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Did a gig last weds. We played all of me and the guitar misread the key so I found myself in C# rather than D. I faked my way through but it wasn't pretty. I always do blues changes with II Vs in a few keys but I wasn't ready for this one. I guess the moral is to at least work a song in a couple of keys close to the original key. That would have saved me. I had to be okay with sucking for a short time. K
 

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Discussion Starter #2
It was a trio gig at an unassisted living place so it was more about the singer than me but I'm not used to looking bad. Good lesson in humility. K
 

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Same thing happened to me on “Color My World” one time.

Musically, it was the worst 5 minutes of my life....I pride myself on being prepared, and I wasn’t for that one.

Humility is beautiful though....
 

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In those situations sometimes it's better not to think about it too much, and just let your fingers take over. As funny as it sounds, they'll go to the right notes most of the time, unless you're trying to play something like Donna Lee.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
In those situations sometimes it's better not to think about it too much, and just let your fingers take over. As funny as it sounds, they'll go to the right notes most of the time, unless you're trying to play something like Donna Lee.
Frank you are right . fingers have saved me many times. They know the note even if I can't figure out the chord. K
 

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If you jam regularly with guitarists you'll find that F# and C# are much easier than Eb and Ab. As Frank hints, just let go and let the music flow through you.
 

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If you jam regularly with guitarists you'll find that F# and C# are much easier than Eb and Ab.
Are you implying that guitarists regularly play in (concert*) F# or C#? I only know one guitarist I've played with who has called a tune in one of those keys. A lot of guitarists like to play in E and B, though. The best guitarists will happily play in any key.

But it's true that whatever keys you are more familiar with will be easier than keys you rarely play in. The best case is to get experience playing in all 12 keys, of course.

I think Keith's point is that when you learn a tune and play it a lot in a specific key, it can really trip you up when you have to suddenly play it in a different key, on the spot. For me, it kind of depends on the tune. Some tunes are easier to transpose quickly than others.

*Just for the record, it's a good habit to always, without exception, speak in concert key, unless you specify "tenor sax key" or "alto sax key," etc.
 

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JL, way to be pedantic and dense.

F# and C# are tenor and alto keysnfor every guitarist's favorite key, concert E.

Betcha already know that, so why be like that??


Dat
Sax
Man

Competent in all keys. I hope.
 

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JL, way to be pedantic and dense.

F# and C# are tenor and alto keysnfor every guitarist's favorite key, concert E.

Betcha already know that, so why be like that??
The devil made me do it. :)

But there is a point here to be made especially for anyone who plays with others on the bandstand. You have to get used to speaking in concert key. Otherwise it can create a lot of confusion. Even on here (a sax site) I think it best to simply add "sax key" if you want to talk about the sax-transposed key.

And maybe this is also pedantic, but I'd add that all the really good guitarists I know have no issues playing in Bb, Ab, F, etc. And now I guess I should add I'm speaking in concert key.
 

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Keith said: " I found myself in C#", so seems to me he was talking about the key he was playing his sax in.

If you play with singers (especially female) they will want you to play in all sorts of keys. You need to be able to play by ear, and in all sorts of odd keys. I know this is kind of advanced stuff, but it's what real world musicians have to be able to do. I played in a backing band for a few years for "open mike nights". Not only did you have no music that they brought in, but they would do their thing in whatever key they wanted without so much as giving you a clue. The guitarist I worked with was a top pro with big ears, so it made it easier for me to at least be able to follow him.
 

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But there is a point here to be made especially for anyone who plays with others on the bandstand. You have to get used to speaking in concert key. Otherwise it can create a lot of confusion. Even on here (a sax site) I think it best to simply add "sax key" if you want to talk about the sax-transposed key.

And maybe this is also pedantic, but I'd add that all the really good guitarists I know have no issues playing in Bb, Ab, F, etc. And now I guess I should add I'm speaking in concert key.
It's not at all pedantic. ALL musicians should understand what "concert key" means and why it's important to know what it means. If you are playing with younger guitarists (under thirty) many are self-taught and won't even know what a concert key is, and don't understand that instruments play in different keys. They play in keys which require chords with the fewest open strings, it seems.

Years ago, when I rehearsed with groups that were just getting off the ground, I'd show up at practice with transcribed horn parts taken directly from the record only to find out that the guitarist decided that the record's key was too difficult because it required him to play chords with too many open strings. I'm sure that those guitarists who continued to play to middle age are much more capable than that, but I eventually avoided playing with guitar centered groups for precisely this reason.If I were still at that stage, I'd probably hire the guitarist last, or forego a guitarist altogether.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Keith said: " I found myself in C#", so seems to me he was talking about the key he was playing his sax in.

