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Jul 19, 2021 - 1:46:54 PM

RichJ

USA

551 posts since 8/6/2013
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Got to thinking this morning about which cross tunings work best for various keys. Then put together a bunch of diagrams to illustrate finger patterns for the scales. So far I've considered GDGD - for the keys of G and D; AEAE - key of A; ADAD - key of D and FCFC - for the key of C. The FCFC tuning also works for F (which I happen to like a lot) as well as those rarely if ever used keys of Bb and Eb. Can anyone suggests others? I know there's also DDAD and AEAC# but these tunings seem to have greatest use when playing particular songs like Midnight on the Water and Drunken Hiccups (DDAD aka Dead Man's tuning) or Black Mt. Rag and Obama's March to the Whitehouse (AEAC# aka Calico tuning).

Jul 19, 2021 - 2:13:50 PM
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5406 posts since 9/26/2008

To me these are the same tuning AEAE GDGD FCFC. I know Tony Y cross tunes for everything and he might weigh in, but not every tune/key needs it or is improved by a returning. I love the big sound of cross A, but find several tunes seem bigger in standard than cross, particularly those tunes that fall back to the G chord (mixolydian/modal).

I'd play "Drunken Hiccups" in calico. Also, there are a few tunes not traditionally played in DDad that work well, including "Spotted Pony" and "Whiskey before Breakfast." What was the question laugh

I use cross A, dead man's and calico with an occasional GDad (for G and D) and ADae (D), but standard is more than often what I'm using. 

Edited by - ChickenMan on 07/19/2021 14:21:05

Jul 19, 2021 - 2:28:54 PM
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DougD

USA

10292 posts since 12/2/2007

Yes, GDAE works well for various keys, and its easier because you don't have to learn a bunch of "finger patterns" - there's just one. Learn where the notes are and you're ready to go.

Jul 19, 2021 - 3:03:33 PM
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RichJ

USA

551 posts since 8/6/2013
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quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Yes, GDAE works well for various keys, and its easier because you don't have to learn a bunch of "finger patterns" - there's just one. Learn where the notes are and you're ready to go.


Ah,  finger patterns. Glad you brought that up Doug. Keeping things simple, aren't there three (without including Mr. Pinky):  1-23, 12-3 and 1-2-3. Also as far as I can tell aren't these all placed in the same relative position on the finger board regardless of the tuning? Naturally this will vary on different strings depending on key. 

Jul 19, 2021 - 7:06:06 PM

463 posts since 6/11/2019

Well, I'll go ahead and throw out the hip social media memes for a controversial subject:

"Got the popcorn ready"

"3-2-1,..."

I don't want to derail the OP, cause he appears interested in crosstuning technicals, and not so much as whether to do it or not, but I'll foller anyhow for the back-and-forth...

Jul 20, 2021 - 2:20:07 AM

RichJ

USA

551 posts since 8/6/2013
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quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

Well, I'll go ahead and throw out the hip social media memes for a controversial subject:

"Got the popcorn ready"

"3-2-1,..."

I don't want to derail the OP, cause he appears interested in crosstuning technicals, and not so much as whether to do it or not, but I'll foller anyhow for the back-and-forth...


Hey Scott - Sure hope that OP didn't ruffle feathers. Based on comment made so far the popcorn seems to be gettin' stale. 

