What does 'dueling' instruments mean? To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=19973
49 messages

What does 'dueling' instruments mean?

03 Apr 00 - 01:45 PM (#206093)
Subject: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Marion

I'm just wondering about the term "dueling" that I hear sometimes, as in two people playing dueling fiddles. Is this just slang for two people playing the same instrument? Or does it refer to some specific way of accompanying each other?

Thanks,

Marion


03 Apr 00 - 02:10 PM (#206100)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Amos

The archetype in widely known tunes was "Dueling Banjos", in which a rapid series of riffs were played back and forth between the two players, building, echoing and expanding a theme.

I don't know of any more formal definition than that, FWIW.

A


03 Apr 00 - 02:29 PM (#206106)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,dick greenhaus

The origin of "Dueling Banjos" is a bit of urban folkore I can address from personal knowledge (none of theis "I have it on good authority" crap).

Once upn a time, in the southern portion of New York City, a folkie named Izzie Young opened a shop called The Folklore Center. One day, in a fit of something or other, another folkie (Bob Pliskin, who happens to lurk the Mudcat) hung an odd thing in his window: A banjo, outfitted with a bayonet. And below it was a placard reading: one half of the only set of dueling banjos in existence.

A third folkie, of the bluegrass persuasion, named Eric Weissberg, was taken with this concept. And so, when Weissberg re-arranged an older Reno/Smiley tune called "Mocking Banjo" for a forthcoming movie called Deliverance, he called it Dueling Banjos.

So help me Hannah!


03 Apr 00 - 03:38 PM (#206131)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: paddymac

Never would I doubt the word of Dick Greenhaus on a subject such as this. But having truthfully thus spoken, I should also say that, IMHO, his tale of the origin of "Dueling Banjos" is a classic and a keeper, irrespective of or despite the truth of it.


03 Apr 00 - 05:06 PM (#206165)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Mbo_at_ECU

Well that's interesting! I thought that the origin of "Dueling Banjos" was "Feudin' Banjos" originally done in 1951 by banjo player Arthur Smith. My old guitar teacher together with Arthur for a long time. Many people agree, including me, and Arthur himself, that his tune "Fuedin' Banjos" was what "Duelling Banjos" was adapted from. Here's a link where you can here both versions, and make the decision for yourself. Banjos!

--Mbo


03 Apr 00 - 05:23 PM (#206176)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Mbo_at_ECU

That should be "played together for a long time."

--Mbo


03 Apr 00 - 05:45 PM (#206192)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Jacob B

I heard Doug Dillard say that the tune Dueling Banjos was on the Dillards first album - except that they had only one banjo in the group, so they did it on banjo and mandolin and called it "Dueling Banjo".


03 Apr 00 - 06:09 PM (#206206)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: The Shambles

Thought this was going to be another gun lobby question, about those little boxes containing duelling pistols.

In jazz, there is what is called a conversation between instruments. Also heard it called question and answer.

I was once requested by a very drunk man to play that er………er………'Battling banjos'. Will they now make a movie called Dueling Banjos, containing a tune called Deliverence?


03 Apr 00 - 07:01 PM (#206233)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Stewie

Evidently, the movie made Don Reno and Arthur Smith considerably richer. A successful lawsuit established that their 'Feuding Banjoes' was the model on which the tune used in the movie was based.

--Stewie.


04 Apr 00 - 07:43 AM (#206429)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Liz the Squeak

I got voted office weirdo within a week of starting there, because I could name this tune and its film..... HELP!!

LTS


04 Apr 00 - 09:19 AM (#206468)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: MMario

*I* could have done that Squeek, and I've never seen the movie! And I am incredibly lousy at movie trivia...


04 Apr 00 - 09:52 AM (#206488)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,The Beanster

Guest Marion,

If you've never seen the movie, "Deliverance," rent it!! It's not only a great film but within the first 30 minutes there is, as folks have mentioned here, a great example of "dueling" instruments, namely, "Dueling Banjos." That one scene is almost worth the whole movie. (It was made in the 1970's and stars Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, etc.)


04 Apr 00 - 08:36 PM (#206766)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: dick greenhaus

Hey fellers- I was only telling the (true) story of where the word Dueling came in, not the origin of the tune. In any case, all the titles are misleading, except for Movkin' Banjo--I never heard more than one banjo on any of the recordings.


