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Music Theory For

Banjo Players
Taught by Rick McKeon



This document has all of the diagrams
referred to in the video lessons

Enjoy!
Rick




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Figure 1: Interval Pattern for the Major Scale


The major scale is the basis of all music theory! Once you know the pattern for the
major scale and where the half-steps are, you can figure out the name of any note on
the banjo fingerboard. Also, you will see why we end up with sharps or flats in some key
signatures.

What is a major scale?

All major scales have the same pattern of whole and half steps: Whole, Whole, Half,
Whole, Whole, Whole, Half. This pattern is what gives that “do re mi” sound we are all
so familiar with. So, no matter what note we start with, the major scale looks like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1

Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half
(2 frets) (2 frets) (1 fret) (2 frets) (2 frets) (2 frets) (1 fret)

Where are the half steps?

To remember where the half-steps are think of a BEE to help you remember the letters
B and E.


BEE

Any two consecutive notes have a whole-step (two frets) between them except for two
pairs: B&C and E&F which have a half-step (one fret) between them.

For all starting notes, if we went through and adjusted the notes (making them either
sharp or flat when necessary) to make them fit this pattern we would generate all of
the major scales.

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Figure 2: The Major Scale for all Keys


Major Scale Key Signature
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
W W H W W W H

C D E F G A B C (No sharps or flats)
G A B C D E F# G (1 sharp)
D E F# G A B C# D (2 sharps)
A B C# D E F# G# A (3 sharps)
E F# G# A B C# D# E (4 sharps)
B C# D# E F# G# A# B (5 sharps – enharmonic to Cb)
F# G# A# B C# D# E# F# (6 sharps – enharmonic to Gb)
C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C# (7 sharps – enharmonic to Db)

F G A Bb C D E F (1 flat)
Bb C D Eb F G A Bb (2 flats)
Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb (3 flats)
Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab (4 flats)
Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db (5 flats – enharmonic to C#)
Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb (6 flats – enharmonic to F#)
Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb Cb (7 flats – enharmonic to B)


To remember the order of sharps think “Fat Cats Go Down And Eat Breakfast.”

To remember the order of flats think of the word “BEAD” and then “Go C Flats.”




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Figure 3: Notes on the Banjo Fingerboard


7
10
12
3
5
19
22
15
17
F#
Gb
D G B D
D#
Eb
G#
Ab
C
D#
Eb
E A
C#
Db
E
F
A#
Bb
D F
F#
Gb
B
D#
Eb
F#
Gb
G C E G
G#
Ab
C#
Db
F
G#
Ab
A D
F#
Gb
A
A#
Bb
D#
Eb
G
A#
Bb
B E
G#
Ab
B
C F A C
C#
Db
F#
Gb
A#
Bb
C#
Db
D G B D
D#
Eb
G#
Ab
C
D#
Eb
E A
C#
Db
E
F
A#
Bb
D F
F#
Gb
B
D#
Eb
F#
Gb
G C E G
G#
Ab
C#
Db
F
G#
Ab
A D A
A#
Bb
D#
Eb
G
A#
Bb
B E
G#
Ab
B
C F A C





5
Jesse James
Traditional
Arr. Rick McKeon
Rev. 3/6/11 Page 1/2

4
4 ¡ ¡
0
Jesse
0 2
[S]
G
James
0
4
0
VERSE
0
0
was
0
2
a
0
0
lad,
0
0
0
0
0
He
2
C
killed
1
2
0
0
many a
2
2
1
4
0
G
man.
0
0
0
0
0
He
[S]
2
robbed
0
5
0
0
0
0
the
2
[S]
Glen
0
3
0
3
-
0
0
0
dale
7
2
D7
train.
0
2
0
0
2
0
2
0
0
0
Well,
0
he
2
[S]
G
took
0
4
0
0
0
from
0
2
the
0
10
0
rich,
0
0
0
0
0
and
2
C
gave
1
2
0
0
to
2
2
the
1
0
G
poor.
0
0
0
He'd
2
a
13
2
[S]
hand
0
4
0
0
0
and
0
0
a
0
2
D7
heart
1
0
0
0
and
0
2
a
0
0
G
brain.
0
2
[S]
0
3 0
2
[P]
0