Jul 20, 2021 - 4:48:31 AM

12390 posts since 9/23/2009

Well...I don't know where to start to chime in here...let's see...fingering patterns...maybe I don't do things rights, but to me...I don't think in terms of scales, but normally I think in terms of whether my finger two is closer to one or three...that way, any tuning I'm in in usually not that much different than another one...except the drones are changed (to protect the innocent...lol...sorry)...I mean...I sometimes play something in standard, but play the same tune in ADAD, then go to something like sawmill...let's say GDGD...easy tuning progression that way...well...I might start on a different string, or in some cases the same string...and then have different drones, high or low, or a different B part, maybe lower in some cases or higher pitched in the other cases...there's not a lot of difference in finger patterns, but just knowing where things are, drones or which string you're basing stuff on. I'm not saying I never get lost, oh i do...sometimes I forget i'm in GDGD or whatever, get kinda lost in highway hypnosis or something and it might take me a second to figure out what wrong move I'm making...lol...but usually that's so fast, if I've got a real audience (and it's been years since I've had that) I get it back before they are gonna know I slipped up for a minute...but the same thing happens to me in standard tuning, like I can get going on a tune and it'll start to morph into another tune, some related tune, and I gotta jump on that and switch back to my original tune I'm playing without letting the audience (I'm talking anybody just listening or playing along...not Carnegie Hall or however ya spell it) catch on to how my mind slipped. Anybody who's ever played Libba Cotton tunes on guitar knows about that...they are all great, but they morph into one another while you're just enjoying playing one of them.

Well but anyway...people say you have to have Calico to play Piney Woods...well I actually prefer the sound I get on that one in GDGD...Calico gives you pluckable strings if you'd want them, but for me, Piney Woods works out better in sawmill....when I say Calico or sawmill, I'm assuming everybody reading (and trust me, if you read my posts I feel sorry for you...lol) can agree Calico is Calico because of the intervals between the pitches of the strings...not that it has to be in A.

Well I've lost my train of thought here, but I'm thinking the OP is talking about different "flavors," so to speak, of different keys. Like A is so bright...sometimes too bright...so...switch that to a lower pitch, Calico or whatever...i.e., find the pitch that's gonna suit you at the time. Maybe not just that, but how is the tune gonna change for you if you put it into a different tuning all together?

I like to go to the 2nd position with either C Gap tuning or Sawmill and play some modal stuff there...halfway up there or sometimes all of it there...i.e. Yew Piney Mt. Not only it is EASIER (what's wrong with easier????), but also it is different...the distances between your fingers might be different up the neck slightly or something...I don't knwo...I'm not an analytical type so I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing it is, and there is an effect in the tonality that I'm hearing when I play it up there...it sounds cooler than when you've got the ol' one, two, three finger spaces goin in first position. I might be off base on the OP's topic here...don't know...sorry if I am...it's just my thoughts going now. Jackhammers and dust and all...don't go well with coffee...lol...we live in an unsettling place here...lol...getting to old to deal with it but stuck here forever unless I win a million dollars...if so, I'll post more! For now...coffee time with the jackhammers and gagging dust.

Jul 20, 2021 - 4:49:58 AM
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12390 posts since 9/23/2009

I forgot to add that if you do double STOPS, as opposed to drones, stuff changes...you can make some pretty bad sour notes if you do double stops and forget which tuning you're in...lol.

Jul 20, 2021 - 6:01:24 AM

12390 posts since 9/23/2009

By the way, Rich, you said diagrams...that might be a helpful thing.

Jul 20, 2021 - 6:25:04 AM

5406 posts since 9/26/2008

C gap tuning?

Jul 20, 2021 - 7:15:04 AM
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RichJ

USA

551 posts since 8/6/2013
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quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

By the way, Rich, you said diagrams...that might be a helpful thing.


Maybe I should clarify something here for the group. The reason I started all this chatter on cross tuning came from an idea I've had for a while now about teaching a beginner fiddle class using only cross tuned fiddles. I know this might sound like heresy to some, but can anyone say this might not result in people learning simple tunes and developing a more authentic sound faster than they would with a more traditional approach?   

Jul 20, 2021 - 7:55:05 AM
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12390 posts since 9/23/2009

I've had the same thoughts...my problem here is I just don't know anybody interested in OT fiddling...but if I did know anyone who wanted to learn, especially kids...I'd have the discussion that OT is NOT classical...the instrument just isn't the same. And if you know classical or you want to learn classical later, you have to consider it a different instrument. I'll tell you once when my daughter wanted to learn violin...it was Irish, and she started in a class...she came to me and told me they didn't tune the fiddle right...lol...she thought GDGD was standard tuning for a violin...lol. This illustrates to me that it really just is a different instrument. If you use standard tuning in OT, it's just another tuning. It's just like using C Gap or Calico or whatever. That's why people sometimes called it Italian tuning...the only true standard might be the one from the holler you grew up in and heard the most...like for my daughter...to her, standard was GDGD...lol. What a shock when she saw people doing GDAE...even though she had studied opera/voice in college...all that time, she thought the violins were GDGD and fingering whatever they played from there...lol. Wow...what a shock for her. Where'd they come up with GDAE at the Irish class?????

