i had a bit of an epiphany a couple of nights ago, playing with a fairly large ensemble in a rock/country type format.
the way the banjo sounds, and the things you can do with it started to kind of explode in my mind and i felt like i could really play anything and it sounded good. the much maligned banjo can work in so many places. it fits in just about anywhere and adds to the overall sonic structure.
in the middle of the show, in front of about 600 or so people, i came to the conclusion that anything i could play sounded good. just one note, or laying out or playing inversions up the neck or blasts of notes or playing the melody, or fundamental pedal type ideas, harmonized scalar ideas, little horn lines, super-imposing altered chords, or just grabbing a part of the neck and playing whatever happened there or quoting bits of melodies from my childhood, everything sounded good. as long as my banjo didn't step on anyone or conflict with another's part, i'm free to do anything.
i left my body and felt like a big bird flying around in the venue.
(i'm not able to get to this level every time. far from it. it might be like hitting the big grand slam, but you have plenty o' strikeouts and little bloop singles first. hit by a few pitches. in any event, sometimes an extra magic thing happens in something done with intention and awareness.)
my conclusion is that the orchestral possibilities of the banjo haven't really been taped yet, at least by me anyway. the dang thing sounds so good to me and it can fit in anywhere. there is so much more music in there than i ever dreamt of. it truly is a universal versatile instrument with a wide range of expression.
i think i experienced banjo samadhi.