collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

I came up here, it was all cold, and weird, strange, lotta yoghurt. Then they put us in a military base. And they told me 'this is it'. I said 'OK, that's cool' - Jerry Ricks, Saturday evening concert Port Townsend 97

Author Topic: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?  (Read 5724 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« on: September 24, 2006, 07:45:44 AM »
I've been wanting to share some burning concerns about what I fear is a dangerously-neglected -- but vital -- component of that classic blues sound: the rhythm accompaniment.

For example (and I'm sure you all could cite another 100 of your own favorites)...

Can anyone shed light on the fabulous "rhythm" section on Roosevelt Graves' "I'll Be Rested"? I've nailed down the guitar part (not that difficult) -- happy to share it with anyone who wants it --, but it just ain't the same without that tambourine.

So I bought a tamborine for my washboard player, but who's got an instructional video for the under-appreciated "frame drum"? Does anyone know if brother Uaroy was playing it with sticks? Fingertips? It just sounds so much tighter, and more compact, than what one typically hears (nowadays) from your typical rocker slapping a tamborine on his/her thigh.

And what about those terrific, syncopated, "emphasis", woody-sounding "tocs" that are occasionally thrown in to the mix in this number to supercharge the whole performance? I can't imagine anything on a tambourine that would give such a full sound...sounds much more like taps on a wooden guitar body. But unless Roosevelt has three hands, I don't see how he can get those "tocs" in there (a la Reverend Gary Davis when he was really on a roll in concert) without dropping crucial guitar notes!

And...speaking of "rhythm" sections...do any other weenies out there agree that washboard technique is on the endangered species list (if not already gone the way of the dodo) -- and desperately needs to be rescued...or resurrected? I don't mean just clattering away on a rub board with thimbles the way most revivalist "jug bands" seem to have done over the years, or just scraping rhymically on a corrugated vest (a la Zydeco).

I mean playing the thing as if it were a Stradivarius, and with real "parts", ideas, sensitivity, and soul. I cannot imagine Blind Boy Fuller's "Shake It Babies" without washboard virtuoso Bull City Red's fabulous accompaniment...and would Bukka White's "Fixin' to Die" rank as one of the top 5 country blues of all time (top 2 in my own short list) if it were not for that delicate, sublime -- if driving -- washboard accompaniment? And anyone lately listened to Washboard Sam's jaw-dropping washboard technique on ""Dirty Mother for You"? (Who needs the rest of the band with that rythm part?!) Where are the great (present-day) washboard players? Who's keeping the art alive?

I would appreciate any and all thoughts on this matter, as I am sure some other weenies would.

Desperate for that CLASSIC blues washboard (and tambourine) sound,

Dr. G

Offline waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2518
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2006, 12:37:49 PM »
Hey Dr. G.

Try Googling either washboards or jugbands. You'll be surprised what's out there. Like Washboards International. Granted a lot of these washboards and jugbands are not really playing much country blues.

Some of us Weenies have a jug band, the Hohoppas Jug Band, started by Steve Cheseborough, in which both Steve and I play washboard at times. Actually we use 3 different washboards in our performances. Mine, a blue enameled National no. 199, is rigged out with a cowbell, woodblock, an old trowel and a service bell. Steve has a standard size galvanized, and a lingerie size, with a small measuring cup attached, which he plays on his lap. Steve sometimes plays harp in one hand and washboard with the other, and uses thimbles on both washboards. I play an oil can jug on a rack and work the washboard with some brushes I made from bamboo twigs and a small round mallet sticking out the other end of each. We work fairly close to the old recordings, but also add washboard to some tunes. You can read more about the Hohoppas elsewhere on Weenie Campbell.

I have heard quite a few good washboard players at various jug band get-togethers. Recently at the San Franciso Jug Fest I heard a young woman from Oakland in a band called the Blues Roots and she had quite a feel for the fast raggy rhythms.

