ITM down a full tone

ITM down a full tone

I am wondering what problems ITM musicians would have with a type of music identical in every way, but with everything transposed down two semitones. I am not suggesting that ITM be flattened, it’s just that I happen to have a bunch of instruments that are better with C and F. If this has already been answered in another discussion that I could post in, please direct me to that.

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It’s not uncommon for the music to be transposed up or down a tone or two, as pipes, flutes, and whistles come in C, Csharp, B, Bb, Eb, etc. Stringy-thinged players can retune their instruments or use a capo. I don’t know what squeezebox players do. It’s only a real problem if you want to play with people who only own concert pitch instruments.

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It was only relatively recently (conveniently vague timescale) that the pitch of uilleann pipes was standardised to concert D. It was (and is) commonplace for fiddlers to tune their fiddles down to the pitch of the pipes, so as not to have to change their fingering, and to have all the same open strings available as in their customary pitch. There is something of a revival of interest in ‘flat-pitch’ pipes (C, B, B-flat…), with a few pipemakers specialising in them.

So, Irish trad does sometimes get played at lower pitch. There are also tunes normally played in keys such as C and F (with instruments in standard pitch). I am not aware of any particular problems in either case.

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I’ve been enjoying listening to As it Happened by Danny O’ Mahony and Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh, but when I set out to learn some of the tunes by playing along with the lads, I discovered they are playing squeezeboxes in all kinds of weird keys.

I was wondering if there is anybody here knowledgeable and obsessive-compulsive enough to go through the album and tell me how to retune my fiddle to play along with each track.

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I meant all ITM, so the stuff in f would be in e flat. I thought the squeezebox would be the only problem but I’m not sure. I’m not sure what was meant by "concert pitch" given that AFAIK, whistlers don’t use it for this kind of thing commonly.

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Can I ask what your "bunch of instruments that are better with C and F" are? Just curious!

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Concert pitch means Dmaj.

What does AFAIK mean? And what do you mean by "stuff in F would be in Eb?"

If I’m playing a C chanter, say, tunes in D would now be in C, but I would think of them as if they are in D, even if the actual notes coming out of the chanter would not be the notes I’m imagining they are.

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"Concert D" would refer to a chanter in D, where the notes were tuned to an agreed standard - e.g. the A above middle C is at 440 Hz. That way a piper could play along with a box tuned to concert pitch, or a piano, or an organ, or an entire orchestra, and they’d all be in agreement as to what an "A" sounds like.

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"I was wondering if there is anybody here knowledgeable and obsessive-compulsive enough to go through the album and tell me how to retune my fiddle to play along with each track."

Marvis - you could perhaps find some tunes you recognise on the album, and play along with them, then if you’re sharp then you need to play lower, likewise play higher if you sound flat - it’s aural training. Personally I wouldn’t tune my fiddle unless absolutely necessary - I’d learn the tune in the key its in (e.g. Dmaj reel transposed down to Cmaj - I’d just learn the Cmaj fingering as well) - being able to transpose a tune like that is a useful skill.

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Plastic xaphoons don’t have a specific fingering for a high f sharp, and that and something else I’d prefer not to mention that is in the key of C are the instruments I want to learn. I have quite a few instruments, but those are two of my favorites. My favorite is a G polycarbonate inline Mountain ocarina. I have the c version too. My melodica (in the key of c) starts on f.

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Is the "something else you’d prefer not to mention" a Vulcan arse flute? It would go well with a xaphoon! ;-)

(must remember "xaphoon" for Scrabble)

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On a serious note, if you want to play Irish trad on those instruments in funny keys, you’ll probably have to seek out people who want to play with you in those keys, rather than appear at your local sessions. If someone popped along to a session, which will most likely be in concert pitch, with a bag full of instruments in C and F, it would be decidedly antisocial. You couldn’t play along with anyone and they couldn’t play along with you.

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Is the VAF in Cmaj?!?

As for the thought of transposing tunes, I do it sometimes in sessions (particularly Dmaj reels into Cmaj) for a change once in a while, I doubt people would have you hung, drawn and quartered for it!

(but then, not *all* the time)

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As a piper, I hang, draw, and quarter people in my imagination when they play a standard tune in a silly key. :-) But only in a good natured way.

