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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Cross tuning ... how do you start this?


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Quincy - Posted - 09/08/2021:  20:26:07


To my surprise my teacher responded very surprised when I told her lots of fiddlers use cross tuning. She said she had no idea - at first I thought she was making a joke, but she meant it.

She wants to learn me how to tune my instrument myself I think she means the way she does it, while holding the violin with your left hand and using your right hand same time on the side of your left shoulder to reach the fine tuners. (Not sure how she does this with the pegs)

How do you roll into cross tuning? Is it just something your need to try out and figure out yourself
by just play and see what it gives?

When were you ready for this?

Is this asking for broken strings?

So far during winter I have been able to tune my instrument back when it was completely out of tune by using the tuning pegs, I did not break a string so far. (Think that's a good sign hehe)

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/08/2021:  20:51:55


So, you won't likely break a string UNLESS you are using synthetic strings. Then you ~might~ but still probably not. Steel strings work best as synthetics will wear out quicker. Start out in GDae tuning. Take your G string and tune it upwards to an A, make it an octave with your A string. Now you're in a D cross tuning (ADae). You'll probably have to make tiny adjustments to the other strings to be totally in tune. Play a key of D number and see if the fiddle doesn't ring a little more.



Next you should give what most call "cross tuned" a go. Keep the G string tuned to A and bring the D string up to E (match the E string as an octave) and you are in AEae tuning. Again, you'll have to micro adjust the other strings, but when everything is tight and in tune, the fiddle will definitely RING sympathetically when you play a key of A tune. The fingering of a scale will be exactly the same on the lower strings as it is on the upper. That's the biggest adjustment you'll have to make. You could tune the a and E strings down to make the tuning GDgd, but it would still be considered by most to be "cross tuned" and that means A tunes (only they would be pitched in G).



That's probably more than you need to know for now.


Edited by - ChickenMan on 09/08/2021 20:52:39

Quincy - Posted - 09/08/2021:  21:14:41


You are the best! Thank you also for your fast answer ... I can't wait to try this out, need a calm moment (where the dog is exhausted and can rest in her bench for a couple of hours). Maybe this weekend, Saturday I have violin classes and Sunday is most of the times a day on which I get to practice a lot.





My strings are Helicore D'Addario H310 stranded steel core medium strings.


Edited by - Quincy on 09/08/2021 21:15:00

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 09/09/2021:  01:04:50


If you've got worries that your fiddle will fold up on itself if you go for AEae cross-tuning (but I bet it won't), cross-tune to the GDGD cross tuning ChickenMan suggests. GDgd also gives your fiddle a nice, mellow Old Timey tonality. Enjoy yourself! And I'd bet that David Bragger has instructional vids of a whole bunch of wonderfully evocative cross-tuned tunes.

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/09/2021:  05:23:18


Those strings will do just fine.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 09/09/2021:  08:01:49


The fine tuners are for fine tuning. I think you have to turn the pegs first and then fine tune. The universal GDGD is less likely to break your strings is not necessarily true since the only time I ever broke my strings was tuning back to normal after GDGD. Never broke any strings tuning to AEAE and back. I don't cross-tune anymore, though. Since I play mandolin a lot I get too confused on A tunes since mandolins aren't ever cross-tuned.

RichJ - Posted - 09/09/2021:  08:42:02


How (and when) doe one start cross tuning? A great question. For someone "classically trained" the answer is probably never because the idea of tuning any way other than standard is unthinkable. The first thing you have to realized about cross tuning is for all practical purposes, this is strictly play by ear territory. If you never tried learning a fiddle tune by ear you may have a hard time with cross tuning. There is something called scordatura - standard notation used with other than standard tuning, but I doubt many cross tuned players use it. The most common cross tunings I use are GDGD, AEAE, FCFC, ADAD. Those first 3 are more or less similar because the tonal separation of the strings are 5-4-5. In other words fifth tonal separation between strings 1-2 and 3-4. and a fourth tonal separation between strings 2-3 (standard GDAE strings numbered 1-2-3-4). All this makes for interesting drones and new double stops when adjacent strings are played together. It does take a while getting used to a fiddle tunes in cross, but not as long as you might thing. BTW: Finger positions are exactly the same for standard or cross tuned fiddles, you just have to get used to the different sounds coming from where you place em'.

