I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

I learnt "The Acrobat" in the wrong key - 5 tones higher in D, but I’ve discovered everyone plays it much lower in G normally. When it was said to be very difficult, I believed it as I skittered right up the neck of the fiddle to top C sharps and D’s in places. Then I wanted to see how other fiddlers managed this tune and discovered everyone plays it at least 4-5- tones lower. No going up the neck of the fiddle at all! I feel like an idiot not to have realized that couldn’t possibly be right could it?
Never mind, I’ve sussed out , that playing it really high suits the tin whistle and flute perfectly - just doesn’t suit the fiddle at all!
Now all I’ve got to do is find some insane tin whistler who is up for it!

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

Isn’t it more common in B flat?

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

Whatever rocks yer boat 🙂 Personally I keep away from people playing whistles above a high b.

Posted .

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

I play it in B flat (2nd part is in F), as I first learned it. I like to play it in that key because i. it falls easily under the fingers and ii. I don’t play many tunes in B flat. I am, however, prepared to play it in a more common key if required (preferably G, as it avoids any notes above high B 😉 )

Transposing down from D to G on fiddle should be easy enough - with the exception of the top three notes, you just need to shift your fingering across one string. It sits well enough on the whistle in G too - you just need to bring the two bottom notes (B and C) up an octave to fit the range.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

…and no need to feel an idiot - lots of tunes are played in more than one key. Anyway, we’re all idiots in between our episodes of genius.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

Hi Heather,

On fiddle, the key of Bb would be the best key for that one - all in 1st position, nothing tricky about it at all.

Bb (or Eb) is the only key where you can play the acrobat’s "tumble" cleanly, without crossing strings.

The "tumble" is the set of triplet in bar #2 here :

https://thesession.org/tunes/3459 - 5th setting.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

"Bb (or Eb) is the only key where you can play the acrobat’s "tumble" cleanly, without crossing strings."

Yes! I realise now why it’s so satisfying to play on fiddle in that key. But you try it a D whistle…

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

As a whistle/flute/pipe person I just looked over the tune in Bb, G, and D and found that it’s one of those tunes where the best range (D to a) is the worst key (Bb) and the best keys (D or G) are the worst range (going too high or too low).

At first glance I think that on the pipes I’d play it in G but obviously move the low notes up an octave, not too bad a thing because the tune jumps all over the place anyway. Many of the accidentals fall well under the fingers in G.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

Last time I went to a session, someone gave a rendition of a tune in a heap of different keys in sequence, made the tune long and boring. Sorry but it slowed down the session and he was alone in the end. Like stretching a rubber band to see how far it goes.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

"… worst key (Bb) …"

As a not-very-dedicated whistle player myself, I am glad that a full-time whistle/flute/pipes player agrees with me on that.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

I sympathize… years ago I learned "Johnny I Do Miss You" which I put on the end of Jenny Cockles Polkas.
I got it off of a De Dannan album and had it in the key of A. Went roaring up to second position with a high
c#, and it really kicks. Only problem is, I found out that everyone else plays it in D, which doesn’t have half the lift IMHO. No problem… I learned it in D for sessions, but playing solo I still blast away in the higher key. Learn your tune in one key for you, and the other for everybody else.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

Please Heather, don’t fret for a moment about learning the Acrobat in the "wrong" key. You learned it in a different key. Nothing wrong about it. Eamon Cotter plays it in D…without any apologies. Turn tables and play it in D and encourage the fiddlers to "try and keep up"!

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

//"Bb (or Eb) is the only key where you can play the acrobat’s "tumble" cleanly, without crossing strings."

Yes! I realise now why it’s so satisfying to play on fiddle in that key. But you try it a D whistle…//

Hi CMO, on fiddle, the "tumble" is a very simple single-bow, 2-finger job (pardon the expression!)

What involved when playing that on a D whistle?

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

Learn it again in the usual key (it’ll be easier now that you know the tune), then play both versions as a set.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

BTDT. Different tune though.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

Learning a tune in multiple keys is a great way to push both your comfort level with your instrument and your ability to think of a tune as a contour (as sequence of intervals) instead of a sequence of individual notes. I encourage people to do it even with tunes that aren’t commonly played in different keys, because it really will make you a better player.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

"What involved when playing that on a D whistle?"

Lots of awkward half-hole fingerings. The odd one here and there is OK, but lots of them in succession is very tricky at speed.

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

//Lots of awkward half-hole fingerings. The odd one here and there is OK, but lots of them in succession is very tricky at speed.//

I see. Thanks 🙂

Re: I feel an idiot - I learnt it in the wrong key.

Thanks for all your help. Philfy- I found our idea particularly helpful ,as well as creative,when you said learn both versions, and play them as a "set", and Ross Faison’s endorsement of going up into the "stratosphere" of high violin notes was encouraging too. Thanks too , to all the whistle players who have helped me be more aware too.