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Banjo Lessons: Diatonic Chords

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[MUSIC]
I'd like to talk to you right now about
diatonic chords.
This is a gigantic topic with infinite
possibilities.
And I first found out about diatonic
chords through Bill Keith,
my mentor and just the genius of the
banjo.
The inventor of the melodic style,
at least as far as bringing it to mass
popularity.
And basically, diatonic chords are chords
that are based on notes of the scale.
In fact, every other note of the scale,
let me explain.
Let's say you're playing a G scale.
[MUSIC]
One, two, three, four, five, six,
seven, eight.
Let's just take, let's take the first five
notes of the G scale.
Do Re Mi Fa So.
Now, let's take every other note of that
passage there, that scale part.
So let's take the third string, cuz that's
the first note.
So it's one, two.
Now don't take the second note and play
it.
Now let's take the third note and the
fifth note.
So you're taking every other note.
So third, second, first.
Those are the strings.
And it's G, G, B, C D.
So you have G, B, D.
You have those first three strings by
taking every other note of that portion of
the G scale.
So take G, B, D.
There's the first diatonic chord right
there.
Now, let's go to the second note of the G
scale and
go up the G scale from the second note,
which would be A, B, C, D, E.
So A, B, C, D, E.
And you take every other note of that and
you have.
Basically, an A-minor chord.
Second fret of the third, first fret of
the second, middle,
index, ring on the second fret of the
first.
So the first two chords are.
[MUSIC]
Now,
we'll start on the third note of the
scale.
[MUSIC]
And it's a B, C, D, E, F-sharp.
And if you take every other note.
You have the fourth fret of the fourth,
third fret of the second,
fourth fret of the first and you have this
chord.
And I use the middle one which is a basic,
basically a B minor chord.
The middle on the fourth fret of the
third,
index on the third fret of the second,
ring on the fourth fret of the first.
Put those three, first three diatonic
chords together and you get.
[MUSIC]
And
you can figure out the rest for yourself
right now if you want.
You can just stop.
I was about to say stop the tape.
I'm dating myself here.
Stop your computer and see if you can
figure out the rest of these,
just 'cuz you started on the first note of
the scale, then the second note,
third note, now you're gonna start with
the fourth note of the scale.
[MUSIC]
And, again, still notes in the G scale,
you're staying in the G scale.
So, you have C, D, E, F sharp, G.
And you take every other note.
And you have the fifth fret of the third,
fifth fret of the second and
fifth fret of the first, which gives you a
C chord.
And I'm using the middle and the fifth
fret of the third,
index on the fifth fret of the second,
ring on the fifth fret of the first.
So, you have.
[MUSIC]
And
now you go to the fifth note of the scale,
and
play the notes of the G scale starting on
the fifth note of the scale.
And this has to do with modes also, we're
getting into mode action when we're
talking about this sort of thing, but
we're not gonna get into that right now.
[MUSIC]
So fifth fret, I'm sorry,
seventh fret of the third string, seventh
fret of the second,
seventh fret of the first, by taking every
other note.
[MUSIC]
D, E, F sharp, G, A.
There's your D chord.
Middle on the fifth fret, sorry,
seventh fret of the third, index on the
seventh fret of the second.
And ring on the seventh fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
So you've got, and then,
go to the sixth note of the scale.
And you have
[MUSIC]
E, G, B.
So,
[MUSIC]
E, F-sharp, G, A, B.
[MUSIC]
And, this gives you an E-minor chord.
With the middle at the ninth fret of the
third,
index at the eighth fret of the second,
ring at the ninth fret of the first.
So you have.
[MUSIC]
Now the last one, F-sharp.
[MUSIC]
F-sharp G, A, B,
C, F-sharp A, C.
[MUSIC]
Taking it every other one.
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
You have this,
looks like a D seventh chord.
And what I'm doing, I'm barring the first
two strings with the index
finger at the tenth fret, and the middle
at the eleventh fret of the third string
and continuing from the bottom again.
And finish where you started with G.
[MUSIC]
Middle at the twelfth fret of the third,
index at the twelfth fret of the second,
ring at the twelfth fret of the first.
Starting off the way you did down the
neck, but just an octave higher.
[MUSIC]
G, A, B, C, D.
Now, those are 12 diatonic chords right
there,
every one of which they're all comprised
of notes on the G scale.
[MUSIC]
And
the nice thing about this is you can play
this, you can play these chords, and
I'm not gonna get into this yet because we
have a, a ways to go here and
I might have to wait till a second batch
of lessons on this.
But for now, I just wanna give you the
idea of this, because it's very there's so
many things you can do with this, like I
was saying earlier.
So,
[MUSIC]
you can just do forward rolls.
[MUSIC]
Or, let's do this for starters.
