Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

What is it called?

My fellow forum Members,

I just reviewed the Banjo Black Mountain Rag in C Advanced Lesson (which is too advanced for me) and I noticed something wonderful in the lesson I wanted to compliment @BanjoBen on…

When I thought to comment, I realized I was not exactly sure how to describe the section of the song to identify it. This is also a bit embarrassing because I feel I should know it! :thinking::face_with_raised_eyebrow:

So… with that, I want to pose this question here… In the effort of continuous learning.

In Bluegrass style, after playing the Kickoff, Part A, Part B, what is the name for the section of the song - typically 4 bars - that frames up that signature bluegrass ending. Y’all know the one… that song ending phrase that tags into the setup for the ending…

I don’t think it is merely called “the ending”… or “Outro”. I suspect there must be some cool term for it… Or maybe two… One that is formal and another that is slang… Maybe like… The Kickoff (term) contains the potatoes (slang)…

Isn’t there a well-known or special Bluesgrass term for it? For me, it is a nuance that really is unique and stands out in Bluegrass…

Side note to @BanjoBen… I think I recall a very brief intro to fiddle tune format when starting the Mando learning… but maybe a lesson to define, describe and break down all typical elements of Bluegrass songs would be helpful for us - complete with examples?

What is a reel versus a Rag or Round (although I think a recent student broke those song types down)? Are bridges used in bluegrass to transition around parts?

I don’t know about y’all but I really enjoy the insights into this element of Bluegrass Theory and history… the terms and the names inside that defines this special genre. I often remember the delight when I learned about the term potatoes for the first time.

Helping out us Northerners (outside typical Bluegrass landscapes) is really appreciated…

Finally my compliment to @BanjoBen was the way he enters into the ending phrase by landing on a low D string - but landing down on the 3rd of the chord… Sounded amazing

Now, I did not take the time to study it yet or to look at the tab… But I am thinking he played a low E that landed on a C chord - before ascending up again.

So… my comment was the awesomeness of the sound of landing the 3rd so low as he did… but my question was about the setup phrase ending so common to Bluegrass…


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Maybe the shave and a haircut ending?

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Seems like there should be, but I don’t know another name for it than “ending.” One type of ending would be the shave and haircut ending, but that’s not what I classify this ending as.

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Shave and a Haircut ending… I agree… that it is “in there” but doesn’t really apply.

Not to mention, the “Shave” is really just a 1 bar tag-on ending, whereas the ending I speak of is longer… typically 4 bars… That can contain the “Shave” ending.

I also am stricken how everyone knows the “Shave and a Haircut - two bits”… but the origin of it…?

Anyway, @BanjoBen, at the begining of the ending phrase… I really liked how you landed on the 3rd of the chord on the low string

Hi @WillCoop are you maybe thinking “bridge” that links two parts or could it be “turn around” a phrase to take you back into the tune.

Kick Off gets you started, Verse and Chorus are the main body of a tune and Ending brings closure.

Barbershop Quartet singers perhaps ?

That could be it indeed @Archie!

Even if true… I also wonder when/what song is its’ origin…

All due respect, @Archie,

I know the use of a bridge… and think I know of the use of turn-arounds… but I think @BanjoBen nailed it… and you stated also… I guess that typical 4 bar conclusion is simply… the ending.

I guess there is no other term in the bluegrass world after all?

Typically, an ending in music theory is commonly called a cadence… but the cadence is defined as the final 2 chords of a phrase or song. I guess that would be the “2 bits” (V, I) chord progression end of the “shave and a haircut”.

I’ve wondered that as well, (origin of shave and haircut). While this link creates more questions than answers, you can check it out at Looks like it’s been around at least since the late 1800’s, and is known around the world…but the melody/pattern seems to have different meanings in different places! Morse code seems like a probable possibility. See also

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Thanks for the interesting reading.

I still am amazed that there is no real reference to “the ending” - or the longer 4-bar phrase (where “shave” is at the very end)… that is recognizable as part of the Bluegrass song ending.

Someone should jump at the chance to create a tag name and use it within our forum community… so WE can coin the phrase.

If we all use it, we can expand it outward to just become the name… and leave our little legacy on the Bluegrass collection of terms. :wink: