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Stefan Netsman
Mar-08-2011, 8:29am
When I play the DVD "Music down from the mountain" I don't understand what's goin on, all the tunes are a half step up! Has something happened along the way to Europe? No way John Hartford plays "Big rock candy mountain" in G#! or the first Union Station song is in D#. How come?

Ivan Kelsall
Mar-10-2011, 3:32am
It could be that the speed of the sound track got moved up a notch somehow,but if it's in sync.with the VIDEO film,you'd expect the artistes to be moving around slightly quicker as well. I'm not sure how it would work.If you had a DVD player with variable speed & were able to slow the soundtrack down so that the tunes were in the correct key,what would the actual visual difference be.It may be so slight that we wouldn't notice,therefor speeding the whole thing up might produce a very tiny visual difference also.
I have both the LP & CD of the Dillards first recording "Back Porch Bluegrass" - there's no 2 tunes that you can play one after the other without speeding them up or slowing them down to the 'correct' key. The CD is exactly the same. I'd have thought that when transfering the original tape recording to CD,they could have corrected the speed to give the correct pitch,but apparently they didn't bother. I mean, what the heck is G# # when it's not A flat ???,
Ivan:confused:

Stefan Netsman
Mar-10-2011, 3:54am
Really strange, the only explanation is that the concert was recorded in 44,1 KHz and since TV people swear by 48 kHz the audio was timestretched to match the video, this would explain the not exactly one halfstep in pitchchange. Capotime it is!

grassrootphilosopher
Mar-10-2011, 4:54am
Well, the keys may be a little unusual but they are well worth mastering. If you do, you´ll be able to play any music in any key.

Your question concerned wether on the DVD the tunes are really played in these "off" keys or wether there had been a goof-up somewhere and the tunes were really played in a lower or higher key. Let me tell you, they play the tunes in the keys you hear. Check "Wild Bill Jones" or "I´m Blue, I´m Lonesome" both by Allison Kraus & Union Station. See where Dan Tyminski has his guitar capoed to. It´s the key that you hear.

Why do they do that? Several explanations are possible. If you´re playing live exitement changes your voice. Usually you tend to go higher, so if you play in a higher key (one step or so), you´re more comfortable than when you sing your songs in the key that you sing it in when you´re in a relaxed (recording) session.

I think that we can safely assume that in that Opry performance everybody pretty much tuned to regular pitch. If you see that Mike Compton as mando man for the "house band" plays with the Cox Family, with Union Station, with John Hartford et al you can rest assured that everybody is not just tuning to their own ear.

In the old times though (think Flatt & Scruggs recordings) sometimes the pitch was raised ever so slightly just to give the music an extra edge. Others (think Bill Monroe) just tuned the way they thought it sounde allright.

If you go to modern recordings ymmv. A prime example for "off pitch" is Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver´s CD "Never Walk Away" (http://www.amazon.com/Never-Walk-Doyle-Lawson-Quicksilver/dp/B000000F4G). Probably not two songs have the same pitch. I imagine the band tuning and retuning in the recording proces and as a result they went sharp. Check out the listening examples on amazon and listen especially to "In The Gravellyard".

By the way that specific DL&Q was in Germany (Neusüdende) in about ´95 and they were great. When I saw the Lynn Morris Band in Neusüdende in the early 90ies they did not play one song in their whole sets in a "regular" key. It was allways D#, Bb, G# etc. I think it was Audie Blaylock on mandolin (playing a Price - the guy with the cases - A-5). The music was great.

Stefan Netsman
Mar-10-2011, 5:04am
I emailed Mike Compton about this, he said that "there´s no way we played almost all of the songs in D# or G#, maybe one or two, nor did we tune the instruments sharp", "I´m Blue, I´m Lonesome" is in D# and Dan Tyminski does not use a capo on this song, and he clearly plays the song in D. I have no doubt in my mind that these stunning musicians could play these song in any key they wanted, but I don´t think that´s what´s happening here. I then talked to a friend who has produced hundreds of songs for TV,and asked him about this, and he told me that it´s not unusual that musicshows like this are speeded up just a touch when used on Television, resulting in a minor pitchchange! scary for sure that a TV producer decides the tempo, but it´s a very likely explanation.