[MUSIC]
This is measure 17 through 20.
You're doing forward, backward, forward,
backward,
forward roll becoming the backward roll so
third, second, first, second and
then the same thing for that second, that
A minor chord, second diatonic chord.
[MUSIC]
The C to the D,
B minor, and that's basically an F-sharp
chord.
[MUSIC]
And
again, middle, index, ring, middle, index,
ring in terms of the left hand.
Middle, index, ring, same through all this
till you get to the,
this second to last chord, the penultimate
chord with the middle on the eleventh
fret of the third, index across the first
two strings at the tenth fret.
And you can do them backwards also.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
so that's just getting your feet wet, and
getting the basic concept of the diatonic
chords.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
All
right.
We're going to do a little bit of
Blackberry Blossom right now,
using descending diatonic cords in G.
This is just one key that we're, we're
dealing with G right now.
Where else would we be?
Dealing, yeah.
We're banjo players, we're dealing with G.
But you can apply this to all other keys.
And again, this is a really infinite
concept.
We're just taking one little slice of it
for bluegrass purposes here right now.
Okay.
We've ascended, we've gone up.
[MUSIC]
Doing the, ascending
diatonic chords from the last lesson, the
first lesson on diatonic chords.
Now, we're gonna go down.
[MUSIC]
Now, this sounds kind of like
Blackberry Blossom, which is how I started
off this, this lesson.
And so, we can go most of the way down.
[MUSIC]
But,
rather than doing the A minor,
[MUSIC],
which is the second of the diatonic chords
that I showed you in the last lesson.
Because this is Blackberry Blossom,
there's an A chord there, not an acorn,
an A chord.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
And so, you're gonna be doing, instead of
having the index on the first fret of
the second, it's gonna be at the second
fret of the second.
So, you have the G, F sharp, B minor, D,
C, E minor, A.
And again, with Blackberry Blossom,
it's G, D G.
[MUSIC]
I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
B seventh
[MUSIC]
This works against the C chord even though
the C chord would be next.
[MUSIC]
And then, the C.
[MUSIC]
B minor, which is actually a D.
[MUSIC]
And, then an A.
[MUSIC]
Take my word for it,
this works against Blackbird Blossom.
[MUSIC]
And, you're gonna do a forward roll and
then a backward roll,
[MUSIC]
To a D7.
[MUSIC]
So the A chord.
Third, second, first, fifth.
First, second, third, first.
[MUSIC]
And then, continuing on.
[MUSIC]
So, it's.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
Here's the continuation.
So, it's G, you're gonna hit third,
second, fifth, and first string.
The switch is great.
And then, the next chord's gonna be a D
seventh with the pinky at
the fourth fret of the fourth string.
[MUSIC]
The middle at the second
fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
Index at the first fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
Then,
you're gonna do it alternating thumb.
[MUSIC]
Fourth, second, third, first strings.
[MUSIC]
Thumb, index, thumb, middle.
If that's really too much of a stretch you
can add the open fourth string.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
But.
[MUSIC]
And then,
[MUSIC]
The second measure,
following the one we just did.
[MUSIC]
Hit the second fret of the fourth string.
[MUSIC]
Open second.
[MUSIC]
Open third.
[MUSIC]
Open first.
[MUSIC]
And then, open fourth, second, fifth,
first, so.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Now, interestingly, and
I'm not gonna get in to this in any detail
at all right now,
but if you start that where you're doing
the open strings.
Third, second, fifth, first.
If you fret an F position G chord.
[MUSIC]
And,
go where the ring's at the fifth fret of
the fourth.
[MUSIC]
Middle's at the fourth fret of the third.
Index is at the third fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
And, hit the fourth, third, fifth, and
second strings.
[MUSIC]
And then, go from there,
[MUSIC]
to the D seventh.
[MUSIC]
And then,
the second fret of the fourth and open.
These are diatonic chords.
[MUSIC]
Also.
[MUSIC]
So, here you are taking.
[MUSIC]
Let's take the fourth, third and
second strings of this F position G I just
mentioned.
Again, you're going to be doing it open
like this, but just so
you can see how this can apply in other
ways.
[MUSIC]
This diatonic chord.
Concept.
[MUSIC]
Now, the next chord below that,
if you go down one note in the D chord to
the next note in this G chord, I'm sorry.
To the next note of the G scale.
You go five to four on the fourth string.
You go four to two, cuz that's the next
note.
[MUSIC]
Do, re, mi.
Second fret of third string.
[MUSIC]
And,
from the third fret of the second string
down to the first fret of the second
string.
[MUSIC].
So, you've got this.
This is another diatonic chord.
This D seven.
And then.
[MUSIC]
That's the next one.
Or, so, it's like an E minor chord.
