Sow The Fields

Do you ever get those times when you feel like you’ve had a breakthrough with composing? You know, when it feels as if inspiration can be turned on like a tap? Well in terms of The Red Panda Game that is exactly how I feel, and thanks to the wild combination of MILO Tin and Banjo-Mandolin, I have struck musical pay-dirt.

Today I thought to myself, I’ve got to write a track incorporating the new finger-picking pattern that I have adopted into my technique, and voila, Sow the Fields was born! The finger-piking technique that I speak of is an old one to say the least and has its origins in Africa, on a descendant of the Banjo called the Akonting.

The Banjos distant relative
The Banjos distant relative

Image courtesy of


When you play the Akonting, you pluck the strings with your thumb and fingers (usually index). When using your thumb, it is possible to strike the string downward or upward and the combination of these up and down strokes, paired with the index finger striking down gives us the technique that modern day Banjo players call Clawhammer.  Its funny that this technique works so well on my MILO Tin and I shouldn’t be too surprised, after all the MILO Tin is basically an Akonting with a metal tin instead of a gourd for the body.


With this new technique at the ready and the will to make some sweet music, I began to work with some ideas, ideas that later became Sow The Fields. I have tuned the Tinstrument to B flat, A, a, D, D, C (yes thats about the fourth different tuning that it has had!). This new tuning makes it possible to play four consecutive notes of a natural minor scale, without having to fret them (in this case they are notes of G natural minor).

Next, I have added the Banjo-Mandolin that plays an A Minor Pentatonic riff…wait a minute, didn’t I say the tuning of the MILO Tin is G natural minor?! WTF?! Well yes, I did, the notes of A minor pentatonic are all found in G natural minor, with the exception of the E natural (jazz theory is fun!). The resulting blend is what most people in western culture would describe as Chinese or Japanese.

Does anyone viewing this blog know how to make tapestry?
Does anyone viewing this blog know how to make tapestry?

So I have an African picking-pattern with Jazz modes, what next? Instrumentation.

Ensemble List

  • MILO Tinstrument x 3
  • Banjo-Mandolin
  • Ladys Choir
  • Kalimba
  • Persian-Ney
  • Fula-Flute
  • Double Bass
Yes, I spelt choir wrong!
Yes, I spelt choir wrong! 🙂

You friendly blogging host plays the MILO Tins and Banjo-Mandolin and employs Komplete 9 Ultimate for the MIDI sequences.

Final Thought

It is really eye-opening and inspiring to put together a group of instruments that are from all around the world and have them work cohesively as an ensemble and evoke the feeling of being a little red panda!

So enough tech-talk, lets have a listen!

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