How do I know where the banjo melody notes are?

How do I know where the banjo melody notes are?

How do I know where the banjo melody notes are?

A student just called with a question.

His question; I cant tell where the melody is when I play the rolls?

His question was a good one or common one but the way he pictured how this all comes together needed better understanding. It comes from every one learning banjo rolls first. Learning the rolls or the “picking patterns” first is helpful and probably the best way to get started but its basically an exercise to develop picking skill and timing. Its not the way the three finger style was created or developed. It’s a way for us  to get our fingers moving, learn rhythm and get the skills needed to play a song.  The picking patterns that are used in a song are dependent on which pattern puts the melody not where we want it.

Here is my answer:

Hi ….,
Here is a link about playing and understanding banjo rolls or better put Scruggs style “picking patterns”.
Below that I made a graph up that I just thought of as I was on the phone with you. The letters in bold and in italics are the ones that are “most often” used to play melody notes within these commonly used Scruggs Style picking patterns. The pattern chosen in Scruggs style is based on where the melody notes are, not the other way around. Earl did not play rolls, he played the melody and used the three technique that he perfected to do it.

Practice the picking patterns emphasizing the bolded and italicized letters. First,  read the article, then try it. The article doesn’t address this specifically but you will need some more understanding before you start practicing it this way.  thanks again, Ross Nickerson

Article Beginner Banjo Rolls

Alternating Thumb Roll Pattern T I T M T I T M
Forward Roll Pattern 1 T M T I  M T I M
Forward Roll Pattern 2 T I M T I M T M
Forward-Reverse Roll Picking Pattern T I M T M I T M
Forward-Backward Roll Picking Pattern T M T I M I T M
Foggy Mountain Roll Picking Pattern I M T M T I M T
Backward-Forward Roll Picking Pattern M I T M T I M T
Dillard Roll Picking Pattern M I M T M I M T
Posted by Ross Nickerson Home, Instruction Articles 0

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