I'm sure other folks on this forum will have more to say on this subject.
l

Quincy - Posted - 09/09/2021:  11:36:36


RichJ, I love to play by ear, when my teacher plays a phrase first, I automatically find the notes , without reading them, when I actually am forced to read notes, it's a more of a struggle.

Hearing the notes being played helps me a lot more than the actual notes on paper.

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/09/2021:  11:44:07


quote:

Originally posted by Quincy

 I automatically find the notes, without reading them, when I actually am forced to read notes, it's a more of a struggle.



Hearing the notes being played helps me a lot more than the actual notes on paper.






Same. Nothing more useless for me than someone to give me a book of notation for tunes I've never heard. I mean, I can read, even hear the notes in my head when reading, but the flavor of the written note is bland and lacks depth that a good player imparts to the tune. 

RichJ - Posted - 09/09/2021:  13:02:43


quote:

Originally posted by Quincy

RichJ, I love to play by ear, when my teacher plays a phrase first, I automatically find the notes , without reading them, when I actually am forced to read notes, it's a more of a struggle.



Hearing the notes being played helps me a lot more than the actual notes on paper.






I'm guessing your going to have an easy time playing in cross. Pick a simple G tune you can already play in standard. Retune to GDGD and give it wack. For and A tune use AEAE.  I'll bet you'll be playing it in cross before you know it and those natural drones are going to give you incentive to start improvising and making it sound better than it ever did in standard. 



Note: Some fiddle pegs are hard to turn and can make retuning difficult. I installed a set of geared Perfection Pegs on my fiddle which makes this MUCH easier. Some fiddlers frown on geared tuners saying they aren't traditional. But then so are those fine tuners many put on the tailpiece. Those things always remind me of a kid with a set of dental braces.  With a set of Perfection Pegs the fine tuners can be removed making a fiddle look much more traditional to my eye.

RichJ - Posted - 09/09/2021:  13:07:08


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan


Nothing more useless for me than someone to give me a book of notation for tunes I've never heard. I mean, I can read, even hear the notes in my head when reading, but the flavor of the written note is bland and lacks depth that a good player imparts to the tune. 







Hey Bill, glad to hear someone else has this problem. I thought it was only me. lol

boxbow - Posted - 09/09/2021:  15:26:20


Any tune that you currently play on the upper two strings only is a great candidate. Angeline the Baker is easy to play on the A and E strings only, although I do dip down for a note here and there on the next lower string. I play a pretty simple version. Anyway, when you're cross-tuned AEAE, you can quickly get used to the feel of the changed intervals between strings with Angeline the Baker. You can play the tune on the lower pair of strings. You can play drones. Some double stops are different, but you get used to it. All the while, your fiddle is resonating on the open strings. It's some fun. Pick a tune that you know really, really well.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 09/09/2021:  17:20:26


I have a hard time reading music of tunes I've never heard before, too. I can kind of do it if the tunes are pretty simple like the ones on thesession.org. But if they get too fancy it's really hard. I got a lot better at it when I was taking classical lessons, but even then my teacher always played it for me so I could get an idea how it sounded. And if there were parts I still couldn't get, I would go find a youtube video so I could hear it and play along with it.

DougD - Posted - 09/09/2021:  18:12:56


boxbow - What key do you play Angelina Baker in?

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 09/09/2021:  20:02:24


quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

How (and when) doe one start cross tuning? A great question. For someone "classically trained" the answer is probably never because the idea of tuning any way other than standard is unthinkable.






What makes you think that? Scordatura has been a part of violin music since at least the baroque period. It's not as common as standard tuning, but it certainly isn't "unthinkable." 

RichJ - Posted - 09/10/2021:  01:23:28


quote:

Originally posted by The ViolinBeautiful

quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

How (and when) doe one start cross tuning? A great question. For someone "classically trained" the answer is probably never because the idea of tuning any way other than standard is unthinkable.






What makes you think that? Scordatura has been a part of violin music since at least the baroque period. It's not as common as standard tuning, but it certainly isn't "unthinkable." 






