The Banjo Breakdown - Jig

For this bagpipe lesson Pipe Major Bill Robertson explains playing the tune The Banjo Breakdown. Bill breaks the lesson down into sections with commentary for each section.

The tune is set as a Jig.


Listen to Bill's Audio Instruction
The banjo Breakdown - Jig

Download the Music Notation for The Banjo Breakdown

Click to download the tune notation for The Banjo Breakdown

Lesson Pointers for The Banjo Breakdown

The parts are written in full as sixteen bars each as played right through. The unique arrangement is mostly in the third and fourth parts two bars ending of first time through that are amusing in the unusual rhythm and effective sequence of grace notes that I think you will enjoy. An alternative easier way of these grace notes is mentioned in the audio file, and most likely in the video.

In other arrangements the ending of parts is sometimes different and can be easily adapted if desired. Make sure that basic rhythm of the beats is almost a round/even 1,2,3, clearly without being crushed. The doublings on many longer quarter notes should be nice and clear. You should notice also that the more open doublings on low A's & B's in the third part are written in an open fashion to assist with the execution suggested. There is no need to race carelessly through the music, simply apply the good technique and basic rhythm well with controlled tempo of about 112 beats per minute give or take a send or two.

Additional Information

This tune, The Banjo Breakdown, I noticed in the official programme of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2010. It was in the list of music of the Massed Pipes and Drums. It brought to mind the times we used to play the tune occasionally for one's lighthearted relief or amusement, when in the Pipes and Drums of my old regiment.

The arrangement I have is derived from what I recall of how we had it from our then well respected Pipe Major Hugh Fraser who at times used to rattle of jig after jig that we never heard before, and all so musical. No wonder some great pipers in The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders were after Hugh to write out the music of the jigs for them when he was in his later serving years in the regiment, before taking over the appointment of Pipe Major of The Royal Scots.

I saw somewhere a reference that suggested the tune might be a traditional Irish melody.


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