Question about keys and modes

Guy Babusek
Guy Babusek
@guy-babusek
6 years ago
96 posts

Hi! Yes. DAD you are tuned to the key of D mixolydian, and if you have a 6.5 fret you can also play in the key of D major (AKA D Ionian). In DAD you can also play in the Key of G Major pretty easily using your 3rd fret as your tonic (home base). But if you are using a noter drone style of playing, then you will want to tune to DAA if you want to use your 3rd fret as your tonic in the key of D, but if you are chording, then there is no need to retune.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
6 years ago
1,260 posts

Tumbleweed, "Blowin' in the Wind" can definitely be played on a diatonic fretboard, and the vast majority of Hank Williams tunes can, too. If you need help figuring out a particular part of a song, why not ask for help in the Help Me Learn this Song group? Start a new discussion including the title of the song and explain the part you can't figure out. I'm sure another FOTMD will help out.




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Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
6 years ago
1,260 posts

Just one minor point of clarification. If you are tuned DAd, your dulcimer is indeed in an open D tuning. However, if you play chords and fret across all the strings, it is possible to play in other keys out of that tuning. Bm is the most obvious, but there are lots of arrangements in G out of the DAd tuning, and it is also possible to play well in A. (Gary Gallier has developed a whole bunch of arrangements in A out of the DAd tuning, something he calls "cross key" after the way blues harmonica players plays blues on a harmonica that is technically a fourth below the key they play in.) You cannot play noter/drone in these other keys since the drone strings are locked in the open tuning.

Your question about that "one little note" that you can't find is probably not a matter of keys, but, as Ken indicates, of modes. The dulcimer has a diatonic fretboard, meaning not every note is possible. If you are indeed playing "newer songs" those songs may not be written in the traditional modes. You might be able to find that "one little note" on a string other than the melody string, and you might be able to find it by bending a string. But just changing keys won't really help.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
6 years ago
1,739 posts

Hi Tumbleweed;

Tuning/Key-- yes, if you are tuned DAd you're in the key of D, as we say. The dulcimer's keynote is D. If you are tuned CGc you are in the key of C and the dulcimer's keynote is C. In both cases you are tuned to Mixolydian Mode.

If you "can't find a note" changing the key may help. Remaining in the same key, but changing the modal tuning may also help. A tune like Star of County Down can't be played properly (it can be faked, with varying degrees of success) in DAd or DAA tuning, but is played perfectly simply in DAG -- Dorian Mode key of D. Each Mode has a slightly different scale, not the usual Do, Re, Mi that you can play in DAd or DAA with/without the 6+ fret.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
1,036 posts
Hi, Tumbleweed! I'm a by- ear player and am not good at "talking" music. That said, you may not need to switch keys yet may wish to try the same key with a different tuning. For example, for noter/drone play you can re- tune from DAdd to DAAA or DdAA and remain in the key of D with your key note at fret 3.I experiment with different tunings to work out how to get a tune to lay out well on the fretboard. Not everything lays- out well. :)Hope this helps!


--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Tumbleweed
Tumbleweed
@tumbleweed
6 years ago
29 posts

Hi Everybody:

I have search the site and read a few posts but I still have a question that I am sure has been asked many times before so here it goes:

I understand the difference between keys and modes but don't have a lot of music theory. If I am tuning to DADD am I in the key of D? If I am tuned to CGCC am I in the key of C? I like to learn new songs in noter style and sometimes have to figure it out by ear as there are no tabs for newer songs that I want to play. Once I am proficient I like to spice it up with chords. I am doing alright mostly until I get to just one little note in one area of a song and can't seem to find the right note. If I tune to another key would I fix the problem? Sometimes I have to dip down but this doesn't always solve it. Any responses will be appreciated but I don't have a lot of music theory terminology in my vocabulary so y'all may need to speak in simple terms for me. Thanks for reading.

TW


updated by @tumbleweed: 06/11/15 07:41:58AM