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Author Topic: Newbie Question.....Key of C  (Read 9438 times)

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drjack

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Newbie Question.....Key of C
« on: April 09, 2009, 01:27:44 PM »




   I have noticed that a lot of 1 and 2 row boxes are in C or some combination with C. I was under the impression that most "western"    traditional music is in D A or G. So...what type of music is played on these boxes (excluding Cajun)?
   Thanks
      Jack
       
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Lester

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2009, 02:04:49 PM »

   I have noticed that a lot of 1 and 2 row boxes are in C or some combination with C. I was under the impression that most "western"    traditional music is in D A or G. So...what type of music is played on these boxes (excluding Cajun)?
   Thanks
      Jack
   

There is a community of C players in East Anglia

HallelujahAl

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2009, 02:08:36 PM »

Hello and welcome to the forum Jack.

I'm hardly qualified to give you a proper answer - however, it's my understanding that whilst a lot of traditional music from England, Scotland and Ireland is played (and I think that's an important term) in the keys found easiest to play by fiddle players (D, G & A and relative minors) - it didn't necessarily start off that way. For example look at Lionel Bacon's Black Book and see how many Morris tunes appear notated in keys like F, Dminor, Bb & Eb etc.,.

Secondly in countries like France & Germany and the Low Countries keys of G/C & C/F tend to predominate in traditional music. And lots of traditional English & Scots songs are sung using the keys of C & F simply because they're generally easier to sing in (and in my opinion often sound better that way). So no, most western traditional music is NOT in D, A or G.

I think, after perhaps a cursory glance, that one can be forgiven for thinking that all our trad music is limited in that way. But in my experience it simply isn't so.

Anyway, as I said - welcome to the forum. AL (:)
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drjack

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2009, 02:42:36 PM »




  I appreciate the replies. I'd like to hear from some North Americans and thanks for your welcome
  Jack
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Matthew B

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2009, 02:44:15 PM »

I suspect that if one were able to make a tally of the number of times any given key showed up on a row of melodeon buttons, C would win by a country mile.  What with all the on-rows in C, the C/Fs and G/Cs, the B/Cs, C/C#s and B/C/C#s, and the G/C/Fs, there must be more diatonic reeds assembled into C scales than into any other scale (and if one were to include the all the Anglo concertinas and harmonicas with C scales, the count would rise still more).  This is probably in part due to the fact that the greatest number of boxes have historically been made in Germany and Italy, where tradition seems to favor the C row as an anchor point for tunes.  In Germany, it seems to be the lower end of a C/F keyboard, in Italy the higher end of a G/C.  Now why this is the case is beyond me.  Possibly because the C scale has all the "white" notes, so all the other keys can be seen as a variation on this basic structure?  But then all sorts of other questions spring to mind.  Why is C the "easy" key, without sharps and flats?  Surely A would be a more logical name for the starting point for the system?  But then again, what constitutes the standard?  Elsewhere here on the forum there are some lively discussions of what constitutes a "true" tuning . . . apparently both the name of a note, and its actual pitch have varied quite a bit from time to time, and place to place.  

There is doubtless a very good ethno-musicological answer to these questions, and I would love to hear it.  
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Dazbo

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2009, 08:27:44 PM »

I read an interesting article once about folk music in Italy (MusTrad?), but I think it is relevant here too, in that much of the blame for the limited keys now found in folk music is down to the melodeon in it's various guises. 

Going even futher back than Bacon's book many of the old 18th and 19thC fiddlers' tune books are in lots of keys - it's the very limited one and two row melodeons (and I suppose 20 button anglo concertinas) that are so limited in keys
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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2009, 02:06:12 AM »

I quite agree and I find that with a B/C box you can play most keys anyway. Trouble is I can play a D/G box faster so end up playing the D/G box with a lot of incidentals instead but I will master the B/C one day.

Sue
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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2009, 12:13:53 PM »

The biggest limiting factor to what keys you play in is the bass, not the treble.
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HallelujahAl

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2009, 01:52:22 PM »

Agreed, though it can lead to some interesting harminies ;D
AL
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drjack

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2009, 02:29:51 PM »




  I'm not strong on theory but it would seem to me that a C row would provide a number of "accidentals" to allow playing in more minor keys.
Is this a valid reason to look for a box with a C row? Are there a lot of minor key tunes in Anglo/Irish/North American  traditional music?
 Thanks
 Jack

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2009, 03:40:56 PM »

I'm not strong on theory but it would seem to me that a C row would provide a number of "accidentals" to allow playing in more minor   keys. Is this a valid reason to look for a box with a C row?

A C row on its own won't allow any more minor keys that any other row. So presumably you mean a C row in addition to something... what?

A C-row added to a D/G wouldn't make much sense: although you'd get a lot of reversals, you'd get the extra heft of a third row and a solitary F-natural as a bonus. If you were going to add a third row, or half row, you'd get more flexibility of keys with carefully picked accidentals.

