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 Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar / Hawaiian Music
 Tuning for singing range
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mpi_50
Lokahi

USA
133 Posts

Posted - 05/09/2009 :  6:47:54 PM  Show Profile  Send mpi_50 a Yahoo! Message
I have a few songs in Open G that I would like to play and sing, however I'm having difficulty finding the key to sing in. Should I re-tune to find a key that works, and if so how is that accomplished.
So far I've kept the pigeons off my roof.

rendesvous1840
Ha`aha`a

USA
1055 Posts

Posted - 05/10/2009 :  04:09:50 AM  Show Profile
If you play in standard tuning, try using different keys until you find which you are comfortable with singing. Then you will know what keys to try tuning your guitar to,and can experiment with other tunings.
Learning new tunings is a lot like starting over, so it may take a little effort to get comfortable again. But, years from now, you'll have years of experience.
Another alternative is to try using a capo at different locations until you can sing comfortably. That may work for some songs, if G isn't too far off.
Taropatch tuning can be used for other keys besides G, it adapts fairly well to C & D. It may not work with every song, and may not allow you to reproduce an arrangement note for note as you first heard on a CD, but it can be done. I haven't tried other keys in taropatch tuning
Paul.

"A master banjo player isn't the person who can pick the most notes.It's the person who can touch the most hearts." Patrick Costello
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hapakid
Luna Ho`omalu

USA
1533 Posts

Posted - 05/10/2009 :  05:45:14 AM  Show Profile  Visit hapakid's Homepage
Songs come in different modes which means you need at least a couple tunings to get through the average song list. That's why most people choose a tuning, usually Taropatch G (or similar tuned down to F) then learn to play in drop C--retuning only the top string--in the G tuning, thus giving you two keys in which to play and sing. George Kahumoku has long tuned to taropatch F (may require med./heavy strings) and can play in "drop Bb" because his voice is lower than some. With a capo available, he can play in F, G, C, Bb without putting the capo too far up the neck. Also, this covers the favored chords on the ukulele, making it more useful when jamming with ukers. This is probably the simplest plan, but the reason to go to other tunings outside the taropatch family is for the distinctive sound each one makes or which has a desired melody under your fingers. Just my two cents.
Check out Thumbstruck's "Baby Kalae" in G tuning and played in C.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKwkR_YSEYE

Jesse

Edited by - hapakid on 05/10/2009 05:48:40 AM
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mpi_50
Lokahi

USA
133 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  8:03:48 PM  Show Profile  Send mpi_50 a Yahoo! Message
Thanks, I guess I should have asked, do you tune to the lowest (bass) vocal range to the bottom strings or some where in between?
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rendesvous1840
Ha`aha`a

USA
1055 Posts

Posted - 05/13/2009 :  5:06:38 PM  Show Profile
If you plan to play a song in G, you might tune the lowest string to G, but that would be 1&1/2 tones (3frets) ABOVE normal pitch for that string. This is in the vocal range of Tennesee Ernie Ford, and not a whole lot of the rest of us. If you sing in the tenor range, you probably cannot reach that note with your voice. For singers with normal Alto-soprano voices, you ladies won't get within 2 octaves of that note. Normally, the bass strings(4,5, &6) are tuned to give you the bass notes for the most important chords used in the key you plan to sing in. In the key of G,mostlikely these are G and D.Since G also ocurrs in the next main chord, C, the G is frequently used as a bass note for the C chord, along with C or E if they can be reached. Sometimes the G chord bass notes, G&D, are used with the C chord for the sake of reaching important melody notes.
As I understand it, a lot of the early slack key players tuned down to where they could sing comfortably, so while they may have maintained the string-to-string relationship of a tuning we are familiar with, they may not have been at the key we think of in relation to that tuning. That's pretty common in folk music from many places. Clear as mud? I hope I haven't clouded the issue.
Paul

"A master banjo player isn't the person who can pick the most notes.It's the person who can touch the most hearts." Patrick Costello
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mpi_50
Lokahi

USA
133 Posts

Posted - 05/15/2009 :  7:42:25 PM  Show Profile  Send mpi_50 a Yahoo! Message
Thanks for the info; it helps. I was thinking G,D,A and an occasional C. I did hear that the old slack key players did tune down to match their range and developing their sound, harmonies, etc. I was hoping to obtain a smidgin of that before I leave this beautiful world.
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Fran Guidry
Ha`aha`a

USA
1505 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2009 :  05:14:10 AM  Show Profile  Visit Fran Guidry's Homepage
I've retuned all the strings from Taropatch G to Taropatch F. Simply lower every string one whole step: DGDGBD becomes CFCFAC. If I'm using the lower tuning a lot I'll switch to medium strings instead of light.

I've even gone down to E using this technique (BEBEG#B). Here's a video with the guitar tuned down to E, then the third string is tuned down another half step so we're in a double slack (wahine) tuning: BEBD#G#B

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xrd-LSic8_w&fmt=16

From G to A I think most folks would use a capo at the second fret, at least that's what I do.

For C the simplest option is to drop the lowest pitched string to C and use the C Wahine tuning that results. And then for D, capo that at the second fret.

Fran

E ho`okani pila kakou ma Kaleponi
Slack Key Guitar in California - www.kaleponi.com
Slack Key on YouTube
Homebrewed Music Blog

Edited by - Fran Guidry on 05/16/2009 05:17:09 AM
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mpi_50
Lokahi

USA
133 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2009 :  8:16:52 PM  Show Profile  Send mpi_50 a Yahoo! Message
Thanks for the info, I'm close yet far away from my goal. Fran your Double Slack E has no category, Maka wai, that's all I can say. Reminded me of Bradda Ledward without the kolohe.
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