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Sawmill tunes

My brother and I were exchanging emails about tunes in modal or “sawmill” tuning. I like a lot of the modal tunes but I don’t play them that often on clawhammer. One I particularly like is Bonaparte’s March. Here are the Indian Creek Delta Boys.

Another great tune in modal tuning is Cluck Old Hen. Here’s Aubrey Atwater having a go at it. She also plays it slowly to teach the tune.

For a while I was playing Boatin’ up Sandy quite a bit – also in modal tuning. I went looking for a version on YouTube and realized that I posted me playing that tune quite a while ago….here it is.  For some reason I stopped playing this one – not sure why – it’s got a wonderfully hypnotic melody. I’ll have to add it back into my tune list.

On banjo, when players say they are in Sawmill tuning, they mean that tuned in standard G tuning, they tune the second string up a half tone from B to C.  That’s G modal tuning. To make it A modal, you can capo up to the second fret.

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