Ways to play in other keys

CarolynF
CarolynF
@carolynf
2 weeks ago
5 posts

I have been trying out Dgd. I watched a couple YouTube videos on approaching it, which were helpful. I think that will really work for what I want to do.

Two obvious reasons why I can't just play a tune out of D, since that's what I'm tuned in. Number one is my fiddle player. If a tune is in G, then, well, it's in G. And some of those awkward tunes that obviously were written in a different key because they are either too high or too low for the middle voice of the instrument. 

This will be really quick to tune to G when needed (my brain won't be so quick, so the first after re-tuning is always a throwaway, easy tune). 

I will try to be content with this new challenge (on top of still being challenged with the standard tuning) for a little while before I start chasing the next tempting thing.

CarolynF
CarolynF
@carolynf
3 weeks ago
5 posts

Good ideas. I'm less willing to capo because I remove a few inches of dulcimer from the potential. I know when I go to another tuning on my banjo, I really have to pay attention during the first tune because my "muscle memory" has to shift to a different one. I guess that is what will happen when I re-tune the middle string. 

I guess I'll try that, see what happens, and if I'm not ready, then I'll makeshift a capo and see how that feels.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,485 posts

Hey @carolynf,

The easiest way to play in G might be to tune the middle string to G so you would be in DGd.  Then the drones would be "right" but "reversed," meaning the root or key tone would be on the middle string and the 5th would be on the bass string. Your home base on the melody string would no longer be the open D, but the G on the third fret.

If you don't want to retune, you could put a capo at the third fret.  If you are tuned DAd and capo at 3, your notes would now be GDg, so you could play in G exactly the same way you were playing in D before.

You can play in G without using either of those methods, but as you have discovered, you can't rely on the open strings as much. You would also likely have to move up the fretboard to get the C natural that falls on the 6th fret of the bass and middle strings.  (In fact, I've been working on a series of intermediate-level arrangements of tunes played first in D and then in G, all out of the DAd tuning. The challenge for the G parts though, is that we move up the fretboard where we are often less comfortable and have to use more fingers to play chords.)

EDIT: Woops! I see @ken-longfield is a faster typist than I am and offered the same advice already.




--
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.
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updated by @dusty-turtle: 09/05/21 07:53:44PM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 weeks ago
812 posts

Probably the simplest way to play in G is to drop the middle string from A to G. Another easy way, which you say you don't want to do, is to capo at the 3rd fret. In the first method you will be playing in what is called "reverse ionian." The scale begins on the 3rd fret, not on the open as in DAd. Any DAA tab will work for playing in DGD.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

CarolynF
CarolynF
@carolynf
3 weeks ago
5 posts

I have a dulcimer tuned DAD that I have been learning on. I like to do notes and strumming with a thin pick and using chords. I am especially interested right now in playing some tunes in G. What is the usual way to do that? I know I can pick out the tune, but the drones aren't right then. (don't want to finger chords all the way through!) 

Do people retune the drones for G? Do people just get a second dulcimer, like people have harmonicas in different keys? I know there are some keys one can capo up for, like A, but not ready to do that yet.


updated by @carolynf: 09/05/21 08:42:59PM