Pace, Pace, Rich - In making that statement I was only referring to OT fiddlers here in the USA.  I'm just an old retired horse doc who knows nothing about music history. Sorry if I offended.  However, I must say none of the half dozen classically trained violinists I know have ever shown the slightest interest in playing  a fiddle tune in anything other than standard tuning.

boxbow - Posted - 09/10/2021:  06:49:36


quote:

Originally posted by DougD

boxbow - What key do you play Angelina Baker in?






Never thought about it.  I guess it'd have to be D.  That's what the banjo players liked.



Correction.  I've been sitting here with an imaginary fiddle in my hand and it could be A.  My version doesn't use a G or G#, so it could be either.


Edited by - boxbow on 09/10/2021 07:00:52

DougD - Posted - 09/10/2021:  07:48:15


Thanks. Reason I asked was that around here "Angelna" is usually played in D, and includes a G chord (it was originally published in C). It doesn't seem sensible to give up the "sympathetic" D and G strings for A and E. If you play it in A it would be different.
I don't usually crosstune, but I think the most common crosstuning of AEae is for A tunes, to get the low drones, as well as possibly easier fingering (For those who don't learn to "note it out," as Emmett Lundy said, sonewhat derisively). It seems to me that ADae was an adjustment crosstuners made for D tunes, or even A tunes with a D chord, rather than something you would choose just to play in D.

boxbow - Posted - 09/10/2021:  09:22:59


Like I said, I hadn't really thought about it but what you say makes perfect sense. I play around a bit with cross tuning, but I find standard is the workman's choice. Gets the most done with the least fuss.

DougD - Posted - 09/10/2021:  09:30:34


"Gets the most done with the least fuss." Very well put - I agree completely.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 09/10/2021:  18:13:20


I've always suspected that cross tuning is so that you don't have to try to reach the C# and G# when you play A tunes. In the jam that I play in we only cross tune for A tunes. I really think if everybody was honest, you would only cross tune for tunes where cross tuning is beneficial which then would mean a lot of A tunes wouldn't be played in cross-tuning, some G tunes would be played in cross tuning, and a lot more D tunes would be played ADae. But who wants to sit around in the jam waiting for everybody to retune between every tune?

TuneWeaver - Posted - 09/10/2021:  18:25:24


It is seldom that I cross tune for D tunes these days, but for A tunes, AEae offers some nice sympathetic harmonics ..

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 09/10/2021:  21:21:03


One of the main reasons for changing the tuning among fiddlers is to allow for simpler fingerings and more sympathetic drones on the open strings.

What’s especially interesting about scordatura is how it can affect the way the instrument resonates, much like the choice of key can affect the feel of a piece. I talk about it a lot, but the Biber Mystery sonatas show just how much an instrument can change with retuning. The tenth sonata even carries it a little further by having the player cross the D and A strings, which really changes the way chords and arpeggios break. Paganini’s Moses Fantasia for the G string was written such that the G string is tuned up to a Bb, which gives the string a different voice and seems to somehow add to the operatic character of the piece.

It’s not common to see scordatura in larger classical works because it’s inconvenient for a whole string section or ensemble to have to retune. There are some symphonic pieces that do require this, however. The beauty of the violin as an unfretted instrument is that it allows one to play in any key in standard tuning; it’s just that the fingerings can get more complicated the more sharps and flats that show up on the staff.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 09/10/2021:  21:45:54


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

I've always suspected that cross tuning is so that you don't have to try to reach the C# and G# when you play A tunes. In the jam that I play in we only cross tune for A tunes. I really think if everybody was honest, you would only cross tune for tunes where cross tuning is beneficial which then would mean a lot of A tunes wouldn't be played in cross-tuning, some G tunes would be played in cross tuning, and a lot more D tunes would be played ADae. But who wants to sit around in the jam waiting for everybody to retune between every tune?






As far as I'm concerned, you hit the nail squarely on the head with your theory as to why cross-tuning exists.  Sure, it adds flavor when you can drone open strings that complement the melody.  But I truly think that the practice of cross-tuning mostly stems from the fact it just takes too much skill/practice to reliably nail the C# and G# on A tunes when the fiddle is tuned to GDAE.  It's so much easier to just have the notes already there, easily beneath the fingers.  If it means you can't play tunes in other keys, well, so what? It's folk music, and a lot of times you are fiddling for a specific purpose -- to get people to dance and have a good time. I just never found myself at a dance and heard dancers or tipsy hangers-on saying, "Ugh! Another A tune!"