Personally, I consider myself a rank beginner on the washboard and I am blown away when I listen to Washboard Sam, Bull City Red or Chasey Collins, playing behind Big Joe Williams. The guitar being my primary instrument, I don't have time to concentrate on really learning the great rhythms of these players. But there are folks out there who think of the washboard as their one instrument, so I think if you look around, you'll find that the art is not quite dead.

You can also find some discussion on washboards in the  Gitfiddles, Harps, Washboards & Kazoos board.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2006, 01:45:57 AM »
Dr G please post a track of  "I'll be rested" thing as I'd like tol have a listen.

With my drummers hat on, I thought I did post something on washboard playing here once, that is how the basic rhythm patterns relate to playing snaredrum New Orleans style with the four to the bar and initation press rolls. 

Uuumm, I could get more into this topic if you want or dare!!! 
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2006, 07:21:32 AM »
Hey, John C. (Waxwing?) and Richard!

Very grateful for your extremely helpful -- and encouraging -- replies! I shall post "I'll Be Rested" for a good listen as soon as (1) I get home from my day job, and (2) my guitar-playing son (and my personal computer tekkie) tells me how to do it!

I much appreciate the various references to washboard sources, and the descriptions of your own styles and instruments.

My own washboard player, Nancy T. (in my own Dr. G's Good Medicine String & Washboard Band), is actually quite good -- for a modern-era musician -- , playing both a blue-enameled rig and a plain one, outfitted with a wood block and a double bell arrangement. She plays with fingerpicks for a gentler sound. For big gigs we have often attached a contact mike (!) But some of the country blues tunes really cry out for rhythms and attacks that to us seem as inscrutable as some of Charley Patton's lyrics or Blind Blake's thumb rolls.

Richard: your references to New Orleans rhythm styles make great sense to me, as I have always loved them -- without really knowing why (Huey "Piano" Smith was my favorite rock 'n roller). PLEASE tell me (and others following this thread) more! You will not bore me in the slightest! One of my brothers is a terrific drummer and roots music lover (the other one blows a mean harp) -- and he would be only too happy to explain (in language that even we guitar pickers can understand) the technical end of things in any exposition you care to favor us with.

Great to hear from you both,

Dr. G


Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2006, 02:26:59 PM »
Dr G, nice to have a willing student  ;D  I have had a sort of brainwave and I hope it will work... I'll try and find you some short snippets of typical NO type roll and thump (as it is rudely called here) snare work and then try to put it into a washboard perspective with (hopefully) the similar rhythm a la a washboard   :P

Might be bit ambitious, never know till you try do you  :-X and it will be an interesting exercise anyway, I will try and do it with original material if I can.

Class dissmissed  :)
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2006, 05:53:27 PM »
Hey Teach, er...Richard!

Happy to be your willing student! Unbelievably sporting of you to take the time to do this. I can't wait to see where your "brainwave" takes us!

I am trying to attach Roosevelt and Uaroy Graves' "I'll Be Rested", but my file type seems to be "m4a", and it isnt "allowed". I guess I need a lesson in computer skills too. (And when I try to use the italics button and the smiley faces, strange things happen! I have a Mac...do I need to switch to a PC?) I'll keep trying, though. Any tekkie advice would also be appreciated from anyone smarter about this than I (not very hard).

Dr. G

Offline waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2518
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2006, 08:18:31 PM »
Definitely a willing student here, Richard, even if the lessons aren't PC.-G-

Dr. G. you may want to read some of the Please Read! Guidelines for the Back Porch thread, which should clue you in on how to shrink your file down below the 800kb limit. You can do this by setting the mp3 encoder settings in iTunes. Go to Preferences under the iTunes menu, select Advanced and then select Importing. You importer will be set for Apple Lossless, so you have to change that to mp3 encoder. Under settings select Custom and set it at maybe 64 kbps and mono. You might have to play around with the kbps setting to get just under the 800kb limit. Close the Preferences window and select the tune in the iTunes library. Then select the Adcanced menu and select Convert to mp3. Select the new track and then selesct Get Info from the Files menu to see the size of the file. If no good, delete the file, reset the importer and try again. It'll become second nature if you continue to hang out here.-G-