04 Apr 00 - 10:16 PM (#206807)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Rick Fielding

Don't know if this is relevent or not, but the original version that Don and Arthur did on the "Arthur Smith Show" was with tenor and five string.

Totally off track, but boy would I have loved to have been around (and in the vicinity) when those old morning (6am) radio and TV shows were done. I have always hated to get up early...but to have seen Flatt and Scruggs, The Stanleys, Reno and Smiley, The Wilburns etc. Heaven

Rick


04 Apr 00 - 10:30 PM (#206814)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: catspaw49

Thanks for the trip to truth Dick. More urban mythology shot down!

BTW, re: "Deliverance"

If you haven't seen this, do so. Fine music, great scenery too. It was filmed on the TN/GA border on the Chatuga, a beautiful area. More to the point though, the author, James Dickey (who plays the Sheriff in the movie by the way) was the Poet Laureate of Georgia and this was his first novel. It is a must read (personal opinion)!!! The characters and scenes are so well drawn and the movie, good as it is, cannot do justice to this beautiful work.

Spaw


05 Apr 00 - 05:21 AM (#206921)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Stewie

I agree with Rick that Smith played a tenor banjo and Reno a five string in the original. I saw the film, but I can't remember much about it. Wasn't the duel therein actually between a guitar and a banjo? Just curious.

--Stewie.


05 Apr 00 - 09:40 AM (#206970)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Gary T

Yes, Stewie. One of the city boys (played by Roy Scheider, I believe) plays a run on his guitar, which is repeated by a local lad on his banjo. The banjo player appears to be inbred/retarded, sort of an "idiot-savant" (underscoring the later concern in the story that any local jury will be populated by relatives of the man the city voyagers felt forced to kill). The guitarist steadily increases the tempo and complexity of what he's playing, while the banjoist flawlessly keeps up with him, then takes off with it and pumps the notes out so fast that the guitarist stops, saying "I can't keep up". In the movie, the last part of the tune is thus banjo only.


05 Apr 00 - 11:49 AM (#207039)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Jacob B

Does anyone have a copy of that first Dillards album? What year was it recorded? Is the cut on it called Dueling Banjo, or Feuding Banjo?


05 Apr 00 - 12:47 PM (#207088)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: MK

(Folkies forgive me, gonna take this idea and temporarily move it into a jazz application, to further illustrate the concept.)

Another variation of the ''duelling'' concept, in the jazz realm, is what's known in music circles as ''trading 4's'' or trading 8's'' or any number of designated ''trading bars'' (with the 4 or the 8 being the number of bars for each instrument to solo over)

....which means if for example you're playing a variation on a blues progression or even a jazz standard, depending on the number of musicians in the band (in this case we'll use a quartet with drums, piano, standup bass, and guitar)

...usually (but not always) when this approach is used in the concept of jazz, say playing over a standard swing tune, after the ''head'' (entire melody of the tune played all the way through once or twice) is performed, followed by each lead instrument (in this case guitar and piano) soloing over the head.

Before returing to playing the head and ending the tune, it is common to ''trade 4s''...so when you finish the solos, the trading of 4s could start at the top of the head with the piano doing 4 soloing bars; immediately followed by the guitar doing the same; then the bass; then the drums; and just keeping this revolving circle going till you've completed one pass all the way thru the head ---then the entire tune with the melody is once again played and the song ended.

Sorry for the cryptic explanation, but I think you understand what I'm trying to explain. This just takes the duelling idea to the next level, where more than two instruments can be involved.


06 Apr 00 - 12:24 PM (#207735)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Mark Clark

I believe Mbo is correct about the origin of the tune in question. The idea of an instrumental feud is an old one though. You see it in the film version of Amadaeus and you hear it in every good hot or bebop jazz cut. For a great "duel" catch the film "Crossroads" with a dubbed duel by Steve Vai. Great stuff.

- Mark


06 Apr 00 - 12:38 PM (#207745)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Lady McMoo

Banjo against accordion...?

Fortunately neither survived....

(runs for cover...)

mcmoo


06 Apr 00 - 12:52 PM (#207752)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Steve Latimer

So a little more trivia. The Dillards played the role of the hillbilly Darling family on the Andy Griffith show. They actually played Duelling Banjos on the show once.

I do have a couple of problems with Deliverance. I play the banjo and I'm kind of sick of telling this to people only to have them say "Squeal like a pig" or cross their eyes and mimic the opening from Duelling banjos. The other problem is constantly being asked if I know how to play duelling banjos (yes, badly). But people, there's a lot more than one great banjo tune.


