If you’ve been a long-time follower of Robert Frost’s Banjo, you may recall that I hold banjoist Cathy Moore in very high esteem—I think she’s an extremely gifted musician based on a series of videos she posted on her blog & her YouTube channel, both dubbed Banjo Meets World. Ms Moore is proof that one can have a true musical gift & not follow music as a profession, however—as I understand it she is a successful business person. But sadly it means that there are only a limited number of videos to enjoy her playing; & to the best of my knowledge, she has never released a recording. Moore’s website & YouTube endeavors were slanted toward teaching, & in addition to her performance videos, there are also some wonderful lessons, both in the form of videos & blog posts. Highly recommended!
While I’d considered sharing two videos today, I finally decided only to embed one—after all, playing this good should be savored! Today’s selection is a medley of Durang’s Hornpipe, an old-time American tune, & the Old Bush, which is an Irish Reel. However, in typical Cathy Moore fashion, she re-casts Durang’s from the 2/4 meter of a hornpipe to the 11/8 meter of a Bulgarian Gankino. Now as someone who has sometimes played in odd meters—& 11/8 is not something you hear a lot of in the US!—I can assure you that they’re tricky under almost any circumstances—but to think of playing 11/8 on a banjo in clawhammer style is really quite mind-boggling. The clawhammer style—however it may have been employed in African origin— is in its contemporary manifestation most at home in 2/4 or “cut time,” in which there is a 1-2 count to the measure. It’s even a bit tricky to play common times like 3/4 (or waltz time) in the clawhammer style. To listen to Moore play in 11/8 (& then switch back to 2/4 for the reel) is impressive indeed. However, I’d also point out that Moore’s playing—as much as it incorporates odd meters—is never simply a “tour de force,” or as we might say nowadays, merely for the “oh wow” factor. She always brings a great musicality to the pieces she performs.
I know you’ll enjoy this!
Note: This is the fifth post on Robert Frost's Banjo to feature Cathy Moore's playing. If you enjoy her playing as much as I do, you might consider visiting one or more of the four earlier ones:
“Trâgnala Rumjana” (9/18/10)
"Rush in the Pepper" (11/24/10, as part of the "Banjo Feast Thanksgiving series)
"Star of Munster & Greasy Coat" (7/15/11-also a medley)
"Betsy Likens" (9/16/11-in 5/4 on a cello banjo!)