D/C appears superficially interesting - you'd get a few more reversals than on a D/G, and the F-natural, and a second row that wasn't pitched too high. You could play in all the keys you can on a D/G and a couple more, and still have a two-row box. Has this been tried?

But if you really want to expand the range of keys, minor and otherwise, that you can play, a semitone box would be the obvious answer. So add a C row to your B (or C#) box.

Quote
Are there a lot of minor key tunes in Anglo/Irish/North American traditional music?

I'd say there were a lot of keys in minor modes (dorian, mainly) and rather fewer in straight minor keys. This works to our advantage - you can play in E dorian on a D row, and A dorian on a G row. You also have the mixolydian mode, sounds more majorish since it has a major third, but still quite plaintive. You can play A mixolydian on a D row, and D mixolydian on a G row.

You can get one "pure" minor key on each row - e.g. B minor on a D row, E minor on a G row.
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Bob Ellis

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2009, 04:42:00 PM »

If you were going to add a third row, or half row, you'd get more flexibility of keys with carefully picked accidentals...

I'd say there were a lot of keys in minor modes (dorian, mainly) and rather fewer in straight minor keys...You can get one "pure" minor key on each row - e.g. B minor on a D row, E minor on a G row.

I agree about the row of accidentals. I have two D/G boxes with an aditional row of accidentals, which enable me to play tunes in different keys, especially G minor, F major and C major, as well as tunes with accidentals. I use that third row a lot, especially, the F natural, E flat, B flat and G sharp. I also use it for reversals of C, C#, D and E.

In the 'pure' minor keys, there seem to be plenty of tunes in E minor but few in B minor.
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HallelujahAl

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2009, 04:47:51 PM »

Quote
I have two D/G boxes with an aditional row of accidentals, which enable me to play tunes in different keys, especially G minor, F major and C major, as well as tunes with accidentals. I use that third row a lot, especially, the F natural, E flat, B flat and G sharp. I also use it for reversals of C, C#, D and E.

I have a D/G box which is a fourth button 'Doh' start.  Buttons 2 on each row are where the low notes/other accidentals are. On the G row, I have the low B on the push and a low F on the pull (this allows me 1 full ocatve of F major and 2 octaves of D minor), which now saves me having to take my C/F box out. On the D row there is a low F# on the push (normal) and a low C natural on the pull (with the low F this gives two full octaves of C major)
 
Buttons 3 are what would normally be on buttons 2, and of course 'Doh' is on button 4. I find it's like having having two boxes in one. Yes - still missing some stuff on the bass side of things. But I'm pretty happy with it at the moment.

AL
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drjack

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2009, 05:38:35 PM »



  So if each and every one of us was limited to owning one off- the- shelf two row box what would be your choice of keys?
 Jack
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Andy Next Tune

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2009, 06:17:16 PM »

It really depends what you want to play, and where you want to play it!
I play traditional  'English' tunes and for Cotswold morris, so a D/G for me.

Andy
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HallelujahAl

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2009, 08:06:53 PM »

I play a lot of Morris, so I can't be without my D/G box. But in any other context I'm probably happier with my Hohner Erica C/F as I find I can singalong to it better - suits my range.
AL
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Bob Ellis

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2009, 08:58:35 PM »

  So if each and every one of us was limited to owning one off- the- shelf two row box what would be your choice of keys?

If you are playing for Morris or taking part in sessions, it has to be D and G because the overwhelming majority of the tunes are played in those keys, but I would move all the buttons up a bit to accommodate more accidentals, of which F natural is the most important to me so that I can play in C.
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Bob in beautiful Wensleydale, Les Panards Dansants, Crook Morris and the Loose Knit Band.
Clément Guais 3-row D/G/acc.; Karntnerland Steirische 3-row G/C/F; Ellis Pariselle 2.6-row D/G/acc.; Gabbanelli Compact 2-row D/G with lots of bling, Acadian one-row in D; Junior Martin one-row in C.

HallelujahAl

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2009, 09:13:06 PM »

Quote
If you are playing for Morris or taking part in sessions, it has to be D and G because the overwhelming majority of the tunes are played in those keys, but I would move all the buttons up a bit to accommodate more accidentals, of which F natural is the most important to me so that I can play in C.

Exactly what I've got Bob on my old Hohner Erica D/G. Enables me to play in C & F as well. 2:1
AL  (:)
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Dazbo

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2009, 02:58:19 PM »

If you are playing for Morris or taking part in sessions, it has to be D and G because the overwhelming majority of the tunes are played in those keys, but I would move all the buttons up a bit to accommodate more accidentals, of which F natural is the most important to me so that I can play in C.

However, I think GC (or even CF) are much better combinations, especially when you want to play in the higher octave (to get over not having a low B for example). 

So why not have a GC with accidental C# to enable playing in D )although not quite as easy only having the D chord on the pull)?
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Ebor_fiddler

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Re: Newbie Question.....Key of C
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2009, 09:42:35 PM »

Do I, or do I not, remember the definition of accidentals as, "wrong notes played on purpose"?

Tee hee!  >:E

Chris.
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