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Some little things I want to remember

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I just wanted to jot down real quickly some things I learned the past few days...

First, I saw a video-series featuring Alan Munde in which he explains the fingerboard on the basis of the 3 chord shapes or inversions we all know and love : the bar, F-shape and D-shape. Each shape comes with a "system" to play all the chords of the scale, in the case at hand in the key of G (of course). A "system" consists of a major, a minor and a diminished chord form. (As you probably know in the key of G : Gmaj, Amin, Bmin, Cmaj, Dmaj, Emin, F#dim).
There's a lot you can do with these systems. You can use the chords as passing chords from I to IV or V (or any other sequence), thus embellishing your backup. In doing so, you can use different rolls on each chord, or start on a different string. Or you can mix the chord forms from one system with another. You can also try to "chordify" a melody : playing a different chord on each melody note, using one of the shapes in any of the systems. The possibilities are enormous !
Yesterday I played a little with it, and I found not less then 7 different voicings for D7 (or F#dim), repeats after the 12th bar not counted ! And I bet that there are more...

Secondly, in another part of the video-series, Alan Munde said that is important to really "get" a piece. He tells jokingly the story of a student of his, who - upon asked which piece he has studied - answers "oh, this one", and then stumbles on the first three notes. Alan Munde sais : "That's not 'getting' it". You have to practice a piece so that you can play it and read the paper (and turn the pages, as Stefan Grossman sais in this video (
I'm putting that also in practice. I'm working on "Ballad Of Jed Clampett", which happens to be the first song in "Earl Scrugss And The 5-string Banjo". And although I find that Earl's solo breaks are very easy (in terms of fretting-hand techniques and rolls, not in terms of timing, tempo and tone) I have a problem with measures 5-7. My fingers just won't play what is required. So, in stead of letting this pass (in keep fumbling on this passage for eternity), I am determined to get this right. Today I managed to play it right once ! So, I'm convinced I will "get" it sooner or later !

And thirdly, and perhaps the most important, is something I picked up while watching videos from Kyle Cease (see for example and go from there if you're interested). I realized what Kyle is talking about is to let your inner child take over. Your inner child just wants to - play. When you were a kid, you didn't worry about anything, and you did'nt think that things that you creatively imagined were "undoable", you didn't feel self-conscious or inhibited. I think that's how great musicians play their instrument. They just play - in a childlike sense. And I don't think it's a matter of technique. It's a question whether you enjoy the moment, and play with it - do something funny or stupid ! Or at least, try something different !
(This morning, in the car, I just goofed a bit with my harmonica, and I had a great time !)

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Playing Since: 2007
Experience Level: Intermediate

Erwin has made 6 recent additions to Banjo Hangout 

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Occupation: IT Developer

Gender: Male
Age: 63

My Instruments:
Deering Sierra : a wonderful instrument !
Gold Tone CC-100R : a beginner's banjo, but of good quality and a nice sound !

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
there are so many of them.... Well, "Rawhide" of Belgium is pretty darned good !

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Visible to: Public
Created 5/16/2010
Last Visit 6/6/2020

After 30 years or so of self-taught fingerpicking guitar, returned to my first love, the 5-string banjo. I want to get "purty good" with it !

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