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Horn friendly & guitar friendly keys
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lorez
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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 6:51 pm    Post subject: Horn friendly & guitar friendly keys Reply with quote

Been working through the James brown funkmasters rhythm book and a lot of the keys are in Eb because its a horns friendly key. So why is that? Are horns tuned to a key? I remember from my trumpet playing school days of playing scales and notes so why are keys like Eb horn friendly?

Also, I hear mention of guitar friendly keys but when using the caged system you can play any key. So what is a guitar friendly key? One that is easy to play in open position?

Btw I recommend this book, it's an amazing book on understanding the interaction of guitars, drums & bass. I'm really getting to understand drums using the drum charts to build the sections in ableton as well as how the bass is interlocking with both the guitars & drums. Add to this the work on 16th note rhythms and my other rhythm guitar playing is slotting in to place so easy now.
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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dunno if its related but quite a few folks down tune to Eb to better suit their (male) vocal range - Hendrix for one.
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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave wrote:
Dunno if its related but quite a few folks down tune to Eb to better suit their (male) vocal range - Hendrix for one.


I thought he down tuned because of his days in soul bands & matching the horns. Also it helped with the bends before really light strings
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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 11:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Horn friendly & guitar friendly keys Reply with quote

lorez wrote:
Been working through the James brown funkmasters rhythm book and a lot of the keys are in Eb because its a horns friendly key. So why is that? Are horns tuned to a key? I remember from my trumpet playing school days of playing scales and notes so why are keys like Eb horn friendly?



I'm guessing that keys (like the guitar) simply had to adjust to horns' limitations/strengths.

I was reading a blog the other day that was basically about a survey of pop music form the past century or so, and was surprised how the key of Eb ad its relative minor Cm were like #3 in the most frequently used among the tens of thousands of songs surveyed, which really didn't seem to make sense in my mind until the brass factor came to mind.

I always felt on the top of the world back in high school band because we'd tune to Concert Bb, and I happened to be a trumpet player. The key of Eb was probably the easiest across the entire instrument's range to play, as we would be in our F, and from middle Bb and up, all diatonic tones in sequence were nothing more than the first piston going up and down. Add the fact that the tenor sax, soprano sax and to a slightly lesser extent the flute have key fingering relatively easy in Bb, it's not much of a stretch to see why the close harmonic proximity of Eb would be an easy choice, especially with alto saxes having a field day in their Concert C scale (Eb)
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose G Major is a guitar friendly key as you'd have the tonic chord (G), subdominant (C) and dominant (D), all available as open chords, and they're generally the most used chords in musics derived from European Art Music. You'd also have the submedian (Em) and the subtonic (A) although these aren't as useful. It's no surprise or fluke that you'll find books with names like "101 Pop Favourites for Guitar Beginners to WOW your Friends" will have all the songs in them transposed to G Major. It sounds brilliant until you try to play along with the CD...

Generally though, I'd consider the guitar to be an instrument that's fairly oblivious to preference when it comes to key, as most guitarists are adept with barre chords and might know their scales in box type formations. These can be more or less transposed up or down the neck to match the key needed.

Something to bear in mind (and you might get a notion of this reading Andi's post) is that a lot of wind instruments are transposing instruments. This means that the music that is written to be presented to the player will sound at a different pitch to what is written on the page. This makes NO FUCKING SENSE to most people who aren't wind players, but it means that wind players can generally switch between different voices of the same instrument (like alto, tenor, bass etc.) without having to learn whole new fingering sequences for each. You can think of it as how playing an open G shape with a capo will pitch differently depending on whether you have the capo on the third fret or on the fifth. Your fingers do the same thing but the note produced is different.
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BacchusPaul wrote:


Something to bear in mind (and you might get a notion of this reading Andi's post) is that a lot of wind instruments are transposing instruments. This means that the music that is written to be presented to the player will sound at a different pitch to what is written on the page. This makes NO FUCKING SENSE to most people who aren't wind players, but it means that wind players can generally switch between different voices of the same instrument (like alto, tenor, bass etc.) without having to learn whole new fingering sequences for each. You can think of it as how playing an open G shape with a capo will pitch differently depending on whether you have the capo on the third fret or on the fifth. Your fingers do the same thing but the note produced is different.