If you play with singers (especially female) they will want you to play in all sorts of keys. You need to be able to play by ear, and in all sorts of odd keys. I know this is kind of advanced stuff, but it's what real world musicians have to be able to do. I played in a backing band for a few years for "open mike nights". Not only did you have no music that they brought in, but they would do their thing in whatever key they wanted without so much as giving you a clue. The guitarist I worked with was a top pro with big ears, so it made it easier for me to at least be able to follow him.
on one of my convalescent hospital jobs I do weekly I have a great guitarist and we'll routinely play songs in different keys. He's amazing, easily knows 10 times as many forms/songs as I know and he can switch very easily. So I've played somewhere over and blue bossa and many others in many keys but I just wasn't expecting this to happen. We had rehearsed all of me in Concert F and on the gig the guitar misread the set list and played it in concert E. I'm actually good in concert E because as JL said We live there as saxplayers because of all the guitar influenced songs. But All of me goes through many changes and I thought I had the form nailed but I had learned the changes to the tune not the real form where I understand each chord and how it functions to the parent key. My bad. my ear has saved me more times than i can count. My head doesn't know the right chord buy my fingers know the right note to play. . but its never a bad thing to learn a song in more than one key. For instance I play Blue bossa much different in myBb than my A minor. I come up with new ideas . And when we change the time and play it in 3 that forces me to be more creative also. k
 

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It's not at all pedantic. ALL musicians should understand what "concert key" means and why it's important to know what it means. If you are playing with younger guitarists (under thirty) many are self-taught and won't even know what a concert key is, and don't understand that instruments play in different keys.
Thank you. That was more or less my point. Along with the fact that on the bandstand when you say anything about the key center, you have to speak in concert key.

Hey Keith, actually it wasn't me who implied that so many guitarists mostly play in E. Although it's true a lot of guitar-centered tunes (esp rock) are in E, it's been my experience that the better guitarists--the only ones you really want to play with--are totally comfortable in a lot of keys and don't have any particular preference for playing in E (concert). Also, while I'm not a guitarist, I remember being surprised when some time ago a guitarist told me that basically all he had to do to transpose something to another key was change position on the fret board and still play the same pattern. In other words, it's considerably easier from a fingering standpoint for a guitarist to transpose a tune to another key than it is for us horn players.
 

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Also, while I'm not a guitarist, I remember being surprised when some time ago a guitarist told me that basically all he had to do to transpose something to another key was change position on the fret board and still play the same pattern. In other words, it's considerably easier from a fingering standpoint for a guitarist to transpose a tune to another key than it is for us horn players.
That's true unless the guitarist is depending on first position lines that use open strings, but other than that entirely true. Once you're are up on the neck (higher frets/pitches), it can only require a slight shift for minor changes in pitch. If you want to change by more than a third or so, then it may also require a shift ACROSS the fingerboard, necessitating different fingerings (there are not the same intervals between all strings).
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yep JL , I know that a dif key for them is just a hand position change . But I still am jealous of my Guitar friend. He knows changes and melodies to 100s of songs and I might know close to 100 if I really tried. So, its all good. I try to add some you tube playing along with sessions, into my practice routine. Where I'll take a song I thing I"d like to know and learn at least the melody and then harmony and form if I have time . K
 

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The devil made me do it. :)

But there is a point here to be made especially for anyone who plays with others on the bandstand. You have to get used to speaking in concert key. Otherwise it can create a lot of confusion. Even on here (a sax site) I think it best to simply add "sax key" if you want to talk about the sax-transposed key.

And maybe this is also pedantic, but I'd add that all the really good guitarists I know have no issues playing in Bb, Ab, F, etc. And now I guess I should add I'm speaking in concert key.
+10

While I would like to be able to say I'm equally fluent in all keys, I know I am not. For years I played far more gigs than I rehearsed, and when I rehearsed - I rehearsed for the gigs. Since my thing is Blues and R&B mostly, the "guitar keys" are easiest for me. At least one of my band leaders liked to call tunes in Bb and Ab though so I have those pretty well in control too.
Surprisingly, I find I do ok in the little used keys just by using my ear, but I'll never be as good in F# as I am in E. I just don't get that much exposure to tunes in F#....Do I care? Not really - If I did, I'd put in the time...
 

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Right on, Fader. I'm also mostly a blues, R&B player, with a smattering of jazz, esp 'soul' or blues jazz.

But regarding keys in the blues, if you include the early jump blues, swing blues, Louis Jordon blues, and right up through B.B. King, Albert King, etc, here are the (concert!) keys that I've found occur often, moreso than E: G, Bb, F, A, Ab, & C. I don't know how many of those would be considered "guitar keys" (probably G, A, & C, at least), but any decent guitarist will be comfortable playing the blues in any of those.
 

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Right on, Fader. I'm also mostly a blues, R&B player, with a smattering of jazz, esp 'soul' or blues jazz.

But regarding keys in the blues, if you include the early jump blues, swing blues, Louis Jordon blues, and right up through B.B. King, Albert King, etc, here are the (concert!) keys that I've found occur often, moreso than E: G, Bb, F, A, Ab, & C. I don't know how many of those would be considered "guitar keys" (probably G, A, & C, at least), but any decent guitarist will be comfortable playing the blues in any of those.
Yeah man...my heavy lifting was with Jump and Swing - I'm guessing we were probably ATL's only working Jump Blues band because we were booked 3-5 nights a week. It was also my introduction to the blues beyond BB King or Stevie...I never knew the Blues could be so happy!

Strangely enough it started as a pick-up gig from Craigs List. The guy said, "Can you play this stuff?", and I said, "...er....sure!" It was pretty evident 20 minutes in that I didn't have a clue, but music is music. 10 years later we were still doing it. I guess the problem was that 99% of those gigs were late night bars, or BBQ joints and breweries. Not a healthy environment, but oh what a blast - and one hell of an education / immersion on the fly. He had some really clever original stuff that fit the genre too...and it's not everyday you see someone play a doghouse bass behind their head!

 
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