Reply To: Key Signature ????
I’ve come from banjo (and other instruments before that also) too!
The fretless thing doesn’t really affect it (see fretless banjo, or mandolins which are fretted but tuned same as fiddle).
I find looking at a piano keyboard the easiest way to visualise it.. if going from one key to the key next to it (the black one) is a half step, but skipping the black one and going to the next white one is a ‘whole step’.
Now if you start from the ‘C’ key, and play up the scale, you’ll find you go “whole whole half, whole whole whole half” (or something like that).
Now if you start from the ‘D’ key and play that same progression (skipping and not skipping keys), you’ll find you end up playing some of the black keys too.
This is because the chromatic scale (all the notes) doesn’t have a nice tidy number of semitones (due to maths/physics) so B and E don’t have sharps at all. It literally goes A, A#, B, C, C#
If you were to just play all white keys, starting at D and finishing at D, you’re still playing the C scale, but in a different mode (Dorian), which is something Jason touches on.
Anyway that’s about as far I can get before my understanding gets hazy, but safe to say some scales will always include sharps or flats. Even if you were to play the D scale on banjo, you’d still play a C# (2nd fret on the second string I think?).
Understanding music theory and reading music are things I’ve been working on for ages, but because I’ve never had a music teacher it’s very haphazard, so hopefully some of that helps