Choosing the right key in which to learn a tune
Hello all. I’m relatively new to all this, so please forgive me if I’m overlooking some obvious things relating to theory (of which I know very little). I recently discovered a great tune I want to learn on the John Skelton Kieran O’Hare album DOUBLE-BARRELLED. It’s the slip jig Trotting To Larne. I looked here on the Session and there are two settings - one in A and one in D. In the comments of the tune, someone specifically mentions John Skelton’s version being in D. So I thought great… that’s the version to learn to play along with the recording itself. But when I actually tried that, I found I had to raise Skelton’s playing one half step on the recording to get it to match the key of D setting here on the Session. So doesn’t that mean that Skelton’s version on the recording is actually in Db instead of D? That’s my first question. Am I misunderstanding the relation between the recording and the key stated here on the Session?
The other setting for this tune here on the Session is in the key of A. I found three other versions of this tune on Spotify, and they all I believe were in the key of A (at least the A setting here enabled me to play along with them). I do really like Skelton’s version (in Db?). So I have two options when playing along with the Skelton recording (I use an app to play along with that can adjust speed and pitch): I can raise John Skelton’s recorded version one half step and play along using the D setting here or I can lower his recorded version 4 half steps and play along with the A setting here. The version on the Session in the key of D is much easier for me to play on the tenor banjo (or tenor guitar), but I don’t want to learn a tune in a key that no one else would play. When faced with options like this, what is the more practical thing to do? Right now, I’m at a level where I’m playing (learning) alone 95% of the time. But I hope to progress to some informal sessions eventually. In this situation, is it more practical to learn an easier version (for me to play) or to learn what seems to be the more common keyed version (at least in the recordings I’ve found). Is it common to get to a session and find that other people want to play in keys less friendly to your instrument and abilities? Are the keys you hear tunes in on recordings usually the keys they are played at in sessions? What are your strategies with regards to what key to learn a tune in? Any advice will be appreciated.