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Down Up Dick
10-16-2016, 01:19 PM
What's your best key to sing with?

I like C, but many C songs are too low or high for me to sing. A lot of my Uke music books seem to be in F. F's all right for my voice, but Bb is not my friend. I've been banging away at it all day today, but I've practiced it before, and then, when I went to play an F song, thunk, thunk, thunk.

I got it now, but who knows if the Bb gremlins will attack my fingers again. :old:

Jeffelele
10-16-2016, 02:09 PM
Someone needs to invent Finger Defence Spray to protect us from the dreaded Pretzel Fingers!

Also need Fingers B Fast in a can or magic potion.

Sorry Down Up Dick, couldn't help myself.

zztush
10-16-2016, 02:41 PM
C is the best friend. But many songs may be good in C for women's and children's vocal range. Second best friends are G and F.

Some people say that F is the best friend for their finger picking. Because they can use good position on low 2nd string and whole first string. But it is not my case so far.

Paul McCartney's shifted his key one octave from C to C on "Let it Be". He used to have such wide vocal range.

robinboyd
10-16-2016, 02:56 PM
While C is easy to play, I often find it is right at the top of my vocal range. Dropping it down a half-step to B makes songs much easier to sing. This is easily achieved without changing chords by detuning my tenor a half step. (I wouldn't try it on anything other than a tenor, but it works with the high string tension of the tenor.)

The other key that's a bit unusual but I really like it is Cm/Eb.

jollyboy
10-16-2016, 03:22 PM
The other key that's a bit unusual but I really like it is Cm/Eb.

There's something about Eb...

Apparently (according to wikipedia, which, as we all know, is always correct) Francesco Galeazzi believed Eb to be "a heroic key, extremely majestic, grave and serious: in all these features it is superior to that of C."

Uncle Rod Higuchi
10-17-2016, 04:56 AM
to those having difficulty with forming and playing Bb clearly, try
substituting Gm7 (0211) or Gm (0231) for Bb. Most of the time you can get by.
However, there is really no substitute for eventually learning and
using Bb (3211). We do know it can be challenging... in the beginning :)

keep uke'in',

stevejfc
10-17-2016, 06:24 AM
F is the best voice key for me. As a ex guitar player the Bb is not a problem...........just an F chord on guitar

robinboyd
10-17-2016, 11:56 AM
At the time Galeazzi was writing (late 18th c./early 19th), Eb was probably a different pitch than it is today. In any case, the distinct character of different keys was due to microtonal differences in the intervals between notes and between the tonal base of each key; these differences have been almost totally wiped out by equal temperament. So unless you're playing a period instrument, don't expect any of those old, fanciful characterizations to hold—apples and oranges.

I think you just clarified a niggling thought that I hadn't quite worked out yet. Thank you.

Choirguy
10-17-2016, 12:11 PM
In regards to the OP, the issue sounds like it is the Bb. I am wondering how you are playing the Bb?

All of the books and pictures show the Bb with the index finger barely extending over the first two strings. Have you tried playing it as a true barre chord, extending over all 4 strings?

It is just a thought...but I know that I can occasionally get more out of Bb by treating it as a full barre. On a similar note, I found great freedom in being able to barre a chord and not worry about the tip of my finger lining up with the side of the fretboard. I now extend past the fretboard, and things are MUCH better.

jollyboy
10-17-2016, 12:56 PM
At the time Galeazzi was writing (late 18th c./early 19th), Eb was probably a different pitch than it is today. In any case, the distinct character of different keys was due to microtonal differences in the intervals between notes and between the tonal base of each key; these differences have been almost totally wiped out by equal temperament. So unless you're playing a period instrument, don't expect any of those old, fanciful characterizations to hold—apples and oranges.

All of which I'm sure is quite correct :) On the other hand, this still sounds pretty majestic to me...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G-YQA_bsOU

Down Up Dick
10-17-2016, 01:54 PM
In regards to the OP, the issue sounds like it is the Bb. I am wondering how you are playing the Bb?

All of the books and pictures show the Bb with the index finger barely extending over the first two strings. Have you tried playing it as a true barre chord, extending over all 4 strings?