Yhaalhouse would know for sure what key the VAF is in, but I always thought it was fully chromatic!

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"Personally I wouldn’t tune my fiddle unless absolutely necessary - I’d learn the tune in the key its in (e.g. Dmaj reel transposed down to Cmaj - I’d just learn the Cmaj fingering as well) - being able to transpose a tune like that is a useful skill."

Transposing is certainly a useful skill, but it takes time and work to be able to do it with *any tune* (some are easier than others) on the fly - since it is not a skill that gets used all the time in sessions, that would mean a lot of homework. So, if you want to learn tunes to play in sessions, it makes sense to find out what keys they are normally played in and learn them in those keys.

I think that the style of traditional music relies, to a degree, on its being easy to play - being able to execute the notes with little effort leaves more room for creativity with rhythm and phrasing. Transposing between the most common keys and into keys such as C, F, A or E may be within the capabilities of most trad players who have been playing a decade or so but, speaking for myself, if I’m confronted with a key like A-flat or C-sharp, the effort involved in getting my fingers in the right places would severely inhibit my ability to play the tune in a musical way.

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The pitch depends entirely on how many beans you have just eaten.

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I commit tunes to memory in terms of the path they take, rather than the actual notes, so starting on a different note is less of a problem, but yes, ultimately, learn them in the keys they are commonly played in.

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I was refering to drSilverSpears use of the term. I’m unsure if I said whistlers dont use 440 (or w/e the standard is) for a, if so I made a mistake. I thought when tin whistlers switched the key of their whistle to match a transposition of the written notes, that meant that that whistle was a transposing instrument. I thought transposing instruments used a different note than a (still using 440 for a) as thier "a" and that they did not play in concert pitch strictly because of this. I am well aware I’d have a hard time going to a session with these keys. If the vulcan arse flute is good with xaphoons, I’ll have to donate to NASA to try and get them available ASAP. I’m not sure trademarks like xapoon are legal in scrabble though.

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Not sure I followed all of that. Yes, if you have a range of whistles to hand, you could consider them a "transposing instrument" as in you switch whistles and are playing in a different key with the same fingering. The same can be said of flutes, pipes and a range of other instruments though.

If you have a whistle pitched in D then the A should be at 440Hz assuming that the other instruments you are playing with are "in tune". That one whistle in D can play in a wide variety of keys however. It is not limited to just one.

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I’m not sure what, if anything you didn’t follow. I was using tin whistles as an example. I am aware of similar woodwinds and the loosening of strings. My intent is to play with other musicians who use flatter keys, or become something like a one man band using a computer. Classical and jazz instruments tend to be flatter than those in ITM afaik

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Where can I find information on the Vulcan arse flute?

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"Personally I wouldn’t tune my fiddle unless absolutely necessary - I’d learn the tune in the key its in (e.g. Dmaj reel transposed down to Cmaj - I’d just learn the Cmaj fingering as well) - being able to transpose a tune like that is a useful skill."

Thanks Smash, but that approach isn’t useful for my purposes. I want to learn the sets of tunes so I can play them with other people at the session, I could spend a long time learning to play a set in Ab but if I do it that way at the session I’ll be doing it on my own.

I don’t think transposition is a very useful skill in ITM, and the time and effort would be better spent on other things.

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Not at all, as I realised later:

"I commit tunes to memory in terms of the path they take, rather than the actual notes, so starting on a different note is less of a problem, but yes, ultimately, learn them in the keys they are commonly played in."

…it works for me, I appreciate it isn’t for everyone. Also, I spent 14 years playing classically, so "uncommon" ITM keys are less of an issue. As for the album - try and play root notes that work for each tune - that’ll give you a key, all you need is to move your fingers around to find it, then you can tune up/down (I’d be wary of tuning your fiddle up more than a tone though!)

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It was largely this sentence:

"I thought transposing instruments used a different note than a (still using 440 for a) as thier "a" and that they did not play in concert pitch strictly because of this."

It makes no sense.

"Classical and jazz instruments tend to be flatter than those in ITM afaik"

NAFAIK

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Anyone have a list of keys sqeezeboxes come in?

