Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

539
Banjo Lovers Online


Page: 1  2   3   4  ...   Next Page   Last Page (9) 

Jan 11, 2007 - 4:42:58 PM
like this

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26546 posts since 8/3/2003

Several people have asked if I would post my Beginning Banjo Theory lessons somewhere easy to access (so they wouldn't have to contact me off line). 

Here's the entire booklet -- feel free to copy and use it as you wish.
 

I now have a copy of the e-book which was lost in a computer crash.  It is now an attachment at the bottom of this page.   Feel free to download.


Everyone cringes at the words "Music Theory", but this is mainly banjo related and very important to learning how to play.
VOL. 1, #1
BLUEGRASS MUSIC THEORY 101
What is a scale?
A scale is an ascending and descending, ordered collection of notes that spans an interval of an
octave. (Say that again in English) A scale is a group of notes spanning 7 notes and the
beginning note again an octave higher.
Example: G Scale: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G (octave)
All major scales are made up of 7 notes ranging from A to G. The D scale begins on D and goes
as follows: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D.
What is an octave?
An octave encompasses all notes from a given note to its next repetition. (What did she just
say?) An octave is 8 notes starting on C and ending on C.
Example: C Scale: C D E F G A B C (octave)
A scale is made of up whole steps and half steps. In the G Major scale you have the following
steps: whole step, whole step , half step , whole step, whole step , whole step, half step.
(This is supposed to mean something to me?) Hang on, it will.
Example: Let's take the 3rd string on the banjo — open G.
Let's walk down that string and see what happens.
Open G
1st fret G#
2nd fret A
3rd fret A#
4th fret B
5th fret C
6th fret C#
7th fret D
8th fret D#
9th fret E
10th fret F
11th fret F#
12th fret G (octave)
-------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------
1--2--3--4--5--6--7--8--9--10--11-12--------
-------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------- Each Fret is a HALF STEP on your banjo. To make a G scale on the 3rd string, you fret as
follows: open, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 & 12. Try it on your banjo, it works. (notice that there are 2 frets
between each note EXCEPT B) and C and F# and G — this is why you need to know the whole
and half steps. There are NO sharps and flats between B and C and E and F.
-------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------
0--2--4--5--7--8--11--12------------
-------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------
Why do you need to know this?
As you learn songs, you need to know what notes to play in what scale or key. If you are playing
a song in the key of G, you normally start out in G and then as the song progresses, you may go
to a D or a C. You need to know the G, D and C scales so you'll know which notes to play and
better yet, which notes NOT to play. When you start playing chromatic or melodic, this
information is invaluable.
Try this and see how it works for you:
Take the 1st string of your banjo, it's the D string.
Go down the string fretting each fret and see how it sounds.
You've got a D chromatic.
Now, fret open, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 & 12.
You've got a D scale.
0 -2--4--5--7--9--11--12------------
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------
Now, if you think this isn't going to help you play the banjo, think again. It's teaching you where
the notes are on your fretboard. Next time we'll go into how to play a scale using different open
notes and fretted strings -- and how to make hot licks out of those notes.
NOTE: There are several notes in common in the D and G scales — what are they?
Let me know what you think and if you want more of this!
Vol. 1, #2
BLUEGRASS MUSIC THEORY 101
Okay, gang, here's the 2nd installment of music theory. This one will show you a couple of hot
licks you can use in your picking. Enjoy.
Did you figure out what notes the G and D scales had in common?
Did you see which notes were different? Let's see if you figured as I do:
G Scale: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G
D Scale: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D
Common notes: G, A, B, D, E
Different notes: C - C#,
So, the basic difference in these two scales is one note - a C or a C#. Play these two notes
together and you'll see that they sound awful.
Now, you're never going to play a scale like that on a banjo, right? So, why did I even bother?
You need to know your fretboard. This is a great way to learn it and will help you later on when
you're playing chromatic/melodic licks.
Let's see if we can make it simpler to play on the banjo. Let's take a G scale and make it
playable. (If you have tab paper, you can tab it out and it'll be a whole lot easier).
G Scale
3rd string, open
4th string, 7th fret
2nd string, open
3rd string, 5th fret
1st string, open
2ndstring, 5th fret
1st string, 4th fret
5th string, open
You have just played G, A, B, C, D, E, F# and G on the banjo. You can actually use this scale in
as a hot lick on some songs.
You will use the scale tones to form licks. Many licks can be formed from this basic scale. Let's
try a simple G lick:
3rd string, open
1st string, open
3rd string, 2nd fret, slide to 4th fret
1st string, open
5th string, open
2nd string, 5th fret
1st string, 4th fret
1st string, open
This is a 4 beat lick with the final G being the 1st note/beat of the next bar.
It is counted 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1. Each note is an 8th note and counts as ½ beat.