As you can see, I don't use smilies -G-, but I haven't had a problem with italics, altho' I usually just key in the code.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2006, 08:23:53 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2006, 08:51:58 PM »
Hey John C. (aka Waxwing),

Very indulgent of you to walk me through the mp3 conversion process (especially if I could have looked it up elsewhere). I am excited about trying it out -- though I better wait until my brain is no longer mush (tomorrow, I hope). I have no doubt that it will indeed become second nature to me -- because I have no doubt that I will be hanging out with the rest of you country blues studs [of both genders; no bias intended here!] for a long. long time. WeenieCampbell.com is without any doubt in my mind the greatest thing since the invention of the phonograph!

Thanks for the after-school session for the freshman,

Dr. G    ???

Offline waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2518
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2006, 09:35:21 PM »
No problem, Doc. Someone did it for me once.

BTW I should have mentioned that you delete the file by selecting Clear in the Edit menu and Move it to the Trash when asked. Took me a while to find that.-G-

So, me for some washboard lessons!

Where are you at, Dr. G? I'm in the SF Bay Area (Oakland) and there are a few of us around here. You wouldn't be within a day's drive, would you?

BTW, you can PM (personal message) another Weenie by clicking on their name, which takes you to their Profile and then find where it says something like "send this member a message", click and post just like you do to the forum. Look above the login/out button, top of the left border, to see if you have any messages.

Actually, noone's asked in a while and its good to cue folks not accustomed to forums in to some of tools of the website. So, thanks for asking.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2006, 05:48:48 AM »
Good Morning Waxwing,

Again, I enormously appreciate (as I am sure that some others following this thread do) your lending a kindly hand -- not only with the musical end of things but also with the technical and etiquette end of things. With such a huge discrepancy between the number of readers and the numbers of participants in any given thread, one has to believe that some of us are just...well...a little bit shy, or ever-so-slightly intimidated by the whole thing...especially we newbies.

One of the wonderful things (again, for me -- but I am sure that I speak for others here, as well) about Weenie Campbell is that it is soooooo inclusive, and sooooo non-judgmental, and sooooo obviously purely devoted to preserving the art, and networking with others who share similar arcane passions -- as opposed to ego-tripping by anybody. Who among us has never been intimidated by the supercillious, "it's-for-me-to-know-and-you-to-find-out!" demeanor of many of our otherwise-heros of art forms (or of whatever areas in which our passions lie).

For example, I personally love vintage instrument stores, but have found the inscrutable "professorial" demeanor of many a proprietor thereof so off-putting that I tend to stay away; same for many a guitar or banjo workshop, or jam session. And this from (1) a psychiatrist (!), (2) a guy who has comfortably negotiated professors at the snottiest, most-full-of-themselves, ivy-bedecked institutions in the world, and (3) a guy who has played and sung before crowds of up to 30,000 without cracking a sweat or a scintilla of stage fright.

If my own willingness (for once) just to stumble and bumble forward at this -- and your, and others', good-natured acceptance of, and assistance with, it -- encourages just one other similar "shybie" to join in the fun, then another good deed will have been done...as I am sure so many have been done before.

Alas I am 3000 miles away (greater Boston area) -- but if the invitation is for real (and it certainly seems so!), then wild horses could not keep me away from trying to connect the next time I am in the Bay area; if/when you're back east, the welcome mat would also be out. (BTW: thanks for the tip on emailing -- I had no clue; I am a rote learner, not a note learner. I shall take advantage of it. But I decided to "come out of the closet" on this particular message because I suspect that my voice may be speaking for others as well, and I want to contribute to what we in the medical field call this [wonderful] "see one, do one, teach one" culture!)