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You could take the track and transpose it to a session friendly in software - then learn it by ear

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A couple of ¢’s worth: some tunes (not that many, just some) are better in something other than their ‘normal’ keys - try Crooked Road to Dublin (normally in G) in F, for instance, or Humours of Westport (usually F) in D. I learned Swinging on a Gate in D and so now I find it screechy when people play it higher up, in G. There again, I had New Mown Meadows in G(ish) out of Bulmer & Sharpley but now prefer it a bit higher, in A(ish). And Golden Keyboard sounds wonderful in Dm. Ben Lennon demonstrated his ‘floating bow’ technique by playing The Mountain Top over by one string, putting it in C. Of course it sounded gorgeous - like anything he does - and I like it like that.

Just sayin’, that’s all, no contentiousness implied. A tune’s key is not totally sacred (though I realise a composer may choose to differ on that) and I think one should keep an open mind about the issue.

Though I’m no great shakes as a musician, I like the challenges that shifting a tune to a different key brings.

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Sorry, I meant to say "flatter" instrument keys relative to c in the circle of fifths, like b flat, f and a flat. (the reverse of the direction towards g and d) I didn’t mean that the pitch of A or any other sounded note was different in jazz or classical. (although I’d check on the A if I were going to be playing with certain groups likely to be using a historical standard pitch)

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I don’t know all the keys boxes come in but on this album they used:

Small boxes: Suttner C/G & B flat/F, Jeffries A flat/E Flat

Big boxes: Paolo Soprani B/C & D/D#, Iorio D/C#.

Hoping this will trigger somebody’s OCD.

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I thought transposing instruments technically don’t play in concert pitch by definition.

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"I thought transposing instruments technically don’t play in concert pitch by definition."

Transposing between keys is different to altering pitch.

Dmaj at A=440 Hz "concert pitch"
Dmaj at A=441 Hz "not concert pitch"

(This could be two out-of-tune whistles, for example)

Still Dmaj no?

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I have a number of old recordings- Sean Ryan for example where he has his fiddle tuned down from the spots in his book.

For us squeeze box players, there are keyed boxes indeed. But more often we transpose. Something piano players also do. when I played piano regular I could do it "on the fly". On the box, I can do simpler stuff between involving C, D,G- the kind of typical box keys, but am not really proficient.

It’s like we discussed in another thread earlier this week about learning music from spots. If you think about notes when transposing when you play it does not work. The tune has to play itself regardless the key.

If you know where I am trying to go with that.

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Does a C major tin whistle play in concert pitch when used in place of a d whistle for music in d that sounds a full tone lower than normal? I thought by definition, it does not.

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That’s not the definition of concert pitch.

Play a D on the D whistle and a D on the C whistle and they’re the same note.

What you’re actually doing is using the same fingering but with a lower root note so it sounds lower in pitch, but an "A" is still an "A".

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But if you were reading sheet music, what looks like a "D" will become a "C" when played, but you’re still in concert pitch.

Look into Bb clarinet music for example.

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Is it recorders you’re playing? (If you identified your instruments earlier, sorry, but I missed it.) Anyway, some trad tunes in their standard keys would present few challenges on C or F instruments. Some would. You just have to experiment.

I don’t know if one of these "session recorders" would work for you (assuming we’re talking recorders) but it seems you would be able to play in D using your familiar C fingering. I have a couple of Peter’s weird medieval recorders.) And there are people making historical style recorders pitched in G, but they’re pricey.

I can give you a good price on a cornetto in G — fingers like a whistle, made of "cast resin" instead of wood, sounds like a loud brass instrument. I can’t summon the air to play it any more. This instrument might appeal to bodhran players — try playing it at session and they’ll beg you to play your bodhran instead. Maybe even sppons. Or shakey egg.
Here is a video (with sub par sound quality, alas) of cornetto virtuoso Doron Sherwin, about a minute in. In another life, we played in various renaissance faire bands, when he was this weird high school student and I was fairly recently out of college and less obviously weird. He could and did play Irish music on that thing. (He looks so respectable now!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNKrThfND1Q&sns=em


Of course, all my sage advice is useless if you plan to play a tenor krumhorn in your local session. (The didgeridoo player who showed up at our local session had an instrument pitched in D — just D — but there were still a couple of tunes that worked with that D drone.)

