Fiddle tuned in B

Fiddle tuned in B

Apparently Dylan Foley on his cd Deliriously Happy has retuned his fiddle. Someone mentioned that it was tuned in B… Any one have any idea what this means? Thanks

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

I would assume it to mean that the fiddle is tuned down four half-steps from standard tuning. Haven’t heard the album in question though.

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

Thanks for your response. It does sound quite low, but are you saying that all strings are tuned four half steps down? And how does this make the fiddle be tuned in B?

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

Yes all 4 strings. Irish wind instruments are commonly pitched in the key of D, so that is where the ‘standard’ comes from.

an instrument pitched in B would be 4 half steps down. An e flat session would have all instruments 1/2 step higher than normal etc.

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Re: Fiddle tuned in B

People tend to think of D as the home note/mode/key/whatever (we have D flutes, D whistles, uilleann pipes in D, one row accordions in D…), so if you tune the fiddle strings up or down, it’s the new pitch of the D string that suggests what you’ve tuned to. Maybe you’re playing with a musician who has a set of pipes in B.

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I think you mean 3 half steps from D. 4 would put you in B flat.

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I just had the pleasure of seeing Dylan at a house concert last week and purchased the very CD of which you speak. Yes, it is drop-tuned to Bb which gives the recording this deep, rich, resonating woody texture. It’s delightful. I highly recommend purchasing the CD.

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Jusa, Is Dylan "cross tuned" Bb Eb bb eb [as is done often in Ciol Mor and a lot of U.S. "Old time" playing….] or is the whole fiddle tuned down from the standard fifths?

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

If it’s that low is he actually playing a viola instead of violin?

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Just checked a couple of Dylan’s sample tracks on Bandcamp. The "liner" notes there say B, and playing along a B whistle was fine. Bb whistle didn’t work. Can’t guarantee all tracks are at the same pitch, of course.

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"If it’s that low is he actually playing a viola instead of violin?"

Is that a philosophical question or a factual enquiry?

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

FYI, Sol, Kitty Lie Over is mostly on Bb pipes and fiddle, but a couple tracks are in B. COR mentioned that he liked the drones better on the Bb set, which is why they used that mostly.

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Re: Fiddle tuned in B

Apologies- yes - he was drop-tuned to B not Bb - sorry the extra lower case B snuk in there.

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Dylan Foley was guest at one of our local sessions a few months back. Super cool guy.

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

Dylan recorded that album for his grandmother, who was apparently quite a fiddler herself back in the day. And he used her fiddle to record it. Just a bit of speculation here, but it possible that her fiddle would not handle concert pitch tension anymore… Or maybe that she played in a non-standard tuning…

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

‘Is Dylan "cross tuned" Bb Eb bb eb?’

I doubt it. Cross-tuning is rather rare in Irish music, and tuning to D/B/whatever means tuning the whole instrument up or down, with that new home note in mind.

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

So, if he is tuned in 5ths (normal intervals between the strings), does anyone know what note his D string is tuned to?

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

B

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Re: Fiddle tuned in B

Ha, funny this should come up; just this last weekend I retuned my cheap 100-yr old Markneukirchen Stainer copy down to E-B-F#-c# (low to high). I love the rich, resonant sound, it totally transforms what is otherwise a thin, nasal timbre.

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

Hi, I’m in my sixties and learning fiddle, but I played trumpet for 40 years. Trumpets, (like clarinets and saxophones) are "transposing" instruments. When playing a written "c" on a trumpet, the lowest note without pressing a valve, it actually produces a Bb. Fiddles produce the note you read. I would guess that a fiddle tuned in "b" becomes in effect a transposing instrument, meaning a written "c" will sound as a "b", therefore the instrument needs to be tuned down by a semitone.

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

No, not a semitone. In ITM, "a fiddle tuned in [key]" really means that you tune down everything, from D etc. to that note. If it’s B, then it’s three semitones. If it’s Eb, then it’s a semitone up. And so on.

Re: Fiddle tuned in B

Classical music uses transposing terminology such that whatever note the fingering for "C" produces is the transposed key - so a trumpet using C fingering actually produces a Bb, so they’re called Bb instruments.

Irish music uses transposing terminology such that whatever note the fingering for "D" produces is the transposed key - so a whistle that uses D fingering, and produces a C would be called a C instrument. Note that this means that an instrument called a "C" instrument in Irish music would be a "Bb" instrument in classical music.

So a trumpet in Irish music would be called a "C" instrument. And a fiddle tuned to B is what classical musicians would call an "A" instrument (because the fingering for C comes out as A in absolute pitch).

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Re: Fiddle tuned in B

Quite common among the cool kids these days. 🙂

I just bought an A/E Anglo Concertina specifically to play along with pipes in B and tuned-down fiddle. Standard Anglo tuning would be C/G, so this is three semitones lower.