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Thread: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

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    Default Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    I learned from my previous thread that you have to be pretty specific with the thread title.
    It was pointed out that yesterday's "Mandolin Mondays" featured an original in "Bb" by David Benedict. I guess the most well-known one is Frank Wakefield's "New Camptown Races". It's one I like a lot & this is an attempt to write something similar, in the same key. It's called "Two River Rapids". The recording is not great. There just happened to be a shoebox cassette recorder on the table when we were practising this, so I hit "record". It's a bit over-modulated. True old-school technology in play here. Two River Rapids.mp3

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Herschel Sizemore's Rebecca is the classic example.

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    bird and mando geek Rob Fowler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Rebecca is actually in B.
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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by nick delmore View Post
    I learned from my previous thread that you have to be pretty specific with the thread title.
    It was pointed out that yesterday's "Mandolin Mondays" featured an original in "Bb" by David Benedict. I guess the most well-known one is Frank Wakefield's "New Camptown Races". It's one I like a lot & this is an attempt to write something similar, in the same key. It's called "Two River Rapids". The recording is not great. There just happened to be a shoebox cassette recorder on the table when we were practising this, so I hit "record". It's a bit over-modulated. True old-school technology in play here. Two River Rapids.mp3
    Cheyenne, with a g minor bridge.
    High Level Hornpipe
    Sailor's Hornpipe

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    I'm a Wakefield fan and I think your original tune, Two River Rapids, is a great tribute to the man. Nice job and nice pickin' too

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Done Gone and Daily’s Reel are both fun fiddle tunes in Bb. I really like that key and find it very comfortable under my fingers on the mandolin. I write a lot of tunes in Gm and Bb is basically the same. Gm takes full potential of the mandolins fret scale. Conversely, I really despise the key of B on mandolin. Very uncomfortable for me. I also love New Camptown Race. One of my all time favorite mandolin tunes.
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    Question Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    You can transpose a tune to another key, but I assume this is about seeking recordings...
    Being written by fiddle mandolin & Banjo players the # side of the circle is most BG music ..

    Lots of Jazz is in those keys, a whole Real Book fake book series is written for Bb instruments Horns & Saxes, & such..

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by nick delmore View Post
    I learned from my previous thread that you have to be pretty specific with the thread title.
    Yes, clarity is a great way to get better responses - or at least improve the chances of it, lol

    Actually, it amazes me that so many people will post in the general topic areas and expect folk to assume "bluegrass" as the genre, as if the cafe were a bluegrass website. I suppose it's because Bill's mandolin was so important to bluegrass, but still, just seems wrong to assume that everyone here is into bluegrass, or primarily into it.

    Off soapbox now, sorry for the interruption, wish I had some Bb BG tunes to contribute. Best of luck
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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    "To make a long story short?" Just play the dang tune.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Yes, clarity is a great way to get better responses - or at least improve the chances of it, lol

    Actually, it amazes me that so many people will post in the general topic areas and expect folk to assume "bluegrass" as the genre, as if the cafe were a bluegrass website. I suppose it's because Bill's mandolin was so important to bluegrass, but still, just seems wrong to assume that everyone here is into bluegrass, or primarily into it.

    Off soapbox now, sorry for the interruption, wish I had some Bb BG tunes to contribute. Best of luck
    I think it's bcs other styles of music have their own forums so the general forum just reflects that the majority of Cafe denizens are likely playing primarily bluegrass/oldtime. The other thing is the fact that bluegrass/oldtime is where you'll find original tunes written on or for the mandolin. That's my theory, anyway.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Other than Cheyenne, more trad. than "original".

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    I) You can transpose a tune to another key, but I assume this is about seeking recordings...

    II) Being written by fiddle mandolin & Banjo players the # side of the circle is most BG music ..

    III) Lots of Jazz is in those keys, a whole Real Book fake book series is written for Bb instruments Horns & Saxes, & such..

    I) It is about tunes in that key. All of the examples given, with the possible exception of Sailor's Hornpipe, are generally played in the key of Bb. Very often there are particular technical reasons for the key used. E.g., in the case of Cheyenne and NCR the use of the open g and d strings for the g minor chord, in other cases the open d and a strings make the key of Bb very natural.

    In the examples below the choice of key is dictated by similar considerations. Fig A is the 2nd part of Brilliancy as played by Howdy Forrester with 2 1/2 bars on the a string, possible only in the key of A. Fig B is an original of mine, where the use of the open d string is equally essential.

    II) ?


