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Oct 29, 2023 - 7:05:07 PM
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3261 posts since 10/22/2007
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I asked this in another thread. It got lost in the mud.
So do you use your fiddle as a key finding tool?
Every so often, I find a recording that is like half a step off some standard key, but they tune the whole band down or up.
Sometimes even though I've found the recorded key, I'll play the desired tune in an easier key.
Then there's times where a vocalist will declare a key, yet they won't sing on the declared pitch.
Some think the fretless thing is a curse. I recon it's a blessing. How 'bout you?

Oct 29, 2023 - 7:19:17 PM
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6431 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones


So do you use your fiddle as a key finding tool?
 


No.     But since you have suggested it -     I may offer one of my fiddles to my wife next time she loses her's...  and say "here baby, use this"

Now, If she hits me, I'm blaming you!  wink

Oct 29, 2023 - 8:53:16 PM
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6338 posts since 9/26/2008

If I need to know the key I use whatever instrument is in hand. If the tuning is outside of the 440hz thing, I'll just tune to the recording (is that's what you are asking about.

Oct 30, 2023 - 4:22:05 AM
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2377 posts since 4/6/2014

yes, usually a few plinks (over the fingerboard ) does the trick...And a few more if it has a middle 8, or changes key/mode etc. It doesn't matter too much to me if it is not in concert pitch. The open "or" closed position patterns i have to play will give me a handle on the key/mode. Then i can alter my tuning...Or the tuning of a recording nowadays.

Oct 30, 2023 - 4:46:33 AM
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carlb

USA

2617 posts since 2/2/2008

Usually I use my whistle find out the key of the recording. If I have downloaded a copy of the recording as an mp3 (or use the free program "Any Video Converter" to generate the mp3) and then open in the sound editing program I've been using for years, Cool Edit. I can then raise or lower the pitch,  with or without changing the tempo, to get to 440. Thus, I can practice along with the recording to learn the tune. If I need to slow the tune down,  I can also do that with or without changing the pitch.

Oct 30, 2023 - 5:23:04 AM

Erockin

USA

840 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

Usually I use my whistle find out the key of the recording. If I have downloaded a copy of the recording as an mp3 (or use the free program "Any Video Converter" to generate the mp3) and then open in the sound editing program I've been using for years, Cool Edit. I can then raise or lower the pitch,  with or without changing the tempo, to get to 440. Thus, I can practice along with the recording to learn the tune. If I need to slow the tune down,  I can also do that with or without changing the pitch.


That's good stuff!

Oct 30, 2023 - 8:09:35 AM
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3261 posts since 10/22/2007
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There are places to find common song keys like, Ultimate Guitar Chord. These are later works. I know piano books come out quickly after music is released(depending). Not saying the key would be incorrect on purpose, but I've not found too many piano books worth buying.

As for Tony (the) Elder, you are the reason I keep coming back here, day after day. I dont even play the accordion anymore. This is Accordion Hangout, ain't it?

Oct 30, 2023 - 8:21:23 AM

DougD

USA

11717 posts since 12/2/2007

I use a keyboard, either a real one, or apps I have on my laptops and tablets. It seems the most obvious, and I can usually find it on the first or second try. If it falls in the cracks, I can manipulate it as Carl described, but I use Sound Forge - Cool Edit was a great program, but unfortunately long gone here. But usually I just want to find the key of a recording, not correct it.

Oct 30, 2023 - 9:38:52 AM

6431 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

I use a keyboard, either a real one, or apps I have on my laptops and tablets. It seems the most obvious, and I can usually find it on the first or second try. If it falls in the cracks, I can manipulate it as Carl described, but I use Sound Forge - Cool Edit was a great program, but unfortunately long gone here. But usually I just want to find the key of a recording, not correct it.


I have been using mTrax for years, Sadly, the owner / developer passed and the program is no longer supported. Not sure it is even available anymore. But I still use it. Great program.

Oct 30, 2023 - 5:07:53 PM
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2496 posts since 8/23/2008

Any instrument is a 'key finding tool', even on the toy xylophone I can find the key, but it's not very pleasant to jam if the tune is slightly off concert pitch. Sometimes I tune to the 'country music radio' and jam along, often they are off so I just play in closed position.

Oct 30, 2023 - 5:41:06 PM

doryman

USA

558 posts since 2/10/2020

I'd like to break that question down a little bit. There's using an instrument to find a key that a song you hear is played in...and then there's using an instrument to find a key that you can sing in.

My work-a-day banjo has a Shubb sliding capo for the 5th string and I can change keys quite easily. I almost always use it to find keys AND to find a key in which I can sing any particular song. The fiddle works too, but more for finding keys than for me finding a key to sing in, since I haven't really figured out how to sing and play fiddle at the same time yet.

Oct 30, 2023 - 7:07:22 PM

3261 posts since 10/22/2007
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quote:
Originally posted by doryman

I'd like to break that question down a little bit. There's using an instrument to find a key that a song you hear is played in...and then there's using an instrument to find a key that you can sing in.