Okay.
So, I just for a moment used another
diatonic chord progression, but on the
second, third and fourth strings.
[MUSIC]
And then,
the open fourth, second, fifth, first.
Just again, you don't have to worry about
the technical aspects of that but
just to give you an idea that.
You can take any chord and move down one
note of the scale that that chord is in.
[MUSIC]
And, wherever that might be and
get the next diatonic chords and go up and
down from there.
So, but right now, we're just focusing on
finishing off Blackberry Blossom.
So, you've got.
[MUSIC].
And then, a C chord.
You're just going back to kind of a
[INAUDIBLE] variation on or
version of Blackberry Blossom.
And, the zero to two on the fourth string.
You're hammering on into a C chord with an
open first string.
So, zero to two on the fourth.
First fret of the second.
Open third, open first.
[MUSIC]
And then, four string chord note,
pinch the outside strings.
[MUSIC]
Middle single string,
[MUSIC]
to the last measure.
Two to zero on the third string.
Thumb, index, fourth fret of the fourth
string with the thumb, open first.
[MUSIC]
Quarter note, pinch.
The outside strings.
[MUSIC]
So,
this last bit would be,
[MUSIC]
Sorry, once again.
[MUSIC]
So,
the whole thing would be,
[MUSIC]
I'll slow that down a little bit.
[MUSIC]
All right, there's a little variation on
BlackBerry Blossom.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Continuing
in our discussion
of diatonic chords.
[COUGH] I'm gonna show you a really nice,
descending thing you can do with groupings
of three.
And this works really nicely for something
like Lonesome Rail Blues.
This is borrowing a little bit from Earl's
version of this.
[MUSIC]
So, here at the 12th fret of the first two
strings, ring it with the ring on the 12th
fret on the first string,
middle at the 12th fret of the second.
Hit the first string twice in a row, two
quarter-notes.
Then do a forward roll, fifth, second,
first, fifth.
[MUSIC]
So,
add the pinky on the 14th fret of the
first string.
Go to the fifth string and that's a
quarter note.
So the fifth string is a quarter-note, hit
the first string as a quarter-note, and
the fifth string as a quarter-note.
[MUSIC]
Now,
shift the middle over to the third string
and add the index on the 12th fret of
the second string, they're all kind of
crammed in here.
So it's ring on the first.
This is all at the 12th fret.
Ring.
Index at the second.
Middle at the third.
[MUSIC]
And you're going down the diatonic chords.
First, second, third, backward roll.
[MUSIC]
You go to the next diatonic chord where
the index is barred across the first two
strings at the 10th fret.
Middle at the 11th fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
And
now the ring at the ninth fret of the
first.
Index at the eight fret of the second.
Middle at the ninth fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
C.
[MUSIC]
And
now you start playing your D chord at the
seventh fret.
Ring at the seventh fret of the first.
Index at the seventh fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
Middle at the seventh fret of the third.
But as you're coming to that third string.
You see it, the first string, second
string.
And I want you to jump really quickly to
the fifth fret.
[MUSIC]
So it's.
[MUSIC]
You
hit the third string as a quarter note.
And then you'll pinch the first two
strings, so.
[MUSIC]
And
then you go down to the next lower
position in the die chord,
diatonic chord progression, which is the
ring at the fourth fret of the first,
index at the third fret of the second,
middle at the fourth fret of the third.
And that's a pinch and then, and it's a
quarter note pinch and
then you hit a C chord and it's a quarter
note pinch.
So you've got.
[MUSIC]
That quarter note pinch on the C chord,
first three strings, two forward rolls,
fifth, second, first, fifth, second.
Then an alternating thumb.
Fifth, second, middle on the second fret
of the third string, index on the first,
I'm sorry, middle finger hitting the first
string which is at the second fret.
Another alternating thumb.
Open third, open second, and
the middle goes over to the second fret of
the fourth, open first, open third.
Little convoluted but a very cool lick.
So, it's.
[MUSIC]
So, again, it's.
[MUSIC]
Now here's another thing you can do with a
diatonic chord position routine.
Which is to do this.
[MUSIC]
For D chord.
[MUSIC]
It's not all that hard, and it'll get you
more used to these positions.
So the middle at the third fret of the,
third string.
Index at the third fret of the second.
Ring at the second sorry, seventh fret of
the first.
And these are all backward forward rolls.
Forward and jump down two frets to the
fifth fret.
All the same fingerings, but at the fifth
fret.
[MUSIC]
So, forward backward roll.
[MUSIC]
And then I let go of the ring finger.
I guess you don't really need to.
[MUSIC]
Actually yeah, you can keep it down, or
lift off if you want.
But you're gonna stay with the ring on the
fourth fret of the first now.