Dr. G


Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2006, 01:09:42 PM »
Boston. Ah, they have a tea party there once, lot's of old bags attended and didn't the bottleneck violin ensemble play at that one ;)

But to more important matters... washboards and drums, I'm working on it and even found my old washboard, but luckily no thimbles so I can't paly it  ;D

This is becoming quite facinating seeing how washboard players emulated drummers, I'm putting together a few short excerts of both plus a tiny bit by me which should point you in the right direction, I hope..

For your first assignment, can I assume that you being musicial type men, can (instantly) pick out the off-beat (ie beats 2 and 4 ) when you hear a tune? That is the hard part, the rest is just training your fingers  :-X
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2006, 01:22:45 AM »
Hi Richard,

Thanks for hanging in there with me on this...I was afraid maybe I had waxed too philosophical (and psychological) on my previous post, and actually inhibited followers of these threads rather than encouraged them!  Yes, that would be the same "AWWWW....Boston you're my home!" of more recent "roots" music.

Your comment about washboard players' emulating drummers never occurred to me before, but of course it makes perfect sense. I've always loved the reference in a Victor (?) ad to "Blind Blake and his piano-sounding guitar". (I have often admonished my piano player to emulate my own piano-sounding guitar...a rather silly "circle of instrumentation", one might say -- but one that can produce fresh, and unexpected, sounds!)

Yes, Teach, i think I can handle the first assignment: picking out the 2 & 4. Isn't this what we call the "back beat" -- as in "You can't lose it" of Chuck Berry fame? The "oom-PAH" of turn-of-the-century brass bands? That which makes Appalachian fiddle and clawhammer banjo so much sexier than Irish/New England styles? The emphasis of thumb notes on the 4th string -- as opposed to the 6th string -- when played in a typical raggy guitar "pattern picking" sequence...say, in "S.F. Bay Blues"? (Didn't you have a jackhammer operator out there who wrote a few '60's "folk revival" classics, and played a pretty mean fotdella?)

I think I'm with you so far....

Dr. G




Offline Doc White

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Good medicine
    • Doc White
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2006, 03:28:15 AM »
Hi Dr G,
I'm a washboard player too. I mostly play guitar and mandolin but I love the washboard. Mine is a custom made number by a guy called John McDowall here in Australia - native timber and all. He also invented these things called washboard wackers which are fantastic. There's a picture of me playing it on my myspace site www.myspace.com/bluefella . I also have a plastic cowbell which I hold on one hand and can use it to rub the washboard and make that toc sound at the same time.
I also play a hatbox which I use as a kickdrum with my right foot and bang a tambourine with my left. Pictures of that are on the site as well. I also have a video of that but it is yet to appear on the site.
David Holt has a video out on Homespun which is about folk percussion and includes the washboard and bones. Check that out as well.
Cheers,
Chris

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2006, 03:55:34 PM »
The more on this the merrier! 

As you've gathered I'm looking at this from the drummer view, or at least the drummers ear!

But, the more I have listened over the last couple of days, the more I have realised just how close it is to early drumming styles and I have found a few more examples tonight - for instance, we have Wasboard Sam playing the early version of jazz "time".

Hopefully I'll post it a couple of days - it's not going to be a mega thesis so panic not, but it might help explain some of the basics. 
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2006, 01:07:55 PM »
Hey Richard,

John C. (Waxwing)'s patient instructions on converting to mp3 appear to have worked like a charm!

I can now post (I think) a converted version of Roosevelt and Uaroy Graves' original "I'll Be Rested".

If you haven't heard it yet, I hope it knocks your socks off -- as it did mine [see first post in this thread]!

