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May 17, 2021 - 2:41:36 AM
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phb

Germany

2716 posts since 11/8/2010

"Playing out of C/D" is a topic that is discussed here regularly. I read some of the archived discussions and most of the advice focuses on knowing some basic chord theory, knowing where the chords are on the neck and moving movable up-the-neck licks around. I think I know this stuff well enough but still have some difficulties playing backup and breaks to simple songs in C such as "He's Got the Whole World" which only has C and G chords (and thus nothing that wouldn't also occur in standard out-of-G songs) in it. While I can't rule out the possibility that it is just a lack of practice and perhaps knowing too few C licks, I wonder what useful learning resources there are. Can you name some? In one of the archived threads a book by Janet Davis was mentioned but the link was dead and Janet Davis doesn't list one in her list of publications (at least none having a title fitting that subject).

May 17, 2021 - 4:33:49 AM
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4078 posts since 12/6/2009

Forgive me if my explanations are lacking technical aspects. I am far from being a musical genius. And I have had no formal instructions so it’s just an offer by the seat of my pants. I’ll try. But I hope some of the pros on here jump in. maybe Ira. Playing in keys where the root notes like C are in locations where they may lend better to lead finger being Index instead of thumb is a learning curve needed. (More than likely you have already noted). Licks and runs start and land on different mechanics then we’re used to with playing out of open G. Probably why 90% of BG is open G obsessed and the capo is boss. Yet we use that index as lead playing up the neck in G we just don’t think of it when playing low open. And by using the index we may not duplicate G runs or licks we can develop many new tricks in other keys as good. Knowing the root notes everywhere in all the keys is the keys and using the right leading fingers to use will answer many questions.
I have found there are two important aspects too playing banjo that seem to be very skimpy on informative net searches are….playing 16th notes and using root notes for different keys. There are lots of those showing you they can play in C –D+ but few who show you how and what they’re doing to achieve that.

May 17, 2021 - 4:45:41 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

25927 posts since 8/3/2003

I don't know if the books are still available or not, but Janet Davis had a couple of books that were geared toward learning to play out of C and D and if I remember correctly, that was the name of them: Playing out of C (or D). The book(s) gave several licks that were similar to what you're familiar with in the key of G and then she had several tabs where you could learn where the melody notes were and what chords were used.

Of course, you can always play out of C and/or D just by using the chords in those keys and figuring out where the melody notes are.

It just takes practice, practice, practice.

I learned to play in D and E because I had to in order to jam with my group. At first I made lots of mistakes, but eventually, it became as easy as playing in G.

May 17, 2021 - 5:06:45 AM
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6121 posts since 10/13/2007

Phillipp,
Pete Wernick has a great video out of playing in D. Making up your banjo solos v2.

https://drbanjo.com/product/make-up-your-own-banjo-solos-2/

Ken

May 17, 2021 - 5:09:03 AM
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719 posts since 8/26/2009

Go to Eddiecollins.biz. He has a book for playing in C and another in D (both with cd). He would probably download to your computer if requested. $20 each if I remember right.

May 17, 2021 - 5:33:03 AM
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719 posts since 8/26/2009

Most of the better guitar players I play with locally play in C uncapoed and capo at A and play in C for D (hope I described that right).

I figured out that one of the better singer players sometimes capos at the 7th fret for certain songs on his guitar, plays in C which I think is the same as playing in normal G but an octive higher?? I don't know why?

May 17, 2021 - 6:15:13 AM
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74531 posts since 5/9/2007

When I got home from The Service I couldn't find anyone within 30 miles that played bluegrass.
What I did discover was that in the past 3 years a lot of boat-builders and carpenters had moved here from Quebec,Connecticut,Rhode Island,Massachusetts and New York and a fairly high percentage of those folks played fiddle and lived within 2 or 3 miles of me.
I went to a couple of their jams and came home quite discouraged that they played just a couple of tunes in the key of G and most in D and A.
Had A covered with the capo (and associated retuning) but just struggled with D and the unco-operative5th string G.

