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May 23, 2020 - 2:58:03 PM

224 posts since 6/3/2016

I like to play in C and do not consider it to be particularly difficult. I would not tune down to a Cajun tuning unless I planned to play with a C instrument like a C bombarde or C accordion.

May 23, 2020 - 3:05:12 PM
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1774 posts since 12/11/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood

It occurs to me that if you' don't want to play the key of C then you also have trouble with Am, and playing blue notes in A. That's a lot of fiddling to miss out on. I don't understand why anybody wouldn't spend a little time to get it. It's just like G only over one.


True, C's relative minor is A Minor, and blues in A essentially does use the A minor scale, but when bow is actually put to fiddle the two scales just don't feel the same under the fingers.  When I do an A blues solo on the fiddle, I'll usually start on the G string and slide my index finger up to the A, giving it plenty of slow, wide vibrato.  The C, the all-important minor 3rd, is another slide on the G string, this by the ring finger.  When I'm up on the second octave, I slide my middle finger on the A string to the C.  In other words, I almost never hit C notes straight on when playing blues.  When you're playing a genuine old time C tune, on the other hand, if you don't hit that C note straight on and accurately it sounds sour and wrong.  After all, it's the tonic.  The Do.

In any event, yes, as I've continued to play the fiddle I now hit C's pretty accurately whenever I want, but the fact remains, if I were a rank beginner I'd be much happier if the first tunes I tried to tackle were in the ones where I could just saw away at an open string for a while.

May 23, 2020 - 3:31:24 PM
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1879 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

...In any event, yes, as I've continued to play the fiddle I now hit C's pretty accurately whenever I want, but the fact remains, if I were a rank beginner I'd be much happier if the first tunes I tried to tackle were in the ones where I could just saw away at an open string for a while.


Okay, but there are a lot of open strings in C, all of them as was pointed out. I don't understand why hitting a C on the A string is harder than hitting a G on the E string either. But I'm not trying to be argumentative at all. If people are having trouble with the key of C  I just think it's worth putting some C tunes in your practice to get used to it. I can understand more difficulty on flat keys. But C, G, D, A, and E are important fiddle keys. (I know some people don't like E either, and I can understand that a little better).

May 23, 2020 - 3:47:03 PM

doryman

USA

140 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by doryman
 

I'm very new at this.  I have trouble with everything.   I'm quite a bit a ways from worrying about playing blue notes in A.


I hear you. I suggest you don't get scared off of learning to play in C though. It is the same as G shifted over. Not any harder if you practice it a little from the beginning, in my humble opinion.


Thanks...I am trying, but when I jam with others (when we used to be able to do that), I'm typically reduced to just playing double stop shuffles with the C, F and G chords and it's hard for me to improvise anything.  I'll keep working at it.  I sing in C a lot, so additional incentive when it's my turn to call a song. 

May 23, 2020 - 5:25:33 PM

Pianofiddler

Canada

2 posts since 5/21/2020

The Key of C was the first key I learned to play in, but that's because I started off playing the piano :). And, the key of C is pretty easy to learn on that instrument since the scale has only the white keys in it.

My father taught me to play the piano. I remember sitting on his knee while he taught me dozens of tunes, but they were all in the Key of C. I didn't know any different, I was about three years old and thought my dad was the best player in the world. The reason he taught me everything in the Key of C was because that's all he knew how to do. He was a guitar and bass guitar player. All the same, I'm super grateful that he instilled in me the love for playing tunes.

One of my favorite fiddle tunes in the Key of C is an old sottish tune called "The Haggis".


May 23, 2020 - 11:25:50 PM

2665 posts since 9/13/2009
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On the piano, I always thought  F# was the easiest key to start to make music in... as just black keys give very tuneful pentatonic scale... almost can't sound bad.

May 24, 2020 - 7:55:37 AM
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Peghead

USA

1600 posts since 1/21/2009

C can be tricky to intonate. Fiddlers will intuitively adjust the fingering of 3rds up or down however, in the upper octave of C the 3rd is the open E string and is fixed. There are many differences on where people hear their 3rds. Lots of Bluegrass players just avoid the issue and play 5ths instead. Depending on how you tune your open E the C/E chord can be funky. It's good to tune your E string carefully before you start a C  or A minor tune. Be prepared to argue with the guitar player. In the low octave the C lands on the ring finger on the G string which can be a stretch and clearing the D string to play the E with the 1st finger can be uncomfortable for some if your elbow doesn't rotate. All of it can make C a challenge but there's lot's of good material there, turn of the century rags and old southern string band tunes.

Edited by - Peghead on 05/24/2020 08:11:28

May 24, 2020 - 8:29:41 PM

Jimbeaux

Germany

378 posts since 5/24/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Peghead

C can be tricky to intonate. Fiddlers will intuitively adjust the fingering of 3rds up or down however, in the upper octave of C the 3rd is the open E string and is fixed. 


That's a great point. I always thought of some C tunes as having a similar ring to them as calico tunes because of that open E/major 3rd, but I never thought of that as a potential intonation or tuning issue. 

Thanks for this idea.

