Friday, January 03, 2014

Of Banjos and Doig . . . .

I can hear Bill downstairs, trying to tune my banjo.  This is our third or fourth attempt.  I bought a tuner in Phoenix last February, and we've never quite figured out how to make it work. 

Yesterday for about the umpteenth time, I went to YouTube and watched an instructor's three methods of tuning, complete with a warning that the tuner could cause a broken string cuz there are so many variables and ya don't want to wind those strings too tightly.

Bill keeps saying, "If I knew the notes for each string, that would help."  

Well, after trying the tuner off and on last night, based on my YouTube instruction, and realizing that the arrow hitting the green line doesn't always mean the banjo is in tune, I told Bill there's got to be more.

Again, he said, "If I knew the notes . . . ."

So, I went back upstairs and found the little booklet that came with the banjo, which said something about a tuning pipe.  

"Hmm, that's what that silver thing is," I thought.  

So, I took the tuning pipe, banjo and little booklet downstairs to my former music major husband who's married to a music ignoramus. 

He's working at it, and I'm figuring that once he's successful, he can show me "how to catch a fish" so to speak.  

I want to get past the need to have someone else tune my banjo and I'd like to get back to practicing the five songs Fiddlin' Red gave me over my course of lessons last year. 

So, that's one fun January project for when all work is done.  Another involves the two Ivan Doig books that arrived at my house in the past few weeks.  I finally finished Work Song after reading The Whistling Season and decided to order The Bartender's Tale for the next Doig read.

Turns out the book I thought was not coming out until later this year appeared in one of my Christmas presents from Bill.  Sweet Thunder will probably get read later this year because I like to savor Doig's books. 

Or, another excuse----stuff gets in the way.

I'm now enjoying The Bartender's Tale, which moves a little faster than the other Doig books I've read.  This author, who lives in Seattle, provides me with a vicarious escape to the Montana that I have so loved with every passing through.  

I've always thought of those areas in Montana as possible places where I may have spent another life,  or maybe it's the life I've always dreamed of spending in the vast and beautiful ranch country of past times. 

One of my most meaningful Montana adventures involved riding my bike through several miles of the Centennial Valley which stretches to an area near Yellowstone.  

It's a place with huge expanses of land, marked by the occasional weathered and broken-down remnants of ranches which thrived in the early 1900s.  Being there makes one feel far removed from the busyness of the world. 

On that trip and on some other short biking trips in Montana, I've experienced the full meaning of how insignificant we humans are in comparison to the lands on this Earth. 

Doig captures that same feeling within the pages of his books, as he tells a good story and develops interesting, believable characters----some who move along to the next novel. 

Anyway, banjo plucking and turning Doig pages should help the long month of January move into February a little more quickly.  

In the meantime, it looks like a beautiful day coming up and maybe an opportunity to get outside and take in some more winter scenery.  

Happy Friday. 

1 comment:

Bay Views said...

If you can't hold a key your strings may be shot. I'd start with new strings. If your banjo is a 5-string and tuned in G then tune the middle string to g as well as the 4th. The second is B.

If it is a four string then I don't know what key it is in, but you should be able to look it up. Then identify what key each string represents.