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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Another key of C question.


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/54957

doryman - Posted - 03/21/2021:  21:12:25


My band for which I am normally the banjo player (not an exclusively OT band) plays quite a few songs in the key of C. I'm gamely trying to learn a few breaks on my fiddle in C and I'm getting ok at just picking out the melody but I get into a little trouble with some double stops. One that really has my bothered is when the song goes to an F chord and the melody falls nicely on the C note on the A string. I cannot for the life of me figure out a good double stop there. My best is bet is to play the C note and the F note on the E string. That sound ok. I also try to play the C note and the F note on the D (with one finger) but that sounds muddled and if I don't get it spot on the intonation is horrible.

Is there a go-to double stop, or some Jedi fiddle trick or other standard lick/work around for this situation? It's come up for several songs and I haven't found anything I really like to do. This would be something I would ask my teacher if I had one!

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 03/22/2021:  02:04:02


With your C on the A string (it's at that awkward Minor Third spot), play an E on the D string. It's just south of the position where you are playing the C on the A. As for playing the open E string for your E, I've never been able to get that open E to ring because my fingers are just too large and clumsy not to muffle it when I'm doing the C on the A string. You can also play a C on the G string with your ring finger, and do the E on the D string. This one works well with Bluegrass, as it gives the chord a nicely midrangey, bluesy touch. It gets still more bluesy and bluegrassy when you slide into the E. Boom-chucka-boom-chucka-boom-chucka.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 03/22/2021:  02:43:28


If the melody note is C natural in the Key of C, and the accompanying chord is F major. There are a few choices in 1st position for double stops.



Chord tones of the F Major triad are F,A andC natural



Some have the melody note (C) above a chord tone, some have the melody note (C) below a Chord tone, and some omit the melody note altogether.



On the G&D strings: A&F, C&F, and C&A(4thfinger)

On the D&A strings: F&A, F&C and A(4th finger), &C

On the A&E strings: A&F,C&F and C&A


Edited by - pete_fiddle on 03/22/2021 02:46:07

DougD - Posted - 03/22/2021:  06:19:10


Lonesome Fiddler - doryman is looking for a way to play a C note with an F chord, not a C chord, which is what you describe.
John, I think you're on the right track. The only other choices in pete's list that include the C note on the A string you want would be the C note with an A either above (on the E string) or below (on the D string). A bit of a stretch either way, and neither includes the root (F). How well this will work might depend on your accuracy, and what the rest of the band is doing. I think any other options I can think of will involve a shift.
I'd suggest you keep practicing your second idea with the F on the D string and see if you can make it sound better, but my first choice would be your first one.


Edited by - DougD on 03/22/2021 06:20:21

DougBrock - Posted - 03/22/2021:  08:38:32


So many creative choices, all hampered by technical details! :)

One idea is to NOT play a double stop there, but drop to a single note, an arpeggio, or maybe a little melodic riff?

farmerjones - Posted - 03/22/2021:  09:54:53


For years I had a video showing the I, IV, V in C on a mandolin. Easily extrapolated to fiddle. Deleted it a few months ago. Can't find a copy. But it looks like it's being handled. The F, C, and G double stops are simply adjacent to each other respectively.

There's a couple good videos of folks teaching Back up and Push. Commonly played in C. A real standard C tune.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 03/22/2021:  12:59:33


i think that if a musician comes to fiddle from a Chord instrument like mando, guitar or banjo etc, their ear and intuition is often much better than their music theory knowledge. So they might be looking for "A Sound" that they can't seem to get on the fiddle, until they get the theory, and can shift about the fiddle fingerboard a bit, and emulate using just 2 strings.



 There are all sorts of "Jedi" tricks like hanging on to the 4 chord over the 5 chord or substituting the 4 chord with the 2 chord, using chromatic alterations, or diminished runs, bluesy double stops, and implied notes etc. But they are often genre, or even tune specific, and it takes a few years to be able to nail them at will....Don't get me wrong, it doesn't stop someone trying hard, or having a great ear and nailing them. But i reckon knowledge of music theory, and practice are the way forward for most of us mortals.



Ps: Doug, i think i covered those couple of stops you mention stops in my "List" ?

