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May 23, 2022 - 6:20:19 AM

Fg

Canada

5 posts since 5/23/2022

I'm very new to banjo (and basically music)...
What does "key of C major" means (i'm seing this on a tab).
And how can I do that on my 5 string banjo?

May 23, 2022 - 6:57:20 AM

2775 posts since 5/2/2012

Here is a link to some information.  The simple explanation is that the key gives you the scale tones and the chords.  Others with more music theory knowledge will hopefully chime in.  

What is the name of the tune?  Does the arrangement give you any information on how the banjo is tuned? 

Edited by - thisoldman on 05/23/2022 06:58:32

May 23, 2022 - 7:17:22 AM

Fg

Canada

5 posts since 5/23/2022

Thank you.

The name of the tune is The spanish lady from the Ken Perlman's Celtic and New England fiddle tunes for clawhammer banjo.
The tuning is gCGCD.

May 23, 2022 - 7:49:36 AM
like this

2775 posts since 5/2/2012

Just tune your banjo to double C and play the tab as written. No need to overthink it. Eventually you will want to dive more in to music theory to understand the whys and hows. A lot of BG tunes are written using the 1-4-5 chords (If in G tuning, chords are G, C and D). In the key of C your 1-4-5 chords (double C tuning) would be C, F and G.

May 23, 2022 - 7:59:38 AM

Fg

Canada

5 posts since 5/23/2022

Alright! Thanks for taking the time to reply!

May 23, 2022 - 9:45:11 AM
like this

doryman

USA

1207 posts since 11/26/2012

Fg, others might disagree, but if you are new to the banjo and new to music, I would back it down step. Start with open G tuning on your banjo (the most common tuning) and start with a simple song, hopefully one that you already know in your head. While Spanish Lady, is not a difficult tune, I believe that Ken's arrangement calls for double thumbing, which is a more advanced clawhammer technique. Do you already know the basic clawhammer strum?

May 23, 2022 - 5:42:38 PM

Fg

Canada

5 posts since 5/23/2022

Thanks for the advice!

Actually, for the past 6 months I've only been working on techniques.

This would be the first tune I'd practice.
So far I can manage the tune with these arrangements. But I couldn't figure out the key of C major.

May 24, 2022 - 6:58:03 AM

4227 posts since 3/28/2008

The key is like the home plate--the music has to get back there, and if it doesn't, you don't feel like the tune is really finished. So if a tune is in the key of C, the melody will work its way back to end on a C note, and the harmony will end up on a C chord. (Of course this is a very simplified explanation, and there are exceptions, but for the most part it's a useful way to think about it.)

On a more sophisticated level, in any key certain notes and chords are far more likely to be used than other notes and chords. For example, in the key of C the most commonly used notes are C,D,E,F,G,A, and B. The most commonly used chords are C, F, and G; somewhat less common (thinking of bluegrass and old-time music here) but still somewhat likely are Am, Dm, and Em.

So if you have just a little knowledge about different keys, and you know what key a song is in, you can make some educated guesses about what will happen in the song, even if you've never heard it before!

May 24, 2022 - 11:04:02 AM

2775 posts since 5/2/2012

Just looked at the blurb on Perlman's book on Amazon. Looks like it was not written for real beginners. So you may have your work cut out for you when learning that first tune. But I can understand the "want to" for learning some tunes to keep oneself motivated.

May 24, 2022 - 12:43:38 PM
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Fg

Canada

5 posts since 5/23/2022

Thanks for the reply Ira. I got about 33% of what you said about key...so yeah, my knowledge seems pretty weak loll.

Thisoldman, the first tune I tried was Scotland the Brave... but couldn't manage the triplets. I just bought the book Clawhammer banjo for the complete Ignoramus. Although I prefer celtic tunes (I know, I should get a tenor banjo), the tunes in this book might be more appropriate to my level.

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May 24, 2022 - 10:33:38 PM

Jim_R

USA

238 posts since 7/14/2010

Western music is based on a repeating pattern of twelve notes.

You can start a do-re-mi scale on any of the twelve notes.

If you start your do-re-mi scale on the note C, you are in the key of C major.

Your melodies and harmonies would use the notes from the C major (do-re-mi) scale.

May 25, 2022 - 8:11:22 AM

4227 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Fg

Thanks for the reply Ira. I got about 33% of what you said about key...so yeah, my knowledge seems pretty weak loll.

Thisoldman, the first tune I tried was Scotland the Brave... but couldn't manage the triplets. I just bought the book Clawhammer banjo for the complete Ignoramus. Although I prefer celtic tunes (I know, I should get a tenor banjo), the tunes in this book might be more appropriate to my level.


Ken Perlman does an amazing job with Celtic and Canadian Maritime tunes, but they are NOT a natural fit for clawhammer technique. You'd do better to get experience playing the kinds of simple songs and Appalachian tunes that clawhammer was developed for. Build up your basic abilities--and along the way you'll start to understand more about how music works in general, too--and then you can tackle the more challenging stuff.

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