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Aug 28, 2019 - 5:49:43 PM
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7 posts since 8/28/2019

Hello, everyone!

I'm new to this forum, but I've used it in the past for answers to several banjo related questions. Let me apologize ahead of time if this is a common topic, as I haven't found it anywhere. I've recently started playing in Double C tuning and I'm completely stumped on one particular issue: the "g chord" where you place a finger on the 4th string-2nd fret and 2nd string-2nd fret. First and foremost, it isn't even a G major. Secondly it creates a horrible harmonic resonance as the 1st and 2nd string are both D4. I thought at first that it was because I was using Bill Keith strings and my 1st and 2nd strings were both 0.11, so I re-strung with standard medium-light strings and the problem persisted. I realise that I can play it further up the neck but I'm just trying to understand why I see this chord shape suggested to me on every website. What am I missing here?

Thanks in advance :)

Edited by - richieb on 08/28/2019 17:51:24

Aug 28, 2019 - 6:12:35 PM
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R Buck

USA

2677 posts since 9/5/2006

When you play the 4th and 2nd strings at the second fret your notes 5 - 1 strings are g D G D D. Not having a 3rd in the formation makes it technically a power chord. If you were to play the 4th fret of the 3rd string and the 2nd fret of the second string and not play the 4th string you would have gXBDD. That's what you get. You can also bar the 7th fret and note the 1st string at the 9th fret and get a G chord gGDGB
Look

Aug 28, 2019 - 6:13:59 PM

1269 posts since 4/13/2009
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If there is dissonance, then you have an intonation problem - placement of bridge, nut slot issue, etc. The string notes are D, G, D & D - not a full G chord, but sometimes that's all you can get with a first position and they are appropriate for a G chord. Your only alternative would be to fret the 4th fret of the third string and that wouldn't be a better "G" chord.

Aug 28, 2019 - 6:14:39 PM
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7 posts since 8/28/2019

Thank you for your insight. I suppose my issue is more so with the 1st and 2nd creating an unwanted harmonic together. It sounds like an awful buzz.

Aug 28, 2019 - 6:15:57 PM

7 posts since 8/28/2019

quote:
Originally posted by deestexas

If there is dissonance, then you have an intonation problem - placement of bridge, nut slot issue, etc. The string notes are D, G, D & D - not a full G chord, but sometimes that's all you can get with a first position and they are appropriate for a G chord. Your only alternative would be to fret the 4th fret of the third string and that wouldn't be a better "G" chord.


The bridge is in the correct position and the setup is correct. I've heard the same noise trying out different banjos in music stores.

Aug 28, 2019 - 7:05:20 PM

855 posts since 7/18/2009

I think the “buzz” may be the vibration of three strings all holding ‘D’. I have hear that, too. You probably notice that if you fret the two ‘C’ strings to ‘D’ they resonate along with the first even only one of the three is plucked. Is you whang down hard on one or two of the three strings they all will vibrate in something close to ‘D’. Because of the powerful urge to vibrate in unison they will also vibrate off tune slightly if you don’t fret nearly perfectly. This is the same effect, I think, one encounters trying to double stop fiddle strings: if you aren’t perfect you are so far off you need earplugs.

Aug 28, 2019 - 7:21:54 PM

7 posts since 8/28/2019

quote:
Originally posted by richieb
quote:
Originally posted by deestexas

If there is dissonance, then you have an intonation problem - placement of bridge, nut slot issue, etc. The string notes are D, G, D & D - not a full G chord, but sometimes that's all you can get with a first position and they are appropriate for a G chord. Your only alternative would be to fret the 4th fret of the third string and that wouldn't be a better "G" chord.


The bridge is in the correct position and the setup is correct. I've heard the same noise trying out different banjos in music stores.


100%. Since the 1st and 2nd are not only D, but D in the same octave, they seem to follow each other. If I pluck 1st, 2nd gets picked by a ghost, and vice versa. I'm trying to understand how this became a go-to chord shape. 

Aug 28, 2019 - 8:23:39 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

22318 posts since 6/25/2005

If you want to play chords you should use standard C tuning (aka drop C). Double-C is best suited to more linear playing.