DougD - Posted - 03/22/2021:  13:21:30


Yes you did. That's why I said "The only other choices in pete's list (in addition to the two he'd already thought of) that include the C note on the A string..."

pete_fiddle - Posted - 03/22/2021:  13:25:29


ahh... read it wrong. Apologies Doug. Sun is well over the yardarm here.

doryman - Posted - 03/22/2021:  16:10:23


Thanks for you thoughts and ideas everyone. The cruel irony is that I'M one of the reasons we play some of these songs in C. I'm the singer for some of those songs, and I can't reach the highest notes in the key of D where the song was originally intended to be! Boy, that came back to bite me in the a**!

DougBrock - Posted - 03/22/2021:  16:24:41


quote:

Originally posted by doryman

Thanks for you thoughts and ideas everyone. The cruel irony is that I'M one of the reasons we play some of these songs in C. I'm the singer for some of those songs, and I can't reach the highest notes in the key of D where the song was originally intended to be! Boy, that came back to bite me in the a**!






It's good to be reminded that when we are fortunate enough to have a singer, the singer's vocal range may require some flexibility on the part of the instrumentalists. I can't sing well, so I'll go to great lengths to make singers as comfortable as possible! :)

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 03/22/2021:  19:42:54


quote:

Originally posted by doryman

Thanks for you thoughts and ideas everyone. The cruel irony is that I'M one of the reasons we play some of these songs in C. I'm the singer for some of those songs, and I can't reach the highest notes in the key of D where the song was originally intended to be! Boy, that came back to bite me in the a**!






John, (please forgive my wall of text 'holding forth' on this common matter, but somewhere in here is a response to your question)



C is not a key to be skeered of.  None of them are.  Learn the melody in a key you're comfortable with.  If it's G, C is a 4th of G.  So, just go left a string and play as if in G, but same shapes.  Going to D from G, move right a string.  If the melody doesn't allow moving across strings, then use another shape, like an A chord shape, and shift up 3 semitones.  There's only maybe 2 chords shapes on fiddle.  I-IV-V all look the same across the major (Ionian mode) keys.



Learn the patterns in closed forms like I'm sure you've done with banjo.  On banjo, there's only 3 basic forms.  Doesn't mean you never get to use an open string, though.  Practice songs in every key you can think of, and try to anchor it with a shape that you already know.  Bb=A +1/2.  F=G - 2.  E = D +2.  Shoot, I play with a lot of pianists that need to have Ab or Eb because the sheet music says so.  "OK, man, whatever--I'm there"  Ab is only A minus one; Eb is only D plus one.  Big deal.  Same shapes, move the hand, use the pinky.



Many fiddle players are guilty of what I call "fretboard amputation" that banjo and guitar players do, except in the opposite direction.  Slap on a capo, and banjo/guitar has just cut off that much of fretboard upstring.  A fiddler cuts off every voicing downstring of him if he never changes position. 



Separately, my suggestion would be to strive to keep the melody either on the top or the bottom of the doublestop, if possible--not always possible, but it's more pleasing to the ear.  Find a chord shape that looks familiar (wherever position it is) and stay there thru your solo unless you need to shift down (or extend a finger down) due to finish a V-chord 'come-home' lick or something.



And, enjoy yourself!  No better way to keep those 60+ year-old fingers pliable...



 


Edited by - Flat_the_3rd_n7th on 03/22/2021 19:49:47

doryman - Posted - 03/22/2021:  20:55:58


quote:

Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

quote:

Originally posted by doryman

Thanks for you thoughts and ideas everyone. The cruel irony is that I'M one of the reasons we play some of these songs in C. I'm the singer for some of those songs, and I can't reach the highest notes in the key of D where the song was originally intended to be! Boy, that came back to bite me in the a**!






John, (please forgive my wall of text 'holding forth' on this common matter, but somewhere in here is a response to your question)



C is not a key to be skeered of.  None of them are.  Learn the melody in a key you're comfortable with.  If it's G, C is a 4th of G.  So, just go left a string and play as if in G, but same shapes.  Going to D from G, move right a string.  If the melody doesn't allow moving across strings, then use another shape, like an A chord shape, and shift up 3 semitones.  There's only maybe 2 chords shapes on fiddle.  I-IV-V all look the same across the major (Ionian mode) keys.



Learn the patterns in closed forms like I'm sure you've done with banjo.  On banjo, there's only 3 basic forms.  Doesn't mean you never get to use an open string, though.  Practice songs in every key you can think of, and try to anchor it with a shape that you already know.  Bb=A +1/2.  F=G - 2.  E = D +2.  Shoot, I play with a lot of pianists that need to have Ab or Eb because the sheet music says so.  "OK, man, whatever--I'm there"  Ab is only A minus one; Eb is only D plus one.  Big deal.  Same shapes, move the hand, use the pinky.



