On The Outside Looking Out from Leon Hunt

On The Outside Looking OutMel Bay has released a new banjo book written by Leon Hunt, intended for serious and adventurous students of the instrument. Entitled On The Outside Looking Out: 5-String Banjo Beyond Bluegrass, this book/DVD set explores tunes, keys and techniques from the worlds of jazz, Celtic and new acoustic music.

Hunt is a renowned British 5 stringer who began his quest seeking to master bluegrass banjo, but found the opportunities to perform in the Scruggs style close to home few and far between. That, and a fondness for the Celtic music of his homeland, led him to develop an interest in non-bluegrass banjo as well.

His book is meant for advanced players willing to challenge themselves both technically and harmonically. Using a mix of exercises and tunes, Hunt invites the reader to explore the banjo fingerboard in ways that will be unfamiliar to even very capable players. He starts with a brief section on notational basics and chord construction, followed by some examples of more traditional roll style banjo.

Twenty-some pages of Celtic tunes begin the introduction to Leon’s approach which mixes melodic and single-string patterns to find the notes required to convey the melodies exactly. Many of the tunes presented are ones he has written, along with a smattering of popular traditional numbers and tunes from Matt Flinner, Padraig Rynne, Iain McInnes, Henry Sears and Adam Sutherland.

A section called More Music Theory (and putting it into practice) includes several particularly challenging compositions. Here you’ll find tunes played open in E, Bb, Gm, D and Dm. The book closes with a section on improvisation, and a short bit on amplifying your banjo for stage work.

The book runs to 96 pages, with all the exercises and tunes demonstrated on the accompanying DVD, many with a slow motion option. All music is transcribed in tablature.

On The Outside Looking Out carries a selling price of $29.95. More details, including sample pages, can be found on the Mel Bay web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.