But anyway, so many people know standard is GDAE and I believe if they really wanted to learn OT, they might have to consider the instrument a different instrument...might have some "standard" tuning, if you come from a holler where everything's played in one key ... and those still existed when we lived in the mts., but standard as far as violin tuning goes makes OT become sort of an "imitation" of OT rather than the real thing.

Don't open up the popcorn yet...I know I said a weird thing...but seriously...think about it. And I will say one of my absolute favorite OT fiddlers, John Morris, of Clay Co WV, where they play everything in G by the way, tunes GDAE. When I met him and he told me that I about flipped...I know he didn't start out that way...but he got to where he could imitate his GDGD sounds from GDAE...he's that good, and he knows the tunes that well. His playing is awesome.

But if I ran into my dream and found a buncha people who wanted me to tell them what I know to get them started in OT...I'd be very tempted to say forget about GDAE unless your tune depends on that particular tuning. No standards, just tunings. Tunings that work. If you get tired of tuning, you can morph it all into one tuning that imitates the others in 40 years or so, when you've developed that type of mastery...only if you want to.

It took me years of confusion once I started playing the fiddle, to come to this conclusion...lol.  

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 07/20/2021 07:56:54

Jul 20, 2021 - 8:05:31 AM

12390 posts since 9/23/2009

I should add, I might make some popcorn, because I still do hope that one day I'll run into a buncha people who wanna learn OT fiddle and are interested in my ideas about getting started...so...I'll make 'em some popcorn and we'll get ready for the fun to start.

Jul 20, 2021 - 8:12:06 AM
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5406 posts since 9/26/2008

C gap? Is this a fiddle tuning or banjo?


I'm just going to come out and say there's nothing about GDgd that needs imitating and that it makes reaching for the high B an effort (and lots of G tunes go up there). Standard I-talian tuning gives you the low drones (which is what makes AEae tuning 'special'), you have a readily accessible B note plus a nice a-f# combo. Now imitating AEae in standard I-talian takes some effort that ultimately doesn't result in the same effect because those low strings don't resonate sympathetically OR ring out when hit incidentally, which to me and my ears is what cross tuning is all about.

How's that for popcorn fodder? laughdevil

Edited by - ChickenMan on 07/20/2021 08:13:47

Jul 20, 2021 - 8:13:55 AM
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463 posts since 6/11/2019

Rich, I hold a lot of store in playing by ear. I've only developed this skill in the last few years, since before I needed something on paper. By ear, I really mean you have the melody in your head and it goes to your fingers and your ear validates your choice of tone.

Eventually (when I do it right), my fingers intuitively know the interval required between subsequent notes so they go in the proper sequence automatically. Because the tune is in my head. As you mentioned earlier, the finger patterns ARE the same regardless of tuning--on one string. When I do a string-crossing, my fingers expect a certain pattern on the new string. In alternate tuning, I would get a surprise.

For this reason I think a beginner should muscle-memorize standard first and then progress to alternate tunings. They might get frustrated the other way around. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Patterns are a big thing with me.

Jul 20, 2021 - 8:27:23 AM

RichJ

USA

551 posts since 8/6/2013
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At the risk of turning this thread into The Peggy & Rich Show I'm gonna' say I agree with that whole speel Peggy made up there. A cross tuned fiddle IS a different instrument and each cross tuning sorta morphs it slightly into something else, mostly in the mood that seem to emanate from different resonating open strings. Really funny story about daughter thinking GDGD was standard fiddle tuning (by golly, maybe it is - lol). Anyhow, that idea of a beginner fiddle class with cross tuned fiddles is still cookin' on the back burner. My thoughts are if you put a few signs around town advertising something like this people will show up. Hopefully you can find a local civic center church hall, or library to meet. My first thought was to make the lessons free, but then decided maybe something very nominal like $2 a lesson would make more sense. Also have to require they show up with a playable fiddle.

