Mudcat Café Message Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Chicken Charlie How much difference does the Key make? (106* d) RE: How much difference does the Key make? 08 Mar 08

There are two factors that arise when I'm trying to figure out what key we're going to use for a given song. The obvious one is "can I sing it starting on that pitch, or is it too high/low?"

Another one is, "Are we trying to incorporate any instrument that has limited coverage as far as keys?" Lap dulcimer, hammer dulcimer, autoharp, harmonica, are all "challenged" to greater or lesser degrees in this area, so sometimes a compromise is necessary.

There are then two more factors that don't affect the key you play in, but do affect which form you use after you decide on the key. This may be a personal eccentricity, but I have two guitars which I think sound better capoed a couple frets up than they do open, so if I sing in D, I'll capo at 2 and use C forms.

The other part of the "what forms?" question is how I want the melody to sound against the background. (I fingerpick a lot.) Yes, a person should be able to pick out a melody in any of the common major keys, but at least if you're stuck in first position, you might have a "baritone" or "alto" sounding melody that's easy to finger but is mainly on the bottom or middle strings. Melodies played on C or E chords, in my experience, tend to be up on the higher strings, so there again, if I'm playing a song in G and I want the melody to be up toward the "high lonesome" range, I'll capo up and use C forms. I'm still in G, so that's not really a change of KEY, but it's a logical consequence of deciding on a key.

I suppose I've said enough to say too much, so I'll go to my room now.


Post to this Thread -

Back to the Main Forum Page

By clicking on the User Name, you will requery the forum for that user. You will see everything that he or she has posted with that Mudcat name.

By clicking on the Thread Name, you will be sent to the Forum on that thread as if you selected it from the main Mudcat Forum page.
   * Click on the linked number with * to view the thread split into pages (click "d" for chronologically descending).

By clicking on the Subject, you will also go to the thread as if you selected it from the original Forum page, but also go directly to that particular message.

By clicking on the Date (Posted), you will dig out every message posted that day.

Try it all, you will see.