5-string banjo again... what to do with that pesky 5th string?

• Jun 8, 2018 - 15:35

When I key in notation and generate a tab staff, one of the processes I must go thru is to re-assign the bulk of the 1st string, 5th-fret notes to the open 5th string (occasionally, it is moved to the 2nd string, 8th fret). This is just a fact of life for software Tab and the 5-string banjo (given, the usual tuning).

I do this in a variety of ways. Probably the most efficient I have found is to hold down the ctrl key and then click on every 1st string, 5th-fret note I wish to move, dragging them all down to the 5th string at the last click. Works pretty good but you have to make sure you don't accidently lift before you drag that last note...or you have to start all over again (I've learned to stick to only a few measures at a time with this method). I can also click on the note in the Tab staff and hit ctrl+up/down to move it from string to string. This is the method I more often use to move it to the 2nd string, 8th-fret (generally, there are few of these anyway).

What would be nice is to be able to use the selection function (select/more) to designate the specific notes I want to move (globally) and then send/assign them to the string of choice.
I tried doing that a couple of ways last night but couldn't make it work. (Now that I've typed this in, I'm wondering if I couldn't use the select/more feature to designate the notes and then ctrl-x/ctrl-v to cut and paste...)
I think I might prefer a "send to string" sequence of some sort. Maybe use the select/more process and then hit a ctrl+ sequence? (example: select/more (make selections) then ctrl/alt/whatever+string#)


Regarding that pesky 5th string...
What I envision is a way to enter that 'drone' string with an assigned name - for example 'H'.
This way it would eliminate much of the octave shift correction necessary when entering melody notes which alternate with the fifth string.
It would also tell the TAB exactly when that 5th string is played.

A similar situation occurs in guitar music when the open E string is used in a similar fashion - alternating with melody notes. Once the E string is entered, the next melody note entered usually needs to be lowered an octave. Then the E string is entered followed by another melody note which needs to be lowered an octave... again and again.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Concur. Drones are generally a PITA for entry. I think I would go with the 'note replacement' method for drone work...if I could somehow get a string re-assignment function (or as you suggest, a tag).
Quite a few of the earliest banjo tunes feature a repetitive motif where the thumb and finger rapidly alternate from the 1st string 5th-fret and open 5th string. They're the same note...but the Tab looks a lot different than the notation.

In reply to by madsmith

It's a bit more complicated, because the 5th string isn't always a drone. It is sometimes fretted, though it can only be fretted 6th fret and above. Usually,, the 5th string is tuned the same as the 1st string, but "always capoed" at the 5th fret. So, if you fret the 1st and 5th strings at the 8th fret, say, they are the same note.

In reply to by loonsailor

Oh, yeah, and also it's sometimes capoed, or "spiked", even when the rest of the string aren't. So, when we play in D we often spike the 5th string at the 7th fret so when played open (fret 0 in MuseScore) it is an A4 instead of G4, but on the 8th fret it is still a Bb like the 1st string. In other words, it isn't re-tuned but the open note has changed.

In reply to by loonsailor

Unfortunately, the banjo is unique for that 5th string. No software is going to be able to predict 5th string use. Musescore is quite good at finding comfortable note positions (depending on your method of entry)...except for that one note, capoed, spiked or whatever.
I would like to have a toggle somewhere where I could tell the software to "assign" that note (whatever you wish it to be) to the 5th string "always" or not. That way, I just look at the music I'm entering and decide which way would be most efficient.

I haven't worked with any of the various tunings (there are 65+) other than gCGBD and gDGBD. So I don't have any experience in Musescore with re-assigning the 5th string note.

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