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Eb and Bb Keys - Sweet!
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fulfillingsoul
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August 31, 2016 - 12:41 am
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I love to play ballads in Eb and Bb keys. They sound so sweet on the violin.

I keep wondering about the reason. What do you think?

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

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BillyG
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Well, I don't have an answer, but this is the sort of topic that has intrigued me for years.

[ I suppose, in passing, the only meaningful thing on violin is that it gives an easier way of not falling in to playing the open D or A - but that's not an argument "for" these keys really - the open strings can always be avoided anyway ]

I've struggled to come to terms with the following - and not being a musicologist or music-major in any sort of way - I honestly still don't get it - From http://www.wu-wien.ac.at/earlym-l/logfiles/em.2001-03

Key or mode descriptions from Charpentier's Regles de Composition ca. 1682

C major:       gay and warlike
C minor:        obscure and sad
D major:       joyous and very warlike
D minor:       serious and pious
Eb major:      cruel and hard
E major:       quarrelsome and boisterous
E minor:        effeminate, amorous, plaintive
F major:       furious and quick-tempered subjects
F minor:        obscure and plaintive
G major:       serious and magnificent
G minor:       serious and magnificent
A major:       joyful and pastoral
A minor:        tender and plaintive
B major:       harsh and plaintive
B minor:        solitary and melancholic
Bb major:      magnificent and joyful
Bb minor:      obscure and terrible

I have several violin-style instruments - one as many will know is my 4/4 fiddle but re-strung as a viola.   When I'm playing ( solo of course and not with others or a violin-backing track that are playing in a different key ) I will simply not think about the key signature or the notes, and play whatever tune it is one-fifth lower - so - essentially - my fingering on the viola is identical to that on the violin.  SO something in A on violin, I'd play in D on viola, D on violin would be G on viola and so on....

Now - to both myself and any (most) listeners - be it a slow aire, a ballad, a jig or hornpipe etc etc - it sounds just-fine.   There MAY be the occasional listener with a keen ear who would say "That's in the wrong key" - but - largely - if not wholly - the piece "comes across" with the same (as far as I can tell) "feel" as when played in its scored key.

I just wonder if it has more to do with the compositional structure of an individual piece - and - over time there has just been an "acceptance" that were I to write a piece intended to be "tender and plaintive" ( OK - I've just got to add a ROFL here ) I would automatically choose to write it in A min because that's what's expected ???

Other than that, (certainly to me) the modality of the piece has a lot more to do with the overall feel and probably is a lot more "suggestive" of a "feel" - like dorian, etc etc mode than the actual key signature itself.........

I suppose it is also possible in orchestrated pieces because certain orchestral instruments are transposing instruments AND there are harmonies going on between different instruments that something like that could have given rise to the list of key descriptions above.   There are other descriptions - some agreeing pretty much with the list above, but in places clearly deviating.   It's all very subjective IMO.

So, know what - I REALLY still have no idea and am none-the-wiser roflol- I look forward to learning about other peoples thoughts on this subject....facepalm

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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fulfillingsoul
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September 2, 2016 - 3:59 am
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Interesting that Bb minor is labelled 'obscure and terrible'.

Its relative major Db is also not mentioned. Guess they are not well-liked keys to play in.

Eb major is labelled 'cruel and hard'? It's my favourite romantic key though.

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

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RonB
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fulfillingsoul said

I love to play ballads in Eb and Bb keys. They sound so sweet on the violin.

Christian Schubart seems to have had similar opinions of these keys. His descriptions are as follows:

Eb Major — The key of love, of devotion, of intimate conversation with God.

Bb Major  — Cheerful love, clear conscience, hope aspiration for a better world.

Here's a link to his complete list: http://www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/...../keys.html

I think it's important to remember that these descriptions are a couple of hundred years old and opinions can change as musicians create new tunes with old keys.

fulfillingsoul said

I keep wondering about the reason. What do you think?

As to why these keys evoke certain emotions, that's a big question. Daniel J. Levitin wrote a book, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, that tries to answer why we even like music at all. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It is technical at times though.

What tunes are you playing in these keys? 