Hey Scott - just saw your comment. If the finger patterns are the same it shouldn't matter what tuning they want to fool with including standard. However, in my experience once people tune GDAE they start looking for the dots.   

Edited by - RichJ on 07/20/2021 08:40:13

Jul 20, 2021 - 9:08:46 AM

5406 posts since 9/26/2008

When I started fiddling it was through the one guy I knew of who played OT fiddle and happened to be giving my wife lessons. He is a cross tuner and taught "Bile 'em Cabbages" (to learn the Nashville Shuffle) in AEae and switched to ADae for D tunes. I don't think I ever learned a G tune from him other than "Nail that Catfish to the Tree," which he played in I-talian tuning.

Jul 20, 2021 - 9:34:28 AM

5406 posts since 9/26/2008

I meant to say, he started right off with cross tuning, it's helpful for those who don't already have the finger/ear connection to hear the octave for third finger placement, and extra As help reinforce that.

Jul 20, 2021 - 11:07:12 AM
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12390 posts since 9/23/2009

By C Gap tuning I meant Cumberland Gap... which means tuning each two strings to fourths instead of fifths, as you do in sawmill tuning...usually people say ADAD, but I don't see anyreason why you shouldn't use the intervals for any pitch you like. I love to play C tunes in Cumberland Gap...GCGC...picking out of C on a guitar or banjo in double C is usually a happy thing to do...plus most singing is within my range at least, in C. I hate C in standard tuning on fiddle though...seems to me the gaps between fingers work out in between where they usually work, which gets me sounding terrible and pitchy...works out great for me in GCGC, plus there's nice drones, plus you have access to some of the same double stops as you would normally have in D in standard. One thing about standard tuning, you do get lots of nice double stops, if you like that...I do like that but as I said somewhere above, I think, between popcorn events or somewhere, that you can get good double stops cross tuned too, as long as you remember that in a sawmill type situation, your double stops on the middle two strings are gonna be reversed, and in a C Gap situation, it's the outer two strings will have reverse double stops...and if you forget which tuning you're in you're likely to make some terrible sounds if you go for the wrong configuration of a double stop.

I think more than easy...the old tunings offer up nice configurations for drones, grabbing notes for melody, and even double stops...yes, they are easier to manage in most of the time, but they also yield some great sounds that are really difficult to get from standard. On the other hand...if you wanna play something with a lot of sweet-sounding, modern day double stops, you probably wanna tune to GDAE for that. Just my humble, unpracticed, amateur, back porch opinion, for whatever that would be worth.

I didn't always think exactly these things...I've been on the fence one way or another here and there, but my short years of fiddling experience have brought me to my current day opinions.  The first person who ever showed me anything on a fiddle...decades before I would ever have one of my own to learn on...showed me in GDGD.  

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 07/20/2021 11:12:55

Jul 20, 2021 - 12:23:43 PM
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5406 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy


I think more than easy...the old tunings offer up nice configurations for drones, grabbing notes for melody, and even double stops...yes, they are easier to manage in most of the time, but they also yield some great sounds that are really difficult to get from standard.

 

 The first person who ever showed me anything on a fiddle...decades before I would ever have one of my own to learn on...showed me in GDGD.  


Yes indeed, I say the same. They ARE different in sound enough to use both (cross and standard) to one's advantage. And it is a good way to get one started in old time. Aaand, my teacher now uses GDGD rather than AEae because of the edge the A can have on older ears. 

You also touched on why some would rather not cross tune - gets 'confusing' which could mean they have to learn something new and maybe they'd rather not or can't make the needed time. I don't know if that's the thinking, just possibilities.

