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Jul 2, 2022 - 4:05:10 PM
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16 posts since 10/31/2019

hi all so my ? why are alot of tunes in A...especially the sawmill tuness? Why not in G...GDGD? The banjos are in G and need to be capo-ed up a whole tone. Given that the banjo/fiddle combo is so dominant, I wonder why it turned out this way

discuss

Edited by - danieljtb on 07/02/2022 16:07:10

Jul 2, 2022 - 4:27:13 PM
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2291 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by danieljtb

hi all so my ? why are alot of tunes in A...especially the sawmill tuness? Why not in G...GDGD? The banjos are in G and need to be capo-ed up a whole tone. Given that the banjo/fiddle combo is so dominant, I wonder why it turned out this way

discuss


I find about an equal number of G tunes to A tunes in my repertoire. But I can't relate that to cross tuning exactly because I play everything in standard tuning. But in general, lots of G tunes.

Jul 2, 2022 - 5:20:32 PM
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2481 posts since 10/1/2008

In my fiddle list the keys run this way.... G, A and D ..... are primary ... C, F and Bb are secondary I can only think of two tunes in Bb off hand... Am and Em show up only occasionally ... I only know of one tune in B. R/

Jul 2, 2022 - 5:52:54 PM
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3164 posts since 9/13/2009

Never noticed any shortage of tunes in G... nor counted vs how many A.

Should clarify.... what is a G tune vs and A tune? For most fiddlers it's defined about the fingering layout rather than actual pitch... GDGD are really "A tunes" typically played in AEAE, just fiddle tuned down lower. Tuning the A (and E) strings to "standard" A and E, called these for a reason; affects tension/volume and tone; but can tune a fiddle lower any non-standard pitch if want more low, warm mellow sound. (tuning down half step, it's still a "D" tune, not Db)

Difference between G and A tunes.... most tunes have quite a bit of the melody on 1st and second string. To which tunes in G=GDAE plays; fingering, bowing and flow, as well as double stops, chords, drones (is different than tuning down).

The choice of key also affects overall brightness and cut... how the tune projects and carries; that includes banjos and guitars (and of course voice). Especially over other sounds, in some situations, esp playing acoustic we might pick A tunes for that extra cut/projection above.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 07/02/2022 17:56:58

Jul 2, 2022 - 6:22:54 PM

515 posts since 7/18/2014

I think it’s because a two octave first hand position is not very handy.

Jul 2, 2022 - 6:59:15 PM
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668 posts since 6/11/2019

Probably "droney-ness" and A is better to play a tune if it's in mountain-modal (Dorian mode).

Take Old Joe Clark--chords are A-G-A-G. If you played in G, it would be G-F-G-F. PITA, on a fiddle.

Banjers can either capo, or go get a Coke.

Jul 2, 2022 - 7:24:06 PM
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13940 posts since 9/23/2009

I've been pondering that one for years now. They probably ended up in A because of how they work out in standard tuning...although they also work out well or maybe better in sawmill, yet, then the banjos have to capo up, and guitars just have a fuller sound in G...so...why on earth people play them in A instead of GDGD, I don't know...I think the fiddle sounds less screechy in G than in A too...I like the typical A tunes toned down to G, myself.

Jul 2, 2022 - 7:30:14 PM
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668 posts since 6/11/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Astrang

I think it’s because a two octave first hand position is not very handy.


Hey, Randy, I'm glad to see a feller Arky is still around.  Hope all are well over there.

Jul 2, 2022 - 7:47:57 PM
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2827 posts since 10/22/2007

I recon most of the tunes I play are in D. Equal amounts in G or A. Indeed, I standard tune.

If you can play 2nd fiddle, lower reg. A yields just as much color as any key. Upper register. A is high and "fiddley." It stands out in a band situation.

Leon Russell said he liked to play up high so he could be heard in the mix.
There's my opinion. FWIW

Jul 2, 2022 - 8:55:42 PM

515 posts since 7/18/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th
quote:
Originally posted by Astrang

I think it’s because a two octave first hand position is not very handy.


Hey, Randy, I'm glad to see a feller Arky is still around.  Hope all are well over there.


Yep all is well, just doing the living on an old farm thing. Trying to keep the fire danger down with a lot of clean up. Things got away from me with my covid time, lost a whole summer. Also making preparations to add a room onto an out building, a big project for me. Haven't had much time for the hangout, still fiddling but other things always try and get in the way.

Jul 3, 2022 - 5:01:49 AM
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2481 posts since 10/1/2008

Astrang ..... life is what happens when you are making other plans...... carry on. R/

Jul 3, 2022 - 6:01:48 AM
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10564 posts since 3/19/2009

Good question, Dan.. I don't have an answer but playing A tunes in GDgd tuning is my Favorite busking tuning. My hearing is 'going' and the lower pitch is more comfortable.
Years ago our local jam would routinely play A tunes in GDgd and nobody had a problem with it. Now, a decade later I can't get our jam to do such a tuning.. It is a mystery.