Many fiddle players are guilty of what I call "fretboard amputation" that banjo and guitar players do, except in the opposite direction.  Slap on a capo, and banjo/guitar has just cut off that much of fretboard upstring.  A fiddler cuts off every voicing downstring of him if he never changes position. 



Separately, my suggestion would be to strive to keep the melody either on the top or the bottom of the doublestop, if possible--not always possible, but it's more pleasing to the ear.  Find a chord shape that looks familiar (wherever position it is) and stay there thru your solo unless you need to shift down (or extend a finger down) due to finish a V-chord 'come-home' lick or something.



And, enjoy yourself!  No better way to keep those 60+ year-old fingers pliable...



 






Thanks Scott, this is gold!    I am working hard at playing the songs I learn in multiple keys. In the jams I commonly attended pre covid, the keys tended to be G, A, C, D, and E (+ various minors)  in that order, so I've been practicing in those keys at this point.  I'm going to spend a little it of time wrapping my head around, "Learn the melody in a key you're comfortable with.  If it's G, C is a 4th of G.  So, just go left a string and play as if in G, but same shapes."  I think I could trick myself into playing in C that way!  

doryman - Posted - 03/22/2021:  21:25:28


quote:

Originally posted by doryman

quote:

Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

quote:

Originally posted by doryman

Thanks for you thoughts and ideas everyone. The cruel irony is that I'M one of the reasons we play some of these songs in C. I'm the singer for some of those songs, and I can't reach the highest notes in the key of D where the song was originally intended to be! Boy, that came back to bite me in the a**!






John, (please forgive my wall of text 'holding forth' on this common matter, but somewhere in here is a response to your question)



C is not a key to be skeered of.  None of them are.  Learn the melody in a key you're comfortable with.  If it's G, C is a 4th of G.  So, just go left a string and play as if in G, but same shapes.  Going to D from G, move right a string.  If the melody doesn't allow moving across strings, then use another shape, like an A chord shape, and shift up 3 semitones.  There's only maybe 2 chords shapes on fiddle.  I-IV-V all look the same across the major (Ionian mode) keys.



Learn the patterns in closed forms like I'm sure you've done with banjo.  On banjo, there's only 3 basic forms.  Doesn't mean you never get to use an open string, though.  Practice songs in every key you can think of, and try to anchor it with a shape that you already know.  Bb=A +1/2.  F=G - 2.  E = D +2.  Shoot, I play with a lot of pianists that need to have Ab or Eb because the sheet music says so.  "OK, man, whatever--I'm there"  Ab is only A minus one; Eb is only D plus one.  Big deal.  Same shapes, move the hand, use the pinky.



Many fiddle players are guilty of what I call "fretboard amputation" that banjo and guitar players do, except in the opposite direction.  Slap on a capo, and banjo/guitar has just cut off that much of fretboard upstring.  A fiddler cuts off every voicing downstring of him if he never changes position. 



Separately, my suggestion would be to strive to keep the melody either on the top or the bottom of the doublestop, if possible--not always possible, but it's more pleasing to the ear.  Find a chord shape that looks familiar (wherever position it is) and stay there thru your solo unless you need to shift down (or extend a finger down) due to finish a V-chord 'come-home' lick or something.



And, enjoy yourself!  No better way to keep those 60+ year-old fingers pliable...



 






Thanks Scott, this is gold!    I am working hard at playing the songs I learn in multiple keys. In the jams I commonly attended pre covid, the keys tended to be G, A, C, D, and E (+ various minors)  in that order, so I've been practicing in those keys at this point.  I'm going to spend a little it of time wrapping my head around, "Learn the melody in a key you're comfortable with.  If it's G, C is a 4th of G.  So, just go left a string and play as if in G, but same shapes."  I think I could trick myself into playing in C that way!  






Well, I just sat down with my fiddle and played G one string to the left to play in C.   I feel like an idiot for not figuring that out on day two of playing the fiddle since it was obvious to me from day one that playing D, G and A were basically the same just one string over. 

ChickenMan - Posted - 03/23/2021:  04:31:58


Despite their similarities, G and C have different 'licks' is you will. Really all tunes do, but I think C stands out from the rest. C tunes feel similar to one another, but they don't feel like G tunes at all to me.

