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Born in North America, Banjos have played a major role in writing mainstream as well as traditional genres too. They are majorly associated with Country, Folk, Banjo Jazz and more genres in music. Apart from the mainstream genres, Banjos are also used to play Irish and South American folk music. So, quite naturally, most of us have heard of the instrument playing somewhere, most probably in songs.

The Banjo is mentioned to be first played by Western African Slaves in the Caribbean. That is how Banjo was discovered in North America. The true origin and etymology of a banjo are unknown. Although the first illustration of a chordophone dates back to around 1300 BC. But all that we know are the theories which shadow the true origin of the instrument.

A Banjo has an oval body, a fretboard, a stretched membrane, and strings. The number of the strings may vary from 4 to 6. The strings on a Banjo has to be plucked, in order to create a sound. And the fretboard is used to produce notes. Many instrumentalists may follow the Western Musical Theory, for it is universal acceptance.

The basic components of Western Musical Theory are:-

  • Pitch:- Pitch can be defined as how high or how low a note gets. It is directly proportional to the frequency of a sound. Pitch of a sound is very particular and it cannot be matched, even by a similar sound produced by a different equipment.
  • Scales:- Scales came out as patterns in music which sensibly completes a music circle. A musical scale is made up of notes with a certain pattern to follow. For example, there are major scales in music which follows “Root Note-Tone-Tone-Semitone-Tone-Tone-Tone-Semitone” pattern. The last note of which again comes out to be the root note. There are a lot of other scales in music.
  • Consonance and Dissonance:- Pick a note on any musical instrument. There are a number of consonance and dissonance for a note within its own scales. Consonant notes sound complete when played together. Dissonant notes give a feeling of incompleteness.
  • Chord:- Chords can be defined as notes in a scale, which when played together, create a sensible sound. It can only be consonant notes or a combination of consonant and dissonant notes. For example, to play a major chord in any scale, you need to pick the first, third and fifth note from that scale. Play the selected notes together. You have got your chord.