Then again, it might be asked why there are a whole raft of different keys in the first place. Is it because people's voices naturally come in different keys? Is it because the musical instruments that our cave ancestors carved from those blocks of wood usually turned out to be of different lengths?

Quincy - Posted - 09/11/2021:  04:49:13


quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

quote:

Originally posted by Quincy

RichJ, I love to play by ear, when my teacher plays a phrase first, I automatically find the notes , without reading them, when I actually am forced to read notes, it's a more of a struggle.



Hearing the notes being played helps me a lot more than the actual notes on paper.






I'm guessing your going to have an easy time playing in cross. Pick a simple G tune you can already play in standard. Retune to GDGD and give it wack. For and A tune use AEAE.  I'll bet you'll be playing it in cross before you know it and those natural drones are going to give you incentive to start improvising and making it sound better than it ever did in standard. 



Note: Some fiddle pegs are hard to turn and can make retuning difficult. I installed a set of geared Perfection Pegs on my fiddle which makes this MUCH easier. Some fiddlers frown on geared tuners saying they aren't traditional. But then so are those fine tuners many put on the tailpiece. Those things always remind me of a kid with a set of dental braces.  With a set of Perfection Pegs the fine tuners can be removed making a fiddle look much more traditional to my eye.






Today I had violin classes and my teacher taught me how to tune the violin using the tuning pegs  while bowing the same time . Now I got started. We already tuned the G string to A so we had ADAE en she said she is completely new to this so we tried to figure out together how this works. We had a lot of fun.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 09/11/2021:  05:33:47


Well Scordatura ..... is the classical term for tuning the violin strings to something other than G-D-A-E. As suggested above tuning to G-D-G-D and A-E-A-E are the gateways to cross tuning. It leads to some lovely resonances . For me , I have enough trouble with remembering what is where in standard tuning. Enjoy dipping your fingers into some standards in cross tuning.

sbhikes2 - Posted - 09/11/2021:  06:10:45


quote:

Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler Then again, it might be asked why there are a whole raft of different keys in the first place. Is it because people's voices naturally come in different keys? Is it because the musical instruments that our cave ancestors carved from those blocks of wood usually turned out to be of different lengths?




I think a lot of tunes are in the key they are in because, like the C#/G# issue, they are easier to play in some keys and harder in others. If it will make you play above the high B or too much on the G string, it tends to be played in a key that won't make you do that.



And of course if they are songs they are played in keys you can sing to, or at least that men or super talentend sopranos can sing to. I can rarely sing to anything.

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/11/2021:  06:17:55


As someone who has no problem reaching those # notes in standard, I am a little put off by what seems a bit insulting to say it is because the player is somehow cheating or less capable. Lee hit the nail when he said sympathetic drones.



And not all "A" tunes are improved by cross tuning. DougD already touched on the beauty of the sympathetic G chord of the open G and D strings. I never cross tune for mixolydian tunes, those that utilize a G chord: "Red Haired Boy" "Frosty Morning" "June Apple" "Salt Creek/River" as they benefit from those open strings AND it's much easier to hit the G note on the D string in standard. Those of you who cross for this type of tune and yet complain about key of C should understand you've put the G ing the place of the C (F actually). Not every A tune is 'improved' by cross tuning.


Edited by - ChickenMan on 09/11/2021 06:18:36

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/11/2021:  08:17:16


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

I've always suspected that cross tuning is so that you don't have to try to reach the C# and G# when you play A tunes. In the jam that I play in we only cross tune for A tunes. I really think if everybody was honest, you would only cross tune for tunes where cross tuning is beneficial which then would mean a lot of A tunes wouldn't be played in cross-tuning, some G tunes would be played in cross tuning, and a lot more D tunes would be played ADae. But who wants to sit around in the jam waiting for everybody to retune between every tune?






Not sure who you are stating are dishonest.



Most fiddlers that I've played with are honest folks when it comes to cross tuning.



