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My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!

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harpgirl 03 Nov 01 - 09:58 AM
Gary T 03 Nov 01 - 10:01 AM
Allan C. 03 Nov 01 - 10:05 AM
kendall 03 Nov 01 - 10:06 AM
catspaw49 03 Nov 01 - 10:23 AM
SINSULL 03 Nov 01 - 10:29 AM
Amos 03 Nov 01 - 10:33 AM
Gary T 03 Nov 01 - 10:48 AM
Rick Fielding 03 Nov 01 - 11:02 AM
kendall 03 Nov 01 - 11:49 AM
richardw 03 Nov 01 - 11:51 AM
Amos 03 Nov 01 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Greycap 03 Nov 01 - 12:21 PM
Don Firth 03 Nov 01 - 01:24 PM
Deckman 03 Nov 01 - 02:34 PM
GUEST 03 Nov 01 - 08:13 PM
53 03 Nov 01 - 10:43 PM
Bill D 03 Nov 01 - 10:52 PM
harpgirl 03 Nov 01 - 11:54 PM
wysiwyg 04 Nov 01 - 03:48 AM
53 04 Nov 01 - 02:26 PM
Gary T 04 Nov 01 - 03:07 PM
catspaw49 04 Nov 01 - 03:46 PM
wysiwyg 04 Nov 01 - 03:58 PM
Gary T 04 Nov 01 - 04:06 PM
53 04 Nov 01 - 06:26 PM
wysiwyg 04 Nov 01 - 07:53 PM
53 04 Nov 01 - 07:55 PM
wysiwyg 04 Nov 01 - 08:17 PM
Gary T 04 Nov 01 - 11:40 PM
JohnInKansas 05 Nov 01 - 12:06 AM
Dan Schatz 05 Nov 01 - 10:33 PM
53 06 Nov 01 - 09:51 AM
Gary T 06 Nov 01 - 10:25 AM
harpgirl 06 Nov 01 - 11:47 AM
Dan Schatz 06 Nov 01 - 01:07 PM
53 06 Nov 01 - 01:57 PM
Fortunato 06 Nov 01 - 02:12 PM
wysiwyg 06 Nov 01 - 04:01 PM
Night Owl 06 Nov 01 - 04:49 PM
harpgirl 06 Nov 01 - 07:34 PM
Allan C. 06 Nov 01 - 07:58 PM
harpgirl 06 Nov 01 - 08:35 PM
Allan C. 06 Nov 01 - 08:54 PM
Night Owl 06 Nov 01 - 10:23 PM
wysiwyg 06 Nov 01 - 11:07 PM
harpgirl 28 Nov 01 - 06:11 PM
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Subject: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: harpgirl
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 09:58 AM

....Did I get your attention???? Anywho....
?
I have a new autoharp in the key of "F" thanks to my dear friend Mark Fackeldy. I don't know why exactly...since I asked for another C/D diatonic but I guess Mark felt like building a "F" and I never quibble with genius.

At any rate, I know I can transpose easily enough but what common folks songs are done in this key? What about favorite fiddle tunes???Help me, friends....harpgirl


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Gary T
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:01 AM

Most people I know do "Man of Constant Sorrow" in F.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Allan C.
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:05 AM

I think it's time to consider a capo, HG.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: kendall
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:06 AM

I have never understood this question. I do all songs in any key that suits my voice. Can someone explain? Congrats HG, the thing is in good hands.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:23 AM

Yeah Kendall....I know of whqt you speak and it never made any sense to me either. Of course, you have a lot better voice and I am generally better off in the Key of R.........But what's the deal with "classically played" in some key? Outside of trying to imitate some finger pickin' thing in an open tuning or whatever.......I don't get it.

So 'Catters can you help the Cap'n and myself here? Yeah, I know we're both beyond help, but try it anyway.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: SINSULL
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:29 AM

Congratulations, HG. I can't offer any advice. My autoharp has turned into a lethal weapon. Everytime I try to tune it, a string breaks and attempts to put out my eye. I think it is possessed. That help, Spaw?


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Amos
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:33 AM

I subscribe to the Curmudgeon school of Woddafug and Woddevah here. I guess if you needed a standard key for palying with others who had learned something in that key only. But to my mind, ya could play any song in any key and if it comes out different, well, that's folk music. I am interested to hear the explanatrion too, as I am just as dumb as the two noteworthy characters up there...

Spaw, is the key of R the one where there are no notes left? LOL

A


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Gary T
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:48 AM

Choosing a key to accomodate a voice makes perfect sense to us singers. Choosing one to accomodate another instrument also has merits--I understand that it's generally easier to play a fiddle in D or A compared to other keys, for example. It makes sense to me that if one has, say, worked out a guitar finger- or flat-picking arrangement in one key, playing in a different key (sans capo) would be like starting over.