    III) Each edition of the Real Book is printed in several versions, among them a C, Bb, Eb, version for transposing instruments, with the same tunes.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    As mentioned above, Gm is the relative minor of Bb and there are a ton of interesting tunes in Gm if you're looking for a minor feel.

    There are several in the Irish trad repertoire like "The Drunken Sailor Hornpipe," the aforementioned "High Level Hornpipe," and "Captain O'Kane" waltz a/k/a "The Wounded Hussar." Also I think Andy Statman's "Flatbush Waltz" is in Gm? That's a great tune with a Klezmer feel.

    Bb/Gm tunes fit easily on mandolin and fiddle. It's one of those "idiomatic" keys where the composer's choice of instrument helps determine the key a tune is written in. It's a bit of a pain for some diatonic instruments. I play "Captain O'Kane" on a low Bb flute where it fits comfortably.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    A bit OT, but I think I read someplace that one of the 20thC developments in bluegrass was some bands tuning the whole thing up a semitone to sound brighter and more exciting? If so, I guess playing a tune in eg A would then sound it in Bb. Must've cost a bit in E strings though.

  18. #15

    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Fowler View Post
    Rebecca is actually in B.
    The story of my life, half a step off.

  19. #16

    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    "As mentioned above, Gm is the relative minor of Bb and there are a ton of interesting tunes in Gm if you're looking for a minor feel"

    I wasn't looking for a minor feel. More interested in the brightness of "Bb". I recognize "Gm" is the relative minor & shares a lot of the same notes as "Bb" but to me, they are different keys, with different sounds.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    A bit OT, but I think I read someplace that one of the 20thC developments in bluegrass was some bands tuning the whole thing up a semitone to sound brighter and more exciting? If so, I guess playing a tune in eg A would then sound it in Bb. Must've cost a bit in E strings though.

    Flatt&Scruggs often tuned a half step sharp. Check, e.g., Earl's Breakdown. I don't know of any A to Bb example. They did record Pike County Breakdown, in Monroe's key of A, before Monroe himself recorded that tune.

    This pratice may have cost a bit in e strings but was also harmful to the top of the guitar.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by nick delmore View Post
    "As mentioned above, Gm is the relative minor of Bb and there are a ton of interesting tunes in Gm if you're looking for a minor feel"

    I wasn't looking for a minor feel. More interested in the brightness of "Bb". I recognize "Gm" is the relative minor & shares a lot of the same notes as "Bb" but to me, they are different keys, with different sounds.

    Go to the Traditional Tunes Archive website and enter "2 flats" in the search box. That will keep you busy for awhile.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Not sure if Clarinet Polka counts, but some BG bands may have tackled it. It was recorded around 1960, with Howdy Forrester on fiddle and Jimmy Riddle on harmonica, so maybe that qualifies as old-time. The rest of the album was devoted to traditional fiddle tunes (High Level Hornpipe among them) with Riddle on piano.

    The main key is Bb, the "trio" section is in Eb!

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Go to the Traditional Tunes Archive website and enter "2 flats" in the search box. That will keep you busy for awhile.
    I don't know. Traditional tunes are, to my mind, the opposite of original tunes. I'm more interested in seeing, or hearing I guess, what people have written.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by nick delmore View Post
    I don't know. Traditional tunes are, to my mind, the opposite of original tunes. I'm more interested in seeing, or hearing I guess, what people have written.

    Somehow I missed this point, probably because of the alternative "Oldtime". And, of course, most traditional tunes usually started as somebody's original. And Bluegrass is what you do with a song. Anyway, Blue Mountain Hop by Bela Fleck qualifies. He even invented a special tuning for that tune.

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    https://thesession.org/tunes/search?...mode=Gminor&q=
    Some of the tunes were originally written and then became OldTime I guess.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Not sure if Clarinet Polka counts, but some BG bands may have tackled it. It was recorded around 1960, with Howdy Forrester on fiddle and Jimmy Riddle on harmonica, so maybe that qualifies as old-time. The rest of the album was devoted to traditional fiddle tunes (High Level Hornpipe among them) with Riddle on piano.

    The main key is Bb, the "trio" section is in Eb!
    I forgot: Rutland's Reel, Strictly Forrester, and Fiddler's Waltz are not traditional.

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    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    What about Johnny June Reel on Kenny Baker's Portrait album (1969). Is that an original?

  29. #25

    Default Re: Original Bluegrass/Oldtime Tunes in "Bb"

    How about “Don’t Give Your Heart (to a Rambler)”
    favourite of mine to play.

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