The do so more because of .positive choice; not because negative limitations. They can play most tunes in standard, not struggle with trying to reach C# and G#.  While there might not be a need or benefit to play many tunes in cross, there is typically not a problem with doing so, nor necessarily a significant benefit to playing many, many of them in standard either.



But who wants to sit around in the jam waiting for everybody to retune between every tune?



If in a contexts where folks are playing switching to whatever key (A/D/C/G/F/E/Bb) after every tune; typically  most fiddlers will just likely stick mostly to standard. But in many contexts, where folks that like the atmospheres of cross tuning; it's not typical they change after every short tune, rather just stay in a tuning for a while; often goes with playing with banjo players that use different tunings.  With experience, doesn't take too long to retune.



The key that a tune is played in, as well as the tuning... affects quality of how it sounds; not just about playing single notes. Besides sympathetic resonance, or drones; includes how the tune plays, how it flows; choices of slurs, bow/string crossing, rocking, ghost notes; double stops and unisons... all can play a role in overall sound/feel. There is an aspect about making more efficient playing, it's the combinations and dexterity of fingers; as well as tension/fatigue vs more relaxed... that contribute flow, phrasing, quickness and rhythm. Even if capable of more complex knuckle buster fingering layout, makes more common sense choose more efficient way if possible (for example if situation where in a key or tune for long time).



some G tunes would be played in cross tuning



As others mentioned, GDGD is really playing key of A tunes; just lower using A=392 (rather than A440). Again actual G tunes have a different flow/feel. There is a GDAD that unique sound to limited number of G tunes.



 



 


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 09/11/2021 08:33:30

sbhikes2 - Posted - 09/11/2021:  09:50:10


The dishonesty is when fiddlers blame the banjos.

Quincy - Posted - 09/11/2021:  10:18:23


Oh ... MY ... GOD!



I just tuned to AEAE, I always loved A and E string better , guys I cannot believe my ears what am I hearing?



Playing Oh susanna this way, this is far beyond what I imagined it to do!

This is like magic, some strange kind of math I do not understand , but do I LOVE this sound!



Thank you guys so much!



*dances around*



I'll see if I can make a recording hehe.



 



I can hardly believe what is happening :D


Edited by - Quincy on 09/11/2021 10:20:09

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/11/2021:  10:48:58


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

The dishonesty is when fiddlers blame the banjos.






Huh? Not sure blame for what?



Most of the fiddlers I know are pretty honest folks, don't blame banjos. A lot fiddlers also play banjo...



Might consider hanging out with more honest folks?


Edited by - alaskafiddler on 09/11/2021 10:57:01

RichJ - Posted - 09/11/2021:  10:54:13


Gonna’ ramble on this post so if you’ve got better things to do, go get em’ done.



The subject of cross tuning seems to dredge up occasional hostile vibes which is kinda' surprising since this is a pretty happy go lucky place most of the time. I sure have no argument re: standard being the workhorse tuning for a violin and, as has already been said, you can play anything in any key with this tuning - well, guess I need to add - If you're good enough. But, heck why get too analytical about why people cross tune or maybe there's something sneaky or immoral about it? Standard is just one of many ways to tune the dang thing. One thing’s certain - a cross tuned fiddle is a different animal. The whole instrument vibrates with different resonance which results in different moods or flavors you get with standard tuning. That’s probably why classical musicians, with all the possibilities of standard tuning, went to tinkering with something like scordatura.



But there may be something else. I guess what I’m thinking is that maybe a cross tuned fiddle kinda’ morphs into a solo instrument. Since this pandemic began I've been playing in cross a lot. Actually, the pandemic was what got me started doing it in the first place. I enjoy the OT tunes learned in standard now re-learned and played in cross. Or, feeling the difference moods when these tunes are played in different cross tunings. Since doing this I find myself playing more relaxed, perhaps because fingering is easier or seems to come more naturally. I honestly don’t know.



I'll end this rant by saying I don't think the cross tuned fiddle idea works in most jams. At least not the kind I used to attend, the kind where tunes are played in random fashion without any effort to keep them in a same key grouping. Too many players of various skill levels with instruments of varying difficulty to retune trying to retune their fiddles after one or two tunes.  Sure formula for a nightmare.