Now, does everyone understand how to count in music? 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 2/2 6/8 etc.? No, we'll get
to that later.
Another easy G lick that uses the scale
3rd string, open
4th string, 7th fret
2nd string, open
3rd string, 5th fret
1st string, open
2nd string, 5th fret
1st string, 4th fret
3rd string, open
It is counted as follows: 1, 2 and 3 and 4 and 1, next measure. In this lick the first note gets a full
beat, the rest get ½ beat.
Okay, students, here's another music theory lesson on the C and D scales and licks. Some really
neat licks in this one, try them, you'll like them!!
VOL. 1, #3
BLUEGRASS MUSIC THEORY 101
D SCALE AND LICKS
How did you do with the two G licks I wrote out? Ready for more?
Let's take a look at the D scale. You can do it chromatically using the 1st fret and going down:
D 1st open
D# 1st fret
E 2nd fret
F 3rd fret
F# 4th fret and so on.
D scale on 1st string: 1 open, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12
D scale using all 5 strings:
1st string, open
3rd string, 9th fret
2nd string, 7th fret
5th string, open
2nd string, 10th fret
1st string, 9th fret
5th string, 11th fret
1st string, 12th fret
Let's look at a couple of D licks. Again, these use the notes of the D scale.
(And we're just going to say 3 open or 2 fret 3 instead of 3rd string open, 2nd string fret 3
because it saves time and is easier to do). Again, if you have tab paper, you can tab it out.)
3 open, 2 fret 2, hammer 3, 5 open, 2 fret 3, 1 open, 5 open.
This is counted: 1, 2 and 3 and 4 and. The first 3 open gets a full beat and everything else gets
½ beat.
1 fret 7, 5 open, 1 fret 4, 2 fret 5, 1 open, 3 fret 5, 2 open, 4 fret 7.
This is counted 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and with each note getting ½ beat.
What I've done on these licks is give you a Scruggs type lick and a melodic lick.
Now, are you ready to tackle the C Scale?
C SCALE
Again, we'll look at our fretboard. You can start with the 2nd string, first fret and go chromatic C,
C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C. (Note there are no #s between E and F and B and C —
this is a given)
Now the scale in C is: 2nd string, fret 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13.The easy way to play it on the banjo:
3 fret 5, 1 open, 2 fret 5, 1 fret 3, 5 open, 2 fret 10, 1 fret 9 and 5 fret 10 (yes, you can fret the 5th
string).
Two C licks:
2 fret 1, 1 fret 1, 5 open, 2 fret 1, 1 fret 2, 2 fret 1, 3 fret 2, 1 fret 2.
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
3 open, 1 open, 2 fret 5, 1 fret 3, 5 open, 2 fret 10, 1 fret 9.
1, 2 and 3 and 4 and.
Now do you begin to see why you need to know scales?
Okay, group, here's #5 of Vol. 1 and it starts with chords and how they are formed. I've also
included two graphics that show you the F and D positions on the banjo. I've always called them
#1 and #2 because it's easier to remember and not so confusing when you tell someone to make
the F position C chord -- do what? Anyway the #1 position C chord is much easier to remember.
Hope you enjoy. Let me know if you have any questions.
VOL. 1, #5
BLUEGRASSS MUSIC THEORY 101
CHORDS
We've gone through the G, C and D scales, told you what notes were in each and gave you
examples of scales and licks.
Now, let's see how those scales make chords and why.
A Chord is made up of 3 notes. These notes are the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale (ah,
there's that scale again). These notes harmonize or sound good when played as a group.
In the key of G you have the following chords: G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em F#dim and G (octave). This
is supposed to mean something to me? It will, trust me!
To make a G chord on the banjo, just strum open, that's a G chord. But I'm strumming 4 notes,
not 3! Yes, but you're strumming D, B, G and another D -- that's 3 notes with the D notes being
an octave apart.
You can also make a G closed chord (no open notes) as follows: 2nd string, 3rd fret (index
finger), 3rd string, 4th fret (middle finger), 4th string, 5th fret (ring finger) and 1st string 5th fret
(pinkie). (This is called the 1st or F position on a banjo and you can make many, many chords
using this position.) Again you have D, B, G, G.
A C chord is C, E, G -- which can be made several ways on the banjo. The first C Chord on the
banjo is as follows: 2nd string, 1st fret (index finger), 1st string 2nd fret (ring finger) and 4thstring
2nd fret (middle finger). This makes a complete C chord - C, E, G and C. (Note: the G (3rd string)
is picked open)
A D chord is D, F#, A and can also be made several ways on the banjo. The first D chord on the
banjo is made as follows: 3rd string, 2nd fret (index), 2nd string, 3rd fret (middle), 1st string 4thfret
(pinkie) and 4th string, 4th fret (ring). (This is called the 2nd or D position and also makes many
chords). You have notes A, D, F#, F#.
We'll get into the why of minor chords later if anyone is interested. Right now, just note that they
are made up of 3 notes -- the 1st, 3rd and 5th, just like a major chord, but the inversion is different
(no, you aren't supposed to understand that now, just take it at face value).
So, all the chords in the G scale are as follows:
G: G, B, D
Am: A, C, E
Bm: B, D, F#
C: C, E, G
D: D, F#, A
Em: E, G, B
F#dim: F#, A, C# (You'll probably never need to know this one -- it's seldom used in bluegrass,
it's just for information).
And back to G which starts it all over. NOTE:that the pitch of the fretted first string and forth strings will indicate the Major chord name.
This chord shape is a really useful one when used in backup. In many tunes the forth string is not
actually played so many players don't fret the forth string but it is best practice to learn the chord
on all four strings so that it can be played at all fret positions as a closed chord


