Inappropriate Familial Relationships

As you know, Bob, I've been learning to play the banjo. I'm still very much an amateur, and have mostly been working through Jack Hatfield's "First Lessons Banjo" in what free time I can find.

One of the first songs the book teaches is "Go Tell Aunt Rhody." It is a relevant point that the lyrics to this song are "Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody the old grey goose is dead." Shortly after learning the basic version of this song, the trainee is taught the Pinch, one of the most basic banjo player's tricks to make songs more complex and interesting. It consists of quickly striking the high-D and high-G strings, the outermost strings on a 5-string banjo, using the index finger and thumb respectively, in a pinching motion.

The trainee is then given a new version of Go Tell Aunt Rhody, this one deploying the pinch to make the song more dynamic, in order to practice the pinch in context. It should be pointed out here that the book has an accompanying CD, which the trainee can listen to and play along with, so as to get the appropriate timing and to hear what a song is supposed to sound like. It's quite useful.

Nonetheless, my training has now hit somewhat of a block because of this CD. The track containing the altered version of Go Tell Aunt Rhody is introduced by Jack Hatfield, the book's author, announcing in his southern drawl that we will now "Go Tell Aunt Rhody, with pinches." Whenever I hear this, I involuntarily chuckle and have to compose myself quickly before the actual song starts. I can't help but thinking of the sort of relationship one has with one's aunt that would lead one to use the mechanism of pinching to convey the death of a, presumably, beloved fowl. I think I'd better move onto Tom Dooley and the Forward Roll before I get stuck here.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on August 30, 2005 10:24 AM.

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