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 03/23/2021:  05:17:39


It also highlights the 1st position scale patterns for you if you view an open string as a stopped string--just stopped by the nut instead of a finger. Same shapes as up the fingerboard.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 03/23/2021:  21:09:42


quote:

Originally posted by doryman

... when the song goes to an F chord and the melody falls nicely on the C note on the A string. I cannot for the life of me figure out a good double stop there. My best is bet is to play the C note and the F note on the E string. That sound ok. I also try to play the C note and the F note on the D (with one finger) but that sounds muddled and if I don't get it spot on the intonation is horrible.

 






My thoughts on a few comments...



I also try to play the C note and the F note on the D (with one finger) but that sounds muddled and if I don't get it spot on the intonation is horrible.



That one finger double stop shape can be difficult, but very useful to master... not just for F. And good to learn on single finger stop on all fingers.



For some keys, (such as F) many use first finger capo idea..  the other notes are above; F/C is same as E/B; just slide first finger up a position (or can go higher). 



----



Some do single finger is more like guitar/banjo players might use, almost as a Barre, knuckle straightened, face of finger lays more flat; requires perfectly perpendicular to strings... might require shift  wrist/arm to get good angles. The flat barre idea can be a bit clumsy if second or third finger, or needing to play melodic passages with notes below.



The preferred way is putting the finger tip or pad more straight down, (knuckle still bent). Still requires finding just the right angle to get both sides even. Difficulty comes from try to play the one note normal (the C in above example); and try to add the other (F) with finger pad. Most find easier to think more aim the tip to center between the strings; the edges of fingertip are stopping the string. (might require slight forward adjustment of finger position). 



I've never been able to get that open E to ring because my fingers are just too large and clumsy not to muffle it when I'm doing the C on the A string



This is similar to above, and applies to the C/F on first 2 strings (and similar double stops). The size of finger is not issue for 2 strings. Try more knuckle bent, straight down, and can shift the finger tip to be off-center, to one side or the other to allow the adjacent string (open or stopped) to ring.



 

robinja - Posted - 03/24/2021:  12:13:31


If you play mostly C tunes, one thought would be to tune all of your strings down a whole step and play D fingerings. This is commonly done in Cajun music. Some tunes/songs seem to lay out in certain keys better than others. I play a fair amount of C tunes, but I wouldn't necessarily want to transpose my D tunes and play them out of C.

doryman - Posted - 03/24/2021:  12:52:22


quote:

Originally posted by robinja

If you play mostly C tunes, one thought would be to tune all of your strings down a whole step and play D fingerings. This is commonly done in Cajun music. Some tunes/songs seem to lay out in certain keys better than others. I play a fair amount of C tunes, but I wouldn't necessarily want to transpose my D tunes and play them out of C.






This thought has crossed my mind many times.  I do have two fiddles and often have one tuned down to C so that i can play along to Cajun tunes on Youtube (I spent my formative years in southern Louisiana). 

DougD - Posted - 03/24/2021:  14:06:07


Although you can play in other keys by moving over a string, the keys are still very different. For one thing you will run out of notes (strings) in either the higher or lower direction. If you start a G scale on the D string, third finger, you will have an octave, plus maybe a third, before you run out of first position. In C, starting on the G string, you will have two octaves if you stretch a little bit.
Starting on the open D string, you have an octave and a sixth available, but using the same fingerings starting on the A string, you'll run out of first position after one note above the octave.
Expanding a little on what chickenman said, the "money string" on the fiddle (and probably in violin concertos) is the E string (despite current notions that the oldtimers tuned down or always cross tuned). The lower strings are fine if you want to play refined parlor music in your well furnished living room, but if you need to keep a room of dancers hopping, you have to get up there and wail.
What this means is that tunes that have the tonic (or thereabouts) as their highest note are likely to be in G, like "Leather Britches," or A, like "John Brown's Dream." Tunes with the fifth or so as their highest note are likely to be in D, like "Old Molly Hare" or "Mississippi Sawyers," or C, like "Billy in the Lowground."
BTW, this is similar to the banjo, where the fifth string is the tonic in G tuning, and the fifth in C tuning.
Just something to think about.

farmerjones - Posted - 03/24/2021:  14:40:23


Hey! What do you know, I found that video:


DougD - Posted - 03/24/2021:  15:43:49


PS - In my post above I was also expanding on what Judy meant when she said "Some tunes/songs seem to lay out in certain keys better than others."
And of course there are considerations of slurs and string crossings with the bowing.


Edited by - DougD on 03/24/2021 15:50:28

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