Friday, July 29, 2011

Painful Keys for Songs

If you are a keyboardist / pianist as I am, you know which keys are painful to play, except to very experienced musicians: E major and B major. Four Sharps; five sharps. And who ever remembers the key of the scale with six sharps? Songwriters often write in the key they're most comfortable with... that's understandable.

So, if you're a guitarist songwriter: If your song will fit just as well in D as in E, please consider having mercy on the poor keyboardist.... Select some other key besides our favorite guitar key of E. (Some vocalists would thank you for selecting D instead also.... easier for most.)

But if you're a keyboardist songwriter: Think of how hard four sharps are, and consider giving some RETURN MERCY to all us guitarists and bassists --- avoid the keys of Bb and Eb.  Go JUST ONE  HALF  STEP  difference to C,  or  to D  (A with its 3 sharps can be hard for keyboardists;  F is hard for many guitarists to play.)

       Yes, these are common keys in classical music and hymnals. Yes, flats are easy to reach on the keyboard. Yes, Saxophonists and other brass and wind instrument players like flats. But there are two main reasons to avoid choosing a Flat key if you hope that guitarists and bassists will play it well:

(1)  On the guitar, only musicians who've learned to barre can play full Eb, Ab, Bb, and B chords. Bb is rather weak to play, just the three strings of the A form but 1 fret higher on the neck (fret 3). Ab is also weak to play without barre chords.... the same three strings in A form at fret 1 rather than 2. But that moveable form doesn't work for Eb... there's no 'shortcut' to even a basic Eb sound on guitar, and we don't even have a low Eb note to pluck.
(2)  On the bass, you lose the beautiful resonating open E string as a bottom note if the song is in the key of Eb. Yes, five-stringers can play the B string 4th fret... but there's something about the depth of that open E string you'll miss. And  bassists won't be able to add a gorgeous double-stop *thick* E sound with an open E string plus A string Fret 7 plucked simultaneously. Much Joy in Easy Songwriting to you!
©2011 DianaDee