Lesson #107, Relative Minors II

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lesson #107, Relative Minors II

Hi Everyone,

Lets take a quick look at the banjos' fretboard. Lets find a G note on the first five frets.............found one yet? Can you find two G notes? Can you find more? We can find four G notes within the first five frets.......Two of them are open on the third string and fifth strings, and two of them are fretted.......one on the fourth string fretted at the fifth fret, and another on the first string fretted at the fifth fret. Some of the G notes are of identical pitch..........can you find which ones? The G note fretted on the fourth string at the fifth fret is identical in pitch to the open third string. The first string fretted at the fifth fret is identical to the fifth strings played open. Why is this important?

I've had some questions in the forums on why I approached a scale like I did in a previous video. By Reading the paragraph above, you can see that there are many different way to play a scale on the fretboard of the banjo. Lets look at the first two notes of a G major scale.....they are.....G and A........so........staying in the first five frets of the banjo, we have FOUR options to start our G major scale off!

Two of the G notes are an octave apart, so that must be taken into consideration as well, do we want the scale to sound higher in pitch or lower in pitch? Now lets look at the A note......where can we find and an A note. Lets look at the first seven frets now. We can find one at the third string fretted at the second fret...we can find one at the fourth string fretted at the seventh fret, first string fretted at the seventh fret and fifth string fretted at the seventh fret as well. So now to connect the G and A notes together in sequence, we have more options.

It would be good practice for you to take a G major scale and try to find as many ways you can play it as you can, on fretted strings, open strings, and combinations of them both........how many can you find?

In finding ways that you like to play them, you will be developing your own ways to think about the fingerboard. I will be giving my own examples along the way as well, and it will be fun to compare many different ways to approach the five strings on the banjo, and all the cools sounds that can come out.

Lets look more at the term Relative Minor. The G major scale has a Relative. That relative is called the Natural or relative minor scale. The G major scale contains the same notes as the E natural minor scale. The only difference is what note the scale starts and ends at. The Gmajor scales starts and ends on a G note, and the E natural minor scale starts and ends on an E note.

Both of these scales contain one #.........that being an F#..........looking at a piece of Musical notation and seeing that the key signature has one sharp ontop of the F line in the staff, we know that this piece of music is in the key of G major, or E minor.

The relative minors in scales and chords will play in a big part in understanding our improvisations in our soloing and in our backup.

Keep it going everyone, if you have any questions, we are always around to answer them.

Rock On the Moose.


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In 2009, at the age of 60, I decided to learn to play the 5-string banjo. I searched the internet for lessons and struck gold when I found David Cavage's free banjo lessons at Musicmoose.org. His video hosting site revver.com was having some serious problems at the time so I downloaded as many of the lessons as I could whenever they became available. Revver.com stopped operating shortly afterwards and, sadly, Musicmoose.org is no more. I contacted David early 2020 and he told me he no longer had the original master videos and feared they may have been lost forever. This amazing course of free banjo lessons, from absolute beginner to advanced player, is too good to be forgotten, so this is my attempt to get David's work back out there again so that he can teach, inspire and spread the joy of banjo pickin' to more generations of budding musicians, just like he did with me. I've rounded up all the Moose stuff I could find and put it here, so start pickin' and enjoy!-------MooseHerder.