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Simplifying things - your thoughts ?


JpScoey

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Ok - here's the scene...

 

rehearsing last night with my covers band, we decided to introduce a new song to the set.

 

We 'YouTubed' it, & the basic format/chords of the song were -

 

B major (the root note of the song) - D#m, C#m, F#maj, G#m.

 

+ other 'incidentals' & key change inbetween, for bridge etc.

 

I suggested transposing it up by a semitone to - C Em Dm G Am , & so-on - just to make things easier.

 

(our singer was quite happy to sing in that key)

 

 

Is this a crime on the 'authenticity' of the original ?

John.

 

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Well. I think not, sometimes you have To do that so that the song works better live, and To keep your singers fresh for longer, many original artist tune their hardest song a half tone down to hit the notes better for the whole night. it also depends on the song, some just transport better than others.
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In the rock world, many guitarists are dead set against transposing a song, because of how so many songs rely on the use of open strings.... especially if a song happens to be in E,A,D or G... which represents just a few rock tunes. ;)

 

The problem I have with that mindset, is that it presumes that the listener is more drawn to the guitar than it is to the Lead Vocal, which in my opinion is usually not the case. Transposing the key to make the Vocal stronger is good, and cover bands don't do it enough.

 

But, to ride both sides of the fence, if a song is very riff oriented and you're in a cover band trying to do pretty accurate versions of songs, transposing may not work without actually tuning down. If yer gonna do an AC/DC song and you need to transpose it down an augmented 4th to make it singable, then ya should probably just not do the song. :laugh:

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I bet the original band plays your way, with their guitars tuned half step down. Many rockers do it.

Quite right - one of my best friends (& a very good guitarist) does that.

 

He says that it's nothing to do with the pitch, as such -

 

but the looser tension on the stings allows him to 'bend' notes more.

John.

 

some stuff on myspace

 

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Rekeying tunes to best match a singer's range is a requirement in this sport.

 

Rekey it so that the tune is in the singer's "wheelhouse" - and let him knock it out of the park. It's far more important that the song be keyed so that the singer can deliver it comfortably and consistently than it is to key it so that the guitar players can strum the hell out of a couple of open strings.

 

Screw the purists who try to argue that any key other than the original somehow detracts from the song. With a few rare exceptions - the only folks who are going to notice are a handful of smug musicians who are going to rip your performance regardless of what you do.

 

 

The SpaceNorman :freak:
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Maximus, bloodyMary, and Mcgoo, you all answered as if the key was being transposed down. In the case of the OP, the key was being transposed up.

 

At least that answers the worries about guitarists and open strings, they can just toss on a capo...

 

Kinda funny that a guitarist who uses a capo to adjust for a key change is "normal," but a keyboard player who hits a transpose button instead of playing in the new key is sometimes seen as "cheating"...

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Kinda funny that a guitarist who uses a capo to adjust for a key change is "normal," but a keyboard player who hits a transpose button instead of playing in the new key is sometimes seen as "cheating"...

 

Some people look at keyboardists with a more critical eye to start with. Of course they can relate to a guitar more easily than a synth.

 

:rawk:

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Using a capo sucks. Half the time guys I have played with that used a capo could not keep their guitar in tune because their strings slip at the capo. I have this particular 12 string guitar player in mind that thing gets wildly out of tune.

 

But the whatever work is good. IMO not using the transpose button is best because it reduces chances of accidental mishaps. A couple of my bands I have played with I use the transpose button and set everything at -1 and leave it their all night because the guitar players thought they were Stevie Ray Vaughn and SRV tuned everything half step down. I just like the idea of tuning to the same concert key as the rest of the band.

 

A player has to do whatever work best for him or herself to get the gig done. If you get paid and people like it it is all good.

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Using the transpose button burned my butt once. I played Desperado by The Eagles in the original Eagles key, G.

 

I played a gig with a band they did the Linda Ronstadt version in B. So I thought what the heck I used the transpose function and played in G. One night I forgot to turn the button on. Oops!

 

That is why I don't like the transpose button. :D

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Kinda funny that a guitarist who uses a capo to adjust for a key change is "normal," but a keyboard player who hits a transpose button instead of playing in the new key is sometimes seen as "cheating"...