May 25, 2020 - 11:15:29 AM
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1306 posts since 7/26/2015
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Speaking of C tunes, here's four brothers taking turns playing the same tune in C, "Sleepy Lou". youtube.com/watch?v=7b9KffUBrSI It seems that C tunes were fairly popular in Tennessee at one time.

Edited by - soppinthegravy on 05/25/2020 11:15:52

May 25, 2020 - 11:51:38 AM

1879 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Jimbeaux...but I never thought of that as a potential intonation or tuning issue. 

In my opinion it wouldn't be if fiddlers would just stop tuning to perfect 5ths. (I know that's attacking a sacred cow).

Edited by - Brian Wood on 05/25/2020 11:52:42

May 25, 2020 - 5:59:40 PM

1306 posts since 7/26/2015
Online Now

Interesting. What is your alternative?
quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by Jimbeaux...but I never thought of that as a potential intonation or tuning issue. 

In my opinion it wouldn't be if fiddlers would just stop tuning to perfect 5ths. (I know that's attacking a sacred cow).


May 25, 2020 - 6:57:23 PM

360 posts since 6/11/2019

quote:
Originally posted by soppinthegravy
Interesting. What is your alternative?
quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by Jimbeaux...but I never thought of that as a potential intonation or tuning issue. 

In my opinion it wouldn't be if fiddlers would just stop tuning to perfect 5ths. (I know that's attacking a sacred cow).


 


Maybe in 4ths?  Then it would look like guitar or bass fiddle.  And, when going from key of G to C, it would be moving a string right instead of left.  And come-home licks would go up instead of down.laugh

May 25, 2020 - 7:55:14 PM

1879 posts since 8/27/2008

It would be equal temperament. Tune to a piano, or an electronic tuner. I’m just sayin’. This opens a can of worms I’m not especially willing to get into again. There are old threads to look up for anyone interested. There is no acceptable answer for everybody, it’s a matter of opinion. But that’s mine.

May 26, 2020 - 8:34:10 AM

Hector

UK

23 posts since 11/1/2018

I raised the issue of the out-of-tune open E in another thread about the key of G where it's the major sixth above the tonic. In the key of C the E is the major third and can sound a bit sharp but then so can the open A which becomes the sixth. So those ears and fingers have got more work to do to make things sound sweet. Would it be better to play C as a closed position?

May 26, 2020 - 3:24:10 PM

38 posts since 3/29/2020

You guys are going to flip when I tell you about F# if you think C is bad.

May 26, 2020 - 3:31:11 PM

38 posts since 3/29/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by Jimbeaux...but I never thought of that as a potential intonation or tuning issue. 

In my opinion it wouldn't be if fiddlers would just stop tuning to perfect 5ths. (I know that's attacking a sacred cow).


Just switched to ET in the last year or so. Fiddle is a tiny bit less resonant. I don't care. Everything is in tune when I play with other ET instruments. All keys are in equally in tune (or equally out of tune, as somebody will invariably say). I'm so used to hearing ET anyway that when I tune to the other strings it's already in ET. I don't listen for the beats, I listen for pitch. 

 

But hey, if you want to be a very noticable 6 cents out across a 4 string fiddle, keep tuning to those beatless fifths. 

Edited by - The Body Electric on 05/26/2020 15:31:55

May 26, 2020 - 5:54:47 PM

1774 posts since 12/11/2008

Thanks to the fact the inventor of the fiddle forgot to include frets, all you need do to be in perfect tune is to move one of your stopping/fretting fingers a fraction of an inch one way or the other.

May 26, 2020 - 6:12:30 PM
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360 posts since 6/11/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Thanks to the fact the inventor of the fiddle forgot to include frets, all you need do to be in perfect tune is to move one of your stopping/fretting fingers a fraction of an inch one way or the other.


And the folk, as in folk music what we're discussing here, usually have big ol' fat fingers from manual labor, farming or beating a bull back from running over you with a fist.  If people want perfect intonation they need to find a slender-fingered violinist.  So, when a farmer finger width equals more than a half step, you slide and stop.

C is no different than any other key.  Learn the patterns (which are the same as any other key when tuned in 5ths), commit the 'fret' hand muscle memory, and all is well. 

May 27, 2020 - 6:11:57 AM

2665 posts since 9/13/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by Peghead

C can be tricky to intonate. Fiddlers will intuitively adjust the fingering of 3rds up or down however, in the upper octave of C the 3rd is the open E string and is fixed. There are many differences on where people hear their 3rds. Lots of Bluegrass players just avoid the issue and play 5ths instead. Depending on how you tune your open E the C/E chord can be funky. It's good to tune your E string carefully before you start a C  or A minor tune. Be prepared to argue with the guitar player. In the low octave the C lands on the ring finger on the G string which can be a stretch and clearing the D string to play the E with the 1st finger can be uncomfortable for some if your elbow doesn't rotate. All of it can make C a challenge but there's lot's of good material there, turn of the century rags and old southern string band tunes.


You might want re-evaluate how you are approaching playing.  Fingering the C note is the same note as in the key of G. Not any more difficult to intonate.

If folks find playing in C difficult... unlikely it has anything to do with 2 cent difference tuning perfect fifths vs ET.