I knew I was leaving something important out in my confusing rant, thanks for the elegant clarification, Paul. Wink
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks paul and andi, that seems to shed some light on my hypothesised suspicions. It makes sense now thinking about easy fingering on brass instruments and also what paul said with the different pitch of instruments like sax.
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lorez wrote:
Also it helped with the bends before really light strings


Hendrix used 10-38s since before he was famous, sometimes he'd swap in a .009 for the high E. I think he just tuned down because he had that nitrous voice. Plus their live tuning (with regards to half-steps/semitones and such twaddle) was all over the place in The Experience because both Hendrix and Redding were re-tuning to their own relative strings, then to each other every couple songs. Sometimes they were almost a whole step down, sometimes they were sharp of concert E.

To hit on a fairly unrelated point that constantly comes up here with a certain degree of confusion: it's a complete miscomprehension that all guitarists used flatwound 12s until the Hendrix era because that's all there was or whatever. People were using 8s, 9s and 10s in the mid '60s, especially people immediately prior to/such as Hendrix who started the whole widdly widdly thing. It wasn't the norm it is today obviously but they existed in 1965 marketed as "light gauge" and "super light gauge" on the pack and everything. Fender Rock 'n Rolls came in 8-38 sets (150SL). You just needed a reason to buy them. What's the point of playing Carl Perkins or Scotty Moore licks on that shit? There isn't one. But Albert/Freddie/BB King... different story. In England Clapton (.009s) and Page (.008s) were buying high strings for banjos and using strings 1-5 from the lightest guitar packs they could find as strings 2-6, that was probably in like '63 and '64. By the early '70s almost everybody was using 9s. Nobody who was a serious bluesy noodler in that early proto-hard rock stage was using strings any heavier than they wanted to, and many of them were using ones that 14 year old kids today would consider too light.

Some '60s/'70s Fender .008-.038 and .010-.038 sets



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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My friend has been teaching me how the instruments work together in different contexts. I'm learning the triangle thing of building a rhythm section from the bottom up. As soon as i get a better grasp on the snare drum i will be much more confident.

I think Hendrix tuned down for both reasons mentioned. He didn't play with a horn section later in life but old habits die hard.

I would say e or eb is considered a guitar friendly key because of the relationship between the open strings. Most would say tune to a letter, open g for example, and that would be even more friendly but, as we all know, you become really limited to chord extensions in open tuning. I think eb has all the cowboy chords right there for you and it works with most instruments without a whole lot of trouble. You have 2 octaves of e open so it makes sense and it sounds full. i would agree that g is next in considering the location of the chords and how easy it is to move through basic chord progressions. Those 2 keys always sound good to me.
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

brandonwinmill wrote:
My friend has been teaching me how the instruments work together in different contexts


The orchestration thing is something that is starting to interest me a lot as well
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lorez wrote:
brandonwinmill wrote:
My friend has been teaching me how the instruments work together in different contexts


The orchestration thing is something that is starting to interest me a lot as well

Me too! I'm loving it. I'm almost done with this song happy that i had uploaded a rough copy in a different thread. I have violins and 3 different basses along with a sitar effect on bass guitar and regular guitar, very clean guitar, very distorted guitar, piano, organ, synth, drums, and vocals. I'm doing all of it alone except my friend and my wife are making suggestions and producing and i'm listening to them. The vocals are the worst part for me. That is the hold up. I struggle with vocals and it isn't something i can find an answer to. I would like to find a Sarangi to use with the sitar and if i can't then i may try to make noise through a harmonica or some random device to emulate one. It's a blast. Keep in mind i probably can't sit behind each of these instruments and play them without a shit load of practice. I'm going the Brian Eno route to music theory. I read where he said that he believes in theory over practice. Anyone can sit behind a piano and read the music and practice enough to be able to play it but writing it is much more important and creative. I'm trying not to waste creative energy and time becoming a proficient session musician. I'm learning the theory as i go and i'm learning it for several different instruments and i'm using process of elimination with octaves and such.
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very good book for this stuff is Alfred Blatter's Instrumentation and Orchestration. It was basically a bible for us during our degree and it's the first thing I'll turn to when I'm writing for an instrument I maybe don't know much about. Actually, I turn to it even for instruments that I know a lot about. It's a great book.

I remember it being about £25 second hand, but Amazon has it for quite a bit more than that. It's pricey, but it is brilliant and it can always be sold on again.
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BacchusPaul wrote:
A very good book for this stuff is Alfred Blatter's Instrumentation and Orchestration. It was basically a bible for us during our degree and it's the first thing I'll turn to when I'm writing for an instrument I maybe don't know much about. Actually, I turn to it even for instruments that I know a lot about. It's a great book.

I remember it being about £25 second hand, but Amazon has it for quite a bit more than that. It's pricey, but it is brilliant and it can always be sold on again.

Thank you very much!

