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Jan 28, 2022 - 1:29:44 PM
1075 posts since 5/22/2021

Hey folks,

Is it possible to play in the key of "E minor"?? I know it might sound like a extremely silly question, but I always wondered if that was possible?

I was reviewing a song called the "Peat Bog Soldiers", and it has most of it played in Em. See this image:
 

 

http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/seeger/png/peat_bog_soldiers-crd-pete-seeger.png

 

If it IS possible, what tuning and what fret would you have to be in or capo on for it to be Em??

Thanks everyone!

Russ A.

Edited by - BeeEnvironment on 01/28/2022 13:30:42

Jan 28, 2022 - 1:47:02 PM
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602 posts since 4/1/2009

You could tune to D minor and capo to the second fret for E minor…  D minor tuning is from 5th to 1st string ADFAD.... just capo up two frets.

Or you could also use C minor tuning and capo to the fourth fret for E minor… that tuning is from 5th to 1st GCGCEflat… Larry McNeely used this tuning to play in C minor but capo up four and you are then in the key of E minor!

Edited by - Pick1949 on 01/28/2022 13:49:36

Jan 28, 2022 - 1:53:15 PM
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4357 posts since 10/13/2005

I play a lot of Em songs right out of standard G tuning –Pastures of Plenty, Drunken sailor, Hills of Mexico, Wayfaring Stranger, others. Don't know if that would work for your song since I don't know that one.

Jan 28, 2022 - 2:02:09 PM
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1150 posts since 1/30/2019

Probably easiest to play in standard G tuning, but use the E min chord shape as your "home" position.
In standard G an E min chord is 02002 (showing frets used from fifth (shortest) to first string.)
A minor would be 02212 (tricky to get used to)
D7 is 00210
B7 is x4447 perhaps the trickiest of these? (X means don't play the 5th string. But you could also play 74444 if easier. I hate fretting the fifth string, it messes with my mind!)
A G chord is in there too, this is 00000!
I don't know the song, so I'm going to dig it out and maybe have a go.

Jan 28, 2022 - 2:15:20 PM
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banjopaolo

Italy

1607 posts since 11/6/2008

I think g tuning works well for E minor songs, you may raise the fifth string to a B with the spike, so you have bDGBD, and you can play the fifth string also on the B chord....

Jan 28, 2022 - 2:33:51 PM
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Alex Z

USA

4820 posts since 12/7/2006

E minor is the relative minor of G major.  So all the notes of the G major scale are in the E minor scale.  Therefore, theoretically, you don't have to retune or capo to play in E minor, when your banjo is tuned to G major.

Practically, on the banjo, you may want to bring out a melody using certain strings or right hand patterns.  This is where alternatives come in, as have been mentioned above.

The two most common ones are to capo the neck 4 and the 5th string 4 and play as if C minor.  Another is capo the neck 2 and the 5th string 4 and play as if D minor.

Hope this helps.

Jan 28, 2022 - 2:34:31 PM
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3176 posts since 2/18/2009
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Yes, Em is nice out of open G tuning. When singing and playing banjo I always stay in G and just play whatever chords come along. Banjo is nice with only the 4 strings to worry about fretting, since I leave the 5th and only play it when it's part of the chord. There are closed chord shapes that can go all the way up the neck to get any chord you don't know in first position, or for an effect. I've been learning to play Julie's House in a simplified version of how Leo Kottke plays it on his 12 string guitar, and it's fun to travel up and down from the nut to the 10th fret and hear how things change.

Jan 28, 2022 - 2:39:02 PM
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Bill H

USA

1887 posts since 11/7/2010

I believe the key of E minor has one sharp as does the key of G. So all of the notes in that key are readily accessable in open G tuning.

I just learned this tune in E minor: The Crested Hens: The Crested Hens

Jan 28, 2022 - 3:09:44 PM
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RB-1

Netherlands

3807 posts since 6/17/2003

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

Hey folks,

Is it possible to play in the key of "E minor"?? I know it might sound like a extremely silly question, but I always wondered if that was possible?

If it IS possible, what tuning and what fret would you have to be in or capo on for it to be Em??

