Saturday, January 3, 2009



I tripped over this tidbit today. I do so try to stay up on this stuff, but apparently I need to pay closer attention. If you append this string to the end of the URL for certain YouTube videos, you get a better screen resolution and perhaps better sound, eg. stereo instead of mono. Of course, it's going to use up more of your bandwidth. Or, not work if your bandwidth capability is limited. Go forth and Google it if you'd like more information, misinformation, or other people's opinions. Perhaps an advertisement for tee shirts with &fmt=18 logo's or some such.

Speaking of unrelated things...

I've been learning to play clawhammer banjo recently. No, I'm not going to start yet another blog called banjojammer, so if the domain name is free, have at it, don't let me stop you.

I've known for a long time that learning other instruments can pay off in the fiddle department in unpredictable ways. I set out to play the CH banjo to keep learning more about chords and keys and rhythms. Lucky for me, these past 10 years hanging around banjo players has infused me with some fundamental abilities. The bum-ditty rhythm and finger patterns feel fairly natural to me. There's some really good lessons on YouTube from Cathy Moore, aka username banjomeetsworld. Go search. It'll save me the time of putting the link in here. :-) Even if you're not learning to play the banjo, if you're still firmly entrenched on your fiddle path, it'll be worth your time. There's a lot to be learned about playing the fiddle from learning more about the banjo.

Oh yeah, back to the unpredictable payoffs... I now understand a lot more about what the banjo players are talking about. I understand their obsessions with make and model and age and identifying marks and bridge sizes and, and, and, so on. I understand why they'll tie up a perfectly good jam talking about their bits and pieces as it were. Also, the whole concept of changing the tuning on an instrument comes more into focus as I learn more about banjo tunings. Yeah, I have to learn a different set of chords and finger patterns between C/D tunings and A/G tunings. Actually, I got a fretless, so I can't just slap a capo on, but I have to tune each string up a whole step.

The banjo also works in well with what I'm learning about the ukulele. And, it all boils down to being more well-rounded and flexible. They'll come a day when there's too many fiddles and not enough banjo, and I'll be ready to help out. I'm already feeling useful with the uke in that way if a little extra rhythm is in order.

Well, that's what I've been up to, besides playing too much Tetris on facebook. All the fiddling and plunking best to you and yours for this new year!

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