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Apr 3, 2008 - 8:18:41 PM

2 posts since 3/25/2007

Thank you

Apr 5, 2008 - 11:57:50 AM

ELWOOD

USA

1013 posts since 1/28/2008

This is VERY helpful ,Especialy the clear explanation of the Nashville system......Elwood

May 22, 2008 - 7:10:28 AM

mew0717

USA

52 posts since 8/22/2006

I heard Bill Evans and Bill Keith (On seperate occasions, not together) play a piece with someone harmonizing with them while they did it.... Both people played the melody. Can I assume that this is done in the following way.....

If Person A plays the melody in the Key of G, Then Person B Plays in the same song in the Key of B or D? That would be the Third and Fifth chords of that key.... How would one figure out how to do that on a banjo without a capo?

Does that question make sense?

May 22, 2008 - 7:59:55 AM

4393 posts since 2/6/2003

No, you couldn't really harmonize a tune by playing the same tune in a key a third or fifth above. D has an extra sharp, C# and B has 5 sharps. You need to play a third or fifth above in the same key. So if the melody goes b - c - e - g your third would likely go d - e - g - b, say, and the fifth would probably be g - g - b - d. Well that's one way of harmonizing it anyway but all the notes are in the same key.

Usually you want to avoid parallel perfect fifths and octaves but not always.

j

I''d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Edited by - Joe Larson on 05/22/2008 08:02:33

May 22, 2008 - 8:24:46 AM
likes this

313 posts since 11/20/2007

quote:
Originally posted by mew0717

I heard Bill Evans and Bill Keith (On seperate occasions, not together) play a piece with someone harmonizing with them while they did it.... Both people played the melody. Can I assume that this is done in the following way.....

If Person A plays the melody in the Key of G, Then Person B Plays in the same song in the Key of B or D? That would be the Third and Fifth chords of that key.... How would one figure out how to do that on a banjo without a capo?

Does that question make sense?


The question makes sense. Unfortunately the answer isn''t quite so simple.

(Edit: Joe''s rather shorter, and doubtless more useful, answer arrived while I was composing the following treatise on how (not) to harmonise a tune, but I''ll leave it here in case anyone feels like ploughing through it)

If one person plays the melody in the key of G and another plays it simultaneously in the key of B or D, what you get is polytonality. There is a place for that, but it''s not usually the most pleasant sounding way of doing harmony. In particular, it would clash horribly with anyone else playing backup.

For example, suppose player 1 (I''ll number them instead of using letters, so as not to get confused with chord names) were to play Cripple Creek in G. A simple form of the melody might start G G D B C E D, with a G chord played under the first 4 notes (which in fact, are the notes of a G chord), a C chord under the C and E and perhaps a D chord under the final D (you could probably also go back to a G chord there). In this case, all the melody notes fit directly into the chords that are played under them - there are no passing notes here.

Imagine now a second player plays the same tune in the key of B (with or without the aid of a capo). He would play the notes B B F# D# E G# F#. The first two notes would go fine against the G chord. The F# would give the effect of a G major 7th chord - a very pleasant jazz chord but not often found in folk music. The D# would sound even worse, clashing with the D played by the chord player (and even if you only had the two melody players, it would interfere with the implied tonality of G). Moving on to the notes over the C chord, the E would be ok, but the G# would again clash horribly with the G note in the chord. The final F# would be ok if the backup players went for a D chord, but would sound a bit weird if they chose a G chord (since it would make it into a G major 7 again).

Similarly if the second player were to play the tune in D, he''d be playing the notes D D A F# G B A. Again, the first two notes would fit fine with the G chord. The A would give the effect of a G9 chord and the F# would still make it into a Gmaj7. Not quite such a bad clash as the augmented 5th (D#) against the perfect 5th (D) in the G chord when playing the melody in B, but still not a very folky sound. Moving on to the C chord, the note G would fit fine but the B would make for a Cmaj7, which is just as non-authentic sounding as a Gmaj7, if not slightly more so. The final A note would fit fine against a D chord, but would give another G9 if that harmonisation were chosen.

So you can, hopefully, see that playing the tune in two different keys at the same time brings up lots of clashing notes.

To double the melody at an interval other than an octave, you need to tweak a few of the notes to fit the key that the first player and any backup musicians are playing in. B or D would be good starting notes to choose for a tune in G which starts on a G note, like Cripple Creek, since they are the other notes of the opening chord. If you were to play it starting on a B, you might play the phrase as B B G D E G F# (or finish on a G if the backup players are going for a G chord). That way all the notes fit in with the chords being played. You retain the basic shape of the melody but shift some of the individual intervals by a semitone to keep the chords coherent. Similarly, starting on D you might play D D B G G B A (or B, over a G chord). In that case there is a shift of a whole tone from the interval in the main melody at one point (D to B, instead of D to A) and another point where the note doesn''t shift at all, while the main melody goes up a semitone (the G G bit, which is played over the C E in the main melody), but it still keeps the basic shape of the melody and now fits the chords.

