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spots
10-27-2009, 06:17 AM
A thread in the "Beginners" forum about which Hertz setting to use on a tuning meter, a couple threads in the "Singing" forum about keys and voices, and a particular UU member's YouTube videos constantly being done with the uke tuned to "D", got me thinking last night.

My voice naturally works best with keys that give my fingers fits with chord formations. When I sing in easy to play keys like C, I sound like a monk doing Gregorian chants. Concert A 440 pitch, C tuning, and my voice just don't like each other. As a result I don't sing much when I play the uke. My wife commented the other night that it would be nice if I sang while playing.

Hmmm... I like C tuning chord forms... my voice works best with odd keys, but my fingers don't... what to do...

Change the pitch of the uke to match my voice!

I play the uke alone so I don't' have to worry about it blending with other instruments. This frees me to select whatever Hz range is comfortable for my voice while keeping the chord forms of C tuning.

I started with the uke tuned to 440. I then found a simple song and used "Song Sheet Generator" to change keys until I found a key in which it was comfortable for me to sing ("B" if anyone is interested). I then used a Korg CA-30 chromatic tuner set at 440 Hz, and tried to hit "C" (failed miserably). I couldn't hit "B" either. So I just hit a comfortable note and adjusted the tuner "Calib" button until the tuner hit a pitch where my voice naturally fell on "B" as being in tune. This brought me to 479 Hz.

With the tuner set at 479 Hz, I tuned the uke to standard GCEA tuning. This brought the uke in a little flat of D tuning, so string tension isn't an issue.

Hopefully I'm giving all the real musicians on the forum something to laugh about (this is the ukulele forum after all). All I know is that now when I play the uke it is pitched at comfortable place for my voice's natural range, I am still tuned to "C" (just "C" at 479 Hz), and I can use normal chord forms and sing without having to change the key of every song.

So what do you set your tuner at? Whatever you like.

When other uker players complain that you are out of tune, just tell them their tuners are off and hand them yours...

Doctroid
10-27-2009, 07:54 AM
Really it's not the key the song is in but the range of notes in it -- I'd guess that a song in C in which the lowest note is, say, E would work fine for you. But there's certainly some correlation between key and range. Anyway, if it works for you, it works for you. The one thing I'd suggest thinking about is going exactly into D tuning instead of a little flat of it; you say you play alone, but you never know, you might find yourself wanting to jam with someone else someday. Even if it's a uke player who tunes in C you could still play together if you're in D (you wouldn't be playing the same chord shapes of course) but not if you're in a-little-flat-of-D.

Thumper
10-27-2009, 08:35 AM
Try using this site to move songs into other easy keys:

http://www.logue.net/xp/index.htm

Often the keys of G, F, A or D can be fairly finger-friendly, and that offers your voice various options.

I use that site to experiment and find the best combination of uke-friendly chords and a range of notes that fits my voice.

spots
10-27-2009, 09:06 AM
Doctroid and Thumper, a sincere thank you for the comments.

Before everyone gets too serious about this thread...

This is all in fun.

In my experience the uke is one of the few instruments where you can step out of line and people don't tell you that you are ruining centuries of tradition and history, or that you are causing the collapse of civilization, when you do something different. It's not like bagpipe circles where fights start over the correct method of playing a "D throw".

So in keeping with fun...

Remember, I'm not tuning just flat of D, I'm playing normal C tuning, spot on, and in tune - just at 479 Hz.

I have a deep singing voice. Some of the notes in the scale are missing from my voice when I sing at 440 Hz. The tuner shows that C is missing. It seems to have been replaced by C#. B, A, and G also seem to be missing. As my voice goes down the scale it goes from C# to F. I figured that wasn't a problem since the lowest note on the soprano uke was C...

I can't sing Dm7 in the key of C, but I can sing C#m7 in the key of B.

I figured there were several options open:

learn to sing :eek:
move my fingers into un-natural contortions :confused:
change the tuner ;)


It was much easier to change the tuner to fit my voice, and then change the uke to match the tuner. Then my voice is right, the uke is right, the tuner is right.

Back to serious now...

When one needs to be serious and play with others, then yes people are expecting you to use 440 Hz. But you all can agree to play at a different pitch.

Sometimes it is fun to change things up a bit, it provides a different sound, and it may help illustrate to someone how this music stuff works.

sweets
10-27-2009, 09:10 AM
I started with the uke tuned to 440. I then found a simple song and used "Song Sheet Generator" to change keys until I found a key in which it was comfortable for me to sing ("B" if anyone is interested). I then used a Korg CA-30 chromatic tuner set at 440 Hz, and tried to hit "C" (failed miserably). I couldn't hit "B" either. So I just hit a comfortable note and adjusted the tuner "Calib" button until the tuner hit a pitch where my voice naturally fell on "B" as being in tune. This brought me to 479 Hz.

With the tuner set at 479 Hz, I tuned the uke to standard GCEA tuning. This brought the uke in a little flat of D tuning, so string tension isn't an issue.

If I'm following correctly, you are so close to D-tuning that I don't see the point of not going up the extra .25 steps. You say you're not concerned with playing with other people, but until recently you weren't singing either! :) I would think that spending a lot of time singing "out of tune" would be detrimental to picking up melodies in songs you hear, and to ear training in general.

[EDIT: After reading your reply, I'll just say that it all depends on whether you want to get better at singing or not. If you don't attempt the "missing" notes in your voice, you'll never learn to sing them.]

ritzer012
10-27-2009, 12:55 PM
Hmmm... I like C tuning chord forms... my voice works best with odd keys, but my fingers don't... what to do...

Change the pitch of the uke to match my voice!


spots, no criticism, positive or negative, i was told to spread the love around before i gave you rep again and i just wanted to say that i find your solution fascinating...for real.

HaileISela
10-27-2009, 02:14 PM
It's not like bagpipe circles where fights start over the correct method of playing a "D throw".

So in keeping with fun...

I feel weird because my main instrument is used for negative examples on my favorite Uke forum^^

though I can tell you that your idea of pitching is nothing else than what you got on a transposing instrument, like a saxophone. and due to their players lack of interest in tuning, bagpipes.;)

spots
10-27-2009, 02:32 PM
HaileISela,

No disrepect to the pipes intended! My GHB are in the living room, but I have to break in a new reed. The current one has gone wonky on me. So I'm playing the uke hoping the reed magically breaks itself in.

... and you found me out. The whole reason for tuning the uke to 479 (474 tonight) is to match my chanter. I intend to start a uke/bagpipe duet, and am looking for bookings at all those celtic luaus.

:)

HaileISela
10-27-2009, 02:39 PM
HaileISela,

No disrepect to the pipes intended! My GHB are in the living room, but I have to break in a new reed. The current one has gone wonky on me. So I'm playing the uke hoping the reed magically breaks itself in.

... and you found me out. The whole reason for tuning the uke to 479 (474 tonight) is to match my chanter. I intend to start a uke/bagpipe duet, and am looking for bookings at all those celtic luaus.

:)

Yay! Finally the lost brother! I'm not alone anymore!!!

believe me though, playing both Uke and Pipe simultaneously is difficult (watch my Youtube videos for proof^^)