Let's Pick!
Texas Banjo


Edited by - Texasbanjo on 06/27/2019 12:44:05

Jan 11, 2007 - 9:14:39 PM

4141 posts since 11/29/2005

This should be a "sticky!"


Banjo Brad
"Banjos and Fiddles and Guitars, Oh My!" (me)
ezfolk.com/audio/bands/5
PricklyPearMusic.net

Jan 12, 2007 - 12:04:20 AM

2368 posts since 3/12/2006

Thanks Sherry. That's a help. It helps to make sense out of what I hear, and connects it to theory, or music science. Thanks again,

Kevin

Gold Star GF-100 Wreath
70's Alvarez Minstrel

Jan 12, 2007 - 9:26:20 AM
like this

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26546 posts since 8/3/2003

Why should it be a "sticky"? I'm just trying to make available some theory for people, IF they want it.

Let's Pick!
Texas Banjo

Jan 12, 2007 - 10:45:34 AM
likes this

564 posts since 11/24/2005

Sherry,

I think Brad means that the moderators should make this a "sticky topic", meaning it would stay at the top even if it hasn't had any new posts added to it.

By the way folks, if you want a copy of this on your local computer, you can right click the link Sherry gave you and do a "save as". This will keep you from downloading it from the server everytime you want to look at it.

My laptop has five strings.
Chuck

Jan 12, 2007 - 2:37:10 PM

4141 posts since 11/29/2005

Sherry-

Sorry if I was misunderstood, I meant it as Chuck said. This should be available without having to hunt through scores of newer posts, which a lot of new members may not want to do. I have a copy you sent me a couple of years back.

Thanks, Chuck, for clarifying my somewhat terse, but well-intentioned, comment.

Banjo Brad
"Banjos and Fiddles and Guitars, Oh My!" (me)
ezfolk.com/audio/bands/5
PricklyPearMusic.net

Jan 12, 2007 - 3:07:53 PM
like this

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26546 posts since 8/3/2003

Oh, excuse me, I thought "sticky" meant something entirely different -- my mistake.

Let's Pick!
Texas Banjo

Jan 12, 2007 - 3:23:20 PM

55 posts since 12/27/2006

Thanks a lot, this is a big help. I've been trying to figure this out for a while.

