We have a great video premiere today from Dan Walsh for Whiplash Reel, a track which really showcases his mastery of the banjo. The tune is from his latest album Incidents & Accidents which is out today and which we recently reviewed as one of our Featured Albums of the Month. Watch it below and read in Dan’s own words how the tune came about which started with his love for Indian classical music.
For the last five years my obsession with Indian classical music has grown and grown and culminated in an amazing trip out there in February 2013 to play music with six musicians from the region and three other Brits. One of these musicians, Suhail Yusuf Khan who is an extraordinary sarangi player and singer came over to the UK and we did a duo tour playing everything from Indian ragas to bluegrass songs.
Playing ragas on the banjo has been one of my greatest challenges. The trick for me is to try and create a sound reminiscent of Indian instruments which involves some heavy work on the fingers! Key to it is the use of bends to achieve the micro-tones (notes between notes) and to get those trademark bends up to the notes so prevalent in the idiom. There’s also some pretty rapid slides to help with this effect and using right hand syncopation to get those rhythms!
With all this in mind, I wanted to write something in the vein but that had a bit of British and Irish in there too. The result was a reel, written in 4/4 and with the standard AABB form with two repeated 8 bar parts. The twist was to use an Indian scale and the bends from note to note. Over time this developed further into being presented in raga-like form with a slow, free improvisory section at the beginning, a slow rendition of the tune, then a couple of full on times through before a long solo section, return to the tune and then an ending.
It’s been my most popular live track since it came into the set so was a definite to include on the album. It’s actually in a fairly conventional banjo tuning – double C. I always find it best when playing Indian music to try and have the root note as the lowest string to help create the drone effect. So I also play in D but in G tuning quite often for this reason.
Dan is currently touring so make every effort you can to catch him on one of the dates below:
Incidents & Accidents Tour Dates
17/03 – Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford
18/03 – Llantrisant Folk Club, Wales
19/03 – Ritz Acoustic Club, Burnham on Sea (with Christi Andropolis)
20/03 – Anvil Theatre, Basingstoke
21/03 – Melting Pot, Redruth
25/03 – Faversham Folk Club
27/03 – Hales Club, Market Drayton
28/03 – Falcon Hotel, Bromyard
31/03 – Hoy At Anchor Folk Club, Westcliff-on-Sea
03/04 – Brewtown Folk Club, Burton-on-Trent
04/04 – Maddemarket Theatre, Norwich
07/04 – Green Note, London
11/04 – Kingsdown Wine Vaults, Bristol
12/04 – Nailsea Folk Club, Somerset
15/04 – Byre Theatre, St Andrews
16/04 – University Kings Hall, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1pm)
18/04 – St Boswells Live,Scotland