06 Apr 00 - 02:18 PM (#207793)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Marion

If you get a chance to see "Legend of 1900", do so (most likely in a repertory cinema). It has a very entertaining jazz piano duel; they're not playing simultaneously, but taking turns showing how crazily they can play.

I'll look for Deliverance; I didn't know of it before.

Marion


06 Apr 00 - 02:33 PM (#207804)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Mark Clark

Marion,

I'll look out for it, thanks. You might also like a film from a few years back on the life of Scott Joplin. There are many scenes of early "sportin' house" players dueling on pianos. Each player in turn would take what had already been played and build on it playing it back in the faces of those who'd gone before. I suspect musicians have been doing this since people discovered that you could hit a hollow log with a stick and make a pleasant sound.

- Mark


06 Apr 00 - 04:19 PM (#207865)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Jacob B

I found The Dillards web site (www.the-dillards.com). It has a history of the group, which says that The Dillards first album was recorded in 1963, and that it included the cut Duelin' Banjos.

If that's the case, I find the claims above that the title Dueling Banjos wasn't used for the tune until the movie Deliverance was made in the 1970s to be highly suspect.


06 Apr 00 - 06:36 PM (#207927)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Rich(stupidbodhranplayer.....)

David Grisman and Joe Craven do an interesting duel on mandolin and talking drum in the finale of the song "Acousticity" (subtitled : What if James Brown played the mandolin") It is really something to see!

Rich


06 Apr 00 - 07:38 PM (#207968)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Sophocleese

Then there's PDQ Bach's 'Somethingor other for two unfriendly groups of instruments" Quite interesting.


06 Apr 00 - 10:44 PM (#208088)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: catspaw49

If I can borrow a 60's Framus 12 string from the goalie of the girls field hockey team, I'll take on anyone with anything.

Spaw


06 Apr 00 - 11:43 PM (#208114)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Rick Fielding

Don't mean to be pedantic but it was Ronnie Cox playing the guitar in the movie. In that scene Ronnie actually played (the kid of course wasn't) on the soundtrack it was Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell.

Catspaw: Oh how I concur. "Deliverance" is one of my absolute favourite films. The book as well. Dickey is marvellous as the sherrif. Hard to believe he wasn't an actor.

Rick


07 Apr 00 - 01:03 AM (#208167)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Billy the Bus

G'day

Just to add my tuppence worth, from way down south. Hamilton County Bluegrass Band played Duelling Banjos as early as 1967. Banjo/Mandolin version, based, I'm sure, on the Dillards. Can't find my disc of "HCBB Live at the Poles Apart Folk Club" (1968) just now, to verify.

HCCB are an NZ group, whom I knocked around with in the 60s. They toured the States 2 or 3 times in the 70s - some of you may have seen them.

Great band, great concert, great tune - the "Poles Apart" recording was the fastest and cleanest I'd ever heard them play, until Dave Calder (mandolin) broke two strings in one go, and Alan Rhodes was all but physically restrained from upping the tempo even further.

Alas, Hamilton County seldom come out of retirement to tour these days, so I haven't seen 'em live in years. However, there is a HCBB Home Page if anyone's interested in an NZ bluegrass band.

Thanks for the lead to "Feudin' Banjo", Mbo, never heard it.

Cheers - Sam


06 Mar 10 - 01:43 PM (#2857685)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Bob Pliskin

Somehow, all of the above came to me via a Google Alert today, 3/6/10. I can attest to Dick Greenhaus' statement that I put a banjo with bayonet bolted to its machine head in Izzy's store on MacDougall St. I had the banjo, its source now long forgotten, and an old French Army bayonet, so I took a drill--- and the rest seems to be history!


06 Mar 10 - 02:09 PM (#2857706)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Bill D

Is there an approximate date as to when the bayonet-equipped banjo was created? That would help with perspective on some of the other dates mentioned.


06 Mar 10 - 02:55 PM (#2857755)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Bob Pliskin

It would have to be when The Folklore Center was on MacDougall Street; before it moved to 6th Ave (Avenue of the Americas). Izzy would know when that was. He, to the best of my knowledge, owns Folklore Centret in Stockholm--if he's still alive. My guess: in the late 1950's or ealy 1960's.


