A Book Of Five Strings - online tutorial

Strategies for mastering the art of old time banjo.

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the twelfth you wind up with a complete chromatic scale. This applies to any string on any fretted instrument.
Think about that for a second. This applies to any string on any fretted instrument. Remember what I said about the simplicity of music? Go pick up a mandolin or any other fretted instrument and you will find that the fretboard always follows the chromatic scale. Once you understand that and become familiar with how we can manipulate the chromatic scale you can just pick up just about anything with strings and figure out how to play it.
Scales
A scale is nothing more than a sequence of notes selected from the chromatic scale. The sequence of notes chosen is dictated by the mode we are playing in. A mode is nothing more than a series of whole and half steps. Most of the music you are going to run into will be played in either a major or minor mode.
Major and minor modes also dictate the key signature of a song. When I say that a song is in the key of E what I am telling you is that we are going to play in the major mode with a root of E.
Major mode
To create scales in major mode simply follow this pattern: Root, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step.
Choose a root note. For a G major scale you would choose G as the root. A whole step from G is A. A whole step from A is B. A half step from B is C and so on.
After following the whole and half steps you end up with a G major scale: G A B C D E F# G
This graphic illustrates how the whole and half steps create the G major scale.
If we were to start with C as the root we would end up with a C major scale with the notes C D E F G A B C.
The cool thing about knowing this pattern of whole and half steps is that you don't have to memorize individual scales. The fretboard is laid out in half steps so moving up or down two frets would be a whole step. That means you can choose a string at any fret and create a major scale just by moving up or down






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III