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There’s also the question of "temperament". Maybe that is what Jeff has in mind. I suppose that would mean that D on a C whistle isn’t quite the same as a D on a D whistle, I don’t know.

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[*There’s also the question of "temperament". *]

I think that’s quite an important point. Thinking of fiddle here, many tunes would lose their ‘punch’ if played in Bb, instead of A. Others would sound overly bright - eg, Bb tunes played in the open ringy key of A.

OK, if you don’t want to learn to play in new keys - tuning a fiddle down a two semitones (eg to play tunes in C with the standard D-key fingering) can knock the life out of its sound. Well, until you get used to it.

Then you have the problem of of re-tuning back up again, when you go back to your standard D and G tunes.

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Sounds more like timbre or tone to me Jim.

Sure, the note intervals may be slightly different ("temperament") but that’s hardly a major concern in a session unless you play with acoustics experts.

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I had misunderstood the definition of concert pitch, specifically it’s relation to transposing instruments. I have a c recorder which I don’t use much. My c/f instrument, the xaphoon, has no specific fingering for the f sharp in the second octave. It has to be bent from the adjacent f or g, which are in different registers. In the first octave, b flat is easier to finger than b natural. I bet there would be even more issues with the keys of g and d if you could get a third register. Most of my other instruments are c instruments.

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I did not mean to bring up tempermant. I am grateful for the twelfth root of two.

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"Classical and jazz instruments tend to be flatter than those in ITM afaik"
Only if you use a steamroller.

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Here in the US, fifers quite frequently play Irish tunes. They play them on B flat fifes, and play them two steps lower than they would be played in a session (the difference between D and B flat). Interesting enough, they read the same music as an Irish musician would—two sharps for D major, etc, etc. So they are not like a B flat trumpet, who plays music with two sharps, but instead of sounding like Key of D, is actually playing in the key of C, one step lower. Instead a fife reads music two steps higher than what they are playing, kind of a doubly transposing instrument.
I have no idea how this situation evolved, but it is rather unique in my musical experience.

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hi, there is a tradition in the region i live of playing tunes in flat keys, C Gm F etc . just learn the tunes in the keys that suit you and enjoy the music making. There is this fallacy prevalent in places like this that trad is all about sessions when the reality is that sessions are only one aspect of a much larger musical tradition and play no part at all in the musical life of many players. so really just enjoy the experience of being part of the tunes. dont fret about keys and other players. Yes its great fun when eventually you meet people who are adaptable enough to play in flat keys but its not the be all and end all! ,PS; East Clare is a good place to head for the flat sound

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I don’t know if this was said before (just skimming through here!), but the Vulcan Arse Flute (aka VAF), as far as I know, is not a real instrument or anything like that. It’s just a little joke that’s been going around on this site for quite a while (just google it and you should find a rather humorous for sale page :-P). Next, in my experience in the classical world, although they say "concert pitch" is A=440, the vast majority of orchestras/ensembles tend play more or less at A=442, which sounds surprisingly different that at 440. I’m fairly sure my ear (I’m told I have "perfect pitch") is tuned to about A=441 (-ish).

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Re. the VAF, check the track listings on this site - http://www.crushuk.com/album.html.

It’s the second track on the album ‘The New Big Thing’, released by Crush UK in 2002:

FIRST DAY OF SUMMER
Martin Weller: Vocals/ guitars.
Rick Bell: Vocals/ drums/ vulcan arse flute/ cymbals.
David Cameron Dudley: Bass/ harmonica/ keyboards (grand piano).
Blind Dog Walker: harmonica.

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Crush UK - yeah, they are jokers, all right!

"A Selamderen 13 hole with D#/ Gnat integrated drone system. There is a 4 string regulator and a triple fipple with five sympathetic blow back valves tuned to a chord of Bnat diminished. I have been using a Ferengi style anuspiece as Humans are more similar to Ferengi than Vulcans in that area of anatomy- ladies may prefer the Cardassian style anuspiece. By using proper petomanic technique I can get a full chromatic five octaves out of it (but absolutely no D’s at all). Its natural mode/ key is, of course, K blunt demented seventeenth, the traditional Vulcan tuning."

So, back on topic, in a session it would be down a full tone :)

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You mean it lowers the tone?

