Betsy Likens in 7/8

A traditional old-time tune that I learned from Miles Krassen’s tab, but I play it here in 7/8. This version of 7 is counted 3+2+2 or “slow-and-a quick quick.” Played on my Gold Tone cello banjo.

You can find the original tab in Miles Krassen’s book Clawhammer Banjo.

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1 Response to “Betsy Likens in 7/8”


  1. 1 Andy March 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    «Betsy Likens» is a fiery cornerstone of modal tuning. To me this tune feels mellifluous and captivating because of its simplicity.

    I know all too well the Krassen’s version: I love it so much that, whenever I happen to leave the banjo gDGCD overnight, actually it’s the first string of notes I burnish my fingernail on the next day recovering from work. That tune has a relaxing power and helps me to re-learn finger placement.

    I must say that an equally pared-down fiddle version, which I accidentally learned (from Alan Kaufman’s book) before this one, flows like a breeze in the magic of playing it over and over; yet the Krassen’s banjo arrangement, although very Galax-ish, to my taste leaves out too many important notes. By no means a ‘brusher’, I’m adept of clawhammer’s contrapunctal capabilities but never to the point of reducing a melody to a wireframe. That’s why I wrote a more refined version of the banjo part which, without sacrificing bounce, follows note-for-note an already straightforward melodic line. In a pinch, now I can choose at any moment what to backup the tune with.

    I truly appreciate your intuition of putting it in 7/8: you gave it a whole new meaning. My 4-year stint with a progressive folk-rock group where odd time signature ruled our music, rather than being isolated novelties, made them very familiar to my ear.

    Stunning rendition, Cathy. You crafted a true ear candy. Thumbs up! Maybe next step would be a stirring 11/4 clawhammer arrangement of the Grateful Dead’s «The Eleven»? ;-)


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