One question..do you have to know how to read music completely for the book to be beneficial? I can sorta read but not fast. I can't sit and play from simply reading the music. I can understand whats happening but not play along in time. I'll usually go back and write the letter over the musical notation.
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of the book deals with how to write music so that it's easily understood, and a lot of the examples in it will be written in musical notation. It's a massively useful thing to be able to do. The difference between being able to just about read and being really good at it is practice. I can read fluently and can know roughly what something will sound like by looking at the page. I'm an awful sight-reader though, I can't play and read at the same time as well as I'd like.

Writing letters in generally isn't a good idea because you end up thinking in letters instead of notes. The nice thing about how music is written is that you can see spaces and shapes and stuff on the page.
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PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, in terms of being able to work with people, I think that being able to communicate ideas effectively is useful skill, so it's worth learning how notation works and learning enough theory to understand what's going on and to be able to explain ideas to other people. The point isn't necessarily to use the correct technical terms for things, but to be able to fully understand what's going on and be able to explain it to a person on their own terms in a way that they would understand.

To that end, I would learn a bit about theory and stuff probably before worrying about how to orchestrate. That might just be me though.

Two excellent books for theory (that can be had for cheap in whichever second hand book shop is closest to the music department of any university in the UK) are the AB Guide to Music Theory Parts I & II.
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PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BacchusPaul wrote:
Also, in terms of being able to work with people, I think that being able to communicate ideas effectively is useful skill, so it's worth learning how notation works and learning enough theory to understand what's going on and to be able to explain ideas to other people. The point isn't necessarily to use the correct technical terms for things, but to be able to fully understand what's going on and be able to explain it to a person on their own terms in a way that they would understand.

To that end, I would learn a bit about theory and stuff probably before worrying about how to orchestrate. That might just be me though.

Two excellent books for theory (that can be had for cheap in whichever second hand book shop is closest to the music department of any university in the UK) are the AB Guide to Music Theory Parts I & II.

I understand some more complicated theory and the simplest things sometimes confuse me. It's the way i learned. I won't let anything stop me from getting the sounds out of my head. I usually write a melody without regard for theory and then i go back and figure out why it sounds good. Then i'll start with other instruments but i need to know what i was doing originally in order to move on. Basically I've learned theory backwards and after the fact in order to use several instruments. I've been able to retain most of what i've learned and through writing so many songs i've got a decent amount of theory down and i've had success communicating to classical trained musicians. I'm cutting the time down it takes from remembering past experiences and trial and error. Sometimes i wish i would have learned theory the way most do. You start with the basics and build up and learn more as you go instead of, i wrote a cool thing on guitar and it's in the key of F#m because i had someone tell me the names of the chords and i looked in a book and all those chords are in that key. The flipside is i do things very different than most and i think that's why some musicians with a lot more knowledge bring me in. Nothing is off the table or out of the question with me. I think if i had always had a lot of theory then i probably wouldn't have written some of these songs. I notice now that theory is on my mind when i write and i worry about it being proper way too much. I used to be anything goes and now i know the rules and sometimes i wish i could go back to being free for a while to express without limitations and other times i wish i knew more theory to make the process easier and so it won't take so long to figure out how to resolve a chord progression.

You're right though about orchestrating without at least some theory. I don't think you can. I'm going to try and stop writing letters like you said and look at it on paper differently now.

Thank you. I really enjoy these kinds of threads.
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PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the book recommendations & buying tips paul
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PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lorez wrote:
Thanks for the book recommendations & buying tips paul


+1

Just ordered part 1 of those books. I did do a bit of theory when I was learning the piano as a child but can't say I remember much of it.
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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2013 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the James Brown book, Chris. So far I've only been learning the bass parts but it's ridiculously fun. Out of curiosity which songs have you learnt or been working on the most? A fair few of the bass ones are quite easy to play but tough in terms of stamina. Funky Women, for example, is quite easy to play but an absolute bastard to play consistently for 5 minutes.
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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2013 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BacchusPaul wrote:
A very good book for this stuff is Alfred Blatter's Instrumentation and Orchestration. It was basically a bible for us during our degree and it's the first thing I'll turn to when I'm writing for an instrument I maybe don't know much about. Actually, I turn to it even for instruments that I know a lot about. It's a great book.

I remember it being about £25 second hand, but Amazon has it for quite a bit more than that. It's pricey, but it is brilliant and it can always be sold on again.


Thanks for the heads up on that book, one of the things I've always struggled with is writing for unfamiliar instruments so I'll find that book quite useful.

For anyone else who doesn't have it, the pdf is available here http://www.scribd.com/doc/121778599/Instrumentation-and-Orchestration-by-Alfred-Blatter#download
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