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RE AlBrown’s last post:
Actually the fife is exactly what the trumpet is. You read a note as one thing, and it sounds as another. That’s what a transposing instrument is.

Technically all whistles, pipes and flutes in irish traditional music are transposing instruments (in the hands of most musicians that read sheet music or refer to the notes on the instrument as if it were a D whistle / pipe / flute) because when you play the fingering xxo ooo on a whistle, you refer to it as A, even if in reality it is coming out as G, B, or whatever because of the pitch of the whistle.

There are loads of instruments that transpose different amounts, so fife, trumpet, clarinet, tenor saxophone, etc, are all transposing instruments.

One added confusion is that irish traditional musicians call "concert pitch" flutes, whistles and pipes D instruments, where classical musicians would call them C instruments.

For the OP: there’s no reason you couldn’t take tunes and transpose the sheet music (if you are reading) down a tone, but you could also just try to play any old tune you know on the instruments you have. Just make it fit the instrument and don’t worry about where it comes out for now. Deal with that when you have it playing well enough that you want to try it with someone else.

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"[*There’s also the question of "temperament". *]

I think that’s quite an important point. Thinking of fiddle here, many tunes would lose their ‘punch’ if played in Bb, instead of A. Others would sound overly bright - eg, Bb tunes played in the open ringy key of A."

That doesn’t have anything to do with temperament.

"OK, if you don’t want to learn to play in new keys - tuning a fiddle down a two semitones (eg to play tunes in C with the standard D-key fingering) can knock the life out of its sound. Well, until you get used to it."

In fact many people think fiddles immediately sound better (for ITM) tuned down like that, Patricia Clarke and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh spring to mind

"Then you have the problem of of re-tuning back up again, when you go back to your standard D and G tunes."

I keep my second-best fiddle tuned low.

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I love tuning my fiddle down to Bb for playing at home. I’ve kept one instrument in that tuning for a while now. It does wonderful things to the timbre of the instrument. No surprise, considering the strad was developed at a time when A=quite a bit lower than 440. Don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard that music stores will sometimes tune their fiddles down a step so that they sound better to prospective buyers.

As said several times above, there’s no problem playing this music at a lower pitch, unless you want to play with other people who expect to play in more usual keys.

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Well, in some ways it’s a choice. Either you learn to play in other keys, or you use two fiddles.

If you like the sound of of it tuned down a tone, that’s fine. I don’t. I have found the open G string can over-vibrate because of it’s slackness, and sound slightly sharp. Depends on how you play it.

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Beg to differ Nico. When you put sheet music in front of my and there is a D written, when I play it on my trumpet, the electronic tuner would tell you I am playing a C. When you put sheet music in front of me, and there is a D written, when I play it on my fife, the electronic tuner would tell you I am playing a B flat. They may both be ‘transposing instruments,’ but for some reason, because of a decision someone made somewhere in the past, one transposes a single step, while another transposes two steps.
I wouldn’t call that exactly the same. Someday, I will find out how it came to be that way.

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"I’ve heard that music stores will sometimes tune their fiddles down a step so that they sound better to prospective buyers."

Dealers and other people in the know selling fiddles on EBay will often provide a recording of the instrument being played, tuned down to sound better.

"If you like the sound of of it tuned down a tone, that’s fine. I don’t. I have found the open G string can over-vibrate because of it’s slackness, and sound slightly sharp."

How often do you play the open G in ITM?

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Right, the amount is different, but the process is exactly the same. There’s no "doubly transposing", just simple transposing.

Eb Clarinets, A Clarinets, and regular Bb Clarinets are all simple transposing instruments. All transpose to a different amount. I quickly get confused by classical nomenclature, but I believe they would correspond to a F whistle, B whistle, and C whistle respectively. In both cases, the fingering is the same - you play a certain fingering and you read off of sheet music a certain note. In each case, it sounds in "concert pitch" something different.

The idea was to avoid requiring a musician to read a note and play a different fingering for it on a different pitched instrument that is otherwise identical. Now you know why it came to be.

It gets confusing in Irish music because so many people play by ear. So you often need to know that your XXX XXX on the Bb whistle is both a D and a Bb (ie, D fingering, and actual note Bb).

