PDA

View Full Version : Keys



Rllink
07-21-2015, 04:12 AM
I'm just throwing this out for something new to discuss. Lately I've been changing the keys of songs that I find to the key of C. Not all, but most songs work better for me in the key of C, so I found a couple of songs in the key of G, and they were pretty simple chord progressions, and so I just played them in the key of C instead. So I got pretty good at doing that on the fly, being too lazy to get up and pencil it out. But as I have been doing that more and more, I'm getting pretty good at it. I've also branched out, changing songs from the key of F and D to other keys too, and not always to the key of C. I have taken to playing new songs in several keys, looking for the key that sounds best, is easiest to play, and goes best with my voice. So that has been fun, and has really made some theory much clearer to me. It is something that I gave little thought to for a long time, but that lately I've found to be very handy.

pulelehua
07-21-2015, 05:17 AM
Just be aware that the key of C has particular chord shapes that are peculiar to it (as do all keys), and the relationship between those chord shapes is also particular to the key. By moving songs to the same key, you're also usually moving them to the same chord shapes. That can get a bit dull. Among jazz musicians, the usual rule of thumb is try to mix up keys through a set, to keep every song sounding fresh.

That being said, it's VERY handy being able to look at a chord chart and read it in a different key. So, the skills you're developing are definitely valuable.

vinceherman
07-21-2015, 06:38 AM
I have played with shifting keys to fit a melody within my limited voice range.
I also tried it once to try to get around a transition from one chord to the next that I just could not hit as it was written. This had limited success. The single problem transition was more manageable, but the rest of the song was more work. I ended up just picking other songs to play. :)

But I have no chance of doing this on the fly. I create the lead sheet with the melody and just a few chords to test the range, transpose if necessary, and then fill in the full chord set.

Papa Tom
07-21-2015, 08:08 AM
Are you using GCEA tuning? When I first started playing, I found that just about every song was easier to play and sing in "C." However, because "C" only involves one finger on one string, I soon found that playing in "G" gave me much more control over string "choking," enabling me to play much more rhythmically. I still prefer G over C for this reason. It just feels like a fuller, meatier chord on which to start a song.

Eventually, though, as others have said, playing everything in the same key gets boring.

good_uke_boy
07-21-2015, 08:15 AM
A lot of the music that's out there for uke (e.g., Richard G's, Dr. Uke, the Beloffs' books) is in a key that differs from the original. I like to start with, and transpose, those versions to their original key to sing along with the original artist. When I can that is. Some singers have a singing range that's way outside of mine.

strumsilly
07-21-2015, 08:31 AM
Are you using GCEA tuning? When I first started playing, I found that just about every song was easier to play and sing in "C." However, because "C" only involves one finger on one string, I soon found that playing in "G" gave me much more control over string "choking," enabling me to play much more rhythmically. I still prefer G over C for this reason. It just feels like a fuller, meatier chord on which to start a song.

Eventually, though, as others have said, playing everything in the same key gets boring.
I have been playing more and more using barr chords, as most of the other players in my uke group play open chords, so this gives a different sound. also makes vamping/chunking easy, as well as transposing on the fly, usually moving up or down a few frets.

k0k0peli
07-21-2015, 10:06 AM
Transposing is good. When singing, transposing is necessary and IMHO better than capoing (which I hate). Transposing is needed when I try to play my old guitar fingerings on re-entrant 'ukes and weird-strung axes like a 6-string 'uke or 10-string tiple. Early in my guitar days I hand-wrote a transposition chart (copiers and printers were pricey then) to guide me through all the songbooks with chords written for blowers, not fretters. I mean, c'mon, I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND was NOT written for Eb winds!

Yes, C is an extremely easy key on 'ukes and yes, lots of my 'uke playing happens there. But A and F and D and even G ain't that hard. E is vital if you ever wish to play blues with a guitarist. Really, you can learn a half-dozen chord forms and move them all over the place as needed. I always check that a key matches my vocal range. Bad singing ruins everything.

ksiegel
07-21-2015, 10:07 AM
I took a workshop from Ken Middleton a couple of years ago, and one of the most interesting things he mentioned was, when a group is playing together, having some members play First Position ("open") chords, while others play 2nd and third position (which can, but doesn't always, involve barring the strings.) The sound is much fuller, and really comes alive.

As a result, I generally start playing the chords up the neck when I play with others, and the sound really stands out.

I have also been transposing keys on the fly, because I'm often playing with guitar and banjo players who make frequent use of capos, and play in keys that aren't exactly uke-friendly (F#, Db, Bb, Eb, to name but a few...).

zztush
07-21-2015, 11:30 AM
Shu-san is one of top amateur ukulele player in Japan. He wrote ukulele chord theory in his homepage (http://www.geocities.jp/shusan99/).