I expect I''ve probably only succeeded in confusing you even more by this stage. Part of the trouble is that we use the same names (G, A, etc.) to refer to keys, chords and individual notes.

In practice I''d say there are two fundamental approaches to constructing a harmony line , whether it be one that follows the melody as we''ve been discussing or one which goes off in different directions. Either you can build it theoretically, using a knowledge of the chord structure and which notes fit each chord (e.g knowing that you want to play a D natural instead of a D# over a chord of G), or you can do it by ear, adjusting the notes you play until you get ones which sound good. I would probably use a combination of the two approaches in real life.

Hopefully amongst that lot you might find something useful.

- Magnus

(Edit: for some reason the computer seems to be doubling all my apostrophes!)

Edited by - magnuscanis on 05/22/2008 08:30:14

Jun 1, 2008 - 7:00:17 AM

Leigh

USA

496 posts since 7/13/2005




[/quote]
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


[/quote]

Thank you for the link to the Teoria site. It is extremely helpful.
Leigh

Aug 23, 2008 - 5:25:30 AM

632 posts since 11/4/2007

I just copied and pasted your forum post into a Word Document for future reference!! Very helpful and clear! Thanks for all of your time and effort!

Ken Stevens

Sep 2, 2008 - 11:14:55 AM

123 posts since 6/9/2008

I apolgize ahead for being long winded, and hope I get some answers to my questions. I wanted to thank Texasbanjo personally for your time posting the information. It has helped me so much. I've played banjo for about 30 years now and consider myself to be a very good player. When working with new material I can usually pick out the notes and chord progression by ear. But, I've always been impressed by those who have the knowledge to find it when they can't hear it, or for whatever reason can't make sense out of it at the time.

A couple of years ago, I put down the banjo and took up the guitar for the primary purpose of learning fretboard logic and theory that I could someday apply to the banjo. One of the most popular writers of this information said the guitar was unique because of its tuning, which also allowed for connecting chord forms. He said this same logic could not be applied to another fretted instrument. When I tried to apply this to the banjo I attempted numerous diagrams to see if there was a pattern, and I wasn't able to do it. That is, until I went to banjohangout and saw this thread. WOW, do I feel stupid for not seeing it immediately, but the sky has definatetly opened up.

I found it yesterday and spent about 12 hours straight putting it into diagrams so I could see it, then playing it so my fingers could feel it and eventually my ears being able to hear it. I also found that all the chords in the circle fit the 3 banlo chords. For example, Em in the 1st circle is actually a D form played in the E chord position with the 3rd flatted. Simarly, the F# dim in the 3rd circle is a F form in the F# chord positon (one octave higher) and with the 3rd and 5th flatted. I didn't see this discussed anywhere on the thread. Maybe I missed it or it's taken for granted. Patterns make it so easy to find your way around the fretboard, i.e. notes, scales and chords. Why am I writing all this? If you can learn this simple exercise including learning the note names and sequence, you'll easily learn your fretboard. Again, notes, scales and chords.

I still have some questions and to keep it from getting confusing here, I'll be talking in the key of G. It seems to be agreed that the majority of bluegrass music is played in the Major mode, with the vii dim, F# dim and Bm seldom used. But, the F (i.e. Follow the Leader) and B (i.e. Dear Old Dixie) are often used??? Likewise, when the iim is played in the key of G, it's usually an A, not Am??? I thought it could be mixolydian mode which show the F and B chords as Major, but the D chord becomes a minor???

Another question. This thread stated a minor key (i.e. G) is a differant key than the major. If I'm playing a G scale/pattern and move this scale/pattern up the neck 3 semi-tones, am I now in the G minor scale, hence key of G minor? What is the differance between a relative and parallel minor?

Oct 18, 2008 - 5:47:29 AM

167 posts since 1/31/2008

Sherry,
This is an awesome post I have copied it and will print it out and try to digest all of the information. I just love this site and all the pickers willing to help beginners like myself.
Thanks
Randy

If you walk through the doors of life you won''t you get stuck looking at the same four walls.

Oct 29, 2008 - 5:34:30 PM

59 posts since 10/28/2008

Dear Tex,
You seem to be a theory expert.
Can you help me out?.
All of the notes in the score for FMB are licks submitted as 'picking style' to play over chords.(Mel Bay etc.)

A well known folk song that has the same chords as FMB sounds just like FMB when the banjo is played in the 'Scruggs style'.

Is the 'style' copyrightable????? Surely there is a difference between a Banjo PART and an original piece of music!!!!!?????