(* I should add the caveat that all types of clarinets / saxophones / etc may not have identical fingering across the whole family, but the ideal that they are the same is the basis for the idea of transposition)

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Jim, I agree that it depends on how you play a down-tuned fiddle, and that you need to adjust your attack to account for the slackened tension. But it’s not a huge adjustment and comes easily and naturally if you spend a little time at it. And I do think people should be comfortable playing in at least C, Bb and F on a standard-tuned fiddle if they want to play those wonderful Clare tunes. It’s not all just D, G & A and their related modes!

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[*And I do think people should be comfortable playing in at least C, Bb and F on a standard-tuned fiddle if they want to play those wonderful Clare tunes. It’s not all just D, G & A and their related modes!*]

I agree entirely, but there are those who do not, and would retune to avoid some fingerings in what are perceived as ‘odd’ or ‘awkward’ keys. That’s just the way it is.

[*How often do you play the open G in ITM?*]

Trip to Durrow, in G (some people like that instead of D). So, your first note is open G, therefore not the note to wimp out on :)

Golden Eagle Hornpipe - open G+D for a bit of punch, instead of just the G, 3rd finger, D string.

I won’t adjust my instrument in terms of setup or tuning, to suit the music - any music. Ever. And yes, I have been slated for that mindset many times, but so be it :)

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"Technically all whistles, pipes and flutes in irish traditional music are transposing instruments (in the hands of most musicians that read sheet music or refer to the notes on the instrument as if it were a D whistle / pipe / flute) because when you play the fingering xxo ooo on a whistle, you refer to it as A, even if in reality it is coming out as G, B, or whatever because of the pitch of the whistle."

Not quite sure how you reach that conclusion. A standard six hole flute in concert pitch is not a transposing instrument. The bottom note is referred to as a D, and the actual note sounded is a D. Likewise uilleann pipes in concert pitch, and D whistles.

As far as transposing instruments go in the orchestra, the general rule is that "C" on the stave corresponds to the pitch the instrument is named as - e.g., a C played on the Bb clarinet would sound as Bb (so, indeed, this would correspond to a C whistle if it were fingered as a D from the stave) - there are some exceptions, as far as I recall.

In hardingfele (Hardanger fiddle) notation (not normally used in the tradition), the fingering is as if the instrument were a standard violin - though there are several tunings, and the "D" might sound as various pitches (often Eb). This system is often used in other traditions for instruments tuned differently from standard.

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Sorry, I thought it would be understood that "other than the D whistle, flute, pipes" was implicit… Pedants.

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Generally I dont retune my fiddle to play tunes in F C Gm etc but If I were to be playing an Eb session I would go up a semitone. for B I tune down a semi tone and finger as though in C. I also keep a 7/8th fiddle tunes to Eb and sometimes a fiddle tuned down to C just for the sonority of it.
I feel the instrument itself is freer to vibrate at a lower tension so the sound is in a way energetically softer and more open , mellow and relaxed .
Also to play with a piper in C, a lively player say I would struggle in standard tuning because a lot of the tunes are easier to play fast in D G etc, some not vice versa but a lot are . In B forget it so , the only option is , realistically, to retune the fiddle or preferably several in different pitches if you wish to be part of the Uilleann flat sound which is absolutely wonderful.

So I think its good for any player to acquaint themselves with playing the tunes a tone down. I learnt via ABC. id take a familiar tune boys of blue hill or banish misfortune perhaps and transpose the ABC here http://www.8ung.at/abctransposer/ then print them at concertina.net this was a great help and after maybe 30 or40 of these I didnt need to do it any more.

Id say to any player, anyone, who hasn’t done this already to do it. it, you will be surprised by the results it has for your ear , your tone, every aspect of the instrument and musicianship will benefit from this process, really.

Re: ITM down a full tone

"Sorry, I thought it would be understood that "other than the D whistle, flute, pipes" was implicit… Pedants."

No - it was very confusing when you said "all whistles, pipes and flutes in irish traditional music are transposing instruments". So there is no need to be insulting. If I wanted to be pedantic, I could point out that the D whistle is technically a transposing instrument, as the pitch sounded is in a different octave than written. Unless it’s specifically a "different pitch" session, you can take it as a norm that the flutes are not going to be transposing instruments, so you were rather careless in your post.