Dr. G



[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2518
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2006, 05:51:47 PM »
Had to read back the thread to see what you were trying to get at. I was thinking, "What washboard, that's a tamborine."-G-

Well it is definitely being played in a horizontal position, given the quick decay of the jangles. I had pretty good results hitting my left thigh with a skinless tamb while sitting and bringing my other hand over top to accentuate the eighth notes. So I'm holding the tambo in my right hand and banging it up and down between my left thigh and left hand, going to double time essentially with the guitar. I seem to be Hitting my thigh on the beats and hand on the "ands", except when I go to the double time, which starts on the "and" of 1.  The rythm sounds like:

One - and - a - two - ee - and - three - and - four - and -

If this isn't clear I could post an mp3, but I'm not really set up to record right now and I'm in the midst of several other projects.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2006, 08:57:05 PM »
Thanks, John

I think I get the picture -- you've described it very well. I don't have my tambourine at home tonight, but I'll give it a shot in the morning.

I'm still wondering where those occasional, accentuating "tocs" on the offbeat are coming from. Anyone have an inspiration on this mystery (to me, anyway)? I don't see how Uaroy could be playing them on his tambourine OR Roosevelt on his guitar....

Dr. G

Offline waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2518
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2006, 09:26:32 PM »
Foot stomps? Does sound more like a guitar body than a tamborine, or a wood block, but Roosevelt is picking pretty fancy when they happen. All the skinned tamborines we had around (my partner, Gre, is an Orff music teacher) sounded too drummy so I figured Uaroy's had to be without.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2006, 08:16:33 AM »
Hmmm. Good thought.

Dr. G

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2006, 08:26:49 AM »
Post 4 of 4

Final two examples... very jazzy  >:D you have been warned, but it's where it's all at!!!! 

Example 7- is for Dr G !!!   The authentic New Orleans stuff, the record is very worn, c1952. Note that I have left the tranistion between the two numbers to show how it was done.. the little toot is to tell the band what key it's in!
 
Example 8- I'm afraid it's me!!The tune High Society, is heavily snare orientated, I was lucky enough to play in this great recreation 20s Henderson\Ellington type big band for a few years, it's live and late on a 3 hour gig so it comes warts and all!!



[attachment deleted by admin]
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2006, 08:27:37 AM »
Post 3 of 3

Examples as above
3    Time on snare
3a   Wash demo time NEW UPDATED FILE ON NEW POST DATED 8 OCT
3b   WashBoard Sam - I been treated wrong
c     Floyd Casey- High Society - who said you can't do a march on washboard!

[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: October 08, 2006, 12:18:02 PM by Richard »
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2006, 08:36:01 AM »
Post 2 of 3

Eamples as above

2   Slow snare
2a  Slow washboard
2b  Floyd Casey - Mama stayed out all night ( I think hahha!)
2c  Washboard Sam - Lovers Lane Blues

[attachment deleted by admin]
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2006, 08:46:36 AM »
Post 1 of 4

Example 1c  Washboard sam... Shake Dance Mama

[attachment deleted by admin]
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2006, 08:49:33 AM »
Washboards... where to start!

First, I know we are a country blues site site, but washboard playing is so closely tied to the early jazz drumming that escape is not an option! This magnum opus started as as an earlier post in this thread expressed suprise that washboard playing was linked to drumming - we then meandered off on a tangent into a liking of NewOrleans and in a rash moment I said I would find an example or two..  which has in turn led to this mammoth post! But as promised, here it is - as usual, these are only my views etc etc and pigs can fly, splat..damn! Read on...

This could easily turn into a thesis, but I have tried to keep it contained and have attached some examples of both drum and washboard to try to make the various points clear - it's not mandatory to listen to the jazz\drum stuff but it might help you see where I am coming from!

Now, unlike the bass player whose life revolves around the 'on-beat' ie beats 1 and 3 in 4/4 time, the drummer's (washboard-ist's) life revolves around the 'off-beat' (or "back-beat" in the US?) being beats 2 and 4 - usually, if the drummer and the bass player don't get on musically then the rhythm section will swing like a lead ballon! If you have ever played in a band and the drummer has 'gone onto the on-beat' by mistake you will realise how important the off-beat is - a good example is when the audience (if you are lucky enough to have one !) decides to join in and clap... eek.... half will clap on 1 and 3 and the other two-thirds on 2 and 4 which will shred any chance the number ever had of remotely swinging.