Instead of giving up I told myself I had to come to grips with playing comfortably in other keys which started me down the path of thumb-fretting the 5th string to fit whatever key or chord presented itself.
Back then I scoured any available books(Back Porch Melodic Bluegrass,magazines like Frets and of course BNL for tabs of tunes in A and D without using a capo.
Bill Knopf's Fiddle Tunes for Banjo.
I created new habits for my picking.

I play C easily because that's the key I played mostly for my first 10 years.

I never studied theory.I use the same chord "rules" no matter the key.
I see the chords in any key (I,IV and V and minors) as having 3 basic shapes and the same relative locations within any key.
In this way I can apply the same rule(s) to any key that presents itself.

Playing in any key without a capo melodically involves learning specific picking sequences for each key.Where the 5th string G can fit and when to thumb-fret it.
These are simply new habits that are absorbed over time.
I found my best time spent with fiddlers and forcing myself to solve each problem as it came along.Building over time.

I don't necessarily put the keys of C and D together (outside of my general 3 chord shapes rule) in comparison.They each have their own personality and "rules of engagement" that unfold over time.

Edited by - steve davis on 05/17/2021 06:21:17

May 17, 2021 - 8:17:54 AM
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82 posts since 2/7/2020

The advice I got was (1) learn how to play up the neck in G (or A, or B-flat, whatever with a capo); and then (2) move what you're doing down 7 frets for C and 5 frets for D. I much prefer to play in D (and E and F with a capo) with D shapes because you have the low root. Sometimes I'll lower the fourth string to C if I'm playing in C.

May 17, 2021 - 9:50:50 AM
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112 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by phb

"Playing out of C/D" is a topic that is discussed here regularly. I read some of the archived discussions and most of the advice focuses on knowing some basic chord theory, knowing where the chords are on the neck and moving movable up-the-neck licks around. I think I know this stuff well enough but still have some difficulties playing backup and breaks to simple songs in C such as "He's Got the Whole World" which only has C and G chords (and thus nothing that wouldn't also occur in standard out-of-G songs) in it. While I can't rule out the possibility that it is just a lack of practice and perhaps knowing too few C licks, I wonder what useful learning resources there are. Can you name some? In one of the archived threads a book by Janet Davis was mentioned but the link was dead and Janet Davis doesn't list one in her list of publications (at least none having a title fitting that subject).


Hi Phillip 

This might give you a kick start. Sign up for a free Silver Pick Membership and unlock three lessons without obligation

Suggested lessons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLj3lt8yVWQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuFZBGavzyc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnunlOz3vxs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW4xKV8nnN8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv2dMXPoTso

There are a lot of Build-a-Break Lessons in C that will expand your knowledge and skills

May 17, 2021 - 10:39:14 AM
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74531 posts since 5/9/2007

Trischka's 650 Hot Licks for the Banjo is a great resource for expanding your other keys.

May 17, 2021 - 4:38:17 PM
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139 posts since 2/20/2004

The advice I got was (1) learn how to play up the neck in G (or A, or B-flat, whatever with a capo); and then (2) move what you're doing down 7 frets for C and 5 frets for D. I much prefer to play in D (and E and F with a capo) with D shapes because you have the low root. Sometimes I'll lower the fourth string to C if I'm playing in C.

this worked for me...exactly this

May 18, 2021 - 5:34:11 PM

3518 posts since 5/6/2004

Keep in mind that melody notes are generally on a higher-pitched string when you go from the key of G to the key of C or D. So all of those 2nd string melody notes will now be found on the 1st string, and your right-hand patterns that grabbed melody notes on the 2nd and 3rd string will need adjustment. But there are a lot of good patterns (not just a straight backward roll) that will pick the 1st string with the middle finger on the same beats where your thumb or index finger previously picked an “inside” string. You need to experiment with some of those patterns if you want to play melodies in the keys of C and D (and E).

Also, because so much of the melody is now on the 1st string, as that melody goes up the scale, you often have to follow it up the neck and play a higher chord inversion. In fact, I’ve found that playing in these keys is a great way to get comfortable using more of the neck when playing a song.