Xla.

Pick only the truth.

Nov 26, 2008 - 6:53:24 AM

gjt1028

USA

341 posts since 3/7/2007

quote:
Originally posted by banjotech


I still have some questions and to keep it from getting confusing here, I'll be talking in the key of G. It seems to be agreed that the majority of bluegrass music is played in the Major mode, with the vii dim, F# dim and Bm seldom used. But, the F (i.e. Follow the Leader) and B (i.e. Dear Old Dixie) are often used??? Likewise, when the iim is played in the key of G, it's usually an A, not Am??? I thought it could be mixolydian mode which show the F and B chords as Major, but the D chord becomes a minor???

Another question. This thread stated a minor key (i.e. G) is a differant key than the major. If I'm playing a G scale/pattern and move this scale/pattern up the neck 3 semi-tones, am I now in the G minor scale, hence key of G minor? What is the differance between a relative and parallel minor?



Generally when we see an A chord rather than Am in the key of G, it's functioning as a secondary dominant. The next chord is usually a D7, then back to a G. In other words, it's simply following the circle of 5ths. Pretty common progression. One you see in ragtime a lot would be something like this: B7 - E7 - A7 - D7 - G. This is similar to Dear Old Dixie. You haven't changed keys, nor have you moved into one of those wierd modes. It's just a circle of 5ths progression.

G minor: well yeah, technically you coul;d move everything up three frets, and you'd have the notes of Gm scale. Reall you'd be playing a Bb major scale. G minor is the relative minor of Bb major (two flats in each scale.) The difference is where you start, where the tonal center is. If you started on a G note, and played all the notes in a Bb major scale, you'd be playing a G natural minor scale.This is relative minor. Gmajor has Eminor as its relative minor. You can figure this out by just counting up to the 6th scale degree of any scale to find its relative minor (e.g. C major, up six steps to A. Aminor is relative minor to C major.)

Hope this helps. Let me know.

Greg

Edited by - gjt1028 on 11/26/2008 06:54:16

Nov 26, 2008 - 7:51:27 AM

1437 posts since 10/12/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Several people have asked if I would post my Begnning 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.

Texas Banjo



For years I have wanted to learn to play music but didn't want to think about learning music theory even though I know it is necessary. Now that I have made up my mind to do it I have been reading and trying to understand with limited success. Your explainations have really helped me in understanding and I want to thank you for it. This is one of the best explainations I have read so far, at least for me.

Thanks again

Cliff Hebert

Nov 26, 2008 - 12:12:17 PM

1437 posts since 10/12/2008

I can't find the link to the PDF file. Is it still available?

Cliff Hebert

Dec 2, 2008 - 1:55:57 PM

48 posts since 3/18/2008

This is really helpful but not easy on the eyes.

Dec 10, 2008 - 8:45:20 AM

27 posts since 9/27/2008

Excellent intro to music theory.It ought to be printed on the head of every beginner banjo. When I started playing I only knew two things for sure. The key and the starting note.

Johnboy109

Dec 20, 2008 - 8:04:44 PM

2many5s

USA

796 posts since 5/25/2004

Say, is it just me, or is there no VOL I #4?

Jan 19, 2009 - 1:39:07 PM

80 posts since 7/8/2008

thanks

Feb 9, 2009 - 4:36:58 PM

Brian T

Canada

19632 posts since 6/5/2008

Let me ask if I have this figured out. A major scale has a pattern such as: C tone D tone E semitone F tone G tone A tone B
semitone C where a tone is the equivalent of 2 frets, a semitone is 1 fret. That was a C-major scale and no notes are said to be sharp or flat by a semitone.
Now, if I want to use the key of G major and start with the note 'G', then the F has to go sharp by one fret to fit the pattern of tone steps.
How am I doing?

We do not know where we are going.
Nor do most of us care.
For us, it is enough that we are on our way.
Le Matelot

Feb 10, 2009 - 5:51:20 AM
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

29823 posts since 8/3/2003

You're doing just fine. If you're working on major scales, the "pattern" is: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half (notes or frets, that is). You can figure out any MAJOR scale using that pattern.

If you want to figure out a D scale, you'll do the same thing and have 2 sharps: F# and C#, an A scale will have 3 and so on.

Let''s Pick!
Texas Banjo

Mar 1, 2009 - 12:28:07 PM

470 posts since 9/23/2008

Nicely done, and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing!

Terry the Banjo Gal

Mar 19, 2009 - 2:52:12 PM

1234 posts since 11/3/2008

I understand the scale stuff (memorizing though is another story) but if Im trying to play a song along with a cd or with other people and I dont know what the chords are what is a guy suppose to do.I usually watch the guitar player I know all of the basic major chords on the guitar and the banjo lets say a song is in G what is the theory behind what chords are next is it like a chord with the 1rst 3rd and 5th notes of the scale to make the chord or is there some other formula for figuring this out.Also I dont understand why the sharp notes are put in the scales instead of the major note.Im lost at theory.

