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Author Topic: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?  (Read 777 times)

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Grape Ape

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Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« on: August 20, 2019, 07:58:00 PM »

Recently ran into a monthly bluegrass session near my home and after talking to some of the participants, they suggested I bring a box and join them. What would be the best keys for trying this out?

I have boxes in GC, GCF, AD, CF, and BbEb.... but something tells me I need a DG...
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BbEb Saphir, BbEb Hohner III BS, CF Ouveture V,  Dick Richards Pointe Noire (in A of all things), CF Preciosa, AD Presswood, CF Club Model II, Melodija Menges GCFBb, Preciosa BbEb, Handry GCF, Corona iiir GCF, GC Pokerwork, a plethera of vintage Melodicas, and probably a couple I forgot

Peadar

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2019, 12:12:23 AM »

Phone one of them up and ask what keys most bluegrass is in? I have a sneaking feeling that your GC or your AD are the best bets.
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It's not MAD...just stress management:  Antoria: 3-Stop A. Hohner 1040-G  Chanson:C. Hohner AD and then there's the workshop.

Grape Ape

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2019, 12:17:36 AM »

They said D and G, so you are probably right. Just wondering if anyone had some personal insight.
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BbEb Saphir, BbEb Hohner III BS, CF Ouveture V,  Dick Richards Pointe Noire (in A of all things), CF Preciosa, AD Presswood, CF Club Model II, Melodija Menges GCFBb, Preciosa BbEb, Handry GCF, Corona iiir GCF, GC Pokerwork, a plethera of vintage Melodicas, and probably a couple I forgot

Chris Ryall

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2019, 02:47:06 AM »

i did a "hustory of American music" expedition in 2002, driving from Chesapeake Bay to  the Mississippi. My bluegrass stop was in Ashville, N Carolina. It was very pub based

i've also tried a festival here in Yorkshire, and a session at my daughter's more  broad based festival in Wales.  All three played mostly in D mixolydian (Cnatural).

But my takehome in all cases was that Bluegrass and melodeon don't mix. It seemed an entirely string based genre, best on banjo fiddle or guitar. I tred on the D row, and on thr pull, G row, but the dynamic was wrong. (There were no other squeezeboxes at any of these ) 🤔

Might have been me, of course, but I do like the music. In contrast Blues sessions are …  just fine, though again I'm generally the only squeezebox. (Expedition stop was Beale St, including  a very instructive BB King concert.

"Country" (Main St Nashville) seemed similarly "plucky" though I've managed a few songs since. I didn't get as far as Louisiana.

So good luck! Has anyone else had more success?
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 02:51:40 AM by Chris Ryall »
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Steve C.

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2019, 01:06:10 PM »

Grape, I have not found much synergy with bluegrass.  Actually, none. 
With OTM, not too bad if the sessions are open to accommodation with free reeds as the tunes are often the same as or derived from Euro folk.
Find thee some Irish sessions.  Or contra dances.  Open arms may await.
My experience in NC over 45 years...
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Rees

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2019, 02:01:59 PM »

I've been asked to leave bluegrass/old-timey sessions - "no accordions here mate!"
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stevejay

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2019, 06:06:09 PM »

Which is a good segue.

I haven't been around here at all.
Opted to sell my accordion and devote the time to Bluegrass banjo.

Went from a world of Delicq 6ths and delicacy, to pull-offs, hammer- on's, and slides.

Actually BG Banjo is capable of delicate music as well, but this is another matter.

Anyway, just saying hi if anyone remembers me.

Carry on, and thank you for the conversations over the years I was active.

Steve

Oh I almost forgot. G and A.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 06:21:43 PM by stevejay »
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Rees

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2019, 06:35:08 PM »


Oh I almost forgot. G and A.

In that case the best box for any American music in those keys is a C box for G tunes and a D box for A tunes, both played on the pull.
If you try playing this style on the G or A row it will sound pretty tame.
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Rees Wesson (accordion builder and mechanic)
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Grape Ape

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2019, 07:31:32 PM »

Hmmm. I play mostly across the rows.  One rows are difficult to me. So. Any suggestion for the best 2 or more row to use if I decide to ignore the advice that has been given? (They did invite me afterall) I should add they use fiddles in their sessions.....
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BbEb Saphir, BbEb Hohner III BS, CF Ouveture V,  Dick Richards Pointe Noire (in A of all things), CF Preciosa, AD Presswood, CF Club Model II, Melodija Menges GCFBb, Preciosa BbEb, Handry GCF, Corona iiir GCF, GC Pokerwork, a plethera of vintage Melodicas, and probably a couple I forgot

GPS

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2019, 07:49:01 PM »

Hmmm. I play mostly across the rows.  One rows are difficult to me. So. Any suggestion for the best 2 or more row to use if I decide to ignore the advice that has been given? (They did invite me afterall) I should add they use fiddles in their sessions.....


The limited experience I have of Bluegrass suggests to me that the favoured keys are D, G and A (fiddle-friendly keys). Fortunately I play guitar & bass, so the few Bluegrass sessions I have been to didn't involve a box. Seems to me Bluegrass is an essentially string-based genre - but do let us know how you get on if you take up the invitation!