He says that we play songs by C(Am) or F(Dm) easier than any other keys on ukulele. It is found by his long ukulele experience. Key of C and Am are parallel keys, Key of F and Dm are parallel key too.
Ukulele open tuning is C6 or Am7 which consist of CEGA both. He thought C6 and Am7 are related to C. We see many of the chords of Key of F(Dm) show their melody tones on first strings and it is easy to play. When we play C on guitar and remove the 5th and 6th strings, it is F in ukulele. If guitar's strings might be set based on both C and human finger structure, ukulele might be set on F. Hence he thinks that Key of F(Dm) is easy to play on ukulele. Most Hawaiian songs are played on keys of C, F and G because they are easy to play. He recommends that beginners should have a his own key. He especially recommends C(Am), F(Dm) and G(Em). And his own key is F.

My own key is G. Because it is easier than C to sing for me, C is often higher than my voice. I am practicing Swanee River on key of G which is transposed from C. :)

Rllink
07-21-2015, 12:08 PM
Are you using GCEA tuning? When I first started playing, I found that just about every song was easier to play and sing in "C." However, because "C" only involves one finger on one string, I soon found that playing in "G" gave me much more control over string "choking," enabling me to play much more rhythmically. I still prefer G over C for this reason. It just feels like a fuller, meatier chord on which to start a song.

Eventually, though, as others have said, playing everything in the same key gets boring.Yes, the C chord is easy to play. Much too easy to be taken seriously. But you do know, that if you are playing in the key of C, you get to play a G too? Seriously, I did not mean to say that I change every song that I play to the key of C. I play songs in several different keys. But this isn't about the key of C. I was trying to say that I play them is several keys to see what works best for me, and often times it is the key of C. Sometimes not. Sometimes the key of G is better. But all I was saying, is that it isn't all that hard to change the key of a song, in the hopes that other people would not be intimidated by it. I know that when I started, there were these big long discourses on the different keys, and I would get overwhelmed. I just was trying to say that playing in other keys isn't as hard as some people try to make it. That is all. I just want people to know that after an hour or so of messing around, I found it pretty easy to play songs in different keys, switching between some of them with little effort.

itsme
07-21-2015, 03:28 PM
There are certain "uke friendly" keys that tend to get overused and take on a boring sameness. I'm not saying we have to get extreme, but I've heard people whine about the Bb chord being too hard for them.

strumsilly
07-22-2015, 04:07 AM
There are certain "uke friendly" keys that tend to get overused and take on a boring sameness. I'm not saying we have to get extreme, but I've heard people whine about the Bb chord being too hard for them.
Warning : Bb is a gateway chord. there is no going back. only forward to B,C,C#,D etc.

rubykey
07-22-2015, 09:57 AM
I tend to play with other musicians and I'm usually the only ukulele. As it turns out, for my voice F is often my preferred key. It also happens to be a very uke friendly key. Guitar players who aren't very knowledgeable balk. Jazzy musicians are fine with F. I have songs in many keys -- the favored G (often for men), C (women friendly), A (a favored blues key), Am Gm Em and Dm. Depends on the song and where my voice will go. I have learned a few swing songs in G where I can easily use two fingers for G6 chords, diminished, easy D7, open C6 and so forth. That really swings a song.

Choosing a key should be where the vocalist prefers to pitch the song. I'm a singer and that's my position. It also depends if you are playing alone for your own enjoyment, or jamming with others. Flexibility in keys will help you to "play well with others. To stretch myself I often transpose songs on the fly. Three chords not a problem. Four and five -- doable. But when I have a unique jazzy arrangement with altered chords -- oooh that gets tricky. So my trick is to stick with the simplest way to play the song. Moveable chords will take you to whole other level. Learning patterns (I VI ii V for example) can also open up possibilities. There is no one "correct key" for any song.

BTW, I went to a concert recently by a swinging Hawaiian band that was nominated for a grammy. There were horns, pedal steel, guitar, bass, drums and one lone ukulele. I noticed the uke player using a capo. That surprised me so I talked to him about it after the show. He seemed a tad embarressed and explained that he had riffs and patterns in the key of F and C, and wanted to be sure his music was tight. The music was fantastic and the amplified uke was heard in all it's sweet uniqueness. So -- that made me want to rush out and get a capo. Even tho "real musicians" ought to be able to play anywhere on the neck -- "real musicians" can make choices that work with real situations.