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tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Great to hear.
Key signatures per se don't bother me (many years of choral singing means that when you sing late C19th repertoire they luxuriate in writing in 6flats or 7 sharps 'because they can'). With sax, it's just a matter of recognising what's sharp or flat. It is problematical that because guitars love being in E, Bb instruments end up in 6# and Eb end up in 7#.
 

thomsax

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Great to hear.
Key signatures per se don't bother me (many years of choral singing means that when you sing late C19th repertoire they luxuriate in writing in 6flats or 7 sharps 'because they can'). With sax, it's just a matter of recognising what's sharp or flat. It is problematical that because guitars love being in E, Bb instruments end up in 6# and Eb end up in 7#.
Some singers (me included ) took lessons so I could sing in the key of E. My voice "prefer" other keys. It's hard for me to read, without a longer preparation, in F#, C#/Db. But there are tricks( alternative fingerings .....) how to move around on your sax in these keys. Long Bb, side Bb, Biss key..... . I play blues, rock , soul , . so I use F# blues scale (just two sharps) a lot. Ok, I borrow some notes from the other scales, trying to crerate more interst.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Weird - I went to edit the above and it declined the offer saying too long had elapsed....

This is what I was adding..

People do tend to get over traumatised by the sight of key signatures with 5, 6, 7 sharps/flats. They can look intimidating and it can be a chore remembering to play B# or perhaps E#, or a Cb. If you can see past that, they're not that hard.... I do find some of them more challenging on cello, but that's because flat notes can end up on a different string, which messes up your fingering plans....
 
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MikeMorrell

MikeMorrell

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Yes, I'm one of the people what tends to get overtraumised by the sight of more than 4 sharps or flats! Playing in Big Bands, I've learned that the notes I actually need to play are usually far fewer than all the ones in the scale. So I tend to read through beforehand and pencil in any "new" sharps/flats (for me) that I'm likely to forget about until 'muscle memory kicks in.

Two things I learned from this one-off 'gig' was that I don't practice 'playing by ear' enough - certainly not in keys that I don't normally play. The other thing was that I quickly found it easier to do than I'd ever imagined it would be. Once I got playing, I soon stopped worrying about the keys and their sharps and flats. Having a quick practice at home beforehand did help me a lot in having a 'reference' of notes in the blues keys of B, E, F# and - to a lesser extent - C#. This at least gave me some 'safe notes' to start off on and fall back on.

But I also found that - being reasonably familiar with how any notes on the sax were going to sound before I actually played them, it wasn't too difficult to find my way around based on the 'intervals' that I sensed (in my head) would fit in what I wanted to play. Whenever I played an interval that turned out to be just above or below the one I'd intended, I could make a quick 'passing note' of it to get to the one that I'd intended.

This is a very long-winded way of saying that having a 'mental map' of how sax notes are going to sound helped me enormously. I played guitar for many more years, much more often and from a much younger age than sax. So my 'mental map' of notes, scales and intervals on guitar is still very strong even though I've not played for many years. At this gig, I was pleasantly surprised that my 'mental map' of the sax had become much stronger than I'd expected. And not just in the keys that I was familiar with.

In Big Bands, I play exclusively from sheet music with the exception of a few solos that I deliberately try not to rehearse or repeat to keep them interesting and 'fresh' (for better or worse on the day ;) ). There always discussions about learning to playing from sheet music versus learning to play by ear. I've always encouraged beginners to learn to read music because they then have so many more resources available. Now I would also encourage them to incorporate playing by ear in their practice schedule too. Simply because I believe that playing by ear in different keys is the fastest way of developing a 'mental map' of how each note/interval is going to sound on the sax before you play it. And the stronger your 'mental map' is, the easier is it to adjust to playing tunes and in scales that you don't know (jam sessions, open podiums, etc.).

I live and learn:).

Mike


Weird - I went to edit the above and it declined the offer saying too long had elapsed....

This is what I was adding..

People do tend to get over traumatised by the sight of key signatures with 5, 6, 7 sharps/flats. They can look intimidating and it can be a chore remembering to play B# or perhaps E#, or a Cb. If you can see past that, they're not that hard.... I do find some of them more challenging on cello, but that's because flat notes can end up on a different string, which messes up your fingering plans....
 

thomsax

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Sweden
For some years ago we were going to play "Uncahain My Heart" (Charles version) and the Bb instrument ended up in F# and Eb instruments in C#. The bariplayer was on vacation when we started to rehears the song. When he joined us again after the vacation he told us that he was not playing in C#. He couldn't read music in this key. This was a problem because we had alredy learned the song.... . So I told the guy who helped us with charts to write it out in Db instead of C#. "- Much better key. No problem, when he got the new key " .
udmhbari.JPG
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Location
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
For some years ago we were going to play "Uncahain My Heart" (Charles version) and the Bb instrument ended up in F# and Eb instruments in C#. The bariplayer was on vacation when we started to rehears the song. When he joined us again after the vacation he told us that he was not playing in C#. He couldn't read music in this key. This was a problem because we had alredy learned the song.... . So I told the guy who helped us with charts to write it out in Db instead of C#. "- Much better key. No problem, when he got the new key " .
View attachment 13257
I think that's quite a common thing to do... The issue with keys like C# is if they modulate....to say the dominant, then that's G# major which has 8 sharps... so full of Fx i.e. F double sharps... which is not nice

Screenshot 2019-08-11 at 11.33.43.png
 
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MikeMorrell

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
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My initial reaction was "Funny!" until I realised that it was a clever thing to do! The bariplayer obviously found Db less 'visually intimidating' to read from than C#. TBH I think I would too. I guess it has something to do with the number of additional sharps/flats in the key compared with keys in which you're more used to playing in, and also whether you're more comfortable (used to) playing in keys with X sharps or X flats.

Great to hear that it worked! I'll remember to think about this next time I 'panic'' :)

Mike
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For some years ago we were going to play "Uncahain My Heart" (Charles version) and the Bb instrument ended up in F# and Eb instruments in C#. The bariplayer was on vacation when we started to rehears the song. When he joined us again after the vacation he told us that he was not playing in C#. He couldn't read music in this key. This was a problem because we had alredy learned the song.... . So I told the guy who helped us with charts to write it out in Db instead of C#. "- Much better key. No problem, when he got the new key " .
View attachment 13257
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,438
Location
Sweden
For some years ago we were going to play "Uncahain My Heart" (Charles version) and the Bb instrument ended up in F# and Eb instruments in C#. The bariplayer was on vacation when we started to rehears the song. When he joined us again after the vacation he told us that he was not playing in C#. He couldn't read music in this key. This was a problem because we had alredy learned the song.... . So I told the guy who helped us with charts to write it out in Db instead of C#. "- Much better key. No problem, when he got the new key " .
View attachment 13257
He is a good player, maybe the best in the group. He just don't like keys like A, D, E ...... he prefer Bb, Eb, Ab ..... I have to work more when I learn songs in Bb, Ab, Eb because I'm not used to these keys. .
 
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