Banjo tuning aAEAE to match cross-tuned fiddle

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,541 posts

Dwight plays a version of Abe's retreat in that tuning that he calls "Low G".

Robin, I wasn't thinking you were using a capo to up it to A...thus some of my confusion.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dan Goad
Dan Goad
@dan-goad
3 years ago
163 posts

That was some really tasty sauce on those noodles, Robin.  Looking forward to the full course.

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
3 years ago
257 posts

Thanks for the info Robert and Sean - much appreciated.  I love your A scale banjo Robert.  My banjo is a Essex and Cammeyer from around 1895 that I was given.  It has a short neck but 26" scale so the bridge position is a little closer to the tail than usual.  It was in a right mess when I got it but I've fixed it up so it's playable.  It will tune to a'AEae without a capo coz I've just done so!!!  I've just had a noodle around with some major and minor tunes in various modes from the tuning.  I'm starting to find my way around the tuning a little and it seems quite intuitive to play.  Here's a little medley I've just recorded to show its versatility (not smooth yet as I've only been paying the tuning for a day!):

https://soundcloud.com/robin-clark-937720894/example-of-aaeae-tuning-20-jan-16

 

 


updated by @robin-clark: 01/20/16 04:47:17PM
Sean Ruprecht-Belt
Sean Ruprecht-Belt
@sean-belt
3 years ago
35 posts

Tuning the banjo to play in A, I usually tune AEAC#E. For the dulcimer I'd tune to EAE or EAD depending on the tune.

Both of these work for accompanying the fiddle in either standard or cross-tuning (AEAE) for tunes in A.

 

 

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
3 years ago
236 posts

I built a 10" A scale banjo just to play with fiddle. As you can see it's the same size as a dulcimer. When I started playing fiddle, I retuned in fifths so fingering would match fiddle. Much like octave mandolin, capo to viola or fiddle.

Playing frailing style banjo doesn't sound as good in fifths as with traditional banjo tuning. The haunting sound isn't there.

In fifths I play banjo with a pick mandolin style making it easier to transpose to dulcimer.

WARNING...Yew  piney mountain is a great tune. I spent 4 months last year playing it everyday until I broke the spell. Dwight Diller is  serious about putting rhythm before melody. And you can hear it especially in his fiddle version. He just put out a bunch of really great OT recordings.

Go to Slippery Hill fiddle tune web site. There tunes are listed based on tuning and modes... Robert...

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
3 years ago
257 posts

Strumelia:
aAEAE... you are talking about on the banjo?   Tuning the first and third strings both to the same note in the same ocatave?  Tuning the 4th and 2nd strings to the same note in the same octave?   Are you talking about generally in the same octave as standard banjo tuning, or an octave lower?   On the dulcimer I think cross tuning variations of GDGD/AEAE etc is not so unusual?  I'm confused as to whether you are asking about tunings for the banjo or the dulcimer.

Hi Strumelia,

I'm talking about banjo tuning (which is why I put the post in Adventures with Other Instruments).  The tuning is a'AEae  From standard A tuning aEAc#e (g tuning with capo at 2nd fret) the 5th string stays at a'; the 4th string goes down from E to A (quite slack); the 3rd string goes down from A to E (quite slack); the 2nd string goes down from c# to a; the 1st string stays at e.  Basically, the 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings are an octave lower than each of the strings on an AEAE cross-tuned fiddle.  It is no different to the Dwight Diller tuning g'GDgd for Yew Piney Mountain, but capo'd up a tone to the key of A - although I could probably get into it without the capo on my banjo.

Randy - Thanks for your dulcimer clip and tunings info.  I expected that you had been all over this tuning for years !

 

Robin

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 years ago
1,541 posts

aAEAE... you are talking about on the banjo?   Tuning the first and third strings both to the same note in the same ocatave?  Tuning the 4th and 2nd strings to the same note in the same octave?   Are you talking about generally in the same octave as standard banjo tuning, or an octave lower?

 

On the dulcimer I think cross tuning variations of GDGD/AEAE etc is not so unusual?  I'm confused as to whether you are asking about tunings for the banjo or the dulcimer.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 01/20/16 11:59:22AM
Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
3 years ago
95 posts

Other tunings of the same ilk are:

AEAB - which is the equivilant to double C tuning tuned down to A

AEAc# - open C tuned down

AEAC - A minor

You are probably familiar with these tunings?

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
3 years ago
95 posts

Robin

I assume you're tuning down to AA'EAe right? Tuning down to A gives enough room on the top end to get that e note....w/o changing strings.

I use the tuning. I can't remember if I started using it on the dulcimer first or the banjo but it works with both. Good drones!

Here's a tune I posted a few years ago tuned AEAe

 

 

 

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
3 years ago
257 posts

I know that there are a few good banjo players here on FOTMD and I'm interested if anyone knows more history about or has played banjo in aAEAE tuning basically to match a cross-tuned fiddle.

I stumbled across the tuning yesterday.  last weekend a friend sent me a link to Dwight Diller playing Yew Piney Mountain in gGDGD so I retuned and had a go at catching the tune.  Last night another friend said he played the tune on fiddle so I went round to his place and he had the music (not sure whose version?) in the key of A for cross tuned fiddle AEAE.  So I said I'd simply re-tune my old banjo to match his fiddle and try and play along.  After messing around with the tune for a while I asked what else he could play in cross-tuning.  So we set off on Cripple Creek, June Apple, Cluck Old Hen, OJC, Shady Grove, Buffalo Gals and a couple of others.  What struck me was how simple it was to find those melodies from this banjo tuning (basically it is the same fingering as fiddle or the top two strings on mandolin with drones behind) and, more interestingly, how the tuning 'worked' for major, minor and mixolidian mode tunes because all the open strings were just root and 5th.

In looking on the internet for information on this tuning I found this on Zeppmusic:

aAEAE

A-minor modal tuningShorty Ralph Reynolds, Want to Go to Cuba But I Can't Go Now ("Old-Time Banjo in America"). On sleeve notes for this recording, Art Rosenbaum says that Reynolds learned this archaic tuning, dating from the Spanish American War, from his father.

I'm not sure that the description 'A-minor modal tuning' is really correct as the tuning is neither major or minor?  I think it is quite interesting from a traditional dulcimer perspective as I certainly saw opportunities in the tuning because of my experience playing the dulcimer.  If I was an Appalachian fiddler and banjo player I think that I would also drift towards a tuning that would be so familiar to me.

Have any of you used this tuning or have any more information about it?  As I managed to 'accidently' find aAEAE simply because I was sitting in with a cross-tuned fiddler I'm darn sure that many, many other players would have stumbled on it too (I found one guy on banjo hangout who use it).

Robin