 

It's not our fault that they hold themselves to a lower standard. ;)

Moe

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Don't know how old the song is but back in the days of tape, many times songs would be sped up in the mastering and thus transposed to give them a bit more "brightness" and sometimes slowed down for more "feel." These days, of course tempo can be varied in a recording without affecting pitch, back in day, no. I wouldn't worry about the "sanctity" of the orignal. Tranpositions happen for all sorts of reasons.
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Joe, you remembered a thread from 2 1/2 years ago? that's remarkable in itself.

 

From an audience's standpoint, they won't notice a half step change. A whole step it starting to push it, but usually ok. 3 half steps and, if it's a well-known tune, the listener's ear is likely to notice that something is different. Then again, it may not matter. Arguably, what matter's more is that the singer is comfortable.

 

But I had a situation recently where a cover band was doing that old chestnut, Centerfold, and the singer had to transpose up a fifth just to get it into her wheelhouse. We ditched the song, because hearing that opening riff a fifth higher was just too anomalous and distracting.

 

Of course, in jazz, tunes get transposed all over the place. But there it's normal and expected.

 

edit: and yes, it was also a little strange hearing a hot girl sing Centerfold, but the guys in the band were ok with it!

 

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The last time I heard Elton John sing many of the old songs were played in different keys. :D

 

PS - Some of that Beatles stuff are in between keys and sometimes by the time you get to the end the tunes drifted to different keys than they started in. LOL

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So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Original artists do this with their own songs all the time. In fact, if I can find a song with 3 different recorded live versions...who's to say which is right? Transpose to whatever you want.
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I'm a baritone, but almost all my favourite singers are tenors, so I always have to bring things down when I sing them. The only exception I might make is when musicians are really short on time to prepare and the key is _just_ on the cusp of comfortable for me in its original record key. In which case, I've kept it there one or two times.

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John,

 

If you're transposing to make the song sound better (typically by improving the vocals), do it.

 

If you're transposing to make the song easier for you to play (maybe because you hate playing in B) first at least consider working on your facility at playing in B.

 

Larry.

 

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Yeah I'm with Larry. "Simplifying things" by changing the key signature into your comfort zone certainly isn't a crime, but it doesn't carry a lot of validity either. The key of "B" is quite common actually.

 

Changing the key signature to improve the vocals is done all the time however and is a different matter. Even original artists commonly do this to their own material when on tour.

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Joe, you remembered a thread from 2 1/2 years ago? that's remarkable in itself.

I didn't realize it was that old. It amazes me what sticks in me noggin' and what falls oot.

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If it sounds good, do it.

 

Most tunes can change a half step without sonic trouble, but as mentioned above, might goof up the voicing on guitar which makes a huge difference. It's a good chance that this tune was played with the guitars tuned down a half step.

 

Back in the day, they used to mix a song down and at the end, during mastering, if the producer said so, they'd raise it or lower it as much as a half step or more, for reasons that are mysterious to me. But it's not unusual to find a tune recorded in the 60's with Hammond or piano in it, and it's not in any standard Western key. Yet I doubt the Hammond or piano was that far off pitch.

 

Some songs tolerate it a lot. I remember playing "Gimme Some Loving" and telling the band it would work in any key from E to C (which is an enormous range; and it was the piano part that limited it there, not the Hammond part which to me sounds cool in any key). Unfortunately, the singer needed it in D, plus or minus a half step. No go! Later, in the same band (but maybe a different member singing it) the guitarist says it's gotta be in F sharp. OK, can do!

 

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My question would be what are you trying to make easier?
Playing it? We're not all pro-level musicians with equal facility in all keys.

 

Sure, it's wise and good to work on facility in all keys. But, I just play to relax and have fun, and while I don't mind B minor, B major or dominant gives me trouble. I'd go for C, too.

 

One of these days I'm going to learn all those other keys. I promise.

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I don't see a problem with moving it to a key where you are more comfortable. We learned "Beat It" in E because it was better for the guitar and bass player, vs Eb which the recording was in. I'd bet that all the stringed instruments tuned down for that vs playing in Eb. Lots of SRV seems to be in Eb too from what I recall.

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3 chords and the truth, right?

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