Some people maintain that certain songs "sound best" in certain keys. I recall a vigorous discussion here on Mudcat sometime in the last year or so about this. I remain unconvinced. I remember seeing three guitarists, with no other instruments and no voices involved, all put their capos on before playing a certain tune. When I asked why they all capoed up 2 frets instead of just playing open, they said the song sounded better in A than in G. Maybe to their ears, but I can't say I've ever noticed such a thing.

Nevertheless (and back to Harpgirl's query), I've been in many a jam where certain songs are expected to be done in certain keys, that's what everyone is familiar with. Unfortunately, I don't recall that key being F for any songs other than what I mentioned earlier.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 11:02 AM

Congrats Harpgirl. You may or may not know from past posts, that I've devised 'removable chord cartridges' for my regular tuned harp, but the one I play the most is definitely tuned for F (and C)

I use a maximum of seven bars in order to give more 'playing space, and currently my F harp has F,Bb,C,G7,C7,Gm and Dm. If I'm playing a song in C, and need an Am, I take out the Gm and replace it with Am.

F is a wonderful key for tunes (great midrange) and suits my (baritone) voice for old time songs that I might normally do in the higher key of G on guitar or banjo.

There are of course "correct" keys for virtually all dance tunes, and these are the keys that the fiddlers use, and yes, they'll get snotty when you change them. That's probably why it's a good idea to carry a spare harp with all the majors and minors for the keys of G, A, C, and D. At least that way you can chord along. But by all means, work out your complex tunes in F. They'll sound great.

Rick


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: kendall
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 11:49 AM

Last evening I had a session with a friend who plays fiddle. I wanted to do a song in Bb, and asked if that was ok, she said "sure" She has always played in whatever key I needed to sing. If it is an instrumental, I'm willing to play along in any key. However, if I'm singing, it needs to be in a key that is right for my voice. Never paid much attention to that idea that this is the key it is "standard", or the one it is "Usually" played in. Did you know that Harpo Marx could only play in the key of A? Not very versatile.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: richardw
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 11:51 AM

Rick;

I guess there is a limit to how much you can do this depending on how you have the harp strung, as some notes would be missing. In my continued search for the "right" key, and in order to play with my partner whose range is quite different than mine, I now use 4 diatonic harps, D, F, G, C and am making up a pentatonic E harp. But, for jams, I am thinking of going back to a chromatic 15 chord model so I can change without such fuss.

Harpgirl, there is quite a difference in a C/D harp and an F. I wonder what Mark was thinking about?

Cheers

Richard Wright


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Amos
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 12:18 PM

Whatever he was thinking about, it starts with F....


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: GUEST,Greycap
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 12:21 PM

Carter Family's "Gold watch & Chain" sounds pretty damn nice in 'F' IMHO Roger


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 01:24 PM

If you're singing operatic arias and such, you have a whole orchestra (and perhaps chorus) to contend with, so you pretty well have to sing them in the keys they're written in. But . . . if you're singing, especially, folk songs, you can sing them in any key you want, presumable one that suits your voice.

I''m not just making this up. I studied music formally at the University of Washington School of Music and the Cornish School of the Arts, and the word is that unless a song is written for a specific voice (i.e. tenor aria, or the bass part in the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, you can sing it in any key you want. There's a difference between a song (any key) and a "vocal part" (specific, fixed key).

I've never been able to understand pop or jazz singers who say things like "my key is Eb." That's silly. Unless they have an extremely wide range, I bet I could come up with a batch of songs they couldn't sing in Eb.

One of the problems with singing everything in the same key is that, after a while, everything you sing starts to sound the same.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 02:34 PM

I can recall Segovia being quoted as saying that he felt the most perfect key for the guitar was D. By that, I believe that he meant that the natural harmonics and intervals in the key of D brought out the best tonal qualities of the instrument. I certainly agree, especially with "dropped D" tuning. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 08:13 PM

In theory, a higher key will make a tune (or song) 'brighter,' and a lower key will 'darken' it. Thus, given any song and the mood you want to create with it, there is theoretically an 'ideal' key. That said, if I can't possibly sing it in the 'ideal' key, there's gonna be no mood created at all, so I have no hesitation in changing keys to suit my voice. And I've even had church organists transpose classical pieces for me when they thought I would do the music more justice in a more comfortable key. Agreed that the larger the group you're singing/playing with, the more difficult it is to get them to perform in 'your' key, but, as Don said, there's probably no 'magical' key for any folk music except the one that's best for you at the time.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: 53
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:43 PM

man of constant is done in f. BOB


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 10:52 PM

Mother Maybelle resorted to 'F' a lot as she got older...I do a couple gospel songs in F, and now & then something just 'fits' there...I think we avoid F a lot 'cause some guitarists object


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: harpgirl
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 11:54 PM

Hi Ho...just returned from White Springs...thanks for the conversation, my friends.