Edited by - RichJ on 09/11/2021 11:01:51

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/11/2021:  11:09:11


"But there may be something else. I guess what I’m thinking is that maybe a cross tuned fiddle kinda’ morphs into a solo instrument."

This makes me think of a single fiddler playing a house dance. Maybe that's part of the origin story of cross tuning.

farmerjones - Posted - 09/11/2021:  11:24:18


If you want hostile vibes, start tuning a guitar in different tunings. But I think it's another "don't knock it, until you try it" deal.

RichJ - Posted - 09/11/2021:  11:25:07


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

"But there may be something else. I guess what I’m thinking is that maybe a cross tuned fiddle kinda’ morphs into a solo instrument."



This makes me think of a single fiddler playing a house dance. Maybe that's part of the origin story of cross tuning.






Exactly my point Bill.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/11/2021:  11:40:07


quote:

Originally posted by RichJ

standard being the workhorse tuning for a violin and, as has already been said, you can play anything in any key with this tuning - well, guess I need to add - If you're good enough.






That's the claim... perhaps if you redefine the tune...  certainly if just after basic notes to get through the tune.  Most tunes could be played in various tunings, and for many wouldn't make a significant difference.



No doubt all fifths is most versatile overall. But that claim of play anything reminds me of similar to guitar (or banjo?); while the standard is perhaps the most versatile...  to get some other feel and character, it can be dependent  of the tuning; certain tunes many might consider that quality essential part of essence of that tune/style. As well there are a few certain things that are near impossible or actually impossible to do achieve without right tuning.

Quincy - Posted - 09/11/2021:  11:47:10


I love how I can try to sound dark and medieval this way hahaha.



Me improvising/experimenting with AEAE:



 


Edited by - Quincy on 09/11/2021 11:48:24


DougD - Posted - 09/11/2021:  12:03:05


Quincy - Glad you 've found something you like! That's not so easy in this day and age.
Richj - I think most jams today stay in one key for awhile to accommodate the banjo players as well as cross tuned fiddles. Sometimes a little too long, maybe. I play in a once a year jam that's been in D for 20 years. I didn't go this year 'cause of Covid, but I saw a little on FB and it looked like they might have strayed into A. And I missed it!

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/11/2021:  12:03:20


quote:

Originally posted by ChickenMan

"But there may be something else. I guess what I’m thinking is that maybe a cross tuned fiddle kinda’ morphs into a solo instrument."



This makes me think of a single fiddler playing a house dance. Maybe that's part of the origin story of cross tuning.






A lot of fiddling styles origins were essentially solo instrument. Though was also history of being used to accompany singing. (no guitars, banjos or pianos around)



Reminds me of a hypothesis put forward... a lot of the repertoire origin was basic simple diatonic if not more pentatonic based, and use of drone was common accompaniment, as well simple dyads; more so than actual chords, was before much complex major/minor triad based chord/functional harmony of classical music (and modulations). Not only do the older style tunes fit well with cross tuning; but perhaps commonly originated more in that context. GDAE (Italian tuning) came later.

RichJ - Posted - 09/11/2021:  12:09:32


quote:

Originally posted by alaskafiddler


Reminds me of a hypothesis put forward... a lot of the repertoire origin was basic simple diatonic if not more pentatonic based, and use of drone was common accompaniment, as well simple dyads; more so than actual chords, was before much complex major/minor triad based chord/functional harmony of classical music (and modulations). Not only do the older style tunes fit well with cross tuning; but perhaps commonly originated more in that context. GDAE (Italian tuning) came later.







Huh?  Hey Geo, ya gotta' keep it simple. Remember, I'm just a 82 year old retired horse doc who's only been scratchin' away on this thing for  9 years.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/11/2021:  12:33:01


Good to see you having fun in cross tuning, Anja! There's a whole big world out there waiting to explore.

