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Robert Marr / Blog

Haven't Quit

No, I'm still moving. I'm currently involved with an acoustic cover-band called "3 for All". We concentrate on classic rock from The Beatles, The Eagles, Marshal Tucker, etc. Our claim to fame is our three-part harmony. Hope to catch you out and about some time.

Clawhammer or Frailing?

Heck, I don't know. One source says they're both the same and another source says there are minute, yet distinct differences. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

What they are is techniques of playing the 5 string banjo. They are old styles, said to have predated the bluegrass style we generally hear being played on the 5 string. BG is really my main style, but I recently got the urge to learn clawhammer. It presents a very rhythmic cadence that is perfect for accompaniment to singing.

While trying to learn clawhammer, I found it very difficult to "feel the rhythm". Even tho it is generally less busy than bluegrass, it is also a quite different role for the fingers and brain to play, as compared to bg. I then had an idea to break the clawhammer technique down into its three main elements, and practice each one independently. It worked extremely well at penetrating my thick Scottish skull.

I was so thrilled at my new, one-bite-at-a-time learning technique that I decided to create a video workshop to demonstrate the process. While it definitely shows the three elements, I may have made it a little too "friendly". Maybe not. You be the judge. You can see the videos at my YouTube site. Here is the first one: http://www.reverbnation.com/robertmarr

The Life & Times Of A Singer/Songwriter

A singer/songwriter, henceforth known as SS, is a person who always has varying levels of hope coursing thru his/her veins. It should be noted that I refer primarily to an SS whose work has yet to be discovered. I can only imagine what a successful songwriter might feel like. The possibilities of success bring incredible highs, and the thought of rejection brings incredible lows. In any given day, the range of emotions one can encounter make you feel like you’re a member of the emoticon library. This is especially true for me because I have retired from my “day job”, giving me significantly more time to look for an opening, and explore the possibilities. A typical day would have me spending 12 hours on music. I could be writing, recording or working on the business end of my “new job”. I also find myself working on developing proficiency on some of my non-mainstay instruments. I’m not looking for perfection in my ability to play them, as that takes significantly more time and dedication than I can afford to expend. In the perfect world, I would hire the musicians required to help me lay down some tracks. As a not-yet-discovered songwriter, there isn’t a lot of income to support such niceties. (Heck, I can’t even justify “off-site studio time”, which is why I have my own studio chez moi, but that’s another series of articles.) So, when I write a song that needs a mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, piano, fiddle or harp, I learn all I need to know about that instrument to make it sound pretty good in that recording. In the old days of working another job, I would put the instrument away for months at a time after recording, until I needed it again for another session. Now, I have more time to continue the learning experience, although not so much that it takes away from all the other SSS duties I’m responsible for. (I threw a new one in on you. SSS is starving/singer/songwriter.) Boy, did I get off the beaten path. More later.

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