Richard, I think Mark thinks I should have this key for my voice. I do now have F, D/A, C, and G diatonics so I can play most tunes.

I agree that a chromatic is nice but I have never gotten used to them because Bryan taught me how to modify my harps in the middle 70's and so I began with diatonics.

Rick, you would enjoy meeting Mark. His skill as a luthier is remarkable. He has harps with lock bars which I think do what your "removeables" do. I played the Oscar Schmidt model and didn't care for it. June Maugery uses hers a lot. harp


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 03:48 AM

I have some stuff in F. Quite a bit. Lemme look around in my book and see what I got.

~S~


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: 53
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 02:26 PM

the best way to play in F on the guitar is to put your capo on the 1st fret and play in the E position BOB


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 03:07 PM

True, Bob, unless you need the minor chords commonly used.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 03:46 PM

Well then Gary, you just capo down two frets and play in G. (:<))

Spaw


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 03:58 PM

Yeah, and Spaw can just make harpy an autoharp capo and there she goes.

~S~


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 04:06 PM

Hey, while you're at it, Spaw, make a negative capo so we can capo UP 2 more frets and play in G!


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: 53
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 06:26 PM

to play the minor chords involved you'll have to barre them , i suppose you know how to do that? bob


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 07:53 PM

I want a vocal capo too. That will solve everything. It needs to not only go around my neck, it needs be made of soft fur so it doesn't hurt. A weasel would just about work. Think of the marketing frenzy we can touch off with that!

~S~


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: 53
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 07:55 PM

i've never heard of one of those. BOB


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 08:17 PM

That's why we'll make so much money with them, Bob, as soon as we figure out how to calibrate them. *G* I mean I know how to make a tenor into a soprano, or at least a countertenor, but somehow I can't see that working for folkies, who will want to be able to switch back again. And it's no good at all for the ladies.

~S~


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 11:40 PM

"to play the minor chords involved [in E] you'll have to barre them , i suppose you know how to do that?"

Yes, but in my opinion, that pretty well negates this concept: "the best way to play in F on the guitar is to put your capo on the 1st fret and play in the E position"


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 12:06 AM


I play fairly often with a group that does mostly old-time country (40s & early 50s stuff). There is little objection to changing the key if someone needs it to sing, but we play quite a lot of these tunes in E and/or F. It seems to fit our male singers pretty well.

I seem to have heard somewhere that the F chord is particularly troublesome to (some) guitarists, so our guy who thinks he knows how may be just showing off, too.

I've been looking over the "new" Definitive Dillon songbook recently and note that he includes quite a few in F. (And a few in B.)

I'm not sure why, but lots of "blueseys" seem to be commonly played in E.

There is a definite advantage in the "convenience" of the fingering on fiddle or mando for tunes in G, D, or A - and to some extent E. G and D sit comfortably on the open strings, and A/E are the "simplest" keys that take you off of the open strings without going to "high postitions." Bluegrassers tend to put everything in these keys, but I don't see any reason why folk - especially vocalists - should worry about that.

John


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 10:33 PM

I've been playing autoharp for nearly 20 years and I still don't understand why the standard autoharp setup emphasizes the key of F when so few other instruments play in F very often. Perhaps it's because F is a good, middle of the road singing key and suits a lot of people's voices. With a tempered scale (which we all use, pretty much), it shouldn't be "lighter" or "darker" than other keys, just lower them some and higher than others.

Of course, you could probably talk to Mark (who I know makes lovely instruments) about restringing it and cutting you some chord bars in A, D, G or C - more common keys for jamming. It shouldn't be too hard to make the conversion.

By the way - Sinsull, your problem may be due to the frame pulling apart below the chord bars (or elsewhere, I suppose). I had a similar problem after a hotel porter dropped my Keith Young chromatic - evidently from a pretty significant height. It was annoying to repair mainly because it involved restringing the instrument, but that's a good thing to do from time to time anyway. Other than that it took Keith very little time to make it as good as new.

Good luck!

Dan


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: 53
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 09:51 AM

then how do you suggest playing a minor chore that comes up in either key. BOB


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Gary T
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 10:25 AM

Hi, Bob. This, of course, is my personal perspective and preference.

In a 3-chord song, I'd much rather play E forms (E, A, B7) than F forms (F, Bb, C7). This mainly because I struggle a lot with Bb, but I can also do E "quicker and cleaner" than F, and B7 quicker than C7.

In a song that uses the typical minor chords, I find the F forms (Dm, Am, Gm) easier/quicker as a group than the E forms (C#m, G#m, F#m). I can do all six of these chords, but barring takes a hair longer and has a greater chance of imperfect fretting, so I find doing Dm and Am more appealing than doing C#m and G#m. I also prefer the sound of chords closer to the nut (more bass).