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fulfillingsoul
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September 3, 2016 - 9:35 pm
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RonB said

What tunes are you playing in these keys?   

Jazz standards from a fake book e.g. As time goes by, Misty etc

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

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bluesviolin
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I play several jazz standards for busking in Ab, Eb, Bb. I did not learn them from a book, but by ear. I play them in these keys not for the way they sound, but because some melodies fall to hand better in these keys.

I also do this a fair bit.... use a Bbmaj7 arpeggio over a Gmin or Gmin blues, or an Ebmaj7 arp over Cmin or Cmin blues. Take the Bbmaj7 arp for instance. I usually start it on the open A string, which would be the maj7 note for Bbmaj7.

eg. ascending: open string A, Bb, D, F, G, descending now...F, D, Bb, A, F, D, Bb, A...this resolves to Gmin. this would have 2 open strings included, the A & D.

I find this riff needs to be done fairly quickly with no pause between ascending/descending, and kind of a syncopated phrasing.

It's not rocket science, as all the notes in the Bbmaj7 arp are contained in the G natural minor scale. it's just being selective in which notes that are picked out of the Gmin scale.

If you can put up a Gmin chord as backing..try it. You might like it.

"Striving to attain Mediocrity"

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MrYikes
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OUTSTANDING.   Thank you.  This information is exactly what I needed.  I am curious if you play Autumn Leaves and how.  And Stardust?  One song I really want to learn and have not yet been able to find is I'll be seeing you.

fillingsoul: what book and where? Please.

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fulfillingsoul
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September 4, 2016 - 9:55 pm
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MrYikes said
OUTSTANDING.   Thank you.  This information is exactly what I needed.  I am curious if you play Autumn Leaves and how.  And Stardust?  One song I really want to learn and have not yet been able to find is I'll be seeing you.

fillingsoul: what book and where? Please.  

@MrYikes Plenty of fake books feature "Autumn Leaves" and "Stardust". Not sure about "I'll be seeing you". In fact, you can look for free sheet music from https://musescore.com

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

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MrYikes
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 Thank you!  I found it there in Eb.  This is much appreciated.
I was trying to learn keyboard and studying notes when, to me, I heard the Eb note was the prettiest.  I know everyone is different, but that was my impression of the note.
I have heard of fake books, but have never seen one (I thought they were for guitar players only).  I will go look for them.  I can read music but choose to write out the songs in letters only (I know the  rhythm of the songs I play), that way a song is only two or three lines.  I am envious of players who play hundreds of songs from memory.  I have trouble remembering my wife's name.

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fulfillingsoul
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September 11, 2016 - 8:50 pm
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MrYikes said
 Thank you!  I found it there in Eb.  This is much appreciated.
I was trying to learn keyboard and studying notes when, to me, I heard the Eb note was the prettiest.  I know everyone is different, but that was my impression of the note.
I have heard of fake books, but have never seen one (I thought they were for guitar players only).  I will go look for them.  I can read music but choose to write out the songs in letters only (I know the  rhythm of the songs I play), that way a song is only two or three lines.  I am envious of players who play hundreds of songs from memory.  I have trouble remembering my wife's name.  

Great to hear from you! Fakebooks are useful if playing timeless classics, unless you wish to learn to play by ear. 

I do choose to write the notes in terms of numbers, instead of letters. Like 1, 2, 3 to denote first, second and third note of the key and so on. This way, I can easily transpose to other keys for practice if needed.

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

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MrYikes
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How do you mark notes below the scale.  I just underline below and overline above the normal scale(basically the A and D strings).

I can understand the benefits of using numbers, but I am not savvy enough to be able to snap to the 6 note in G flat (or A for that matter).

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coolpinkone
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Wow..Love the convo here!

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Demoiselle
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MrYikes said
..... I am envious of players who play hundreds of songs from memory.  I have trouble remembering my wife's name.  

Oh, songs add up over years. I also have a short memory, but after performing a title for a long time, it's no problem. If you perform a lot, like I did on trombone in the 80s it comes automatically.