Thanks everyone!

Russ A.


Russ, not a silly question at all.

If you're looking at the G major scale and start from the 6th not (E) and walk up (using the notes of the G major scale) you'll find yourself playing a E minor scale. That 6th degree of a scale is called the relative minor.

G A B C D E F# G A B C D E      Gmajor scale

G A B C D E F# G A B C D E      Eminor scale    

Therefore, you can use the open G tuning for playing a piece in  Em, using the same note positions associated with the G scale.

I wouldn't use full, 5 string chords, though.

When I'd find some time, maybe later this week, I could write you some example tab for playing back up to the singing of die Moorsoldaten. To bad, to this day, the song hasn't lost it's meaning.

I'd hardly play anything without fretting the 5th... Fretting the 5th string opens up a whole new word of 6th and 7th chords, but in that case, when capoing up, the 5th string should be capoed or 'spiked'. Retuning will mess up the relation between 1st and 5th string putting your 6th and 7th notes in the wrong spots. Notes on the 5th also are your 'pivot points' when playing melodic fragments, you don't want them in the wrong spots either.

Jan 28, 2022 - 4:40:59 PM
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1075 posts since 5/22/2021

Dear everyone,

Thank you for your kind help and advice!! It was exactly what I was looking for!

So, what I am understanding is that it probably is best for me to stay in the G tuning, and chord all the chords as shown in the image of the music of "Peat Bog Soldiers" (die Moorsoldaten).

Thank you for all bearing with me. I have only recently discovered and learned some new musical theory with the banjo, and it is indeed fascinating!

I do not think I will be able to fret the 5th string though, haha. Its a big stretch for me, since I have never really done it before.

I will let you know how this all works out!
Russ A.

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Jan 28, 2022 - 5:39:31 PM
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13113 posts since 6/2/2008

Standard G is a great tuning for E minor. You get a nice low E note -- 4th string 2nd fret -- for the bottom of your one chord.

While several others have told you E minor has all the same notes as G Major -- since it's the "relative minor" to that key -- no one has said that also means all the chords are also the same.

EVERY three- or four-note chord you can build on a note in the E minor scale following the rules of chord construction and using only notes in the E minor scale will be a chord that is also "diatonic" (occurring in) the G Major scale.  The only difference is that the chords serve different harmonic functions in E minor because they occur at different degrees (place in the scale).

For example, where C and D are the 4 and 5 (IV and V) chords of G Major, they are the 6 and 7 of E minor.  The 4 and 5 in E minor are A minor and B minor .

But . . . B7 also appears in some E minor songs, as it does in this one. I can't explain why, except non-key chords appear in music all the time. Especially folk and bluegrass music. 

Two easy versions of B7 are x201  and x244.   Just omit the 4th string from your roll.  4244 and 424x also work. So does 420x. If you can make the stretch, you can try 4201.    Up-the-neck there's 9877. Note that x244 doesn't have a B note. No problem. If the chord being called for is B7, then the A note (that makes it the dominat 7 chord) is probably more important than the B.

Note: I'm not indicating the 5th string in any of the above, just the 4 full-length strings. Play the 5th open or avoid it. People play open 5th against B7 all the time. Not part of the chord but sounds distinctly banjo. Just roll with it.

Good luck.

Jan 28, 2022 - 7:40:52 PM
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1965 posts since 2/10/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory

Standard G is a great tuning for E minor. You get a nice low E note -- 4th string 2nd fret -- for the bottom of your one chord.

While several others have told you E minor has all the same notes as G Major -- since it's the "relative minor" to that key -- no one has said that also means all the chords are also the same.

EVERY three- or four-note chord you can build on a note in the E minor scale following the rules of chord construction and using only notes in the E minor scale will be a chord that is also "diatonic" (occurring in) the G Major scale.  The only difference is that the chords serve different harmonic functions in E minor because they occur at different degrees (place in the scale).

For example, where C and D are the 4 and 5 (IV and V) chords of G Major, they are the 6 and 7 of E minor.  The 4 and 5 in E minor are A minor and B minor .

