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Thread: Keys and singing question

  1. #1

    Default Keys and singing question

    I just got some tabs for "That Lucky Old Sun" in C. When i play it on my tenor ukulele and try to sing, some notes seem too high and I'm stretching for them.

    So I got out my baritone and played it with the same ukulele C shapes which I believe puts me in the key of G on the baritone. Played this way I could sing the lyrics without difficulty. This got me wondering how someone determines their best singing key or keys?
    Kamaka (S) Gold Label, Bonanza (C) Cherry Oreo, Pono (T) mahogany, KoAloha (T), Kala (B) Cedar top/Mahog laminate.

  2. #2
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    Hi BBegall,

    I have a very limited vocal range, and always have to find the best key that enables me to sing a particular song. I don't find that any one key is best for my voice. It depends on the way the melody goes. For example, some songs suit me in the key of 'C', but many don't. The upside of this is that I have learned to play in a wide variety of different keys.

    I use a 'circle of fifths' wheel to transpose songs to whichever key suits me best. I made my own using the template provided in this helpful site.

    http://www.tikiking.com/tools.html

    I hope this helps,

    John Colter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Changing the key from C to G is usually an effective way to get more comfortable, or try transposing to A or F which are similar. An alternative when you play with others who like it in C is to sing it as a harmony with a third - that would lower it to E which may be a stretch, or to the fifth of a G. Singing in harmony can impress other singers and players too

  4. #4
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    I do pretty well in the key of C. If a vocal part seems too high, I will sometimes tune my tenor down to B or Bb, that helps too. If not, just transpose to another key. I often switch to the key of F.
    John

  5. #5
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    UK
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    I'm with John (who undersells his singing BTW!)

    It's a question of finding the right key for each song. First you have to find a key in which you can reach all the notes. However, if there's a note which is just too high or low don't reject that key automatically - with practice you might make it, once you know the song, and just by singing lots you can add a few notes to both the top and bottom of your range.

    Next, listen to how the uke sounds in that key, and also try the song in a nearby key to see if you can still sing it and the uke sounds better. If the song works in G it might work in F or A, and the uke will sound quite different.

    Sometimes you have to compromise. There's one song I do in C which should really be in D or Eb to suit my voice, but the uke part is so right in C that that's the key I use.
    Last edited by ProfChris; 09-06-2019 at 09:41 AM.

  6. #6
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    Ames, Iowa
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBegall View Post
    I just got some tabs for "That Lucky Old Sun" in C. When i play it on my tenor ukulele and try to sing, some notes seem too high and I'm stretching for them.

    So I got out my baritone and played it with the same ukulele C shapes which I believe puts me in the key of G on the baritone. Played this way I could sing the lyrics without difficulty. This got me wondering how someone determines their best singing key or keys?
    Just like you did it. If a key isn't working for you, try it in another. After a while it shouldn't be difficult to figure out which keys are working and which are not.
    Last edited by Rllink; 09-08-2019 at 05:19 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    Kyoto Japan
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBegall View Post
    I just got some tabs for "That Lucky Old Sun" in C. When i play it on my tenor ukulele and try to sing, some notes seem too high and I'm stretching for them.

    So I got out my baritone and played it with the same ukulele C shapes which I believe puts me in the key of G on the baritone. Played this way I could sing the lyrics without difficulty. This got me wondering how someone determines their best singing key or keys?
    Jarmo and Jim think same thing.


    image upload

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Song leaders and especially those who arrange song sheets need to deal with this issue because
    of the varied vocal ranges of the participants in their groups.

    I choose to arrange songs, that I will be leading, in my vocal range so i can comfortably lead the
    group. I understand that my range may not be your range, but since I have the responsibility
    of leading the group, I feel the need to comfortably sing the song without straining my vocal cords
    one way or the other... sorry in advance.

    I believe transposing is a very helpful skill to learn, especially if one does a lot of personal playing
    and singing with songs in 'difficult' keys. Also, when playing with others, sometimes it will be
    necessary to transpose (or even modulate) on the fly, and being familiar with the chords in other
    keys and being able to anticipate chord changes in various keys will make one a more versatile
    player

    The Ukulele Boot Camp practice sheets are in 5 of the more frequently found keys (C, F, G, A, D)
    so that those who choose to use that resource will, in time, become familiar with the chords in
    those keys. At first it may not seem 'necessary' to learn the chords in other keys, but it's like
    putting food away in the pantry... never know when you might need one of your supplies

    Happy Fall/Autumn Everyone!

    keep uke'in',
    Uncle Rod Higuchi
    ( rohiguchi@seattleschools.org )

    MP3s: http://www.mediafire.com/?50db7nls4o6m6
    Ukulele Boot Camp, FREE Songbook, Holiday, Hawaiian & More: http://ukulelebootcamp.weebly.com
    Crazy G tutorial on YouTube ( uncle rod crazy g )
    pdf file for Crazy G:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/0o6id06c06...20TAB.pdf?dl=0

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    Kyoto Japan
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    Ukulele's favorite keys may be FCGDA (see the figure below). According to my book, guitar's favorite keys are FCGDAE. I play C often and sometimes G. And I do not know much about other keys. Jarmo plays Ab to E.

    Last edited by yahalele; 09-11-2019 at 02:00 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Finland
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    yahalele, if you compare keys Bb/Gm (uke) and F/Dm (guitar), the top 4 strings can be played with same fingerings. Considering that in real play guitar needs barres much more than uke with those fingerings, I think Bb is an easier key for uke than F for guitar. You just can't use those uke fingerings I give below, when you can't mute the 5th and 6th strings when strumming.

    In my opinion ukulele has more easy keys than guitar. Uncle Rod's Boot camp should in my opinion include Bb too. A/F#m is a little harder key.

    ---------------------------
    Fingerings:

    I = Bb (3211), IV = Eb (0331), V7 = F7 (2310) omitting 5th same as guitar C7.
    vim = Gm (0231), iim = Cm (0333), iiim = Dm (2210) or D7 (2223, "2020") coming from harmonic minor.
    Last edited by Jarmo_S; 09-11-2019 at 09:25 AM.

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