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

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



I''ve been sittin'' here thinkin'' back over my life
All of the good things the trouble and strife
Well my share of heartache yes so many I''ve had
But I still think the good things outweigh the bad

Well I''ve rocked my babies at night when they cried
I''ve seen the teardrops turn into smiles
And that''s when I realize all the bad luck I''ve had
And I know all the good things outweigh the bad

Well I never have riches no money to spare
Just a sharecropper''s wages is my only fare
Yes makin'' my livin'' just working the land
But I still think the good things outweigh the bad
Well I''ve rocked my babies...

Yes I''ve worked the cotton in the heat of the day
And then paid the landlord nearly all that I made
Well I''ve seen high water take all that I had
But I still think the good things outweigh the bad
Well I''ve rocked my babies...

Edited by - DENNISNDODIE on 03/19/2009 14:57:14

Mar 20, 2009 - 11:44:49 PM

6 posts since 3/20/2009

I think the next thread should be "ear training 101"

Can anyone listen to a song once and pick out the harmonic movement?

Mar 21, 2009 - 6:46:31 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

29823 posts since 8/3/2003

Oh, yes, it's easy to listen to a song and pick out the notes and figure out the melody and then get the harmony. It just takes time, effort and practice and listening to songs over and over until you get your ear trained.

Somewhere on the Hangout I have several threads about ear training. You might want to use the search function to find them.

Let''s Pick!
Texas Banjo

Mar 24, 2009 - 4:58:12 AM

1234 posts since 11/3/2008

It may be easy for some but not for me.Ive been playing banjo and guitar for over 20 yrs.Ive listen to thousands of hours of bluegrass music.I still cant figure out what key a song is in and what chords to play and chord changes within a tune.If I see someone play it or if I read/see it in a song book I can figure it out but just by listening to a song and knowing what key it is in and what chords are in it.I cant do it. I guess that is called talent and Im lacking in that area.I have learnt recently the I IV V theory now if I can learn when the odd chord is in a tune or how to listen to a tune and know the key it is in. I will have made some progress.

I''ve been sittin'' here thinkin'' back over my life
All of the good things the trouble and strife
Well my share of heartache yes so many I''ve had
But I still think the good things outweigh the bad

Well I''ve rocked my babies at night when they cried
I''ve seen the teardrops turn into smiles
And that''s when I realize all the bad luck I''ve had
And I know all the good things outweigh the bad

Well I never have riches no money to spare
Just a sharecropper''s wages is my only fare
Yes makin'' my livin'' just working the land
But I still think the good things outweigh the bad
Well I''ve rocked my babies...

Yes I''ve worked the cotton in the heat of the day
And then paid the landlord nearly all that I made
Well I''ve seen high water take all that I had
But I still think the good things outweigh the bad
Well I''ve rocked my babies...

Edited by - DENNISNDODIE on 03/24/2009 05:04:26

Mar 24, 2009 - 12:22:48 PM
likes this
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

29823 posts since 8/3/2003

Start out with a song you know and know well. Listen to it and strum a chord -- any chord, at the first of the song to see if that's the key. Start off with G. If that doesn't sound right, barre to A and B and C and D and E and F. One of those chords will sound right at the first of the song. When you find that chord, that's normally the key the song is in (there are exceptions, but as a general rule, that's the key signature.) Now, if you know the key, you know the major chords. Let's say the key is G -- the major chords are G, C and D. The Minor chords are Am, Bm and Em. Normally yo'll use the G, C, D with perhaps an Em or an Am as the "off chords". Occasionally you'll have a Bm.

Works the same in any key. In the key of D the major chords are D, G, A and the minors are Em, F#m, Bm, C#m -- or, if that's confusing, the major chords are I, IV, V and the minors chords are ii, ii and vi.

I digress.

After you've found the chords to the song, write them down:

G, G, G, G,
C, C, C, C,
D, D, D, D,
G, G, G, G

or whatever the pattern is.

From that you can start trying to pick out JUST the MELODY notes. After you've done that, then you can incorporate those notes into rolls and later on put in slides, hammers, pulls, licks, etc.

Start slow with a song you know the tune to and in the key of G -- work from there. It'll happen.

If you can go to jams, that'll help your "ear training" more than about anything else. Learn a few guitar chords and watch the rhythm guitar picker. When he changes chords, so do you. Eventually you'll begin to "feel" the change and then you'll know it's coming and what it is.




Let''s Pick!
Texas Banjo

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