A Book Of Five Strings - online tutorial

Strategies for mastering the art of old time banjo.

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the fretboard following the pattern of whole and half steps in the major mode.
Once you can do that the next step is to start moving scales across th e fretboard. This is just a matter of moving up or down the scale until the next note becomes available on an adjacent string.
If you take into consideration that all fretted instruments follow the chromatic scale it suddenly becomes possible to find scales on a ny stringed instrument.
Minor Mode
Minor mode works under the same set of concepts as major mode with a separate set of whole and half steps. The steps for a minor scale are: Root, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step.
If we choose a root note of A and follow the whole and half steps of the major more we wind up with an A minor scale made up of the notes A C D E F G A.
Just like the major scale, this pattern will work anywhere on the fretboard.
Once we have some major and minor scales written out we can take a look at chord progressions.
Chord Progressions
Major Progressions
A chord is a sequence of notes played together. Whether it's three or more strings on your banjo or a string quartet playing four different notes simultaneously it's still a chord.
Every note in a scale has a chord associated with it. That's w hy every song, even the old and freaky fiddle tunes that folklorists swear are "inherently cordless" (insert a big roll of the eyes here) will have some kind of a chord progression.
In formal music theory the chords associated with each scale note are based on intervals and/or degrees of the scale. I'm not going to go into intervals here simply because it's not going to help you play the banjo right now. If you want to get deeper into the theoretical side of music you can pick that up on your own.
What we are going to do is look at the chords and chord progressions that are built from major scales.
Write out any major scale and assign each note a Roman numeral starting with the root as I. The second, third, sixth and seventh notes will be given lower case numerals and the remaining notes will be uppercase.

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