Mel 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.