Updated: May 25, 2020
Intros & Outros
Knowing a few standard intros and outros is an essential part of any aspiring banjoist’s skill set.
Playing a short musical introduction to a tune or song serves a couple of important purposes:
1.) An intro relates the tempo to the other players in your band (or jam circle) allowing them to join in at the correct tempo.
2.) An intro also conveys the “tonality” of the tune/song, allowing other participants to hear the tonal center of the key. This can be especially helpful to singers who may need to hear a bit of the music before they can confidently start singing in the correct key.
Beyond the aforementioned reasons for adding intros to your arsenal is the simple fact that playing and intro will be expected of you if you ever “lead a song/tune” in a jam session or in a band. Playing an intro to “kick off” a piece of music is a critical part of the language of folk & roots music and, therefore, it behooves you to learn a few of the most common phrases so you can mingle successfully with the natives.
Outros are the musical equivalent of a concluding sentence. Outros also serve a couple of different purposes:
1.) Playing a classic ending lick at the end of a performance conveys a sense of closure and finality to the audience and/or the other musicians.
2.) Playing a familiar end tag at the conclusion of a performance allows the other players a chance to end at the proper time and in the proper manner. This ups your chances of having a much more cohesive sounding ending during a jam session or a loose stage performance.
Below are three videos I’ve created in order to teach you some classicly useful ways to introduce and conclude a song or tune during a jam or performance. Each video teaches essentially the same musical ideas across three different tunings: Open G (standard tuning), Double C, and Open D.
Give these videos a view and then start the process of integrating these essential elements into your clawhammer playing. Click the links below to access the vids: