Clinch Mountain Backstep: Banjo

Clinch Mountain Backstep is one of my favorite Ralph Stanley tunes. If you aren’t familiar with Ralph Stanley You should definitely check him out as he is one of the all time greats of bluegrass banjo. During his epic career spanning from the formation of the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946 to his death in 2016, Stanley was both a founding father of bluegrass and a key influence on generations of banjo players and singers. If you want to know more about the man check out the Ralph Stanley Museum:

Clinch Mountain Backstep is a Modal tune usually played in A. We play it in G on the banjo and Capo up to 2nd fret to put it in A. Even though the accompaniment is usually played with major chords the melody has a minor 3rd and a b7, giving the tune a distinct modal sound. I made this tab arrangement that I think pretty well captures the spirit of the tune, though it is not exactly what Stanley would have played. Keep an eye on that extra half measure in the second half.

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I don’t think I played exactly according to the tabs in that video so here is the slowed down first half exactly as written:

Here is the slowed down second half:

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