Index at the third fret of the second.
Middle at the fourth fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
Down two more frets.
With a ring at the second fret of the
first,
index at the first fret of the second,
middle at the second fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
And then that tab lick.
So, again, a nine-pound hammer.
[MUSIC]
Anyway, that's a really fun kind of a D
lick you can throw in.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Well here's another application
of the descending diatonic chord position
routine.
And what I'm gonna have you do to prepare
for it, it's just a very short little
lick, but this will be handy just in, in
getting you used to the finger board, and
just other things you can do with these
diatonic chords.
You're going to be skipping, leap
frogging, across the positions and going,
with back, forward backward rolls.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So forward roll.
Instead of going.
[MUSIC]
Instead of just going consecutively,
you're going to skip that one going there.
Then down and skip one going up.
And so on and so forth.
[MUSIC]
So
forward roll on the first three strings
open to the fifth string.
And then jump to the second, or the third
position I should say.
With the ring at the fourth fret of the
first,
index at the third fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
Middle at the third,
fourth fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
Jump down two frets.
[MUSIC]
And do a forward roll.
Middle on the second fret of the third.
Index on the first fret of the second.
Ring on the second fret of the first.
Up to the fifth fret.
Without changing fingering, so the ring is
now at the first, fifth fret of the first,
index at the fifth fret of the second,
middle at the fifth fret of the third.
So.
[MUSIC]
Forward and backward roll on that C chord.
Go back down to the ring at the fourth
fret of the first,
index at the third fret of the second.
Middle at the fourth fret of the third.
Chord roll to the fifth string, which is
really pretty.
[MUSIC]
And
as you go from that position up to the D
chord at the seventh fret,
you have the ring at the seventh fret of
the first, backward roll to the index at
the seventh fret of the second, middle at
the seventh fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
Down two frets.
[MUSIC]
And
up here, so you start here with the fifth
fret.
[MUSIC]
Fifth fret of the third,
index of the fifth fret of the second,
ring at the fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
And for the backward roll, the ring goes
to the ninth fret of the first index, on
the eighth fret of the second,
middle at the ninth fret of the third,
seventh fret.
Just keeping the fingers on the same
strings the middle at the seventh fret of
the third.
[MUSIC]
Index at the sec,
seventh fret of the second, ring at the
seventh fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
To the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
And
now the index at the tenth fret of the
first two strings barred.
[MUSIC]
I have the thumb behind the neck here,
of the banjo.
[MUSIC]
Middle at the 11th fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
So,
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
Now here you've got the twelfth fret of
the, I'm sorry, tenth fret of the first
two strings with the index and
the middle at the eleventh fret of the
third.
Forward roll to the fifth string.
And here we are at the second position up
an octave,
[MUSIC]
With the ring
at the 14th fret of the first, index at
the 13th fret of the second, middle
at the 14th fret of the third and boy I'm
getting tired of saying all these numbers.
There has to be an easier way.
Just kidding.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
And then you just end at the 12th fret,
first three strings.
[MUSIC]
With the ring on the first.
[MUSIC]
Index on the second.
[MUSIC]
Middle at the third.
So the whole thing would be.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay.
Now, rather than doing all of that,
we can go also down.
[MUSIC]
In the skipping positions.
And so what I'm gonna do is just give you
the ending.
[MUSIC]
Anyway, and I'm gonna let, let that be
some homework for you.
Try doing it backwards.
I'm not gonna spell it all out for you.
Skipping positions.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Just go that far.
But if you take every, and I will ask you
to work on that on your own.
Coming up with these.
[MUSIC]
Just skipping.
[MUSIC]
You'll skip every other one.
[MUSIC]
So,
what you're gonna do, is this is gonna be
the tail end of an ending.
[MUSIC]
So there should be forward rolls, right?
Yes.
[MUSIC]
Just a really pleasant,
pretty sounding thing, skipping every
other position.
So you've got the middle at the twelfth
fret of the third,
index at the twelfth fret of the second,
ring at the twelfth fret of the first.
Jump by skipping that D seventh you jump
to this.
Which is the middle ninth fret of the
third.
Index at the eighth fret of the second.
Ring at the ninth fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
To the fifth fret of the first
three strings.
Middle, index, ring all at the first.
At the fifth fret.
[MUSIC]
And the jump down here to the A minor, so
you get the middle of the second.
Second fret of the, the third string.
[MUSIC]
Hit that, and
then pinch the first two strings.
[MUSIC]
Which,
you have the ring at the second fret of
the first.
[MUSIC]
And index at the first fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
And the open first three strings.
So again.
[MUSIC]
Just takes a lot of quick jumping back and
forth between the positions.
But I think it makes a really pretty
ending for a tune.
[MUSIC]