Re: ITM down a full tone

"I won’t adjust my instrument in terms of setup or tuning, to suit the music - any music. Ever."

I suppose that’s like the guitarist who eschews DADGAD and considers a capo a ‘cheater bar.’ Fair play, Jim, but I think you’re cutting yourself off from the joys of things like scordatura drones and sympathetic notes if you don’t tinker about with sawmill AEAE or GDGD. It’s definitely got limitations but fun to muck about with sometimes, and provides a sound you’ll not get otherwise.

Re: ITM down a full tone

Why would you need ABC if you retuned the fiddle Will?!

Re: ITM down a full tone

@marvis ;You wouldnt unless going down a semi tone and fingering as in C , retuning and transposing.

Re: ITM down a full tone

Ok. That seems a bit pointless (like Jim’s insistence on not retuning).

Re: ITM down a full tone

Not pointless at all. the alternative fingering of playing tunes a tone down is a really rewarding thing to explore so whatever tuning the fiddle that experience is the same . I play a lot in B major and E major on guitar Whistle and pipes , all the tunes in those keys and their minors, were you to desire to join in your alternatives would be to tune down a tone or three. Its just an alternative way of approaching things.

Transposition

"The idea was to avoid requiring a musician to read a note and play a different fingering for it on a different pitched instrument that is otherwise identical. Now you know why it came to be."

Actually I think it’s more a matter of centering the score on the instrument’s range & reducing ledger lines.

I learnt a bit of transposing when I played piano. What I did was fairly basic. For example reading something in C and playing in F. It would have been much more difficult for me to transpose from say C to B. In any case I think perhaps because I could read bass & treble clef (I also read C clef) that some transposing on piano wasn’t all that difficult.

Several years later I picked up the whistle (after playing flute). I began with a D whistle & later bought a Bb & C whistle. I did transpose a few tunes in those keys (on sheet music) to D fingering. Though it wasn’t long before I wanted any sheet music I used to correspond with what I was hearing (as opposed to where I might expect my fingers to go). Aside from my beginning to listen more closely (& think less about fixed fingerings) I found, with a bit of patience & perserverance, I could read sheet music written in C and play it on a C whistle, etc.

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Re: ITM down a full tone

Concert pitch means Dmaj
no it does not, it means a 440, people playing in keys such as e flat tends to exclude players of concert pitch instruments, who have learned the tunes in the keys that the majority of people play in.
playing in b major or e flat is not particularly good for fiddle players either , they either lose out on the ringing open strings, or they slacken the strings and lose some brightness, or worse still if they tune the fiddle up a tone they are putting extra tension on the structure of the fiddle.
the idea appears to be exclusive[to exclude people]

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Re: ITM down a full tone

@fidkid, I understand your point. I should re-phrase my earlier words :

"I won’t adjust my instrument in terms of setup or tuning, to suit the music, as a substitute for playing in the actual key of the tune." Meaning, if the tune is in Bb, I play it with Bb fingering, and I won’t tune up a semitone and finger in A. Likewise, if the tune is in C, I finger it in C, and I won’t tune down a tone, and play in D fingering. I play a 5-string fiddle anyway, so if the tune is in C, there’s the option of a variation by playing in the key of C, but using D fingering on the lower strings.

Detuning, retuning - I’ve tried out all that stuff before. Years ago, been there, done that, decided it was bad, but each to their own.

Established cross-tunings are fine by me, but I don’t normally use them. I have played in a few old-time sessions and used cross-tuning, but the fiddle was tuned that way for the duration of the whole jam, and of course you are right that you simply cannot get that sound when using standard tuning.

As for guitar tuning, no I’m not an anti DADGAD Nazi. DADGAD and standard (and dropped D) work well in the hands of good players. The evidence is all around!

A capo is a well-established, universally-used tool, so why would I think bad of it’s use? Although I do wonder a bit when I see it used on a Tele or a Strat :)

Re: ITM down a full tone

cross-cross-cross-post!!

[*Ok. That seems a bit pointless (like Jim’s insistence on not retuning).*]

@Marvis, on not re-tuning - see my explanation above (and I explain why I do what I do).

