Widgeteering the Banjo II; Looking at Licks

Let's take a look at some banjo licks and try to figure out why they work.

Let's start with the first 4 measures of "Blue Ridge Cabin Home" from Wil Huckaby's first "Cut 'N Paste" banjo book. This is available from, which I'm told is the best little banjo house in Texas.Angie has a 4-measure sample from Wil's book that includes the tab and mp3 files of the break. (Angie's pdf file) I chose it as an example because I like Wil's idea.

Instead of just teaching you to play "a song", Wil's teaching method is a little more innovative, and gives you a way to generalize-- to move certain licks around and fit them into other songs.

Here's some clips I made of Wil's banjo break, with three completely different songs voiced over it.

Blue Ridge Cabin Home Using my Bible for a Roadmap Teardrops in my Eyes

The Oscar Meyer Weiner song also fits, but you'll need to try that one yourself.

No question, this Cut 'N Paste idea is a pretty versatile tool for getting you by in a jam session environment. Now, if you go to Angie's site and play the two audio files, you find that the banjo break by itself doesn't sound much like the tune, but the break played with the background song fits together just fine, as you've already heard from my little clips. We can look at these measures one at a time and try to figure out why that is.

Click on the measures one by one to open up the images, or if you don't mind scrolling down a ways, just view them below the links.

After you've had a chance to look at Wil's version, we can go on and try to put some other breaks together in other ways, using the Fiddlewidget as a map.

Wil Huckaby's lick; First Measure Wil Huckaby's Lick; 2nd Measure
Wil Huckaby's Lick; 3rd Measure Wil Huckaby's Lick; 4th Measure

Next time we'll work out some licks that sound more like the melody, with or without using the Fiddlewidget. Keep coming back; thanks.