Scotti Adams
Mar-10-2011, 9:58am
Simple word..Capo. Flatt & Scruggs were nortorious for tuning their boxes a full fret sharp. They said it made the instruments sound better. Their recordings prove this. As far as playing in the # or flat keys it takes no more thought process if you choose to capo up. If not then ..yea..you have some transposing to do. Take a look at the new Seirra Hull video thats been floating around to promote her new project. That tune is in D sharp...yes..shes capoed up..they all are except for the bass man. So yes it can be done

allenhopkins
Mar-10-2011, 11:13am
Seems pretty clear that the pitch difference has to do with the processing between the performance and the DVD, not that all the musicians mis-tuned or decided to play fiddles in E-flat rather than D. A bit of realism is needed here. That recorded "signal" passed through quite a few processes before it ended up in your DVD player. Segments may have been stretched or compressed to fit the needs of the recording. I'd be surprised if the producers took much thought for the musicians who may want to play along with the recording. The other variable is the equipment on which the DVD is being played, in your home. How many of us have our disc players calibrated to perfect industry standard? We just assume that they're accurately reproducing what's recorded on the disc.

Just by looking at the musicians, you can tell what chord shapes they're making. Absent some general agreement among all the performers to tune a half-step sharp, one has to conclude that the pitch was altered during the processing of the recording.

Stefan Netsman
Mar-10-2011, 2:21pm
Of course this is a technical issue, and this is easy to see if You watch the chordshapes on screen and play along with an instrument that's tuned to concert pitch. One can just wonder what this did to the tempo of the songs...I checked the DVD in one comercial DVD player and two computers, same thing.

Pete Heady
Mar-10-2011, 2:36pm
In the US film origination is at 23.98 frames per second. There is a tried and true method of getting that to the US broadcast standard frame rate, 29,97fps no pitch change involved. However to be used in Europe the frame rate is 25 fps and the method for going to that frame rate is slightly different. The 23.98fps original is played out at 25fps (in effect off speed) to create new masters for use at 25fps Sync is not affected but pitch is. Not really a problem for most of the tracks,(people do not even notice) but it is for music. If individual tracks are not available dialogue music effects etc...most producers simply ignore it. Happens all the time
Pete

Stefan Netsman
Mar-10-2011, 3:01pm
In the US film origination is at 23.98 frames per second. There is a tried and true method of getting that to the US broadcast standard frame rate, 29,97fps no pitch change involved. However to be used in Europe the frame rate is 25 fps and the method for going to that frame rate is slightly different. The 23.98fps original is played out at 25fps (in effect off speed) to create new masters for use at 25fps Sync is not affected but pitch is. Not really a problem for most of the tracks,(people do not even notice) but it is for music. If individual tracks are not available dialogue music effects etc...most producers simply ignore it. Happens all the time
Petethanks, this is what my TVmusic producing friend was talking about, case closed I guess, now we can move on to more important things, like Chris Thiles picks and such ;-)

Tom C
Mar-10-2011, 3:30pm
The Oh Bro' tab book has "Rock Candy Mnt" in F though they state it F# on CD.

ralph johansson
Mar-11-2011, 3:14am
G# and D# are very strange designations, requiring in notation 8 and 9 sharps respectively. We call them Ab and Eb (4 and 3 flats).
That also is the best way to think of them; if you're fluent in A and E just move your fingering back one fret. Of course, if you want to play along with the DVD, and the performers use effects peculiar to these keys you will have to use a capo. But Ab and Eb are certainly standard keys well worth knowing.

pigpen
Mar-13-2011, 3:07pm
You can watch it for free on hulu.com right now!

Stefan Netsman
Mar-14-2011, 7:28am
G# and D# are very strange designations, requiring in notation 8 and 9 sharps respectively. We call them Ab and Eb (4 and 3 flats).
That also is the best way to think of them; if you're fluent in A and E just move your fingering back one fret. Of course, if you want to play along with the DVD, and the performers use effects peculiar to these keys you will have to use a capo. But Ab and Eb are certainly standard keys well worth knowing.
Of course You're right, no sane person would notate music in these keyes, unless it was done to indicate a change of keycenter. The reason I used D# and G# was to point out that the sound was a halfstep up from what I should be, looking at the chordshapes on screen. And also, being able to play in all keyes is of course an essential part in being a good craftsman in music, but this was more a question about framerate in video than musical skills.