Jul 3, 2022 - 9:21:17 AM
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16 posts since 10/31/2019

thanks everyone for your replies I think I understand a bit more now

I get it that in a group setting, a fiddler might want to use A to cut thru About 5 yrs eith OT, have yet to play with anyone else, let alone a group My ears dont like bright, loud, high pitches So I keep things low

I have played fretless banjo (bari and cello) for 3 yrs...cut my teeth on OT but due to a right wrist injury, I dont do clawhammer very well

last 2 yrs taken up fiddle; started on a 14" viola DADA. This last yr moved to a 5 string Royce Burt DGDGD mostly but some DADAD

Finally, a shotout to @groundhogpeggy....your betsy likens is awesome have been trying to incorp some of you into my version My first takes on Likens was in the cello banjo version by banjo meets world She plays in 7/8 time, 1231212 Its hard for me to keep in that sig, I tend to morph back into 6/8 time

Jul 3, 2022 - 9:44:10 AM

13940 posts since 9/23/2009

Sorry about your right wrist...Hope it will get better or maybe you could switch to thumb lead or some finger style on the cello banjo. Thanks for the encouraging words on my B. Likens tune.

Jul 3, 2022 - 11:11:04 AM

107 posts since 3/15/2022

Jam culture standardization? A fiddler should play where they want...in whatever tuning.

Edited by - fiddlenerd on 07/03/2022 11:11:40

Jul 3, 2022 - 11:13 AM
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10564 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlenerd

Jam culture standardization? A fiddler should play where they want...in whatever tuning.


What type of jam are you referring to? Celtic? Bluegrass, Old Time, Country, Folk?

Jul 3, 2022 - 11:39:08 AM
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16 posts since 10/31/2019

quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

Sorry about your right wrist...Hope it will get better or maybe you could switch to thumb lead or some finger style on the cello banjo. Thanks for the encouraging words on my B. Likens tune.


the injury is some 30 years ago...Imagine surgery would fix it, but fear worse consequences

my banjo style is mostly up picking with down stroke for ascents and dynamics   I am almost  to the point in my fiddle playing to try merging it with the banjo via recording       Ha!  Ive yet to even get up the guts to record my fiddle  and hear myself solo!

Jul 3, 2022 - 12:53:54 PM

13940 posts since 9/23/2009

Hope those banjo/fiddle recordings can happen for ya soon!

Jul 3, 2022 - 4:59:21 PM

3164 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by danieljtb

hi all so my ? why are alot of tunes in A...especially the sawmill tuness? Why not in G...GDGD? The banjos are in G and need to be capo-ed up a whole tone. Given that the banjo/fiddle combo is so dominant, I wonder why it turned out this way

discuss


Fiddle tune tradition for most part evolved much before and without the presence of banjos... as mentioned previous, key was mostly about how they played on fiddle. 

Just to point out that banjo players, esp from other background, and using capo... (such as BG or singing dominated).... gDGBD, despite open chord, not necessarily limited "in G". Of course it's not the only tuning, even for G tunes; nor necessarily the single standard (bit ironic in context of discussion of standard tuning) 

Of course banjos and guitars can easily capo up; fiddle not so much. Many OT banjo players do tune their banjo up to A (aEAC#E); Some banjos are not set up for that, or players do not like extra tension, or afraid of that higher tension. Related is that  "D" tunes and "C" tunes are not the same quality on fiddle... similar preferences of banjo playing in C (whether some out of gDGBD or some other C tuning)... and for "D" fiddle tunes would capo up. Still considered "D" tunes. Look at other way all these string instruments can tune lower, including banjo. So if fiddle tuned step lower (FCGD); all those great G tunes can still be played, but would sound as F. (C tunes would sound as Bb). Banjo thus would likely need to tune step lower... as aspect of tuning relates to how it plays on banjo as well. Probably most fiddlers, would still think of them G tunes or C tunes, despite actual lower sound.

Jul 3, 2022 - 6:19 PM
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3164 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlenerd

Jam culture standardization? A fiddler should play where they want...in whatever tuning.


That sounds like some wonderful utopia, but it's simply not really pragmatic, or conducive for most folks idea of good jam session. 

To play WITH others... have to agree on certain aspects, including what tuning reference and key. Generally the most conducive is just use standard default keys for these tunes (what most every source has it in, likely others learned it in)... and probably A=440.

Can do otherwise, other key, or lower pitch (432, 392.5?)... but need to make a compelling reason to convince others to do so. Probably want to stick to that for a bit, as having each individual randomly change these for every tune, would likely be unconvincing, considered a PIA.  Just to mention, that other instruments, such as mandolin might be involved as well. Play Soldiers Joy in "B" with A=432? Good luck with not getting a bunch of WTF.

For most part, most folks, and most jams probably easiest to just go with the idea of standard, it doesn't need fixing, improving... no problem with the old standard definition of G tunes, A tunes, D tunes or C tunes... they sound great as they are... and easiest path to play WITH others.