6
Rev. 3/6/11 Page 2/2
16
0
0
0
2
Well,
0 1
C
Jesse
0
CHORUS
1
2
had
0
1
a
2
1
wife
0
1
2
0
1
to
2
19
0
G
mourn
0
0
0
for
0
0
2
his
0
0
life.
0
0
0
0
0
Three
[S]
2
child
0
5
0
0
-
0
0
ren
22
2
[S]
they
0
3
0
3
0
0
0
were
2
D7
brave.
0
2
0
0
2
0
2
0
0
0
But
0
that
25
2
[S]
G
dirty
0
4
0
0
0
little
0
2
0
0
coward
0
0
0
0
0
that
2
C
shot
1
2
0
0
Mr.
2
2
1
28
0
G
Howard,
0
0
0
0
0
[H]
He
2
0
laid
0
0
0
0
0
0
poor
0
2
D7
Jesse
1
0
0
0
in
0
2
his
0
31
0
G
grave.
0
2
3 0
2
[S]
3
0
0
0
0
0
0
1.
0
0.
0.
2.

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Figure 4: Note Durations
Arr. Rick McKeon
Rev. 10/15/11 Page 1/2
·
_
T
A
B
¸
¸
Exercise #1
,
0
1
,
0
2
,
0
3
,
0
4
_
0
1 (2)
,
0
3
,
0
4
·
_
T
A
B
3
Exercise #2
,
0
1
,
0
&
,
0
2
,
0
&
,
0
3
,
0
4
,
0
1
,
0
2
,
0
&
_
0
3 (4)


8

Figure 4: Note Durations -
Rev. 10/15/11 Page 2/2
·
_
T
A
B
5
Exercise #3
,
0
1 e &
,
0
,
0
,
0
2
,
0
&
,
0
3
,
0
&
,
0
4
,
0
1
,
0
&
,
0
2
,
0
&
,
0
3
,
0
4
·
_
T
A
B
7
3
3
Exercise #4
,
0
1 triplet
,
0
,
0
,
0
2
,
0
&
,
0
3
,
0
&
,
0
4
,
0
1
,
0
&
,
0
2
,
0
&
,
(3)
,
0
&
,
0
4


9
Figure 5: Practice Licks
Arr. Rick McKeon
Rev. 10/15/11 Page 1/2
4
4
2
[S]
Lick #1
1
0
3
&
0
2
0
&
0
3
0
0
4
2
[S]
1 e &
3
0
0
2
0
&
0
3
0
0
4
3
Lick #2
(1)
0
2
2
3
4
4
0
1
0
&
0
2
0
&
0
3
0
&
0
0
4
5
0
Lick #3
1
7
&
5
2
0
&
0
3
0
4
2
3
1
0
&
1
2
2
0
&
0
0
3 (4)

10
Rev. 10/15/11 Page 2/2
7
0
Lick #4
1
7
&
5
2
0
&
0
3
0
&
0
4
3
3
1 triplet
2
0
3
2
2 triplet
1
0
0
3
0
&
0
4

11
Figure 6: Rest Symbols
Arr. Rick McKeon
Rev. 8/28/11
·
_
T
A
B
¸
¸
¡
¡
quarter note rest
,
,
eighth note rest
·
_
T
A
B
2
¸
¸
sixteenth note rest
. ¸
. ¸
half note rest
·
_
T
A
B
3
_ ¸
_ ¸
whole note rest

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Figure 7: Exercises
Rests and Holds
Arr. Rick McKeon
Rev. 8/28/11
4
4
0
Exercise #1
1
0
2
¡
Rest
0
4
0
1
¡
Rest
0
3 (4)
3
0
Exercise #2
1
0
2
0
3
0
4 Hold
0
2
0
3
0
4
5
0
Exercise #3
1 Hold &
0 0
3
0
4
0
1
¡
Rest
0
3
0
4
7
0
Exercise #4
1
0
2
¡
Rest
0
4
0
1
0
2 Hold
0
4

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Figure 8: Practice Licks
Rests and Holds
Arr. Rick McKeon
Rev. 8/29/11

4
4 ¡
Lick #1: Quarter Note Rest Pickup
(1)
0
2
2
3
4
4
0
1
0
&
0
2
0
&
0
3
0
0
4
3
9
11
Lick #2: Rests and Hold in Ending
1
,
(&)
0
2
0
&
9
3
8
&
0
4 (1)
16
2
,
(&)
17
3 (&) (4)
5
,
Lick #3: Eighth Note Rest Pickup
(1)
0
&
0
0
2
0
1
3
0
2
4
2
[SL]
1
0
3
&
0
2
3
&
0
3
0
&
3
4
7
0
Lick #4: Hold
1
3
&
2
2
0
&
0
3
0
&
0
4 (1)
1
&
2
2
0
0
3 (4)

