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May 20, 2024 - 7:17:03 PM
69 posts since 4/14/2024

I am still new to the banjo and the study of music theory. Been practicing mostly getting all of my primary skills down so that I can eventually play most any song I want. So when playing simple rolls with chords for backup how can you figure out what rolls will work best with what chords/songs? Other than trial and error of course..is there a particular method or knowledge for doing this?

May 21, 2024 - 4:42:50 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

30200 posts since 8/3/2003

Most backup is personal preference. If you're going to play backup, you can use any roll, but don't just play rolls, play rolls, vamps, even play nothing occasionally, play a hot lick at the end of a musical phrase.

The reason backup is so difficult for most is because it's just really improvisation played quietly behind whoever is taking a break.

In other words, there are no made in stone rules for backup, it's whatever sounds good to you and doesn't interfere with the one taking a break.

May 21, 2024 - 5:33:52 AM

Fathand

Canada

12387 posts since 2/7/2008

It kinda depends on the feel/rhythm of the tune.

I find a TITM roll can be good on slower or bouncier rhythm. A forward roll TIM for faster more drive.

I think my favourite is a backwards MIT roll, I find it the easiest to roll across bars MITMITMITMITMITMITMITMIT.

May 21, 2024 - 6:12:18 AM

15254 posts since 6/2/2008
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quote:
Originally posted by Patrick1962

So when playing simple rolls with chords for backup how can you figure out what rolls will work best with what chords/songs? Other than trial and error of course..is there a particular method or knowledge for doing this?


I believe there is no particular method.

The particular knowledge is the sound of various rolls (or roll patterns) that you gain through experience -- for which there is no substitute.

Any method I could devise or explain (assuming I could) would be founded in how I hear and feel the music. Which means anyone's ability to apply it would depend on experience -- for which there is no substitute.

Yes, there's a lot of trial and error. After a while, you might get a feel for what types of backup work against what types of songs. You'll become aware of differences in time, tempo, and key that require you to make choices about what you play.

To get there, all you can do is play what you know. The longer you play, the more things you know. Start with what you know how to do. Make it sound the best that you can. If something doesn't sound or feel like it fits, try something else.

May 21, 2024 - 7:47:23 AM
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RB3

USA

2025 posts since 4/12/2004

If you're playing backup, you can play any of the rolls you've learned, in combination with any of the chord positions you've learned, but in doing so, you need to make sure that you're not playing the melody.

May 21, 2024 - 9:49:51 AM
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KCJones

USA

3060 posts since 8/30/2012

Forward roll. Particularly the "infinite" forward roll. Also learn to do the "pinch vamp", while moving up and down the different chord inversions. Those two techniques will cover the vast majority of backup situations. In general: Less is more, play quietly, skip notes, and stay off the melody. 

If you want a particular method...I've got one that works every time: Listen to JD Crowe and do whatever he does as best as you can.

I'd start with Rounder 0044: youtube.com/watch?v=Pc1uftpDRYE

Edited by - KCJones on 05/21/2024 10:01:23

May 21, 2024 - 5:08:24 PM
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16636 posts since 6/30/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Patrick1962

I am still new to the banjo and the study of music theory. Been practicing mostly getting all of my primary skills down so that I can eventually play most any song I want. So when playing simple rolls with chords for backup how can you figure out what rolls will work best with what chords/songs? Other than trial and error of course..is there a particular method or knowledge for doing this?


Here is a simple way to get started:

https://www.dummies.com/article/academics-the-arts/music/instruments/banjo/how-to-use-basic-roll-patterns-to-play-backup-bluegrass-banjo-143045/

There are many YouTube video's available that address down the neck rolling backup as well as up the neck backup. Check out Jim Pankey, Eli Gilbert, Eddie Collins, Sean Ray, Mike Hedding Music, Banjo Ben Clark.......and many more 

Here is a great video with lots of information:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8AQivdz9xU

And three great backup videos by Sean Ray:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF8Q0e6mpHM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC6tnqWeHyg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwFL4sDl1V0&t=352s
 

Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 05/21/2024 17:15:45

May 21, 2024 - 6:16:10 PM

69 posts since 4/14/2024

I appreciate all of the responses..really is helping to fill in gaps in my understanding.
Mike- really liked that article from "Dummies" that you posted.

I just gotta say..this is a great site! There are a number of professional instructors here who always jump in to help us newbies who either don't have an instructor near where they live or simply cant afford it. Very cool of you all to be so helpful!!

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