About Greg and Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings

For Christmas of 2007 my wife, Liddy, gave me a banjo. Other than a year of piano lessons in second grade, I'd never played an instrument, and I though it would be fun to learn to play the banjo. Over the past year, I've made some pretty good progress in learning to play clawhammer-style. In addition to learning standard old-time banjo tunes, I have also spent a lot of time learning hymns, many of which I've arranged for banjo myself. With Christmas coming up, I'd been planning to learn some Christmas hymns, and I thought it would be fun to share them with others.

I will post a new song every day from November 30 (the start of Advent) until December 26 (a St. Stephen's Day carol will wrap things up). Songs will be posted both to this web site and to a facebook group. You can also subscribe to the rss feed. Each song will be available in both ogg and mp3 formats on this site, and I'll also post lyrics and information about each song.

This project is partly inspired by the play Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity written by Preston Lane with music by Laurelyn Dossett. Though the music from the play is more bluegrass in style, I really liked the way the banjo sounded playing traditional carols. I just wish I could be back in Greensboro in time to see it again this year.

The recording setup for this project is very simple, so don't expect great sound quality (or great picking either, I've only been playing for 11 months). All songs were played on a Savannah SB-070 open-back banjo. Unless noted otherwise, I tuned to Open G (gDGBD). Songs were recorded using Audacity and a Samson R10S microphone.

Sources are listed for each song, but the most helpful sources for this project were the Presbyterian Hymnal (1990), the Oxford Book of Carols (1964), the New Century Hymnal (1995), and the Cyber Hymnal. For the more secular Christmas songs, I mostly had to piece melodies together on my own using various web sources.