Re: ITM down a full tone

Perhaps the confusion is arising from the term ‘concert pipes’ or ‘concert set’ used for D pipes, which were designed to be louder for playing at concerts. Concert pitch does indeed mean A=440, regardless of the key of the instrument.

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Re: ITM down a full tone

[Can I ask what your "bunch of instruments that are better with C and F" are? Just curious!]

i don’t know about a "bunch," but b/c accordion is in a way MADE for c and f. you can play it in any key, of course. and you kinda HAVE to learn it in D, A, G, and relative minors ("across the rows" on b/c box) because the D-sesh universe is a big universe in irish session land. but if you want to play it "on the row," for that cooley/tony macmahon articulation, how you play it is in C and F. and relative minors. C pipes. C anythng, really.

which brings me to the OP and danny o’mahony. and kinda brings me to the folks talking about transposing "on the fly." OP, danny o’mahony is not transposing "on the fly." i don’t know what kind of liner notes are on his duo cd, but i just got his solo cd, "In Retrospect." It has shortly gone onto my personal subjective list of ten greatest solo irish box recordings. It’s really wonderful, full of heartfelt, swing-laden old-school flat-key music. And it includes very enjoyable liner notes about Danny O’M’s boxes. What you are hearing him do at least largely, is play old-school press-draw "on the row" on three accordions, all tuned differently. he does play a lot in "C and F," on his b/c box. you can see him doing this on youtube. but he has two others tuned to different old-style keys, and he plays old-style on those, too. there are neat pictures of him playing them in the cd and also here on his website…http://www.dannyomahony.com/

this would also be true of michael o’r on concertina. lots of concertina players of his calibre can indeed transpose into flat keys "on the fly" but even the really good ones like him don’t play a lot in keys like B or e-flat on their c/g anglos. they have concertinaas in flat keys and use those. they sometimes, but not always, give you this info on their cd liner notes. i remember talking to tim collins once in a workshop class about wanting to design my own 38-key concertina with an end to getting enough notes on both push and pull to make it optimal for flat-key playing and he was nicely very skeptical about the feasibility of that. at that time he was on colin dipper’s list for a "B" concertina to play with "B" pipers. see?

you can figure out yourself, hunt-and-peck, what keys danny and michael are playing in and learn them yourself. if learning in a familiar key like "D" first and then transposing works better for you, do that. if getting that software that alters the keys so you can learn it in "D" or whatever first, do that. if learning it straight in the flat key works, do that. it’s all there for you….:)

Re: ITM down a full tone

hrrmm…on second glance, seems the danny o’mahony line of discussion here was not from the OP and i was "replying" to marvis.

to the OP, i’d reply that not only do irish musicians not have any "problems" with flat music, in certain sessions and parishes, it’s the done thing. the only "problem" is, that in the session context, you need to be sensitive to how it’s done in the sesh you are walking into, and go along with that rather than trying to impose the key orientation of your preference….

Re: ITM down a full tone

Hi Ceemonster,

Thanks for the thoughtful response, even if it was in the wrong thread and answered a question different to the one I’d asked.

I had already started to try to figure out which boxes they are playing on each track, so that I could retune the fiddle to learn the sets of tunes in standard fingering, so that other people could play them with me in the standard keys later. But I found it very difficult to work out, and so I was hoping one of the many idiot-savant box players on the site would come along and do the hard work for me.

Re: ITM down a full tone

You’ ve got to be careful tuning a fiddle down a whole tone. A half tone, from A440 to A416 (Baroque pitch) usually works fine, but drop down a full tone and you’re likely to lose a lot of tone quality and volume. The strings will feel floppy, which is disconcerting for bowing. Not only that, but if you do this in a session the strings will likely start to come up again - it takes a while for strings to stabilize if tuned differently. Also, not every type of string will take kindly to this treatment - I can think of at least one brand of high tension string which wouldn’t be a happy bunny if dropped a whole tone from A440.

I’d advise anyone who wants to go down this route on a regular basis to get a separate fiddle specifically set up for the lower pitch, and to get advice from a luthier or specialist string dealer on the best string for the job.

Re: ITM down a full tone

Ive had no trouble tuning down a tone but a tone and a half for B was too far. I actually like the whole warm mellow feel of the fiddle down at C. For B I go down a half step and play as in C.