Unlikely the issue is actually great sense of intonation or just intonation. For playing with others, the main JI issues are essentially same as any other key. Tuning can easily be adjusted for JI key of C.  I doubt that will solve the folks difficulty playing in C. 

May 27, 2020 - 6:30:13 AM

Hector

UK

23 posts since 11/1/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Benski

Just switched to ET in the last year or so. Fiddle is a tiny bit less resonant. I don't care. Everything is in tune when I play with other ET instruments. All keys are in equally in tune (or equally out of tune, as somebody will invariably say). I'm so used to hearing ET anyway that when I tune to the other strings it's already in ET. I don't listen for the beats, I listen for pitch. 

 

But hey, if you want to be a very noticable 6 cents out across a 4 string fiddle, keep tuning to those beatless fifths. 


That's a very good point. There's a lot more to music than absolutely perfect intonation all the time. I only wish I was good enough to play a fast tune at the right speed where very few people can notice the difference  between ET and "just" intonation anyway. 

But for the record, the ET major 6th is 16 cents out of tune and the major 3rd is 14 cents out which is a noticeable difference in a slow air or a waltz. Now I'm sure a good player can make a slow tune in ET sound just fine but I think they would sound even better with just intonation.

May 27, 2020 - 6:44:07 AM

38 posts since 3/29/2020

I was talking about the open strings, low G to high E. 6 cents apart, let alone all the trouble that playing against those out of tune perfectly tuned strings causes.

You're bringing up a point which intuitively sounds right,
but it isn't. Your open strings are little islands of pitch that you reference all your other notes off of. I don't think it's possible to play in ET, but you should tune in it.

I'm not going to go into this in detail, but when you hit your open G on one of those beautiful waltzes, it is going to be sour as hell if tuned in beatless perfect fifths. If you play a perfectly blended B against your open D it's going to be shockingly low if you move your bow to open E. It's science. You're shooting yourself in the foot by playing against those notes against, again, out of tune perfectly tuned strings.

I do not enjoy talking about this, and I'm embarrassed at all the time I've wasted and bad information I've given people telling them that they can't tune all the strings to an electronic ET tuner. You can and you should, if you play with guitars and pianos.

Like I said, I'm not saying you should *play* in ET, I'm saying you need those open strings to be little islands of pitch sanity in this markerless craziness that is a violin fingerboard.

Oh, one more thing: Daphne, the fantastic jazz tune by Stéphane Grappelli, came about from checking harmonics against each other. Tuning with harmonics leads to ET tuned strings, so I'm obviously not the first. :)

May 27, 2020 - 8:02:54 AM

38 posts since 3/29/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th
quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Thanks to the fact the inventor of the fiddle forgot to include frets, all you need do to be in perfect tune is to move one of your stopping/fretting fingers a fraction of an inch one way or the other.


And the folk, as in folk music what we're discussing here, usually have big ol' fat fingers from manual labor, farming or beating a bull back from running over you with a fist.  If people want perfect intonation they need to find a slender-fingered violinist.  So, when a farmer finger width equals more than a half step, you slide and stop.

C is no different than any other key.  Learn the patterns (which are the same as any other key when tuned in 5ths), commit the 'fret' hand muscle memory, and all is well. 


Someone needs to tell Itzhak Perlman that he can't play in tune cause his fingers are too big. Gonna ruin his career but it needs to be done. 

 

Finger size has nothing to do with being able to play in tune. 

May 27, 2020 - 8:38:44 AM

1879 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Benski

Tuning with harmonics leads to ET tuned strings, so I'm obviously not the first. :)


That's not what you meant, is it?

May 27, 2020 - 9:22:43 AM

38 posts since 3/29/2020

Nope. I was wrong. Hurts me to say it, but there it is.

May 27, 2020 - 9:23:39 AM

2665 posts since 9/13/2009
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Benski


 Tuning with harmonics leads to ET tuned strings,


Tuning with harmonics is perfect fifths not ET.

My observation, in context of actual playing "music" ... vast majority of folks cannot distinguish, or notice, about beatless or the difference in 2 cents fifths.  Even most of those that can notice, simply don't care... the other aspects of music are much more important.

Good thing too... because most musicians and instruments cannot achieve that degree of precision on every note played.

I was talking about the open strings, low G to high E. 6 cents apart, let alone all the trouble that playing against those out of tune perfectly tuned strings causes.

6 cents can be noticeable, but music is in a "key", likely only one open string at most is going to be off 2 cents, depending on key. Keep in mind for stopped notes... they can be fine tuned and adjusted for context. That is you need to only use one fixed B note.

Just thirds, sixths, sevenths are another story, of course much more than 2 cents, and those differences more noticeable... even then they don't necessarily need to be precise; 884 vs 886 cent sixth, the 2 cent difference is probably not significant.

tune all the strings to an electronic ET tuner.  You can and you should, if you play with guitars and pianos.

Not necessarily to play in ET... it is quite common for fiddle or voice melody to use just intonation or some other like neutral with an ET chord accompaniment, such as guitar pr piano. There are many factors that might explain why it works.

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