All manner of playing is legitimate and if so inclined, one could make a fine living using the fiddle in the cross tuned manner only. Especially if they can sing too! wink

Edited by - ChickenMan on 07/20/2021 12:25:25

Jul 20, 2021 - 12:46:45 PM
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RichJ

USA

551 posts since 8/6/2013
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Well as far as old dogs learning new tricks go I'm now 81. Started playing seriously 9 years ago at 72. Avoided cross tuning for 8 years and spent much of that time playing with folks who called themselves fiddlers. They came to a jam with music stands and sheet music. The jams stopped when the pandemic hit and that's when I said to hell with it, I'm gonna cross tune and really start trying to play like a fiddler. Have never looked back and doubt if I'll ever go back to any of those jams. Oh yeah, I still play some tunes in standard. The point of all this is that if and old gezzer like me can try something new...well you get the idea.

Jul 20, 2021 - 4:15:19 PM
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5406 posts since 9/26/2008

I'm with you Rich, keep firing new neurons and challenging myself. I'm not one who thinks it's hard, but there are definitely some who do. Sounds like you avoided it too. Glad you've come around. Give ADae a try if you haven't already. Great for D tunes that mostly have D & A chords, though not exclusively those two.

Jul 21, 2021 - 6:56:16 AM

RichJ

USA

551 posts since 8/6/2013
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quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

I love to play C tunes in Cumberland Gap...GCGC...picking out of C on a guitar or banjo in double C is usually a happy thing to do...plus most singing is within my range at least, in C. I hate C in standard tuning on fiddle though...seems to me the gaps between fingers work out in between where they usually work, which gets me sounding terrible and pitchy...works out great for me in GCGC, plus there's nice drones, plus you have access to some of the same double stops as you would normally have in D in standard.   


I've been making a bunch of diagrams to illustrate finger patterns in various cross tunings. So, thought I show one of these that illustrate the point Peggy made in her post. This one compares finger patterns for a C scale in standard and GCGC tuning.  

Jul 21, 2021 - 8:05:40 AM
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DougD

USA

10292 posts since 12/2/2007

Rich, you left out the E on the D string in standard tuning. You might also want to indicate when the open strings are involved somehow (I guess they all are in this case).
What jumps out to me is how reducing the "compass" of the instrument limits the notes easily available. In your cross tuning you get an octave and a fourth (a fifth if you include the fourth finger I guess) but in standard you get an octave and a sixth, and up to B if you use your fourth finger. A little nudge up and you have two full ocaves. Same is true for people who play G tunes in GDGD. As Billy pointed out many G tunes go up to high B, and cross tuning actually makes them harder to play.
This is why cross tuning is better suited to certain types of tunes with more limited melodic content, and why some fiddlers might cross tune for some tunes in a key and not others (many A modal tunes are played in standard, for example). A lot of these tunes seem to be in A, while G and C tunes seem to be "notey-er," so AEAE is by far the most common cross tuning (in addition to the fact that tuning up the basses does make a real difference in the sound).

Edited by - DougD on 07/21/2021 08:17:22

Jul 21, 2021 - 9:11:40 AM

RichJ

USA

551 posts since 8/6/2013
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quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Rich, you left out the E on the D string in standard tuning. You might also want to indicate when the open strings are involved somehow (I guess they all are in this case).

Hey Doug - Thanks for pointing out that mistake. I showed it to Peggy yesterday and she also said the E was missing too, but I didn't understand until I just noticed the E was there but not noted like the rest of the scale. The corrected version is attached. I take your point about the slightly limited range of C scale octaves that results from a GCGC tuning, but I think  a consistent finger pattern when playing those octave are a convenience for many, certainly less experienced players.   


Jul 21, 2021 - 10:12:19 AM

DougD

USA

10292 posts since 12/2/2007

Once you included the missing note, you can see that standard tuning is actually the more consistent. It's open, 1,2,3, then on to the next string. The E string is a little different, but if there were a B string (which thankfully there is not) it would continue. In the cross tuning, between the 3rd and 2nd strings you use the open 2nd, but going up to the 1st string the C note is repeated.
Looks like a nice tuning - unless you actually want to play C tunes, which often take advantage of the qualities of standard tuning! The goal of teaching beginners should be to give them a good foundation they can build on, not something they need to unlearn later.
To illustrate, I'm attaching a couple C tunes I have handy which you might enjoy. I don't think either would very easy in cross tuning.


Edited by - DougD on 07/21/2021 10:17:47

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