It is just a thought...but I know that I can occasionally get more out of Bb by treating it as a full barre. On a similar note, I found great freedom in being able to barre a chord and not worry about the tip of my finger lining up with the side of the fretboard. I now extend past the fretboard, and things are MUCH better.

Yes, I have tried the full barre and didn't care for it. I also did the three string, but although I've had trouble with the two string I like it best. I can play it better now, and I'll keep bangin' away at it. Sometimes my fingers seem too short.

Mebbe, just mebbe, I've been a little negative about Bb. It was the first chord that blocked my progress . . . :old:

Nickie
10-17-2016, 03:46 PM
For Irish tunes, C or G.
For songs like Willie Nelson's "Pancho and Lefty", D.
"White Sandy Beach", F.
And Ukulele Lady works good in C.....

JackLuis
10-17-2016, 04:42 PM
Since I started playing Baritone I found the Key of E/Em to be great for my voice. When I play my C6 ukes I just shift to A/Am, not a easy on the voice but doable.
I don't have much problem with Bb/F because I learned how to do it on the guitar years ago. I just use a half barr.

Down Up Dick
10-18-2016, 03:23 AM
I don't really like the sound of the low G when I sing in C. I can hit it and even F, and with some songs it's okay. I sometimes jump it up an octave, but my high C is weak and D makes the dogs next door howl. Now, unbelievably, since I've conquered Bb (sorta), I think I'll use it more and save C for when F get's too high. D and G are mostly okay.

Too bad one can't just sing/play in the same key all the time. :old:

Jim Yates
10-18-2016, 06:09 AM
My voice doesn't really have a favourite key, rather a favourite range. If I'm singing a song, I'll try it in a few different keys and decide which is most comfortable. If the song is I'm Satisfied With My Gal, then C seems to be the most comfortable key, but for Somebody Stole My Gal, I like A and for I'll See You In My Dreams, I like F. If my most comfortable key happens to be G# or C#, I will usually compromise and play in G or C, since they are far friendlier keys.
If it's an instrumental, since I use re-entrant tuning, I try to arrive at a key that doesn't need anything lower than an open 3rd string C. C seems to be my most comfortable key for instrumentals.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
10-18-2016, 07:01 AM
just like Jim Yates, above, it's more a matter of of range than actual keys, hence, the recommendation
to learn your way around the 5 most popular keys (C, F, G, A & D) to accommodate your ukulele
playing needs. (BTW worksheets for each of those keys can be found in the Ukulele Boot Camp materials -
link in my signature below :) )

Mastering (or at least becoming familiar with) those chords in those 5 keys makes for a well-rounded ukulele player :)

keep uke'in',

Down Up Dick
10-18-2016, 07:26 AM
My voice doesn't really have a favourite key, rather a favourite range. If I'm singing a song, I'll try it in a few different keys and decide which is most comfortable. If the song is I'm Satisfied With My Gal, then C seems to be the most comfortable key, but for Somebody Stole My Gal, I like A and for I'll See You In My Dreams, I like F. If my most comfortable key happens to be G# or C#, I will usually compromise and play in G or C, since they are far friendlier keys.
If it's an instrumental, since I use re-entrant tuning, I try to arrive at a key that doesn't need anything lower than an open 3rd string C. C seems to be my most comfortable key for instrumentals.

Well the key IS the range depending on which note you start on. Thus, if one can't sing the lower notes, he/she finds a higher key. If C is too low, one goes to F or G.

It is strange to me though that some songs in C are perfectly singable while others are too low or high. :old:

Croaky Keith
10-18-2016, 08:03 AM
If the notes in a song are too high/low for you, all you have to do is transpose the tune. ;)

Down Up Dick
10-18-2016, 08:07 AM
Thanks, Keith.

kypfer
10-18-2016, 11:59 AM
In my experience (too long to admit !!) succeeding or not with a barre chord can simply be the difference between "sitting up properly" and slouching around trying to look "cool".