14
Figure 9: Movable Chord Forms
Major, Minor, and 7th Chords
Fm = 1,b3,5
F G A Bb C D E F
I
L
F
1
Ab
b3
C
5
F
1
R
I
F = 1,3,5
F G A Bb C D E F
M
I
L
F
1
A
3
C
5
F
1
R
F7 = 1,3,5,b7
F G A Bb C D E F
M
I
F
1
A
3
C
5
Eb
b7
R
I
D = 1,3,5
D E F# G A B C# D
R
I
L
F#
3
A
5
D
1
F#
3
M
Dm = 1,b3,5
D E F# G A B C# D
I
M
L
F
b3
A
5
D
1
F
b3
R
A = 1,3,5
A B C# D E F# G# A
I I I
E
5
A
1
C#
3
E
5
I
Am = 1,b3,5
A B C# D E F# G# A
M
I
L
E
5
A
1
C
b3
E
5
R
A7 = 1,3,5,b7
A B C# D E F# G# A
I I I
E
5
A
1
C#
3
G
b7
I
L
D7 = 1,3,5,b7
D E F# G A B C# D
R
L
F#
3
C
b7
D
1
M
F#
3
I
Rick McKeon 2011

15
Figure 10: Movable Chord Forms
Three Forms, Four Positions
G
7
9
12
3
5
C
7
9
12
3
5
D
7
9
12
3
5
Rick McKeon
9/2/11

16
Figure 11: Chords for Boil Them Cabbage Down


G C G D7
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

G C G D7 G
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

17
Boil Them Cabbage Down
Arr. Rick McKeon
Page 1/4

4
4
0
G Open Position
Boil
0
0
them cab -
0
0
0
0
bage
0
C
1
down
2
0
1
boys,
2
0
1
2
3
G
0
Turn
0
0
them hoe
0
0
0
0
cakes
0
D7
2
round.
0
0
2
0
0
2
0
5
G
0
Only
0
0
0
song
0
0
0
that
0
C
1
I
2
0
can sing
1
2
0
1
is
2
7
G
0
boil
0
0
them cab -
2
0
D7
0
2
bage
0
G
0
down.
0
0
0
0
0

18
Page 2/4
9
G
4
5th Fret
3
5
4
3
5
4
5
C
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
11
G
4
3
5
4
3
5
4
5
D
2
3
4
0
4
3
2
4
13
G
4
3
5
4
3
5
4
5
C
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
15
G
4
3
5
D
2
3
4
2
4
G
5
5
3
4
5
3
4

19
Page 3/4
17
7
G
9
8th fret
9
8
9
9
8
9
8
C
10
10
8
9
10
8
10
19
7
G
9
9
8
9
9
8
9
7
D
7
7
7
7
7
7
7
7
21
7
G
9
9
8
9
9
8
9
8
C
10
10
8
9
10
8
10
23
7
G
9
8
9
7
D
7
7
7
7
G
5
5
3
4
5
3
4

20
Page 4/4
25
12
G
12
12th Fret
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
C
12
13
14 14
13
12
27
12
G
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
10
D
11
10
12
10
11
12
29
12
G
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
12
C
12
13
14 14
13
12
31
12
G
12
12
12
10
D
11
10
12 12
12
12
12
G

21
Figure 12: Harmonizing The 1st and 3rd Strings
Key of G - Harmonizing in Sixths
Rick McKeon
11/29/11
7
10
12
3
5
15
17
G - E
A - F#
B - G
C - A
D - B
E - C
F# - D
G - E
A - F#
B - G
Notes:
1. Diamond = 1st string G
2. All notes on both
strings are from the G
Major scale.
3. Using the "F" form
notes of the chord go
1 3 5 1
4. 1st and 3rd string
notes are a separated by
a sixth. They come from
the chords in the key:
I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim)
5. Intervals are either
M6 = 4 1/2 steps
or
m6 = 4 steps
Therefore the 3rd string
note is either 2 frets or 1
fret below the 1st string
note.
Chords in G
Using the
"F" Form



