[78-L] Choral key question
jackson1932 at cfl.rr.com
Thu Dec 19 17:52:28 PST 2013
> Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2013 20:29:43 +0000
> From: David Lewis <uncledavelewis at hotmail.com>
> Subject: [78-L] Choral key question
> To: 78-l <78-l at 78online.com>
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> I also vote for A flat. While you'll never find a dance band playing in that key -- too weird --for a piano player it falls pretty easily under the fingers, like Valerie said, owing to all of the black keys. And singers generally don't have an issue with it.
> Uncle Dave Lewis
> uncledavelewis at hotmail.com
Maybe it's a full moon or there's somthing in the water. Today on 78-L we had an abundance of music mis-information bandied about. While A-flat is hardly the most common key for playing standards it is certainly not an orphan. The so-called standard keys of tunes derived from the key the piano-vocal sheet music was originally published in, usually a key better suited to male vocal (baritone, like most croonres) rather than female vocal. I aalways thought this choice a bit odd as I'm certain the preponderance of sheet music purchasers were female rather than baritones. The stock arrangements for dance bands (they cost seventy five cents in thr forties and all bands used them, even the name bands to cover possible requests of the latest tunes) were usually in the same key but occasionally varied from the piano-vocal sheet music by a semi or whole-tone. Example: "I'm in the Mood for Love", the standard key for NYC musicians is D flat. The stock was published in C. There were also occasionall regional difefrences in what musician's considered the standard key for a particular tune; a difference of a semi-tone or a whole tone might occur btwen NY & New Jersey musicdians and out in the boonies, who knew! All faking (sans music) musicians were expected to know the proper keys. When a title was called, off you went in the correct key without being told or having to ask and som could play a given tune in any key.
As for singer's non-issues with A-flat, that makes no sense. Real Singers couldn't care less. What counts to them is that it's within their vocal range.
Here's a quick list of A-flat standards:
ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE (sometimes Bb)
BYE BYE BLACLBIRD
FROM THIS MOMENT ON
SO IN LOVE
WHY DO I LOVE YOU
THANKS A MILLION
THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU
EASY TO LOVE
SPRING IS HERE
MUSKRAT RAMBLE (sometimes in Bb by society bands, a travesty in that key)
BAUBLES, BANGLES & BEADS
Adhering to the standard keys applies primarily to faking bands, small groups, society bands, etc. mainly as an organizational tool. Female vocalists will almost always have to sing in a key more suited to their range. With written arragngements, assuming good musicians, anything goes. The Dorsey & Les Brown bands often played charts written in more exotic keys and Harry James' opening solo on his mega hit of 1942 "I Had the Craziest Dream" was played in the key of E. That's six sharps or enharmonically six flats for trumpets, tenor saxes & clarinets, D-flat for altos & baritone sax. The reason James chose that key is because that tune in that key lays very comfortably on the trumpet. I played it on gigs in that key also and for the very same reason. It had nothing to do with key color or anything exotic.
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