Jan 12, 2007 - 6:45:07 PM
like this

17269 posts since 6/13/2003

OK, I made it a sticky.

Jessy

Frailaway, ladies, frailaway!

Jan 14, 2007 - 8:09:41 PM

11 posts since 3/9/2006

Thanks Sherry. This was real helpful. Keep this sort of thing coming.

Stan

Jan 15, 2007 - 3:01:07 PM

jcomfs

USA

189 posts since 2/25/2005

thank you sherry john

Jan 25, 2007 - 11:01:44 PM

cil76

USA

132 posts since 7/3/2006

Texasbanjo,

Very helpful. Thank you.

cil76
jerry



"... live so that when you die even the undertaker will cry."
Dr. Samuel P. Massie

Feb 1, 2007 - 9:18:32 AM

164 posts since 1/20/2005

looks like the site is down. Anywhere else this is available?

Thanks,

Doug

Edited by - DougKitchel on 02/01/2007 09:21:38

Feb 1, 2007 - 10:39:26 AM

564 posts since 11/24/2005

Doug,

It is up now. If you are trying to get to Sherry's document through the main page, that may be your problem. I haven't put a link to it from there -- just my age old under construction stuff. Note to self -- get off your keister and update your page!!

My laptop has five strings.
Chuck

Feb 6, 2007 - 10:01:29 AM

164 posts since 1/20/2005

Thanks Chuck. I'm printing it now. And thank you Sherry for making this. I'm looking forward to it.

Doug

Mar 14, 2007 - 11:00:01 PM

ausiepluker

Australia

33 posts since 6/9/2006

Thanks Sherry much appreciated, I need all the help I can get.
Cheers Pete .....

Mar 19, 2007 - 8:21:16 PM

16 posts since 3/19/2007

Thanks, I just printed it, and from what I'm seeing, this is really going to help me.

Jim

Apr 15, 2007 - 12:36:56 PM

1169 posts since 11/22/2006

Sherry, that's a very good start for us beginners, thank you. You asked for comments so I will give you mine. You start off talking about scales and that's quite clear. Then suddenly in page 2 you talk about keys ("what scale or key"). Are you saying that "key" and "scale" are the same thing? Then there's the idea of a "tuning", which you don't get into much. I guess I'm suggesting that there's a set of words that all have to be defined since they're used so frequently: scale, key, chord, tuning. Of course you do spend a lot of time on "scale" and "chord".

Apr 15, 2007 - 3:45 PM

GP4 Tom

USA

271 posts since 8/15/2006

quote:
Originally posted by bosborne

Sherry, that's a very good start for us beginners, thank you. You asked for comments so I will give you mine. You start off talking about scales and that's quite clear. Then suddenly in page 2 you talk about keys ("what scale or key"). Are you saying that "key" and "scale" are the same thing? Then there's the idea of a "tuning", which you don't get into much. I guess I'm suggesting that there's a set of words that all have to be defined since they're used so frequently: scale, key, chord, tuning. Of course you do spend a lot of time on "scale" and "chord".




Check out teoria.com. Go through all the material offered here at this site and you have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of music theory. Many of the questions you brought up are answered here and it is free.
Hope this helps

Have fun
Tom

Apr 15, 2007 - 3:59:27 PM

kallekockum

Sweden

5324 posts since 10/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by bosborne
Are you saying that "key" and "scale" are the same thing?



Two different things. Every key HAS got it "own" scale (and those scales are the most common and those you'll be most likely to encounter), but a scale CAN also be constructed totally independent from any key.

Kalle Kockum, Sweden
"Fine wine, Trek Bikes and Huber Banjos..."

Apr 16, 2007 - 8:44:06 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26546 posts since 8/3/2003

Let's see if I can define those words for you:

Scale: a group of 8 notes starting on the "root" note and ending one octave above the "root"note; i.e., if the "root" note is G, the scale would be G,A, B, C, D, E, F# and the G. If the scale was C, the notes would be C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and again, C. and so on.
Key: The "key" that the song is played in; i.e., in the key of G or the key of C or D or whatever key needs to be used to get the sound you want. In the Key of G, you will find different chords: G, B, D major chords, Am, Em and very seldom in bluegrass, F#dim.
Tuning: how the instrument is tuned string by string; i.e., the bluegrass banjo is tuned in open G: from the 1st to the 5th string: D, B, G, D, g. There are other tunings such as D tuning or various and sundry tunings for the old time or clawhammer type music.
Chord: A group of at least 3 notes making a major or minor chord. On a major chord you have the 1st, 3rd and 5th note of the "scale" that the chord is in; i.e., if you have a G chord, the notes would be G, B, D (and any of those inversions, D, B, G, B, or B, D, G, etc). A C chord would be C,E,G. A D chord would be D, F#, A and so on.