22

Figure 13: Harmonizing the 1st and 2nd Strings
Key of G - Harmonizing in thirds
Rick McKeon
11/29/11
7
10
12
3
5
15
17
C - E
D - F#
E - G
F# - A
G - B
A - C
B - D
C - E
D - F#
E - G
Notes:
1. Diamond = 2nd String G
2. All notes on both strings
are from the G Major scale.
3. Using the "D" form notes
of the chord go
3 5 1 3
4. 2nd and 1st string notes
are separated by a third.
They come from the chords
in the key:
I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim)
5. Intervals are either:
M3 = 2 steps
or
m3 = 1 1/2 steps
Therefore the 1st string
note is either on the same
fret or one fret higher than
the 2nd string note.
Chords in G
Using the "D"
Form
B - D

23
Figure 14: Chords in a Key
Rick McKeon
10/23/11
C D E F G A B C
F
A
C
E
E
G
B
D
F
Triads Built on Each Scale Tone
C
D E F
G
A B C
F
A
C
E
E
G
B
D
F
The C Major Scale
E
G
F
A
G
B
A
C
B
D
C
E
D
F
E
G
m3
M3
M3
m3
m3
m3
m3
M3
M3
m3
m3
M3
Therefore:
C Dm Em F G Am Bdim C
I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim) I


24
Figure 15: Harmonizing the 2nd and 3rd Strings
Key of G - Harmonizing in Thirds
Rick McKeon
11/29/11
7
10
12
3
5
G - B
B - D
C - E
D - F#
E - G
F# - A
G - B
Notes:
1. Diamond = 3rd String G
2. All notes on both
strings are from the G
Major scale.
3. Using the "A" form
notes of the chord go
5 1 3 5
4. 2nd and 3rd string
notes are separated by a
third. They come from the
chords in the key:
I ii iii IV V vi vii(dim)
5. Intervals are either:
M3 = 2 steps
or
m3 = 1 1/2 steps
Therefore the 3rd string
note is either on the
same fret or one fret
higher than the 2nd
string note.
Chords in G
Using the
"A" Form
A - C

25
Figure 16: Musical Intervals

What Is A Musical Interval?

A musical interval is the distance between two notes. An interval has two names:

Last Name = Count the distance between the letter names of the notes.
Ex. from C to E is a third.
First Name = Major, minor, perfect, diminished, augmented - depending on the actual
distance between the notes.

Intervals – Number of Whole Steps

Diminished Minor Major Augmented
Second 0 1/2 1 1 1/2
Third 1 1 1/2 2 2 1/2
Sixth 3 1/2 4 4 1/2 5
Seventh 4 1/2 5 5 1/2 6
Perfect
Unison 0 1/2
Fourth 2 2 1/2 3
Fifth 3 3 1/2 4
Octave 5 1/2 6 6 1/2

The Major Scale
do re mi fa sol la ti do
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 (8)
Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half


26
From the root the intervals of the major scale are:
1 M2 M3 P4 P5 M6 M7 P8

In words that would be:
do – do = Unison
do – re = Major Second
do – mi = Major Third
do – fa = Perfect Forth
do – sol = Perfect Fifth
do – la = Major Sixth
do – ti = Major Seventh
do – do = Perfect Octave

Rules for making intervals bigger or smaller
Decrease a Major interval by ½ step and it becomes Minor
Decrease a Minor interval by ½ step and it becomes Diminished
Increase a Major interval by ½ step and it becomes Augmented
Decrease a Perfect interval by ½ step and it becomes Diminishes
Increase a Perfect interval by ½ step and it becomes Augmented

Note:
There is no such thing as a Major or Minor Forth
There is no such thing as a Major or Minor Fifth

The Sound of Ascending Intervals
Major Second: ARE YOU sleeping?
Minor Third: WHAT CHILD is this
Major Third: MICH – AEL ROW
Perfect Fourth: HERE COMES the bride
Perfect Fifth: TWINKLE, TWINKLE little star
Major Sixth: IT CAME upon a midnight clear, “NBC” = 1 6 4
Minor Seventh: THERE’S A place for us (from West Side story)
Major Seventh: All at ONCE AM I, several stories high
Octave: SOME-WHERE over the rainbow
Major Triad (1 3 5): “Mich – ael - Row” or sound of major chord


27
Figure 17: Circle of Fifths