So, just like playing an alternating bass on the guitar, the first thing you have to do is train yourself to get that 2 and 4 every time without thinking about it.

Now, none of what follows is set in stone and every drummer will play in his own way. But, as guide these are the (very) basics of New Orleans snare work which run (sort of) parallel with the washboard and remember what you can do on a snare drum you can just about do on washboard, except the long roll.

The basic (or at least, a safe generic) type of New Orleans snare drum beat is simply 4 beats with one hand and a press or crush roll on beats 2 and 4 with the other. Now, I have no desire to bore you to death with all the drum stuff, so I have recorded a few very short examples of this type of drumming to give the basic idea, which you can then compare to the equivalent washboard examples.

Another example shows that for slower numbers, the basic idea is to roll between beats 2 to 3 and then 4 to1 or on very slow stuff roll all the way through from 2 to 4 and that small fills, say a triplet or the odd quaver can be incoporated to give it a joined up feeling - there's a track by Washboard Sam to illustrate this. Now, since long rolls are more than difficult (ha ha) on the washboard you will have to be inventive and cobble up something to give it that joined up effect (that's bit like my guitar playing really!) and there are two examples, one of Floyd Casey playing without 'rolls' and another of Washboard Sam combining rolls and beats into rhythmic patterns.

So far so good, and I have take things a step further by playing first a drum and then a washboard with some nasty nylon brushes, to illustrate the rhythm that jazz folks just call  "time", there are other examples as well.

Whats next, dunno really! Although maybe I should add that you will really have to "listen" to the tracks of say Washboard Sam to find out what he doing.

I think the next part is up to you as we are heading down the road towards the world of "traps" ie cowbells, blocks and all that stuff. Beware of the minefield on your way there, as playing all those add-on goodies, without losing youyr place and sounding as though you are simply thrashing away without a musical clue, is down to listening and practice.... always remember that where effects are concerned, less is more!

With that in mind I have picked the Washboard Sam, Floyd Casey tracks because they were not a "flashy" players and did not use anything much, other than the washboard itself - in fact an awful lot of washboard playing is based on playing a solid rhythm which simply swings. I heartily recommend any budding players to do their "time" (bit of joke there, haha) first and only when they can lay down a really solid rhythm do they start adding toys which may otherwise distract  from keeping that rhythm - the moral of this is based on experience, have you ever taken a break on a fast tune, used every toy in the shop and then rejoined the band, in panic thinking where the **** is the off beat... eek!!!! Don't get me wrong, I love Spike Jones and his City Slickers but in moderation!!

In the following examples I have used nasty nylon brushes on the washboard as I can't find any thimbles and it's been years since I last played one properly anyway!

The examples, I make no excuses that the last 2 tracks are out and out jazz based - well, you don't have to listen to them. Although, the last track, as the strange English saying goes, proves that I have put my money where my mouth is!

1.   Snare basics, solid 4, accented off-beats2 and 4, the New Orleans beats
1a.   Dreadful washboard demo of above beats!
1b.   Jazz Gillum
1c.   Washboard Sam

2.   Snare, slow numbers   
2a   Dreadful washboard demo of slow beats!
2b   Floyd Casey
2c   Washboard Sam

3.   Playing "time" on snare
3a.   Dreadful washboard demo of "time"
3b.   Washboard Sam
3c   Floyd Casey

4.   The Tuxedo Brass Band - New Orleans c1952
8.   The Bootblacks !

I have had to split the various mp3 examples onto several posts to get all this on the original post and it's driven me nuts... so I hope it all works.. I can't bear to look   >:D !!

Keep going it's all here somewhere!!

[attachment deleted by admin]
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2615
  • Howdy!
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2006, 09:29:21 AM »
Wow, Richard, what a great set of posts.  You've shed some light on an area that I'd known nothing about.

