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Feb 25, 2021 - 11:23:26 PM
16 posts since 11/17/2020

I started on my banjo journey about 5 or 6 months ago and in that time have been doing online courses and trainings. I'm a complete newbie so this may be an odd question but I'm really struggling on how to use Strum Machine to play along to tunes. For example, for a tune like Sourwood Mountain, the tab and the way I learned it according to Tony Trischka is 4 measures repeated 2x for part A and part B. When I play along with SM, I'm only getting through the 2nd repeat of part A when SM has completed all 16 measures. I'm picking a note for each strum on the guitar, for the banjo timing do we do 2 notes per guitar strum? Meaning 1& - strum, 2& - strum, etc.? Probably a stupid question but any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Feb 26, 2021 - 5:05:04 AM

3684 posts since 6/30/2020

Because there are so many different and varied ways to play most songs I’d back up the wagon a bit and concentrate on my playing using a metronome or even a drum machine that provides a steady generic beat until you can perfect the song without any outside help other than tapping your foot.
It’s preferable to develop your inner metronome in relationship to timing, keeping beat, and note values before you move on to more complicated accompaniment.
It’s also important to play with others, but as a beginner you have to find the balance and that can only come with practice and more practice.

There will be some other opinions on your post, maybe from folks that teach banjo or music in general, and they will share some good tips also.

Remember the old saying "No questions a dumb":

Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 02/26/2021 05:10:15

Feb 26, 2021 - 5:52:13 AM

maxmax

Sweden

1481 posts since 8/1/2005

Yeah it sounds like you are probably playing at half the speed of the strum machine. Any instrument can really play however many or few notes per measure they see fit, but typically a Scruggs style banjo roll has 8 notes per measure in 4/4 time, while a guitar plays Boom Chuck, Boom Chuck (single bass note, strum, single bass note, strum) in the same time .

Does the tab you are using also say what chords are being played? In that case it might be helpful to see where the chord changes are in your arrangement and compare that to when the strum machine changes chords.

You could of course just try slowing the strum machine down half speed, but pick the banjo the same speed and see if that works.

It also might be helpful to try humming the melody along with the strum machine, just to see if the melody fits timing wise. That might take a little practice in itself, but is very useful any time you learn a new tune.

Feb 26, 2021 - 8:52:31 AM

16 posts since 11/17/2020

Thanks for the advice, it does seem like I'm playing half the speed of the "boom, chuck..." I do use a metronome but it is entirely possible I'm using that incorrect as well. When using the metronome, for instance at 80 bpm, I pick 1 note for every "click" on the metronome, is this not correct either? I've read up on it but something is just not clicking in my head with this. My timing is alright doing it in this way, just trying to figure out how to time up the banjo with instruments like a metronome or strum machine. Like I said, I'm a complete beginner, never played an instrument in my life and am trying to learn online since in person lessons are out for the moment in my area. Thanks, I do appreciate the help and knowledge found in these forums.

Feb 26, 2021 - 9:26:12 AM

5595 posts since 12/20/2005

Again, no such thing as a stupid question.
And if there were, your question would not have fit in that category.
Darn good question.

Feb 26, 2021 - 12:41:33 PM
likes this

3684 posts since 6/30/2020

quote:
Originally posted by 5StringsAndTheTruth

" I do use a metronome but it is entirely possible I'm using that incorrectly as well. When using the metronome, for instance at 80 bpm, I pick 1 note for every "click" on the metronome, is this not correct either? 


If your music has a time signature of 4/4 at the beginning of the piece this means that there are 4 beats per measure and each 1/4 note gets one beat. One beat is a one click of the metronome regardless of how fast you have it set. Four metronome clicks is one measure. Count 1 2 3 4       1 2 3 4      1 2 3 4     Etc.  Each downward tap of the foot is one beat. 
If you play 1/8th notes then there are 8 notes played in each measure with one note being on each click and one note being between each click. Count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &. If you are tapping your foot in time to the music then each time your foot hits the floor count 1 then when you lift your foot count &,  then down for 2 up for &, down for 3 up for &,  down for 4 up for &. There's one measure of 1/8th notes 

There are many ways to learn things but I always recommend the book "Bluegrass Banjo for Dummies" by Bill Evans. This book tells about everything you need to know when starting out and is a good reference book as you advance in your playing. I still use mine on occasion. It also covers what you need to know to understand the music you will be playing.  You can by it on Amazon. You can't go wrong there. 
 

Hope this helps clarify

Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 02/26/2021 12:54:10

Feb 26, 2021 - 1:05:12 PM

3684 posts since 6/30/2020

Feb 26, 2021 - 3:03 PM

193 posts since 8/9/2004

I love Strum Machine and practice with it all the time. It is a good tool.

What I think you should do is find a song in the Strum Machine library that you know very well -- just use the Search function. There are hundreds of songs, so there must be a few in there that you already know the melody and the beat. Set the tempo very slow, maybe around 55-60 BPM (beats per minute) and try to play along. I'd start with just hitting the 4th string and then pinching until you get it down. Then start incorporating rolls. Keep it simple. I use the guitar and bass backup, which I would recommend when playing banjo. (Under Instruments on the right-hand side.) And just keep playing along. You'll get it.

You want to be picking 4 notes on the banjo for every Boom Chuck in 4/4 time. In other words, Boom Chuck on the guitar is 1-2 (Boom) 3-4 (Chuck) on the banjo. That's why you need to set the tempo slow at first. Go as slow as you need to make it even.

Edited by - 5Stringer on 02/26/2021 15:16:26

Feb 26, 2021 - 5:39:30 PM

16 posts since 11/17/2020

I appreciate the help here, it's starting to "click" - pun intended.

Feb 26, 2021 - 7:33:51 PM

316 posts since 1/8/2013

Although the focus of this thread has been on timing, it's important to remember that back up tracks also provide the harmony,a.k.a. the chords. So listen to them! Not just the pulse but the harmony. I say this because if you were playing in half-time to the backup, it's a sure bet that some if not most of what you played did not fit with the chords. Hearing how what you are playing fits with the rest of the group is essential.

Feb 27, 2021 - 8:44:02 AM

16 posts since 11/17/2020

quote:
Originally posted by SteveMurtha

Although the focus of this thread has been on timing, it's important to remember that back up tracks also provide the harmony,a.k.a. the chords. So listen to them! Not just the pulse but the harmony. I say this because if you were playing in half-time to the backup, it's a sure bet that some if not most of what you played did not fit with the chords. Hearing how what you are playing fits with the rest of the group is essential.


Thanks, that makes sense. Appreciate it. 

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