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Banjo versus TV: Week 39

Posted by jrjenks on Saturday, October 4, 2008

A weekly check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s resolution to spend more time in 2008 on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 9/23/2008 through 9/29/2008.
Banjo 256 hrs, TV 227 hours

I spent a chunk of time this week on a banjo-related woodworking project: I'm shortening the neck of a banjo. I've been taking pictures every step of the way and I'll post a thorough description of the project when I'm done. Update: I finished that thorough description of the project over Thanksgiving break. Enjoy.

Here's a peek at a prototype that I carved out of balsa wood.

Also in the last week:

  • Things I took away from this week's banjo lesson:
    • Dave heartily approves of a student rewriting materials. I've done this with my chord charts and with a few pieces of music.
    • I asked the question, "Why are the inlays on the banjo neck located where they are?" Dave said that the inlays at the 5th, 7th and 12th fret indicate the position of harmonics (AKA chimes) and he had me chime a little. (Which was pretty cool.) But he doesn't know why the other inlays are located at their particular positions. I'll have to look into it further.
    • We discussed mixolydian mode, which I'd learned about during this week's guitar lesson. Remember back in week 32 when I was discussing a Sam Bush recording of Old Joe Clark and I said...
      This is a great version for me to play along with at this stage in my chord control. It's in the key of D, which if this was a I-IV-V song would mean D-G-A. That would be bad, since I'm not good on the A chord. But it's a I-IV-flatVII, so it's D-G-C. And I know a couple of C chords! (Another song like this: The Rolling Stone's Great Expectations.)
      Well, that's mixolydian mode right there.
    • We talked about my guitar lessons and how I'm coming along with my ability to recognize guitar chords by sight. I'll be posting about those lessons and that plan soon.
    • Dave had me try out open C tuning. I didn't like it much. How the heck are you supposed to make a D formation chord in that tuning?
  • Another reason I prefer the banjo to the guitar: I've never dropped a pick inside my banjo and had to shake it out.

 

Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog


5 comments on “Banjo versus TV: Week 39”

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Saturday, October 4, 2008 @9:01:16 PM

Hi JR!  If the open C is gCGCE, the the D formation is done by barring all the strings at the second fret.  Alas the G drone can't be used until you are at the 4th or 5th position and higher, if you can finger it at the 7th fret to play an A.  (Not too many people finger the 5th string, but it makes sense to me if you can.)

jrjenks Says:
Sunday, October 5, 2008 @2:15:12 AM

Actually the tuning was gCGBD, like Pete Seeger describes in his book and like Earl uses for Home Sweet Home.  Which isn't open G, now that I think about it.

And my problem wasn't just how to play a D chord, it was how to play the movable D formation.  On a banjo tuned to open G (gDGBD) I know three movable chords:

1. The barre formation

 | | | |
 1 1 1 1
 | | | |

2. The D formation

 | 1 | |
 | | 2 |
 3 | | 4

3. The F formation

 | | 1 |
 | 2 | |
 3 | | 4

If I were to attempt to do the same movable chords in gCGBD and just move the 4th string fingering to compensate, they'd look like this and would be pretty much unplayable:

1. The barre formation

 | | | |
 1 1 1 1
 | | | |
 2 | | |

2. The D formation

 | 1 | |
 | | 2 |
 | | | 4
 | | | |
 3 | | |

3. The F formation

 | | 1 |
 | 2 | |
 | | | 4
 | | | |
 3 | | |

campbelldb Says:
Sunday, October 5, 2008 @9:13:34 AM

I learned some new things from your summary of this week's lesson; many thanks.

Dan

jrjenks Says:
Sunday, October 5, 2008 @5:10:12 PM

You're welcome, Dan.  I hope people get as much from reading my blog as I get from writing it.

I find it very helpful to tape my lessons, review them later and write them up for my blog.  I almost always discover something that hadn't sunk in the first time.

jrjenks Says:
Sunday, October 5, 2008 @6:05:04 PM

I just noticed that, in my reply to FiddleFaddler, I typed "open G" every time I meant to type "open C".  Kindly adjust your reading appropriately.

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