Sit up in a chair without arms (a stool can be good if it's the correct height) and adjust your strap to get your instrument in the right place on your torso. You'll know it's in the right place 'cos your thumb will fall naturally to the back of the neck (not alongside it) and you'll be able to barre with little or no effort ... try it ;)

You may well not be able to see the fret markers on the fingerboard at this point ... that's why a lot of instruments have dots on the side of the neck ;)

Down Up Dick
10-19-2016, 03:23 AM
In my experience (too long to admit !!) succeeding or not with a barre chord can simply be the difference between "sitting up properly" and slouching around trying to look "cool".

Sit up in a chair without arms (a stool can be good if it's the correct height) and adjust your strap to get your instrument in the right place on your torso. You'll know it's in the right place 'cos your thumb will fall naturally to the back of the neck (not alongside it) and you'll be able to barre with little or no effort ... try it ;)

You may well not be able to see the fret markers on the fingerboard at this point ... that's why a lot of instruments have dots on the side of the neck ;)

Ya know, kypfer, you're absolutely correct. I have not been following your advice for a long time (never) even though I knew it was correct.

I play lots of instruments, but, except for my tuba, I usually play them standing and moving around the room. They're wind instruments, and I stand for better breath control. However, I sit with my stringed instruments. I have a good, one armed chair and a really nice stool, and slouching with my feet on a foot stool is my main mode of operation. I do it for comfort and not for looking cool. In no position could I look cool--that ship has sailed.

I really agree that I will fret better with better posture, and I'm gonna think of you every time I chew myself out for slouching. Thanks for your good advice.

:old:

Down Up Dick
10-19-2016, 03:49 AM
I have looked the list of ukes in the signature of the OP. Great selection of tunings. Bb is not easy in GCEA or DGBE tuning. I tried to pick one of the ukes to tune Bb, FBbDG, but could not work out which one would be best. I think a concert size would be the best size. Old fingers will have trouble with barre chords, but if you have a mix of tunings to pick from, you may not need to use barre chords. A good selection is G Bb C and D tuning. Keys with Bb do not require barre chords on a Bb tuned uke, so when you sing a tune that needs Bb, pick up the Bb tuned uke. You will be in good company if you do this, it is what George Formby did, so it is not a new idea.

Hi, Bill1, I had a Uke in FBbDG, but changed it for various reasons. I mostly tune for the keys of the music I have. I have a lotta C, D, F and G music from the other instruments I play. Most of my Uke music is in those keys too. I think most of my problem with Bb and other chords comes from negativity and stubbornness.

I've been lucky and mostly successful with my instruments over the years, but less so with the Ukes and banjos. They're coming along, but slowly . . . slowly . . . slowly. I'm not so usta that. I've only had three real failures: The French horn (because it's a French horn), the Euphonium (my embouchure was too old for the high notes) and my keyboard (I just couldn't play melodies and chords at the same time.). I don't seem to have that problem with the stringed instruments though. It's mostly my horrible memory that's slowin' me down.

Anyway, I'm pretty much in an upward, positive period lately, and I'm learning and even remembering stuff! Thanks for your advice though, and I have some info for you: Old age is the pits!

:old:

Jim Yates
10-19-2016, 05:45 AM
It never occurred to me to have a uke tuned one fret low for playing in flat keys. I'm surprised that I hadn't thought of it, since I played mandolin in a bluegrass group for a number of years with a lead singer who loved flat keys. He and the banjo player slapped on a capo and I grabbed my "flat key mandolin", tuned GbDbAbEb (one fret low) and felt quite comfortable. You couldn't see the capo, but it was there.

mrStones
10-19-2016, 06:04 AM
I am experimenting every day, but so far :
Bb is the best, it allow me to go up through all the song modulations and down quite easily and I didn't find yet a song I can't sing in that key, G is second.
C is ok, but sometimes too high or too low. Quite strangely, D works fine. A is good too.
F depends... sometimes I love it, sometimes I can't get the pitch. If I take a melody low, sometimes it becomes too low if descending, and too high if ascending if I sing one octave higher.
E is a mess... not the chord to play... that I figured out, but I can't get the pitch singing. Too low or too high.

My favourite (not surprising I think 'cause it is the corrispondant minor of Bb) is by far Gm. Love minor keys and Gm is so easy for me to sing along.