Pat Cloud's "Key to Five-String Banjo" is a book of scale exercises. Before the first exercise, Mr. Cloud writes (emphasis mine):

Always start slowly and increase speed on each exercise only when you are absolutely sure you are using the correct fingers. There should be "daylight" between each note.

What does it mean for there to be "daylight between each note?" Does it just mean that I should avoid playing legato, or should I be playing staccato?

  • You probably want it to sound like this. The context is relevant--this is a practice technique & thus is probably aimed at a specific skill. So you'll want to ask a banjo teacher, because the particular skill in question might require, e.g., more daylight at lower tempos & less at higher tempos. For example, clarinet players practice scales this way, but they use legato tonguing, because it's a harder technique to master and, once mastered, it can be applied to staccato tonguing.
    – jdjazz
    Jul 2, 2017 at 22:22
  • @jdjazz My teacher says that it's useful to use different phrasing when practicing scales. Legato one time, stacato another, straight-eights one time, swing another, etc. It's a way to get more out of your practice session. I will be asking my teacher what he thinks "daylight" means, but as a Google search found a few references to the term for other instruments, I thought it would be a useful question for other students who have never heard the term before. Jul 3, 2017 at 4:04
  • By the way: I probably do want to be as adept as Bela. A guy's gotta have dreams. Jul 3, 2017 at 4:13
  • I agree! I gave it a +1. It's a nuanced question, and I think what I wanted to say is that there might be two separate questions here: (1) what does the term mean in general, and (2) what does the term intend in this context? If there's a range to the amount of daylight, then what the author intends could be different from what the term means generally. For example, if the drill is aimed at building speed, I wonder if the idea is to practice at lower tempos with enough space to replicate the faster finger movements needed at higher tempos.
    – jdjazz
    Jul 3, 2017 at 4:20
  • He's one of my favorites. Gotta dream big to make it big! Sounds like you've got a good teacher.
    – jdjazz
    Jul 3, 2017 at 4:25

2 Answers 2


Daylight should be between the notes like gaps in blinds: a bright streak of silence separating each note rather than an uninterrupted wall of notes.

Staccato make the notes stand out as brief interruptions of the silence. What you want is a fine leggiero making the separations stand out as brief interruptions of the sound.


Probably a mixture of both. Separated, as in not bleeding into each other, but not short either, as in proper staccato. The gap should be not long enough to sound like you're searching for the next note, but just short enough that it separates the last from the next. Something like when you explain in an exasperated manner to a wayward kid - "I've - told - you - enough - times - now - get - in - side!" You must understand that from one end or the other...

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