I just strum chords and don't do any picking. Someone who plays lead might have a different view.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: harpgirl
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 11:47 AM

Hello Dan. Do you play at MLAG? How are your harps set up?



...this is a lovely conversation but what about my "F" songs???? Maybe I'lll have to get off my lazy butt and look in my songbooks....


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 01:07 PM

Sing any song you want to in F, as long as it fits your voice. I think that's the basic message.

I haven't yet been to MLAG, but I'd like to go; perhaps next summer if time and resources permit. I have to confess that right now I just have the one chromatic, in standard setup - a beautiful walnut and spruce Keith Young. At some point, though, I'll get myself a diatonic, and when I do it'll probably emphasize D and G. I'm sure one day I'll have the whole collection.

Dan


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: 53
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 01:57 PM

to play the E forms in the key of F like ia said earlier just put your capo on the 1st fret and play using the E forms but you are really playing in F you've just moved everything up a fuul step. BOB


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Fortunato
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 02:12 PM

Harpgirl, there's a blues tune done by Tommy Duncan (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys) and many others called "Troublin' Mind" that sounds good in F to me. Also "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains" and "Hello Stranger, associated with The Carter Family".

I choose keys based on my voice and how they lay on the guitar for convenience of noting. Nevertheless some songs simply sound 'right' to my ear in a given key.

To the post above about Segovia. I too love the intrinsic sound of the guitar played in D more than any other key.


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 04:01 PM

Oh yeah I have a blues tune for you too, it would go well in F as a high whine. It's an F-ing good one too, but you will have to practice testify-chatter-singing first to get all the words in. *G* LOL! ROFLMAO!

~S~


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Night Owl
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 04:49 PM

hg...I think "Farther Along" and "Softly and Tenderly" are gorgeous on the autoharp in F. Also agree with Fortunato for the two Carter family tunes. Congratulations!!!


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: harpgirl
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 07:34 PM

Hi NightOwl! I haven't run into you lately! Maybe I should dowload PalTalk and sing. Are you visitng PalTalk these days?

Thanks for the songs. I do "Farther along, , My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Hello Stranger", Fortunato. Thanks.

Well Susan, testify chatter singing is not my idea of an Episcopal church woman's musical style!!!! *wink* but then neither is the name Wizzywig!!!" LOL harpgirl


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Allan C.
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 07:58 PM

I'm in agreement with many of the folks above. I believe you'll find that you can play virtually all of the songs here in the key of "F".


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: harpgirl
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 08:35 PM

I know Allan....but some songs were meant for the key of "F"...hg


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Allan C.
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 08:54 PM

I offer my apology for my previous post. It seemed funny (to me) at the time. I honestly don't understand what you mean by "meant for the key of 'F'", HG. I have read the comments posted so far and still feel that the argument for playing a song in a particular key (unless accomodating the limitations of a particular instrument or voice) is rather weak at best. It would seem that there are tunes (more often than songs) that are customarily played in one key or another. The reason for this is probably lost through the passage of time. But I cannot get around the idea of a song/tune being "meant" for a particular key. I am wanting to try to see this with an open mind. Is there anything you could add to clarify the issue?


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: Night Owl
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 10:23 PM

I think part of the problem with "keys" and particular songs is with the autoharp itself. To my ear, there are some songs that simply want to be in a particular key on the autoharp......I guess cuz you can find all the notes you want....and harmonies and bass rythyms in a specific song. I think the guitar and some other stringed instruments are much more versatile....maybe?? Curious to know if other harp players would agree??


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 Nov 01 - 11:07 PM

I think it has more to do with the wonderful deep tone colors and resonance some of the chords produce... I remember seeing a Mudcat discussion about it but I can't recall where... but I know that on mine there is a sweet spot clustereed around several chords, and when I can get one in that range it sounds great. Especially now that I am hammering. But it's a bad range for me, for singing.

Now harp, yer jes' goin' have to do somethig with those expectations. *G* I bet I bust 'em all to flinders. I promise if we ever meet I will introduce you to that jook joint girl, and you can have a try with that song.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: My new 'F... in'' autoharp!!!
From: harpgirl
Date: 28 Nov 01 - 06:11 PM

I should have started this thread AFTER I picked up my new harp! I love it!!!! Mark takes old "B" models I find on Ebay and reworks them for me. It is so beautiful!!!

Rick, my keys are close to yours but it is laid out like this:

Bflat/pentatonic, F4,Fpent, 4C, Cpent

Gmin, A7, Dmin, E*, Amin

Bflat, C7, F, G7, C

It has fine tuners at the bottom and the bars are curly maple. When the red finish is taken off those "B" models the fire of the wood is very brilliant. I LOVE THIS HARP. hg


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