Here's just one scenario I find myself in: I'm at a jam. Four to six guitars. One harmonica. Possibly a tub bass.( never in tune)  Invariably, neighbor left or right will lean to me, with that puzzled "what's the key look." Sometimes the turn will say the key. Sometimes they just take off playing. I wish I could just listen and suss out the key, but my ol' fiddle will find it. I swear, it knows more than me.

Oct 30, 2023 - 7:25:53 PM
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doryman

USA

558 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones
quote:
Originally posted by doryman

I'd like to break that question down a little bit. There's using an instrument to find a key that a song you hear is played in...and then there's using an instrument to find a key that you can sing in.


Here's just one scenario I find myself in: I'm at a jam. Four to six guitars. One harmonica. Possibly a tub bass.( never in tune)  Invariably, neighbor left or right will lean to me, with that puzzled "what's the key look." Sometimes the turn will say the key. Sometimes they just take off playing. I wish I could just listen and suss out the key, but my ol' fiddle will find it. I swear, it knows more than me.


Oh, I know that scenario all too well!  Luckily I can read guitar fingers and can usually figure out the key pretty quickly that way but, for god's sake, just announce the key people...is it really that hard?  There's one fellow in our jam who not only doesn't announce the key, he doesn't announce the song.  We just have to sit there and stare at him until we intuit the song.   I do admit, though, for the scenario you describe, the fiddle does seem to just magically go to the right key like no other instrument. 

Oct 31, 2023 - 8:51:31 AM
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6431 posts since 8/7/2009

hmmmm.... When we play tunes in our old-time sessions, we announce the key once at the beginning of the session - and that's it. We usually stay in that key for the whole session.

Now, don't go and say - staying in one key all night is boring or dull. There are just too many tunes that can be played in any one key for a session to get boring or dull. YMMV.

For some peculiar reason, sometimes someone will request that we announce how many parts there are in the tune before we play it. That's mostly for the newer folks - guitar, so they can get an idea about what to expect with a tune they don't know. Usually, we end up sharing that information at the end of a tune - because we forgot.  smiley   ...and it becomes more of a confirmation - not a correction. They figured it out.

But even in other jams - I don't think I've ever struggled with knowing (figuring out) the key of what key is being played. It may take me a listening for a moment, but I'll hear it. Chord progressions can get complicated at times on certain tunes, but not because the key is obscure - more because the song / melody is written that way (more melodic). And if you don't know the song, you will struggle, whether you know the key or not.

Edited by - tonyelder on 10/31/2023 08:54:11

Oct 31, 2023 - 9:23:30 AM

doryman

USA

558 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder

hmmmm.... When we play tunes in our old-time sessions, we announce the key once at the beginning of the session - and that's it. We usually stay in that key for the whole session.
 


This works well for OT and I like it because I can tune my banjo to an interesting alternate tuning and then not mess with it for the entire night.  However, calling one key is a non-starter for jams with singing, although it would be fun and funny to try!

Oct 31, 2023 - 12:26:20 PM

2400 posts since 12/11/2008

I'm sure I've mentioned this a couple times in other threads, but when t comes to learning a melody I seldom start by hunkering down and trying to duplicate it in the key that it is being played in. I'm more focused on the tune's intervals as the thing that allows my fingers to figure it out. I'll sing the tune in my head a few times. Then I'll hand the task over to my fingers.

Oct 31, 2023 - 2:56:33 PM
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3261 posts since 10/22/2007
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quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

. . . . . I'll sing the tune in my head a few times. Then I'll hand the task over to my fingers.


My fingers are D fingers.  If I want something else, the brain has to over-ride.

Oct 31, 2023 - 4:14:53 PM

3554 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

I asked this in another thread. It got lost in the mud.
So do you use your fiddle as a key finding tool?
Every so often, I find a recording that is like half a step off some standard key, but they tune the whole band down or up.
Sometimes even though I've found the recorded key, I'll play the desired tune in an easier key.
Then there's times where a vocalist will declare a key, yet they won't sing on the declared pitch.
Some think the fretless thing is a curse. I recon it's a blessing. How 'bout you?


I recall discovering on elec guitar, initially not realizing secret that some of those players tuned down half step Eb (you could do that?,surprise). Then seemed to be popular for while, maybe due to players like SRV; seems all Grunge and metal players tuned down.

As far as vocalist declaring key, yep been there laugh. Sometimes instruments, like fiddlers, declare wrong key as well... confused as what key the tune is in, perhaps based on starting note/chord as key; or modality; or sometimes start in minor, goes to major or vice versa. Some folks think Angelina Baker as in some modal, A or G. Then there's tunes, composition that are a bit ambiguous; the endless debate of Sweet Home Alabama, and Hey Joe. Even fiddle tunes like Ship in the Clouds, or Muddy Roads, are those in D or G??

As mentioned, diatonic harmonica player; might have it the worse. Tonic as well as mode, straight vs cross, and which cross position. As tune starts, see then desperately picking up one harmonica, then another, maybe close but realize have to swap for another. OT banjo players as well, don't just capo, nor play in closed position; they tune for the key/mode. ("C" and "Am" are different).

