Short Office Sermons / Quick Bible Studies

from Dan LeJeune
October 22, 2009

Patch the Pirate music style / Banjo comments

We used to sing Patch the Pirate songs for specials sometimes when we had a family from another church helping us with the church. The daughter from the family and my sister would usually sing, and I would play the piano. Well now that family is helping another church, and they requested me to make recordings of those Patch the Pirate songs. So I looked over them yesterday and played through the chords on the guitar.

They have some weird chords and chord progressions. They are loaded with 9th and +2 chords, chords with a root of a different chord such as G/C, many times a F G7 Em Am (then Dm and G7 of course, in C) progression, sometimes the VII chord (such as Bb in C) out of the blue, and some chords that don't seem to fit at all, and some chords that aren't really chords (such as a D E A over a C), all of which have a strong emotional influence.  I don't feel comfortable with them anymore.

I have a little history that you might find interesting. The Africans brought the banjo over and the playing style they brought was what is now called clawhammer (or frailing). In this style a "bum dit-ty" (one --- TWO and) sound is created by striking a string with the middle fingernail on the ONE, strumming with the middle fingernail on the TWO, and at the end of the strum plucking the high pitched drone string on the AND with the thumb.

When guitars were able to be made cheaply in factories around the turn of the 20th century and were becoming more common place, people who grew up on the banjo took their frailing strum and modified it for use on guitar (which did not have a high pitched drone string at the top but rather bass strings). They flipped the frailing strum around and hit a bass string with the thumb on the ONE, strumming with the finger on the TWO, and on the way back hitting the first string (high pitched) with the finger on the AND. This gave you once again the "bum dit-ty" or "one
--- TWO and". So the basic guitar strum is Hammite, if that explains anything.

Bluegrass actually did not originate until about the 1940's. The three-finger Scruggs style of banjo picking (very driving it seems to me by the way -- non-stop eight notes) was not popularized until this time, and had not been around long anyway (maybe in the 20's).

I listened to the sermons on Japheth Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm. They were of some help. I had already concluded about the same things, but I finally figured out why you use Philippians 4:8 -- because music is something we think about.