For me, I like to ignore the usual keys tunes are played in and mess around with doing them in whatever key I feel like, cross tuned one way or another. Too much to go into right here and now, I'm sorta in shock from having played a tune in GDAE on my presonus, in the awful key of C to boot, and a tune I do not, flatout do not know, and also too difficult for me...so I'm in shock, yes, and won't go into details about my experiences with cross tuning...but it's been fun for me to try, say like a normal "A tune," cross tuned in something like Cumberland Gap tuning...ADAD, and play it in D...and just see what's there on that fingerboard waiting for me to find...or just anhything else like that. Sometimes it just doesn't work...on the other hand, sometimes it just works better than I could ever imagine. Or to play something modal in GDGD or AEAE or ADAD or something like that and go up to play it in 2nd position...mainly...sometimes you need to be back down in 1st at times during a tune...but, well I know it's just the same notes you'd get using fingers 2-4 instead of 1-3...but having them positioned in the different space for 2nd position just gives you different sounds, when you slide or slur or whatever...it just sounds different, and to boot (am I using that expression too much these days??? hmmm....), it's easier to handle up there in 2nd.

Just think...in Hawaii, the folks who came up with Slack Key guitar tunings loved them so much many of them are kept strictly secret...if you can figure it out, you can play the tune...lol. I'm not into guitar tunings, but just hearing Slack Key and seeing what they do with their secret tunings blows my mind. The power of tones, and where they lie on a fingerboard or fretboard in relation to one another...wow!

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/11/2021:  12:43:20


quote:

Originally posted by Quincy

I love how I can try to sound dark and medieval this way hahaha.



Me improvising/experimenting with AEAE:



 






Good start... though minor was an unusual choice.



That does kind of illustrate how with cross tuning seems easy for something musical, or tunes can just come out by noodling around with basic scale.



Might try noodling with major pentatonic... A/B/C#/E/F# notes.

farmerjones - Posted - 09/11/2021:  12:57:11


I only understood crosstuning a fiddle, after I was introduced to chord voicing, via piano. My m.o. is to play fills on tunes I may or may not heard before. I need a solid mental map, an idiomatic connection to that fiddle. So rather than learn the fiddle and the tune every time, I choose to just learn the tune. So I standard tune. If I get enamored with a single tune, and choose to explore voicing inside the tune I'll grab the tuners. I sorta wish I had more time to mess with a single tune.

Quincy - Posted - 09/11/2021:  13:35:03


quote:

Originally posted by alaskafiddler

quote:

Originally posted by Quincy

I love how I can try to sound dark and medieval this way hahaha.



Me improvising/experimenting with AEAE:



 






Good start... though minor was an unusual choice.



That does kind of illustrate how with cross tuning seems easy for something musical, or tunes can just come out by noodling around with basic scale.



Might try noodling with major pentatonic... A/B/C#/E/F# notes.






 


sbhikes2 - Posted - 09/11/2021:  17:07:47


quote:

Originally posted by DougD

I think most jams today stay in one key for awhile to accommodate the banjo players as well as cross tuned fiddles.






Most fiddle players don't admit that they stay in one key to accommodate themselves. They end the sentence at "banjo players". The fact is, that a lot of old-time fiddlers cannot play A tunes in anything but cross-tuning. Every now and then we do a jam where we look around and see no banjos and so we say we can play in any key but the fact is they really mean any key but A. They'll never admit that the custom of staying in particular keys is to accommodate the fiddlers. That is what I mean by being dishonest and blaming the banjos.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 09/11/2021:  20:09:17


quote:

Originally posted by sbhikes2

quote:

Originally posted by DougD

I think most jams today stay in one key for awhile to accommodate the banjo players as well as cross tuned fiddles.






Most fiddle players don't admit that they stay in one key to accommodate themselves. They end the sentence at "banjo players". The fact is, that a lot of old-time fiddlers cannot play A tunes in anything but cross-tuning. Every now and then we do a jam where we look around and see no banjos and so we say we can play in any key but the fact is they really mean any key but A. They'll never admit that the custom of staying in particular keys is to accommodate the fiddlers. That is what I mean by being dishonest and blaming the banjos.






Yeah, sbhikes2. Sad but true. At least one of my weekly jams in L.A. had maybe a handful of fiddle players who could, indeed, only play tunes in Cross. They were never happy when another jammer (usually the jam leader) would take charge and announce, "We're going to D (or C!)" and immediately start retuning his/her fiddle to standard. Most of us would happily follow suit.  The banjo players would do whatever they do, too.  The cross-only folks would be bereft. As for me, I was always just happy to be able to hang out with fellow musicians and play tunes.

alaskafiddler - Posted - 09/12/2021:  03:04:15


I don't know who these "most fiddle players" nor "a lot of fiddlers" mentioned? So can't speak for them. But can share my experience and might suggest you might have misinterpreted.



