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Strategies for mastering the art of old time banjo.

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Putting It All Together
This chapter was titled "Finding The Melody" so I guess you are wondering when and where melody lines are going to come into play here.
If you go back through the exercises in this chapter you will find that you have the tools at your disposal to find any melody in any key anywhere on the fretboard.
There isn't any magic involved in finding a melody line. If you know the key of the song in question all you have to do is experiment with a scale and you'll run into the melody without much trouble.
The problem is that melody is only part of the equation.
The real strength of frailing is its ability to present a melody line and a rhythmic backup in unison so in order to keep everything working we have to know how to find the melody and the chord progression at the same time.
That's one of the reasons I have put so much emphasis on getting out to jam sessions. Once you can follow a chord progression in a group setting the move to adding melody into the mix is an easy and natural next step because every melody note you need is either right in the chord or just a fret (or string) away.
As you get more and more comfortable with the flow of music you will find there is ample time in the space of a measure to explore the melodic and rhythmic possibilities in a given song.
The other factor here is playing and singing. If you start singing from the very beginning you will develop an intuitive feel for melody lines. This is crucial to presenting a song effectively and will make finding scale patterns and melody lines in chord progressions, once again, a logical next step.
Through all of this you have to keep the rhythm of the song churning along at a steady beat.
That's why we are not piling all of this on at once. We start simply with the basic strum and a couple of chords. Then we slowly add more and more "stuff" on top of that core skill set. We work at a pace that gives us time to become familiar with each task.
Practice the scale patterns in this chapter a little bit at a time between jam sessions. As you get more comfortable applying the basics start trying to find melody notes. Don't worry about playing just like another player or copying a specific arrangement. Focus on how the melody sounds.
When you find a melody line that works start experimenting with ways to phrase the melody. Add in a double thumb, pull-off, hammer-on or slide here and there to shape the rhythm to suit your own voice and vision.
When you can do that try the same song in a couple of other keys.
After a while you will be playing whatever variations you deem appropriate in any particular moment.
Let's close out this chapter by arranging and transposing a tune together.






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