But . . . B7 also appears in some E minor songs, as it does in this one. I can't explain why, except non-key chords appear in music all the time. Especially folk and bluegrass music. 

Two easy versions of B7 are x201  and x244.   Just omit the 4th string from your roll.  4244 and 424x also work. So does 420x. If you can make the stretch, you can try 4201.    Up-the-neck there's 9877. Note that x244 doesn't have a B note. No problem. If the chord being called for is B7, then the A note (that makes it the dominat 7 chord) is probably more important than the B.

Note: I'm not indicating the 5th string in any of the above, just the 4 full-length strings. Play the 5th open or avoid it. People play open 5th against B7 all the time. Not part of the chord but sounds distinctly banjo. Just roll with it.

Good luck.

 

 


B7 comes from the raised 7 of the harmonic minor scale. 
 

E harmonic minor 

E,F#,G,A,B,C,D#
 

Used commonly when resolving to i

V-i resolves nicer then v-1 due to the D# leading to the E root by 1/2 step

Jan 28, 2022 - 8:09 PM

13113 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by 250gibson
B7 comes from the raised 7 of the harmonic minor scale.  . . .

V-i resolves nicer then v-1 due to the D# leading to the E root by 1/2 step


Thank you so much!

Minor scales are a big gap in my understanding of theory.

Jan 29, 2022 - 1:54:31 AM
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banjopaolo

Italy

1607 posts since 11/6/2008

B7 is the dominant of E minor

Jan 29, 2022 - 4:55:56 AM
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4195 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by banjopaolo

B7 is the dominant of E minor


That's the best way to explain it!

I'm guessing the OP may not know a lot of theory (forgive me if I'm wrong, BeeEnvironment) but I bet he knows how a D7 resolves to a G chord. In general, a 5 chord resolves to the 1 chord, and that's true whether the 1 chord is major or minor. The 5 of E or Em is B. So a B resolves to an Em--and if you add the extra note to the B chord that makes it a B7, that makes you REALLY want to resolve.

Edited by - Ira Gitlin on 01/29/2022 04:56:18

Jan 29, 2022 - 5:54:33 AM

Bill H

USA

1887 posts since 11/7/2010

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

Hey folks,

Is it possible to play in the key of "E minor"?? I know it might sound like a extremely silly question, but I always wondered if that was possible?

I was reviewing a song called the "Peat Bog Soldiers", and it has most of it played in Em. See this image:
 

 

http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/seeger/png/peat_bog_soldiers-crd-pete-seeger.png

 

If it IS possible, what tuning and what fret would you have to be in or capo on for it to be Em??

Thanks everyone!

Russ A.


Hey Russ,

I worked out a quick tab in claw hammer style--I'm not familiar with the tune, but this may at least give you some ideas. The arrangement is a mix of chord with some melody notes tossed in. I thought claw hammer would be a good approach if this is a song you want to sing. 

I hope this helps: The Peatbog Soldiers

Jan 29, 2022 - 11:30:05 AM

Fathand

Canada

11981 posts since 2/7/2008

We used to end some gigs playing Secret Agent Man in Em.

Easier than playing in Emajor,  Bb or F but they can all be played out of G tuning,  helps to capo the 5th string in some keys.

Edited by - Fathand on 01/29/2022 11:33:11

Jan 29, 2022 - 2:00:45 PM

25 posts since 11/21/2021

There are lots of way to play in Em, but if you haven’t got a fifth string capo you can always leave it as the open g note and play as if in Dm with the neck capo at the second fret. It just means dropping all your chords a whole tone:
Dm (eg 00233)
F (eg X3213)
C (eg 02012)
A7 (eg 02222)
which in some Em tunes, makes the melody notes easier to include.

Jan 29, 2022 - 2:42:28 PM

25 posts since 11/21/2021

Sorry,
F would be 03213
A7 would be X2022
Gm would be X5335
and Dm could be simply 00230.

Feb 2, 2022 - 1:55:34 PM

11135 posts since 6/17/2003

I use it for Wayfaring Stranger and some of the songs by The Steeldrivers. I like the sound.

Edited by - gottasmilealot on 02/02/2022 13:56:41

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