Banjo Chord Theory Part 1
It’s all music. The Five-String Banjo is simply another tone-producing musical invention. This chord theory discussion will sum up a few of the basic concepts of banjo chords.
Chords Come From Scales
Here’s the standard G Major Scale:
G – A – B – C – D – E – F# – G
Starting on G and skipping every other note in a G major scale you get G-B-D or a G major triad chord. It is the first three open strings on your banjo plus a G chord position at the fifth fret:
To give you another perspective, here is a G major scale shown in tablature and standard notation. The G-B-D triad notes are circled:
Play the the G-B-D chord on the first three strings and compare it to the scale.
Octave intervals have a 12 fret distance. There are two pairs of octave notes in open G banjo tuning. These are the D notes on the 1st & 4th strings and the G notes on the 3rd and 5th strings.
Here is the G chord position at the fifth fret:
This is called a Root Position Chord because it’s lowest pitch is G. In this chord position, the fourth and first strings are Octave G notes. You can hear an octave in the first two notes of the tune “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”