Jul 3, 2022 - 6:19:23 PM
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3164 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

I've been pondering that one for years now. They probably ended up in A because of how they work out in standard tuning...although they also work out well or maybe better in sawmill, yet, then the banjos have to capo up, and guitars just have a fuller sound in G...so...why on earth people play them in A instead of GDGD, I don't know...I think the fiddle sounds less screechy in G than in A too...I like the typical A tunes toned down to G, myself.


While lower pitch can certainly tame some harshness, or brightness...there is a bit of subjective perception (sometimes illusion). Not sure how defining fuller, or if that is the only consideration? Keep in mind, not case for all, either people perceptions, nor all instruments are created equal. Some fiddles, and banjos... lower tuning they can sound a bit muddy, tubby, lack any cut. Even guitars and esp bass, some even at standard tuning lack bit on bass end. Some have better focused projection in A.

But even with good instrument... G vs A on guitar uncapoed, have different quality, makes me play different, thus can just sound different.. the open A string, and using low E, less focus on third; key of A can seem to give more drive IMO. 

I guess relates to other discussion about all sounding the same (regarding tempo)... it's not which is better, but whether folks like the diversity of sound qualities that are bit inherent with different keys. I do.

Jul 3, 2022 - 6:59:53 PM
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13940 posts since 9/23/2009

I hear ya...fuller G on guitar in my case above meaning you get the lower root note than with A, plus your IV chord also has just more strings "attached," lol...sorry...couldn't resist saying it that way...plus the D sounds good in G with the thumb up on fret two on that E string...usually, I mean for most things. Yeah I do agree A is nice on guitar too...nothin' against it...got the alternating open A and E strings ... but to me then the E sounds fuller than the root chord...that's ok...in a lot of situations and I like playing in A ok... but seems to me most of those A tunes are just more guitar friendly played out of G on guitar...seems people would be happier in G all around. Not too crazy about having to capo up on a banjo and mess with the fifth string and all that...although I do it all the time...lol...but prefer just straight up G on that instrument.

Jul 3, 2022 - 9:20:08 PM

16 posts since 10/31/2019

thanks @alaskafiddler for all the info admittedly Id forgotten to factor in the fact that many fiddle tunes via Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada etc developed independently of the banjo. I was thinking more in line with current conditions with banjo/fiddle duos.

At some point I will tune my 5 string up to cross A to see what it sounds and feels like. I will be surprised if I dont go right back down to G. we shall see.

Jul 3, 2022 - 10:28:21 PM

1544 posts since 7/26/2015

Agreed. I tend to like a lot of those cross-tuned pieces dropped down a whole step. It sounds more old-timey to me, for some reason. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TPVFvNFPQ8
quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler

Never noticed any shortage of tunes in G... nor counted vs how many A.

Should clarify.... what is a G tune vs and A tune? For most fiddlers it's defined about the fingering layout rather than actual pitch... GDGD are really "A tunes" typically played in AEAE, just fiddle tuned down lower. Tuning the A (and E) strings to "standard" A and E, called these for a reason; affects tension/volume and tone; but can tune a fiddle lower any non-standard pitch if want more low, warm mellow sound. (tuning down half step, it's still a "D" tune, not Db)

Difference between G and A tunes.... most tunes have quite a bit of the melody on 1st and second string. To which tunes in G=GDAE plays; fingering, bowing and flow, as well as double stops, chords, drones (is different than tuning down).

The choice of key also affects overall brightness and cut... how the tune projects and carries; that includes banjos and guitars (and of course voice). Especially over other sounds, in some situations, esp playing acoustic we might pick A tunes for that extra cut/projection above.


Jul 3, 2022 - 10:42:25 PM

1544 posts since 7/26/2015

Probably speaking broadly, referring to a collection of trends that are perceived to be happening in all of them. I love jamming with people, but I'm typically not a fan of organized jams with leaders, lists, and whatnot, most of which appear to me to have been started by people who want to dictate taste and/or teach other people how to play, what to play, where to play, when to play, and why to play.
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver
quote:
Originally posted by fiddlenerd

Jam culture standardization? A fiddler should play where they want...in whatever tuning.


What type of jam are you referring to? Celtic? Bluegrass, Old Time, Country, Folk?


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 07/03/2022 22:43:18

Jul 5, 2022 - 8:13:08 PM
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2128 posts since 12/11/2008

In my guitar-focused rock days, me and the band would always end up playing in A, but more traditional folk genres are not only easier to play in G, they sound better, too (I'm talking un-capoed, of course). The first-position A chord forces guitar players to either squeeze their fingers together into a row or forces them to do a double-jointed "capo" with the second, third or fourth finger. The guitar's two E strings usually end up either ignored or muffled. The result is a singular lack of the ringing tone that gives the more traditional music styles their appeal.

Yeah, I'm talking standard tuning here, but you could pretty much say the same thing regarding the fiddle. The keys of G and D give the fiddler two wonderful octaves of freely vibrating first position strings with all the notes within easy reach. Open strings are abundant. Agreed, open strings are abundant in the fiddles' various cross-tunings but you're pretty much stuck with playing in a single key when the strings aren't in standard. This unfortunately lends a sameness to the sound that, I hate to say, eventually makes OT music a bit less interesting to listen to.

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