Presently I sing my lyrics from little cards I print. Most of my titles I cannot sing without. It will change if I should get more gigs later. In 2006 I formed another jazz band and we were looking forward to one gig. I was so silly to learn all the lyrics a at home, which was very hard and killed lots of time. I will never do that again, it was practically wasted time for nothing, because the band fell apart after one gig.

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MrYikes
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Yes it is a shame when groups fall apart. I played with a guy on valve trombone for a while, he was very precise.

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Demoiselle
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MrYikes said
Yes it is a shame when groups fall apart. I played with a guy on valve trombone for a while, he was very precise.  

In 2006 it didn't match. I was disappointed then, but today I don't wonder. It worked neither musically nor socially—ideas were just differing. In the 80s I had been twentysomething, but it often gets more difficult as you get older after having developed ideas who you are and what you want. In the meantime I even came to the conclusion, the jazz community is not my world anymore. I didn't see it as a problem in the past but today I'm no longer ready to take certain attitudes you often watch among jazz musicians.

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MrYikes
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evolving is sometimes a painful activity and the results are never assured, but it's what we do. And Eb is still the prettiest note.

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Demoiselle
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E♭ is very common in jazz, like B♭ and F, but especially frequent with ballads like Night & Day, As Time Goes By ( http://jazzbooks.com/jazz/prod.....90Kb_l96M8 ) etc./etc.

I have dozens of Aebersold albums with hundreds of play-along tracks and always enjoyed E♭ while raving on trumpet over them. At times I did it on recorder and there fingering E♭ is rather painful. In those moments it was striking how many E♭ titles are on Aebersold CDs, again and again zapping on to avoid them. So it might be true, that ballads sound very nice in E♭, but I probably blamed that nicety all on the character of those titles and as there was so much E♭ to enjoy, it was just a normal thing. If you have Christmas every day you don't see the beauty of Christmas any more.

Yesterday I was trying to trace E♭ in 1600s music which seems to be like looking for chanterelles in a desert. It seems to be extremely uncommon. On violin I play G, C, F, B and their relative minor keys e, a, d, g and will not add any more keys before my concert in early December. I feel like concentrating on the eight keys I do now to become as fail-safe and fluent there as possible. My favorite key is d minor, I find it clear-sounding and warm, just the right combination.

Evolving is actually the prize and comfort you get for leaving an old homeland where you don't fit any longer. People like Dizzy Gillespie were very open spirits and I always expected jazz musicians to be like that, which was naive. Jazz musicians are downright conservative these days. I experienced again and again how hostile they can get if you leave jazz to try something else. I am trying to explain, that what I live in baroque is nothing but the spirit of jazz and there's no point to separate it from jazz. The reaction has always been negative, not even trying to understand. I still find jazz is wonderful music, I'm just pausing until I find the type of open-minded jazz pianist I could work with. Which seems to be a rare thing these days and it might take forever.

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MrYikes
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first: sorry about the words in bold in the last post, I guess I hit the wrong button or something.
I worked with a organ player for two years after he called one night.  In the old days that's how it happened.  I went into a bar to talk to a friend playing there who told me about a sax player in El Paso who needed me; I worked with him for several years.
I have several of  Aebersold's CDs as well, I will play along with them today.
The F and C notes don't have any sparkle and I struggle to find a way to enjoy them.

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Demoiselle
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I struggle with E minor. I find it very difficult to get feeling into that key, using Edition Peters' "MusicPartner" CDs like Aebersold play-alongs. Mostly I play those E minor movements mechanically.

Sax and violin is a nice combination, you hear that a lot in sweet and dance music of the 30s.

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MrYikes
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Oh, I apologize for not being clear.  I am a drummer,,,that's mostly spelled dumber,,or at least was,  I haven't worked for 40 years, but did join a community band.  That lasted until I realized I couldn't stand the music.  I have zero interest in playing Tchaikovsky's 2nd or having the technical ability to "wow" an audience. I simply want to play sweet flowing music for me. (have to say it that way after my wife told me she doesn't like the sound of a violin, so I play cello for her).
Again, I am sorry for giving you the wrong impression.  I will work today in Eminor.

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