May 18, 2021 - 6:16:20 PM

2860 posts since 4/19/2008

You could start here on my homepage for "Whole World"

banjohangout.org/tab/browse.as...r&v=27983


Edited by - mmuussiiccaall on 05/18/2021 18:17:52

May 19, 2021 - 3:43:54 AM
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4078 posts since 12/6/2009

Steve...."I play C easily because that's the key I played mostly for my first 10 years".,,,,,Me Too. That and D...all my friends sang in either C or D frustrating at first but became second nature. (no capos back then)

May 19, 2021 - 8:25:32 AM
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74531 posts since 5/9/2007

C is wicked easy to play open.It has that lovely G (V) and F(IV) all happening in the first 3 frets.
A minor is 2212 .Nice hammer chances abound.

May 19, 2021 - 9:43:09 AM

jon

USA

506 posts since 7/26/2003

My problem is singing in G, it’s just too high for me for most songs and it just capos up from there. So going down in key pitch-people hate playing (actually groan) if I call F, E is even worse for most- Eb-what is that? so it’s D or C and most don’t mind them.
So at jams I just end up calling just banjo melody tunes.
I played plectrum banjo first so C is natural territory for me so I can play chords in any key pretty fluidly-even horn keys, one just has to work on making your licks sound bluegrassy.
I’m making it work somewhat, Scruggs made bluegrass great but also made it difficult, at least didn’t leave a clear path for us. Other instrument have no problem with this topic-mandolins sound like a mandolin in any key.
Come over, I’ll show you what I’ve got!

May 20, 2021 - 2:59:46 AM
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4078 posts since 12/6/2009

quote:
Originally posted by jon

My problem is singing in G, it’s just too high for me for most songs and it just capos up from there. So going down in key pitch-people hate playing (actually groan) if I call F, E is even worse for most- Eb-what is that? so it’s D or C and most don’t mind them.
So at jams I just end up calling just banjo melody tunes.
I played plectrum banjo first so C is natural territory for me so I can play chords in any key pretty fluidly-even horn keys, one just has to work on making your licks sound bluegrassy.
I’m making it work somewhat, Scruggs made bluegrass great but also made it difficult, at least didn’t leave a clear path for us. Other instrument have no problem with this topic-mandolins sound like a mandolin in any key.
Come over, I’ll show you what I’ve got!


A songs vocal range is different in various songs. G's low range for me is too deep.....C's low range is good for songs like  Did She Mention My Name, for me. G low range for Gentle On My Mind....I like G for Kentucky Waltz..D for Jimmy Brown....B Highway 40 Blues...and so on. All that is why you have to learn all the keys and tunings and capo placements. Once you have flexibility life is so much more fun.

May 20, 2021 - 3:59:15 AM

phb

Germany

2716 posts since 11/8/2010

Thanks everybody for your thoughts and advice for "playing out of C/D". Does anyone have some more ideas for actual learning resources? So far we have:

  • Pete Wernick's "Make up your own banjo solos Vol. 2" which deals with several different non-G keys,
  • a yet-to-be-identified book by Janet Davis (it doesn't seem to be her "Up the Neck" book but that has quite a list of up-the-neck and thus movable licks for many chords which I will study)
  • two books by Eddie Collins that are actually named "Playing out of C" and "Playing out of D"
  • online tuition by Banjo Ben Clark

My current personal study plan is to spend some time with some backing tracks in the key of C and trying to learn more up-the-neck/movable and first-position tag licks to have something to play (I suspect that is the biggest problem I have, all those G licks have become much less useful). Depending on how that goes I will consider purchasing some of the above-mentioned material.

May 20, 2021 - 9:06:45 AM
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82 posts since 2/7/2020

Janet Davis' backup book also has a section about playing backup in different keys.

May 21, 2021 - 7:13:11 AM
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4078 posts since 12/6/2009

this may give more ideas Philipp
youtube.com/watch?v=jdRorXefWgs
I think once you're used to root notes and get lead fingers trained you'll have lots of more fun in many different keys.