GRaham
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Among others, Saltarelle Pastourelle II D/G; Hohner 4-stop 1-rows in C & G; assorted Hohners; 3-voice German (?) G/C of uncertain parentage; lovely little Hlavacek 1-row Heligonka; B♭/E♭ Koch. Newly acquired G/C Hohner Viktoria. Also Fender Jazz bass, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Epiphone Sheraton, Charvel-Jackson 00-style acoustic guitar and other stuff..........

Squeezing in the Cyprus sunshine

Grape Ape

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2019, 09:39:07 PM »

GPS, there are apparently very few examples of the box being used with blue grass, but I am told they exist.
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BbEb Saphir, BbEb Hohner III BS, CF Ouveture V,  Dick Richards Pointe Noire (in A of all things), CF Preciosa, AD Presswood, CF Club Model II, Melodija Menges GCFBb, Preciosa BbEb, Handry GCF, Corona iiir GCF, GC Pokerwork, a plethera of vintage Melodicas, and probably a couple I forgot

kenakordeon

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2019, 12:40:22 AM »

GPS, there are apparently very few examples of the box being used with blue grass, but I am told they exist.

Early in his career Bill Monroe had a piano accordionist. If the accordionist plays a strict staccato rhythm/comping accompaniment (mimicking the mandolin rhythm) there really shouldn't be a problem. Keep the volume low, don't use a heavy hand on the bass: in fact no "oom-pah" at all but just "pah." I've followed my own advice and the piano accordion sounded fine within the group.

For American Old Time I used a single-row, either C or D depending on the tune,  to play the melody. So far no one has complained--to me!
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boxcall

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2019, 01:07:14 AM »

The ones I’ve attended were playing in D G A C and a lot of E , because that’s the key the player (or players) liked to sing in.
So it probably would depend on who’s singing,  most bluegrass music is song and not many tunes.
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GPS

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2019, 05:01:56 AM »

GPS, there are apparently very few examples of the box being used with blue grass, but I am told they exist.

I'm sure they do.
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Among others, Saltarelle Pastourelle II D/G; Hohner 4-stop 1-rows in C & G; assorted Hohners; 3-voice German (?) G/C of uncertain parentage; lovely little Hlavacek 1-row Heligonka; B♭/E♭ Koch. Newly acquired G/C Hohner Viktoria. Also Fender Jazz bass, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Epiphone Sheraton, Charvel-Jackson 00-style acoustic guitar and other stuff..........

Squeezing in the Cyprus sunshine

Steve C.

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2019, 12:54:18 PM »

Get ready to play fast.  (:)
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boxcall

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2019, 12:15:53 AM »

Get ready to play fast.  (:)
(:) true!
I had to thin out the notes to keep up , on some tunes.
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Hohner 1040 C, Beltuna one row four stop D, O'Byrne Dewitt/ Baldoni bros. D/C#, Paolo soprani "pepperpot" one row D

stevejay

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2019, 01:00:11 PM »

I've always found the diatonic accordion to be a fantastic reggae instrument, and fits right in.
Certainly sounds better than those cheap Casios you hear in very old recordings, although admittedly that was part of the charm.

Unlike bluegrass "purists," Reggae most musicians would probably find the melodeon a good fit for a band.  There are melodica players who front Reggae bands for that matter.

It would be an easy and fun mix, especially if the band played some zydeco as well to mix it up a bit.
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2019, 01:49:08 PM »

Self evidently accordion is great for Cajun  (:)  but surely it's a completely different tradition and feel?

1. Central French, rather than peripheral British Isles roots?

2. It's about a 10 hour drive from NC to LA !

Cue Steve C, who knows about such things …
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GPS

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2019, 04:27:23 PM »

Trying to work out where reggae fits in to the equation. Yes, a melodeon is indeed a good reggae instrument, but  Jamaica to Kentucky is a pretty long leap.........
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Among others, Saltarelle Pastourelle II D/G; Hohner 4-stop 1-rows in C & G; assorted Hohners; 3-voice German (?) G/C of uncertain parentage; lovely little Hlavacek 1-row Heligonka; B♭/E♭ Koch. Newly acquired G/C Hohner Viktoria. Also Fender Jazz bass, Telecaster, Stratocaster, Epiphone Sheraton, Charvel-Jackson 00-style acoustic guitar and other stuff..........

Squeezing in the Cyprus sunshine

jonm

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Re: Best keys for playing Bluegrass?
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2019, 06:53:07 PM »

I play piano box for old-time (Appalachian dance team) due to the variety of keys and speed required. It's not a popular instrument and not welcomed in some OT sessions; although there is a lot of accordion music from the Appalachians, it tends to relate to the East European emigrants further North - the Appalachians stretch into NY state.

In ensemble, I play staccato offbeat as above. Leading, I've been told that I play fiddle double-stops on the melody hand and Carter-style bass-chord runs on the other. Neither would be wholly possible on melodeon. A lot of my ornamentation comes from Cajun / Zydeco accordion.
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