Historically, the banjo was played in the claw-hammer style by the Africans who brought their version of the banjo with them. Several other styles of play were developed from this. Clawhammer consists of downward striking of one or more of the four main strings with the index, middle or both fingers while the drone or fifth string is played with a 'lifting' (as opposed to downward pluck) motion of the thumb. The notes typically sounded by the thumb in this fashion are, usually, on the off beat. Melodies can be quite intricate adding techniques such as double thumbing and drop thumb. In old time Appalachian Mountain music, a style called two-finger up-pick is also used, and a three-finger version that Earl Scruggs developed into the "Scruggs" style picking was nationally aired in 1945 on the Grand Ole Opry. In this style the instrument is played by plucking individual notes. Modern fingerstyle is usually played using fingerpicks, though early players and some modern players play either with nails or with a technique known as on the flesh. In this style the strings are played directly with the fingers, rather than any pick or intermediary.
Marisa (she/her) has covered all things parenting, from the postpartum period through the empty nest, for Good Housekeeping since 2018; she previously wrote about parents and families at Parents and Working Mother. She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, where she can be found dominating the audio round at her local bar trivia night or tweeting about movies. 2b1af7f3a8