May 21, 2021 - 9:57:01 AM
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2483 posts since 4/5/2006

Not much help on books but, necessity is the Mother of invention. Join a band & you will, out of necessity, learn to play in other keys. wink

May 21, 2021 - 11:52:21 AM
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112 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by phb

Thanks everybody for your thoughts and advice for "playing out of C/D". Does anyone have some more ideas for actual learning resources? So far we have:

  • Pete Wernick's "Make up your own banjo solos Vol. 2" which deals with several different non-G keys,
  • a yet-to-be-identified book by Janet Davis (it doesn't seem to be her "Up the Neck" book but that has quite a list of up-the-neck and thus movable licks for many chords which I will study)
  • two books by Eddie Collins that are actually named "Playing out of C" and "Playing out of D"
  • online tuition by Banjo Ben Clark

My current personal study plan is to spend some time with some backing tracks in the key of C and trying to learn more up-the-neck/movable and first-position tag licks to have something to play (I suspect that is the biggest problem I have, all those G licks have become much less useful). Depending on how that goes I will consider purchasing some of the above-mentioned material.

 


Hi Phillip, If your looking for structured lessons then Banjo Ben is IMHO the best course. I have Pete's and Eddies books. and of those I prefer Eddies books. 

Ben's Latest lesoon in C - just out today 

https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/the-old-spinning-wheel-build-a-break-banjo-intermediate

Edited by - FenderFred on 05/21/2021 11:56:38

May 21, 2021 - 12:14:43 PM

112 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred
quote:
Originally posted by phb

Thanks everybody for your thoughts and advice for "playing out of C/D". Does anyone have some more ideas for actual learning resources? So far we have:

  • Pete Wernick's "Make up your own banjo solos Vol. 2" which deals with several different non-G keys,
  • a yet-to-be-identified book by Janet Davis (it doesn't seem to be her "Up the Neck" book but that has quite a list of up-the-neck and thus movable licks for many chords which I will study)
  • two books by Eddie Collins that are actually named "Playing out of C" and "Playing out of D"
  • online tuition by Banjo Ben Clark

My current personal study plan is to spend some time with some backing tracks in the key of C and trying to learn more up-the-neck/movable and first-position tag licks to have something to play (I suspect that is the biggest problem I have, all those G licks have become much less useful). Depending on how that goes I will consider purchasing some of the above-mentioned material.

 


Hi Phillip, If your looking for structured lessons then Banjo Ben is IMHO the best course. I have both Pete's DVDs and Eddie's books. and of those I prefer Eddie.s books because the lessons/licks  are more more specific to the key signature

Ben's Latest lesson in C - just out today 

https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/the-old-spinning-wheel-build-a-break-banjo-intermediate


Edited by - FenderFred on 05/21/2021 12:22:07

May 21, 2021 - 12:26:37 PM

112 posts since 5/21/2020

Just remembered another resource for lessons in D. Not so much a Bluegrass site more Irish, Celtic, Single String lessons. By AustralianBanjo Player Heath Joyce https://pickinlessons.com/

Edited by - FenderFred on 05/21/2021 12:27:37

May 21, 2021 - 2:10:17 PM
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lanemb

USA

175 posts since 3/11/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Phil - MO

Go to Eddiecollins.biz. He has a book for playing in C and another in D (both with cd). He would probably download to your computer if requested. $20 each if I remember right.


I second the Eddie Collins books. His materials are top notch. I have most everything he put out. 

May 21, 2021 - 2:31:59 PM
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lanemb

USA

175 posts since 3/11/2018

quote:
Originally posted by phb

Thanks everybody for your thoughts and advice for "playing out of C/D". Does anyone have some more ideas for actual learning resources? So far we have:

  • Pete Wernick's "Make up your own banjo solos Vol. 2" which deals with several different non-G keys,
  • a yet-to-be-identified book by Janet Davis (it doesn't seem to be her "Up the Neck" book but that has quite a list of up-the-neck and thus movable licks for many chords which I will study)
  • two books by Eddie Collins that are actually named "Playing out of C" and "Playing out of D"
  • online tuition by Banjo Ben Clark

My current personal study plan is to spend some time with some backing tracks in the key of C and trying to learn more up-the-neck/movable and first-position tag licks to have something to play (I suspect that is the biggest problem I have, all those G licks have become much less useful). Depending on how that goes I will consider purchasing some of the above-mentioned material.

 


Casey Henry's.  Key of C & Beyond: Improvising in C & D

https://digital.murphymethod.com/shop
 

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