They'll never admit that the custom of staying in particular keys is to accommodate the fiddlers. That is what I mean by being dishonest and blaming the banjos.



I have NEVER once heard fiddlers assign blame to banjo, nor why they would?  As the banjo doesn't have any real role for a fiddler's preference of tuning to use for tunes; doesn't make or affect the decision of a fiddler whether they should play these tunes in standard or not, (they have that option) or why or what tuning (AEAE, AEAC#...). Have NEVER heard a fiddler claim that banjo made them not use GDAE and cross tune.



Most fiddle players don't admit that they stay in one key to accommodate themselves.



I experience the opposite. They have always seemed quiet open, honest and upfront about that they are cross-tuned, their preference of keys/tuning to accommodate tunes... the way they like to play it, banjo or not. As well probably mention source of tune, using that tuning.  The reason they cross is because of how it plays and sounds on the fiddle. Just about a better experience for them, which what they there for. Has nothing to do with banjo. Seems fairly common knowledge, when fiddler has tuned, to that they likely want to play other tunes in that same tuning... and fairly common practice for many folks to accommodate the fiddle tuning, just like they would a banjo. I have NEVER heard of any fiddler being dishonest about it, not admitting, trying to deny, nor hide that, again staying in one tuning seems fairly common and accepted custom. So don't know why need to be dishonest or blame banjo.



------



The fact is, that a lot of old-time fiddlers cannot play A tunes in anything but cross-tuning.



Perhaps, but kind of thinking - So What?



So what that they can't play these tunes in a different tuning? Not much different than can't play it in another key, probably  can't play D tunes in E. That they don't know any A tunes in GDAE? Okay, they can play what they can play.



Keep in mind certainly many players, how they learned and honed tunes is in a key and tuning... likely inspired from hearing others (again some are pretty well established played in certain key/tunings). What they learned fits their repertoire and style and most jams they go to accommodate that. After years of always playing those tunes specifically in that key and tuning... to adapt or relearn to play it in some tuning, or different key; is not always something many folks can easily do, nor maybe even see need to do. Again, they have pretty good and accepted versions that work in a lot of common customary jam sessions.



 

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/12/2021:  06:11:17


If I choose to cross tune, I will then prefer to stay there at least a few tunes, not because a banjo player says to. But, if there's a banjo player involved, I would want to stay in the same key at least a few tunes for the same reason. When a banjo isn't at the jam, then the tunes might be in whatever key, though someone might suggest a cross set. 



When I am at home and decide to cross tune, I would again stay in that tuning for a while because I wouldn't want to retune all the time, not because I prefer it. 

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 09/12/2021:  06:22:49


I gotta say...not being a jam participant at this time...just soloing it as back porch specialist...lol...the other day I struggled through the key of C, standard, and recorded and put up a youtube of Maysville. It was a struggle...I know some people say C is good...ok, not for me...in my 13 unlucky years of fiddling...C has been a major jinx...well but anyway, I just didn't think in the law-breaking, creative way I normally do and just did it the way everybody does it. Listened to the youtube...took it right back down...I mean, it sounded terrible. Then woke up in the middle of the night with the revelation that Maysville actually has a Calico twang to it...the overall sound, drones and unisons...I'm like..."Wow, how stupid of me to not have noticed this sooner." So this morning I don't have time and a lot of chores to get through, but I tried real quick tuning out of that horrible standard tuning...lol...went to Calico and sure 'nuff...Maysville fits very nicely. Nicer than in standard. I'm wondering...gotta go quick here because I'm too strapped and outta time to go into detail...but wondering if the older generation of fiddlers who brought us these tunes just got tired of tuning like their ancestors did and figured it all up in standard...maybe? I don't know...I have no way of knowing, but makes me wonder and when i get the chance to play my fiddle again I'm gonna go for Maysville in Calico tuning. I wish I had a jam to go to and try these things, but since I don't, I miss the camaraderie, but I have totally open territory in front of me for creative ideas to try.

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