06 Mar 10 - 03:17 PM (#2857766)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Leadfingers

Reference the Jazz aspect - In a band , Four bars apiece is a Complmentary thing - A 'duel' would be a Cutting Session . either between two soloists . or sometime two bands seeing who can out play the other ! NOT for the fainthearted , but usually resulted in some VERY interesting improvisations .


06 Mar 10 - 07:02 PM (#2857928)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Bill D

I saw that (cutting duel) done between Mark O'Connor and a local fellow 30 years ago behind a shed at Winfield. (1AM, under a light, drinking beer)Totally amazing...


06 Mar 10 - 07:12 PM (#2857934)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T

I'm quite surprised that this thread has gone so long without mention of what was probably the original duelling instrument.

As far back as the time of Bonny Prince Charlie (the reign of Charles I), duelling between pipers was common in Scotland, and the best pipers were famous the length and breadth of Scotland.

It took the same form, one piper playing an air, and the second then improvising, and expanding, and iit would pass back and forth until one was unable to continue.

I'm not sure that it isn't still going on to this day. Perhaps one of our Caledonian members mught know?

Don T.


06 Mar 10 - 07:23 PM (#2857941)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: pdq

I'm not sure how many people called the tune Mockin' Banjo, but the Kentucky Colonels did, circa 1965. I think the guitar (Clarence White), the banjo (Billy Ray) and the mandolin (Roland White) trade breaks rather than "duel", but I will listen tonight to be sure.

Clarence was known to change the name of tunes, sometimes humorously, as Beaumont Rag is called Julius Finkbine's Rag when he played it.


06 Mar 10 - 08:13 PM (#2857976)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Tattie Bogle

We had a touch of duelling accordions at the last session I was at: in this case a duel as it was piano accordion against "sook-and -blaw" button accordion. Don't ask me who won!
I've also done "duelling bodhrans " in the past: you really CAN play the tune if you're good with the left hand stuff!


06 Mar 10 - 08:24 PM (#2857981)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: pdq

Despite the obvious quality of the work, Martin Mull's variant "Dueling Tubas" failed to make the charts.


07 Mar 10 - 05:48 AM (#2858171)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: eddie1

Ronnie Cox who played the guitarist (but not the guitar) in Deliverance is still recording, having had a very successful movie career in the Beverley Hills Cop series and many others.

For a very moving piece of duelling guitars see this!

Eddie


07 Mar 10 - 07:05 AM (#2858211)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Mr Happy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtsZFtexXOM


07 Mar 10 - 07:26 AM (#2858222)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Jack Campin

Anyone know of a published version of this that uses ordinary staff notation for the melody lines?


08 Mar 10 - 07:28 AM (#2859032)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: semi-submersible

I had a published copy of "Duelling Banjos" sheet music years ago as a gift. Unfortunately I've no idea where I've put it since, and thus can't name the publisher. I played the melody parts (inexpertly) on my flute.


21 Jun 15 - 01:27 AM (#3717898)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,Me

I would say a "battle" of improvisation that has to develop once the limits of the main melody are reached.

Like in Crossroads when "Jack Butler" and "Eugene" "cut heads".


21 Jun 15 - 02:01 AM (#3717899)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: PHJim

The Deliverance sound track has only one tune that appeared in the movie and that is Dueling Banjos,(by the way I believe it's the only cut on the record that doesn't feature two banjos) recorded by Eric Weisberg and Steve Mandel. The rest of the record is a re-release of the record made in the '60s by Marshall Brickman and Eric Weisberg called New Dimensions In Banjo & Bluegrass. It also features the guitar of Clarence White. Even if you think of Dueling Banjos as a banjo cliché, this is a great recording and one of the earliest examples of melodic style banjo.


23 Jun 15 - 08:20 AM (#3718430)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Mo the caller

Don said
"I'm quite surprised that this thread has gone so long without mention of what was probably the original duelling instrument"

But wasn't there an improvisation contest between the young JS Bach and an established musician? (Buxtehude???)


23 Jun 15 - 08:28 AM (#3718434)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Mo the caller

http://www.classicfm.com/composers/bach/guides/bach-v-marchand-duel-never-was/


23 Jun 15 - 08:30 AM (#3718435)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: Mo the caller

Historic Duels

why didn't it do that the first time? Duelling keyboards (computer type)


23 Jun 15 - 06:35 PM (#3718576)
Subject: RE: What does 'dueling' instruments mean?
From: GUEST,BETSY

IT'S A YOUNG BOYS PISSING CONTEST