Does that help?

Let's Pick!
Texas Banjo

Apr 21, 2007 - 7:51:25 PM

1169 posts since 11/22/2006

Tex Banjo, so "tuning" and "chord" are clear but "key" is not. You wrote "Key: The key that the song is played in; i.e., in the key of G or the key of C or D or whatever key needs to be used to get the sound you want. In the Key of G, you will find different chords: G, B, D major chords, Am, Em and very seldom in bluegrass, F#dim." Think about how concrete your definitions of "scale" and "chord" were. By contrast when you talked about "key" it's not as clear. For example, you said that in a given key you can "find" some chords - what does that mean? You also used the phrase "key or scale" - again, why did you use these words interchangeably? By the way, I know this sounds like complaining but you asked for comments so that is what I'm doing. This stuff is fairly important for the beginner, in my opinion, so it's worth some discussion.

Apr 26, 2007 - 3:35:14 PM

4393 posts since 2/6/2003

The "key" would be the tonal center of the tune. Generally the last note of the tune would be the keynote.

There are all sorts of scales, major, minor, whole tone, pentatonic, chromatic etc. And that's not even counting the modal scales.

If you were to build triads (3-note chords) on each note of the G major scale, skipping every other note in the scale (for ex. G skip A, B skip C and D) you'd be left with 3 major chords; G, C and D; 3 minor chords; Am, Bm and Em. and that little F#diminished triad. This is true for any major diatonic( in other words, do re mi fa sol la ti do) scale.

"There's more to life than playing the banjo, but not a lot more"

j

May 4, 2007 - 1:30:41 AM

88 posts since 11/4/2006

great job, thanks for the help

May 5, 2007 - 2:51:05 PM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26546 posts since 8/3/2003

Sorry I didn't see your post sooner -- we've been out of town.

Let's see. Key. The KEY SIIGNATURE is what the song is played in. For instance, if you are in the key of G -- which has one sharp in it (the G scale has 1 sharp, F#). The Key signature has various chords taken from the scale notes; i.e. Gmajor, Aminor, Bminor, Cmajor, Dmajor, Eminor and F#dim. Those are those are the CHORDS you will find in the KEY SIGNATURE of G.

If you chose another KEY SIGNATURE, the scale will start with the root note (i.e., Key of C, the scale will be C,D, E, F, G, A, B, C -- note no sharps or flats). The CHORDS will be Cmajor, Dminor, Eminor, Fmajor, Gmajor, Aminor, Bminor.

Or, in other words, to figure out the chords in the key signature, you have major minor, minor, major, major, minor, minor, dim regardless of what scale or key you're in.

In most bluegrass songs you'll use basically the major chords: 1, 4 and 5 and sometimes 2m and 6m, maybe the 3 minor and very, very seldom the 7dim.

Does that help or confuse?

Let's Pick!
Texas Banjo

Edited by - Texasbanjo on 05/05/2007 14:52:21

May 8, 2007 - 7:06:57 PM

1169 posts since 11/22/2006

Yes, that is very useful. "Or, in other words, to figure out the chords in the key signature, you have major minor, minor, major, major, minor, minor, dim regardless of what scale or key you're in." So that's an interesting new bit of information, and this relates key to chord, which the Banjo Theory Lesson didn't talk about before. OK, you'll also skipped from talking A, B, C to 1, 2, 3. Again, as a teacher you have to explain, what is obvious to you may not be obvious to others. But let me see if I understand or not. In most bluegrass songs, key of G, you'll have the major chords G, C, and D, yes? Sometimes Am, sometimes Em, maybe Bm, and every once in a long while F7dim. But lots of the time it's not D, it's D7. Do you consider D and D7 more or less the same?

Page: 1  2   3   4  ...   Next Page   Last Page (9) 

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.3115234