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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)

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davidcava - Posted - 10/13/2018:  14:45:15

I've had a lot of help with the tenor banjo in the years I've been playing it. Eddy Davis, Buddy Wachter, Bob Barta, Steve Caddick, Steve Dibonaventura, Mike Hashem, and a bunch of others, at live events, have sat down and showed me stuff on the tenor. I think it's most important to get out to these live events/gatherings, and meet and listen to these guys in person. It's just not the same on the internet. That being said, I'm going to share some stuff I learned on the tenor, through these guys, and through books I've read. I'm currently working through a Book by Eddy Davis. I don't think it's a secret that I truly love Eddys' playing, and his approach to music. Eddy has a wonderful new site, with a wealth info on his playing Career, and photos, stories, and this book. If any newcomers to the tenor, I urge you to begin there.

I'll try to tie "some" of these things to that book, but you need to read, and understand it.


Edited by - davidcava on 10/13/2018 14:59:57

davidcava - Posted - 10/13/2018:  14:59:15

Let me try this link again

malarz - Posted - 10/13/2018:  15:30:59

Thanks for that video.

hobogal - Posted - 10/13/2018:  23:34:56

That's a clear instruction video, David. Thanks for posting.

davidcava - Posted - 10/14/2018:  06:45:12

You're Welcome Ken, Carrie.

davidcava - Posted - 10/14/2018:  06:52:25

From now on I'm going to be referring to the open C string as the 1st string, the open G string the 2nd.....and so on. From the brilliant Tenor Banjo text of Eddy Davis, in his book "The Theory Behind Chord Symbols", in the above link.

The intervals for the Bb Major scale in this video are the same for any Major Scale.

I'll probably put a few more of these videos here, but the rest on my youtube channel ZeldaAnnGoogel

I should say my girlfriends channel heart

Greenmeat - Posted - 10/14/2018:  09:31:37

Wonderful David, please keep it up. The reason for the numbering system is: It's like numbering the floors of a building. We in America start with the Ground Floor then we climb the Stairs or get on the Elevator and go up to the First Floor -- then the Elevator goes up to the Second Floor, and so on. We Don't start with __ Ground to up to Fourth, then up to Third etc.
Or as David has pointed out Pitch goes UP. I'm very, very happy David is studying this way (by talking as he goes) I've never been able to do that -- My mind always waffles to something else.
Yes - Yes David please keep it up. Then if I can say something every now and then -- maybe between the two of us we can try to get this BOOK to others. You can do it my boy. And I wish you other people would talk with David thru it. OH, Boy Oh, Boy. OUR BOOK has always needed this. Please - Thanks. Eddy (a Minstrel)

You can down load the BOOK from my website so you can follow David. (That is the Website)

davidcava - Posted - 10/14/2018:  10:14:42

You are a most generous Man Eddy, and the work you've put out on the net, through your music and teaching is incredible. I will surely need your help to expand on your material in your text. Having been to your workshops, I can't come close to explaining some of your theories, but I'd love to continue on.


davidcava - Posted - 10/14/2018:  14:59:31

I made one verbal mistake near the end of Video. Bb minor is relative to Db major.

From page 6 of Eddy Davis' Tenor Text

davidcava - Posted - 10/15/2018:  11:59:32

F Dominant chords and "one" way to harmonize the Bb major scale

aintbrokejustbadlybent - Posted - 10/16/2018:  09:27:25

Hey David,
Thanks for putting this together. I have a basic understanding of theory but it is nice seeing/hearing it explained with the aid of the banjo. I finally understand the chord form numbers from your explanation and learned a new chord shape. For that I am grateful. You have the heart of a teacher. I appreciate the time and effort you put into this.

davidcava - Posted - 10/16/2018:  09:52:43

Hey Mike, you're welcome. I'm putting this down for my own studies as well, and I'm glad you're getting something out of it. Are you a piano player Mike? from your great arrangement of I'll be seeing you, I figured you are a piano player.

Eddy is really the Master of this stuff, and when I delve deeper into his book, I'm sure he will expand on all the theory, and possible movements.


aintbrokejustbadlybent - Posted - 10/16/2018:  11:08:13

I'm no piano player. I have played quite a bit with a piano player and whenever she speaks I listen closely.
I can't seem to remember all the chord shapes and so when I learn a piece I have to think of what notes are in the chord. I try to find an easy way to play, limit my movements if possible. One thing I learned with banjo is more often than not you are not going to have the tonic on the bottom. I think that makes the sound we get from the banjo rather unique. Piano players do that a lot. I personally like a sparser sound.
Not sure what made the arrangement unique but I'm glad you liked it. That gives me a deep sense of satisfaction.
I wanted to post that about a month ago but when I played along with the metronome I was so off. I really need to use the metronome from the beginning. I think my timing was still a bit shaky.

davidcava - Posted - 10/16/2018:  17:32:01

Your timing sounded good to me.

Greenmeat - Posted - 10/18/2018:  10:23:33

WHAT ARE THE QUESTIONS? Ask me -- Ask me -- I'm here and waiting -- More David -- More. Eddy Ray

davidcava - Posted - 10/18/2018:  12:54:36

I'm definitely going to continue with your fantastic text Eddy. I'm on the road at the moment, and can't record until later next week. I'm sure I'll have questions, but hope other people chime in here in the meantime.


davidcava - Posted - 10/23/2018:  07:18:55

Remember, the open C is the 1st string, the G the second string, D third, and A fourth.


Greenmeat - Posted - 10/23/2018:  12:58:01

Hey David - great job of showing how to harmonize a C Major Scale. You are the MAN. Eddy

Ag_econ_man - Posted - 10/24/2018:  04:21:31

David, thanks for the basic explanations of harmonizing a scale. I found it to be a useful accompaniment to Eddy's book.

malarz - Posted - 10/24/2018:  04:55:36


Thanks for the visual explanation. Your “hands-on” videos really help.


davidcava - Posted - 10/24/2018:  06:54:34

Joe, Ken, You're Welcome. It's a great book isn't it? I'm really enjoying it, and learning a lot, and Thanks Eddy!

davidcava - Posted - 10/25/2018:  06:41:53

A Harmonized scale for Eb Major using the 1 chord (Eb Maj), the 4 chord (Ab Maj), and the 5 chord, or dominant chord (Bb7).

Some Wabash Blues towards the end of the video.

For Tenor Banjo tuned CGDA

aintbrokejustbadlybent - Posted - 10/25/2018:  07:18:51

Hey David,
Good stuff. I'm a bit weak on my Eb scale/key. One of the things this highlights is that we should be conversant in all keys. I remember taking lessons and my instructor saying "now learn that song in all 12 keys". I've honestly never done that. Your videos have real value. Keep up the good work.

davidcava - Posted - 10/25/2018:  07:42:47

Hey Mike, I can't play in all the keys either, so I'm trying to work through some of them, a bit at a time. It certainly is a challenge for me. I'm getting a little better at hearing some of these changes.....slowly...but I love the music, it's great fun.

davidcava - Posted - 10/29/2018:  06:46:40

Two note Harmony for Minor, from Eddy's book "The Theory Behind Chord Symbols".

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