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?stay in same key as long as possible?

FreddyHeadey 09 Mar 16 - 08:29 PM
Joe Offer 09 Mar 16 - 08:31 PM
GUEST 09 Mar 16 - 09:12 PM
Will Fly 10 Mar 16 - 03:38 AM
Leadfingers 10 Mar 16 - 04:28 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 16 - 04:31 AM
banjoman 10 Mar 16 - 07:01 AM
Backwoodsman 10 Mar 16 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Richard Bridge on the Intel Quad Core 10 Mar 16 - 11:49 AM
Sean Belt 10 Mar 16 - 01:02 PM
CupOfTea 10 Mar 16 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 10 Mar 16 - 04:12 PM
GUEST 10 Mar 16 - 09:29 PM
JHW 11 Mar 16 - 04:55 AM
Sean Belt 11 Mar 16 - 02:30 PM
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Subject: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 09 Mar 16 - 08:29 PM

(Point raised in
thread.cfm?threadid=159422&messages=10#3777389 )

"...session where they "frowned on you if you didn't play in that night's chosen key"
[it was] an Old Time session where the fiddlers and banjo players have to re-tune their instruments to change key and keep the right sound. ...
Everyone's welcome if you stick to those rules! There is no difficulty with staying in one key as the participants could play for a week without repeating themselves. "
v
" I understand the reason for it, I just don't get being able to call yourself a musician and only playing in one key. As for alternative tunings, I've always said that I'll start using different ones when I've exhausted all possibilities with the normal one. "


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Mar 16 - 08:31 PM

Freddy, I can tell you're not very sympathetic to banjo players, or for them who have to wait for the banjo virtuosos to tune...
[grin]

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Mar 16 - 09:12 PM

As a banjo player, I play mainly in the standard gDGBD tuning, and can play easily in G, C, D, and related minors. Dmin, F, and A come easy enough as well. Slap a capo on it, and you're within a few frets of any key. The fifth string takes 2 seconds to change, either spike it or get one of those sliding thingies to capo it. Whoever needs to stay in one key all night is probably not a very good banjo player...


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 03:38 AM

I've played tenor banjo - tuned CGDA like a viola ("standard" tuning) - and the key is irrelevant. (I don't now actually care for the tenor banjo - tenor guitar is much, much sweeter - but the same disregard for keys applies).

Sure, there are certain keys which are easier within that range - C, F, Bb, for example - but it's good for the fingers to be out of the comfort zone once in a while. I'm sure the skilled old-time style players can play endlessly in one key, but it's nice to get a lift up or down into other keys during an evening's music.

If I'm feeling particularly jaded during a long session, I'll start something off in F - that usually silences the massed melodeons. :-) Apart from that, I pay my taxes and don't drop litter.


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 04:28 AM

There would seem to be 'preferred' keys for most traditional tunes , but the D/G melodeon seems to have put a strait jacket on a lot of session as A Major is not a comfortable key .
Where Song is the prime mover , the key will depend on the singers vocal range .


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 04:31 AM

Long time no hear, Terry - how goes it?


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: banjoman
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 07:01 AM

As a banjo player of over 60 years, I am happy to play in any key except E unless I have brought the long neck banjo with me. Aside from that, I also enjoy upsetting melodeon players by starting a familiar tune in an unfamiliar key.


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 08:32 AM

i played in an afternoon-long session at the FOAOTMAD Old-Timey festival a few weeks ago and, as a newcomer, I was astonished to find that every song/tune was in the key of A - without exception.

As a performer of 50+ years experience, in various genres, I've always taken great care to 'mix up' keys to avoid boredom for both performer and audience, so playing in one key for several hours seems totally foreign to me.

Having said that though, the enthusiasm and undoubted playing skills of the musicians I found myself amongst made it a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon!


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: GUEST,Richard Bridge on the Intel Quad Core
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 11:49 AM

I know at least one melodeon player who carries a C/F melodeon to get one up on guitarists who play in F (or F sharp which I often use, I don't know what he uses for that).


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: Sean Belt
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 01:02 PM

As an old-time player I am familiar with the phenomenon ya'll are discussing. Here's my 2¢. In a performance situation like a concert or a dance, my band and I make sure that we switch keys frequently, as well as switching tempos time signatures, mixing up songs and fiddle tunes with waltzes and rags. Our banjo player is fast enough at re-tuning his instrument that we don't have an inordinate amount of time waiting for him.