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 10/31/2023 16:17:09

Oct 31, 2023 - 4:56:04 PM

2400 posts since 12/11/2008

Back in the previous century I played in several electric rock/blues bands. It never failed that they played in A a good three-quarters of the time...one of the few keys that neither my fingers nor my vocal chords have a yen for. Good thing that all I mostly did in those bands was chop out rhythm...and try not to go deaf.

Oct 31, 2023 - 4:56:32 PM

DougD

USA

11717 posts since 12/2/2007

My vote would be that "Ship in the Clouds" is in D, with some unusual chord changes. "Muddy Roads" obviously modulates between G and D (and even in the G part, Doc Watson included an A chord), but I'd say its in G, because if verses are sung they're sung to the G part, and Gaither ended it on that part, even though on a D note. Doesn't really matter.

Oct 31, 2023 - 5:04:52 PM

2535 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler
quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

I asked this in another thread. It got lost in the mud.
So do you use your fiddle as a key finding tool?
Every so often, I find a recording that is like half a step off some standard key, but they tune the whole band down or up.
Sometimes even though I've found the recorded key, I'll play the desired tune in an easier key.
Then there's times where a vocalist will declare a key, yet they won't sing on the declared pitch.
Some think the fretless thing is a curse. I recon it's a blessing. How 'bout you?


I recall discovering on elec guitar, initially not realizing secret that some of those players tuned down half step Eb (you could do that?,surprise). Then seemed to be popular for while, maybe due to players like SRV; seems all Grunge and metal players tuned down.

As far as vocalist declaring key, yep been there laugh. Sometimes instruments, like fiddlers, declare wrong key as well... confused as what key the tune is in, perhaps based on starting note/chord as key; or modality; or sometimes start in minor, goes to major or vice versa. Some folks think Angelina Baker as in some modal, A or G. Then there's tunes, composition that are a bit ambiguous; the endless debate of Sweet Home Alabama, and Hey Joe. Even fiddle tunes like Ship in the Clouds, or Muddy Roads, are those in D or G??

As mentioned, diatonic harmonica player; might have it the worse. Tonic as well as mode, straight vs cross, and which cross position. As tune starts, see then desperately picking up one harmonica, then another, maybe close but realize have to swap for another. OT banjo players as well, don't just capo, nor play in closed position; they tune for the key/mode. ("C" and "Am" are different).

 


While the key of some tunes seem truly ambiguous, sorry, can't provide example at the moment, other tunes simply shift keys within the tune. It doesn't matter really, because clarity for the player is what technical information is for. When I transcribe some tunes I will use a fair number of accidentals within a key, while on others I change the key, often between A and B parts. But again, clarity is the point. A harmonica piece might want a different treatment, transcription, or way of thinking about a tune, than fiddle.

Oct 31, 2023 - 11:13:09 PM

3554 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
While the key of some tunes seem truly ambiguous, sorry, can't provide example at the moment, other tunes simply shift keys within the tune. It doesn't matter really, because clarity for the player is what technical information is for. When I transcribe some tunes I will use a fair number of accidentals within a key, while on others I change the key, often between A and B parts. But again, clarity is the point. A harmonica piece might want a different treatment, transcription, or way of thinking about a tune, than fiddle.

I was just replying to OP comment about folks declaring key, as In live jam situation; before play it, there isn't any transcription/notation or technical information, other than the person communicating what key (or other info)... and possible reasons why might happen not be in what they declare.  That communication does matter somewhat to some folks, not about right answer on test; but as they need to prepare; like which harmonica to use, or how might capo; or instrument tuning (even if just drone string on banjo); as well that information can help prepare the mind, mentally think about fingering layout; narrow down to find melody, or expected chords, of; to understanding context and to improvise. If it modulates, changes key, just unusual less intuitive chord; or not sure of key/mode, it's good to communicate that as well.  What they declare can also get in the way, cause more frustration.

Nov 1, 2023 - 9:48:03 AM

2535 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler
quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
While the key of some tunes seem truly ambiguous, sorry, can't provide example at the moment, other tunes simply shift keys within the tune. It doesn't matter really, because clarity for the player is what technical information is for. When I transcribe some tunes I will use a fair number of accidentals within a key, while on others I change the key, often between A and B parts. But again, clarity is the point. A harmonica piece might want a different treatment, transcription, or way of thinking about a tune, than fiddle.

I was just replying to OP comment about folks declaring key, as In live jam situation; before play it, there isn't any transcription/notation or technical information, other than the person communicating what key (or other info)... and possible reasons why might happen not be in what they declare.  That communication does matter somewhat to some folks, not about right answer on test; but as they need to prepare; like which harmonica to use, or how might capo; or instrument tuning (even if just drone string on banjo); as well that information can help prepare the mind, mentally think about fingering layout; narrow down to find melody, or expected chords, of; to understanding context and to improvise. If it modulates, changes key, just unusual less intuitive chord; or not sure of key/mode, it's good to communicate that as well.  What they declare can also get in the way, cause more frustration.


Agree with you here. My use of the term technical information was meant to apply to spoken as well as written information. The point in using shared terms and symbols is clear communication. Even declaring a key to the group is technical in that sense.

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