Clawhammer is a method of playing the five-string banjo. Unlike Scruggs style, in which strings are picked individually using the thumb, index and middle fingers, in clawhammer playing the melody string is picked downwards with the nail of the index or middle finger, followed by a strum using the same nail, after which the shorter fifth string is picked using the thumb.
Clawhammer and the closely related playing method called frailing are a highly rhythmic and common component of American old-time music. Whether or not clawhammer and frailing are one and the same is the subject of heated debate within old-time music circles.
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