However, in a jam session setting where the object is to spend time, socialize and share tunes and not to entertain, we will tend to stay in a single key for longer periods of time and maybe even for a whole evening. There are a couple of reasons for this. First and foremost is that in old-time music, we are striving for a specific sound. That sound is achieved by using certain specific tunings on the banjo and fiddle. Sure, a fiddler can play Tommy Jarrell's "Boll Weevil" in standard tuning. But in order to get the droning sound that I'm looking for, I have to tune to DDAD. It just doesn't sound right if the low string is tuned to G. I just can't get that low drone that I want. Same for the banjo player; a bluegrass banjoist can play just about anything out of open G tuning, but it doesn't sound the same as a banjo played clawhammer style in aDGAD tuning playing "Sally In the Garden". If we play in a given key for long periods of time, it keeps us from having to wait while the fiddle, banjo, or lap dulcimer re-tunes.

Additionally, most good old-time players know enough tunes in the keys of D, G, A and C that we can play for several hours in a single key and not repeat a tune. And since we're not playing for paying customers but for ourselves and we're keeping ourselves amused, who cares if we change keys?


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: CupOfTea
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 03:30 PM

Staying in the same key for a goodly long time makes utter sense in a session where people are playing for their own amusement, and gets monotonous for a performance, for all the excellent reasons Sean gives, just above me. Another aspect is the cultural: the distribution of favored keys and tunes depends on what sort of session it is, and what instruments are likely to be part of the mix.

In an old time session, the norm is to stay in G, D, A (and related minor keys) and most of the tunes will be in 4/4 with a occasional waltz, hardly any jigs. There is a feeling of playing as a gathering of musicians, getting into a comfortable group together. The repertoire has developed with a few keys, and it makes it easier if you know "This Cool Tune" is in G - and it will be in G in sessions in all 50 states. Makes it comfortable.

In bluegrass, there's a different vibe, and taking breaks and showing off, doing things not everyone can (or keys), with a concentration on it being a collection of INDIVIDUALS. Not had as much experience with bluegrass players, but I keep running into ones who play tunes (or songs)I know in another key entire, just cause it suits them.

In Irish sessions, you end up with mostly the same keys as old time, but there you have the addition of flutes, whistles, button boxes and concertinas (sometimes hammer dulcimers in both) that have a limited range of keys. Where a guitar, banjo or mandolin player has only to capo, those players can't go out and spend a couple thousand dollars just to be able to play in the key of E. In an Irish session, you had best be able to play in jig time, and play the tunes in /4 with a greater variety of emphasis on the type of tune.

Though the OP was merely commenting, I have heard the same observation about continuity of key as a complaint, which is ill-advised, because it is an intrinsic part of that musical culture.

Joanne in Cleveland
(who is irked that the session a few blocks from here will "only permit" stringed instruments, and only on my concertina can I play tunes.)


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 04:12 PM

1) I would hate to play all night in one key. Apart from being extremely boring, most of us would have to learn completely new fingerings for a good many tunes. Still, there's nowt so queer as fowk ...
2) Last line Joanne - what an arrogant set of s*ds!
3) When will someone invent a capo for melodeons?

Chris B.


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 09:29 PM

With Ebor on this one. Don't mind accommodating horn players. Invite me 'round on Eb night ~ I rarely rely on a capo ~ [my late brother said that Bill Monroe considered A the "key of enlightenment" ~ might b apocryphal, knowing Craig]. AND, as has been pointed out, you might want to let the singer pick the key (where there's vocal bits). Anyway, …
~
keep on pickin'
dennis


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: JHW
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 04:55 AM

good advice to singers


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Subject: RE: ?stay in same key as long as possible?
From: Sean Belt
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 02:30 PM

Ebor,

With your #1, I think you're missing the point. You wouldn't need to learn new fingering on the fiddle if we played in one key all night, as we'd play tunes in their "proper" keys. Not like we'd play "Drunken Hiccups" in C, because it's an A tune.

And we'd play all manner of tunes in each key.

And just for you, we'd change keys every couple of hours, ok? ;-)


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