long Saturday of threshing or winnowing. Love the frills in the B part.
posted by BlackPebble at 5:43 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Good lord, that fretless sound is so good and warm. This is so warm in fact that it makes me wonder if you're using nylon strings?
posted by Corduroy at 12:32 PM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, definitely nylon strings, I think LaBellas. The head is actual goat skin, which also contributes plunk. Gut strings would be more period correct, but I've never actually tried them because they are hard to source, expensive, and arguably even more temperamental in humid weather than skin heads.

The lower tuning (dGDF#A, 5 intervals below the equivalent modern tuning of gCGBD) also adds a lot to the sound. By 1858 banjo tutors were written for eAEG#B tuning, but for whatever reason the modern early banjo community, such as it is, has standardized on the lower Briggs tuning.
posted by usonian at 1:07 PM on July 27, 2016

posted by chococat at 11:09 PM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by not_on_display at 10:55 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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