Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Nine Pound Hammer, measure 5

I’m having a little trouble with measures 4-5 of Nine Pound Hammer. The whole song was a struggle until I took Ben’s demo (first video) and slowed it down enough to where I could figure out which ones are the melody notes. But even slowed down, I always fumble with the first note of measure 5 (the ornamental on the 5th string) - I can play it, but the rhythm of the song feels broken when I do, like it’s an extra note that delays the melody note for too long.

Does anyone know what I’m doing wrong?

Funny thing is that when I first heard the song I thought “meh, kinda boring” and almost skipped it. Now that I can play it through, I really like it - it’s a fun song to play, especially with the 4-2, 2-4 slides.

Thanks in advance,

To answer my own question - after playing along numerous times at a painstaking 25% speed, I think it was really just a combination of accenting it right and just getting used to the odd rhythm. At least, it feels normal now.

Actually, the the whole piece feels like it has an unusual rhythm, right from the beginning. It’s almost like someone held the measure markers in place and then forced that first rest into the beginning, pushing everything to the right by a quarter note. Am I imagining this? It sounds great, it’s just tricky to play.

I am not a banjo player, so I haven’t looked at that particular arrangement. Ben can run in a whole different gear than most players when when it comes to syncopation. He can keep a phrase offbeat from what seems “right” for measures at a time and be right on top of it. I have listened to him play stuff and thought something was off, but it was just me. I’d sync up a metronome and he he was right on it all the way through. Tony Rice and Clarence White do the same types of things with syncopation. I don’t know if that is something you are born with, or you just have to work at it. Whatever it is, it’s a cool thing. I am happy just to trick the ear for a beat or two.