One question:  On example 3a, what are your hands doing?  I'm imagining that the long strokes on the 1 and 3 are downstrokes with your left hand, right?  Then are quick strokes on 2 and 4 two downstrokes with your right hand, or a down/up, or am I going completely off in the wrong direction? 

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1892
  • Howdy!
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2006, 11:41:11 AM »
Thanks Richard!

I think I'm going to listen to the washboard tracks with a little more educated ear from now on  :).

Cheers

Pan

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2006, 12:36:45 PM »
dj.. ah, I see what you mean it's not quite clear is it! My problem in doing it was that after a while I couldn't see the wood for the trees  ;D

Since this is one of the more important examples I think I will quickly re-do that bit and post a new bit  - would it help if I were to do the hands seperately and then put it together?

Is there anything else you want me to record\explain (well try to) while I'm at it?
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2615
  • Howdy!
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2006, 02:19:04 PM »
Richard, it would be great for a total rhythm neophyte like me if you'd do the hands separately (and describe what you're doing), then put them together.
   

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2006, 05:56:50 AM »
Good Lord, Richard!

What a labor of love! Just got back to Weenie C. after a couple of days away, and you have totally blown my doors in with your magnum opus on rhythm accompaniment! Your written and mp3 expositions and examples are fabulous. I cannot wait to share with my washboard player (already played a few of your examples over the phone to her this A.M.!) and my brother the drummer. I can already hear (and taste) a much higher quality, more varied, rhythm accompaniment coming my way at future gigs and jam sessions! Is there anything I can do (back) for you? Peel you a grape? WOW!!!!!

With enormous appreciation and gratitude,

Dr. G

Offline Richard

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2406
  • Drove this for 25 years!
    • weekendblues
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #29 on: October 08, 2006, 12:27:44 PM »
:) :) :) This is the new audio example 3A that goes with post 3 :) :) :)

Sorry if the audio quality is down but it's due to transferring the file size to the forum limitations.Also, due to technical and file considerations totally beyond my brain  ::) I cannot attach it to the appropriate post so you will have to listen to it here..............

Can I suggest if you are reading this post for the first time you scroll down and read all the other parts in sequence before plalying this mp3 :)

Dr G...  I hope you are a happy bunny as I blame you for starting all this  ;) it has, in fainess made me think and listen a bit more closely as well. Oh, and I see you have spelt labour wrongly tut, tut  ;)

Any questions please do ask  :-X


[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: October 08, 2006, 12:28:56 PM by Richard »
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Dr. G

  • Member
  • Posts: 117
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #30 on: October 10, 2006, 05:15:12 AM »
I am a very "happy bunny" indeed...(whatever that is!) Oh why can't the English learn to speak?!

Dr. G

Offline jugblowr

  • Member
  • Posts: 15
    • Rootstone.net
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #31 on: October 10, 2006, 11:13:46 AM »
Excellent thread indeed!  I play in the New Roanoke Jug Band, and we have an excellent washboard player, who plays it as is - no spoons, thimbles or extras (just some substantial callouses after 30 years).  He is now passing the tradition on to our newest band member, a 21 yr old prodigy who is playing banjo, harp, guitar and washboard, and tambourine on I'll Be Rested.  As for the knocking sound in that piece, I wonder if it is Uaroy banging on his brother's guitar while shaking the tambourine?...I saw mention of a National Soap Saver #199 in the thread.  We have one of those (for the extra big whap), and a #197 that is the primary washboard.  Has anyone seen another model of blue enamel faced Soap Saver?

Offline waxwing

  • Member
  • Posts: 2518
    • Wax's YouTube Channel
Re: Classic Rhythm Accompaniment -- A DYING ART?
« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2006, 09:51:29 PM »
Go to ebay and search for washboard. Last time I looked there were about 5 pages. And maybe 3 #199s. Not to mention all the other popular models like Zinc King and Lingerie.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

Tags:
 


anything