Edited by - Bill Rogers on 08/28/2019 20:25:29

Aug 28, 2019 - 8:30:50 PM

7 posts since 8/28/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

If you want to play chords you should use standard C tuning (aka drop C). Double-C is best suited to more linear playing.


I thought about this but the chord shapes aren't friendly to melodic style playing at all

Aug 28, 2019 - 8:43:35 PM
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844 posts since 8/7/2017

Alas, the banjos in the music store are unlikely to be harmonious, for various reasons. Thus, comparing your banjo sound to store banjo sounds probably won't get you very far in the direction you wish to go:


1.Store banjo strings are old and corroded (virtually no one wipes (cleans) music store instrument strings after playing....I wipe store instruments' strings and I regularly get red rust off the store banjo strings)


2. The bridge is unlikely to be in the optimum position. With all the strange fingers playing in the store, the bridge may be bumped out of position, or may be adjusted by a player for a particular tuning. The bridge straight across/90deg to the strings is rarely, in my experience, the optimum position to get good harmonics (the 2nd, 3rd, etc. harmonics you need to get a good tone). So, you will have to experiment with bridge position to get the sweetest sound (most harmonious) out of your banjo. Banjo luthiers have said that each banjo is a law unto itself as far as bridge position goes. You can get in the general ballpark with the various rules, but to get the best you have to experiment.


3. And most important after bridge placement - the frets are placed by the rules of Equal Temperament. This guarantees that the chords and string interactions will be inharmonious. Not everyone can hear this, per BHO threads in the past....but if you can, then you will be disappointed to some degree. Part of the solution is to change tuning to Just Intonation....its not perfect solution but it will sweeten the tones you get.


4. You can tweek the tunings (deviate from Snark, etc) by ear to get a more harmonious sound. The pros all do this, as far as I can tell. So, if the 1st&2nd strings are not giving you a good-to-your-ear tone, then adjust one or the other to match - I flatten the 1st string a bit in double C, myself, to correct the bad interactions between the strings when playing the V chord.

This is my thread on Just Intonation for banjo, discussing the pros and some of the cons.
banjohangout.org/archive/341664

Hope this helps.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 08/28/2019 20:58:56

Aug 29, 2019 - 1:24:50 AM
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94 posts since 11/27/2017

Could this be resonance with the head? I found myself driven insane by situations where two strings in unison were too close to the "pitch" of the head. Maybe try stuffing the heck out of the banjo and see if it still sounds bad...?

Aug 29, 2019 - 3:21:07 AM
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30 posts since 4/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by richieb
quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

If you want to play chords you should use standard C tuning (aka drop C). Double-C is best suited to more linear playing.


I thought about this but the chord shapes aren't friendly to melodic style playing at all


I understand the ease of using the convention of playing in "double C", but give the standard tuning a chance, particularly if you are interested in melodic playing.  The standard tuning was used exclusively for what we call "classic" banjo playing that is nothing if not melodic.  And closer to home, Walt Koken uses the standard tuning for nearly all of his playing.  Give it a try.

RA

Aug 29, 2019 - 11:57:14 AM

274 posts since 1/30/2019

quote:
Originally posted by BrooksMT

Alas, the banjos in the music store are unlikely to be harmonious, for various reasons. Etc etc

 

Thanks Brooks, the archive post explained a lot to me about why my tuner says my banjo is in tune but my ears don't.

Fascinating, and I haven't checked the frequency of change with a tuner but I think all of my tunings are tweaked at least in the directions indicated in your archive post for JI.

And for a really geeky question, what's the evidence of Pythagoras' involvement??

Always learning, thanks again!

Andy

Aug 29, 2019 - 12:58:03 PM
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Lew H

USA

2291 posts since 3/10/2008

Melodic banjo means playing lots of notes up the fretboard and relying little on open notes. Classic C is the place to go for this. It also gets ride of the G chord problem you asked about. I personally don't have a problem with the sound the G chord in double C tuning. Maybe you could record the sound and show people what you are asking about.

Aug 29, 2019 - 2:44:23 PM

2718 posts since 10/17/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by richieb

Hello, everyone!

I realise that I can play it further up the neck but I'm just trying to understand why I see this chord shape suggested to me on every website. What am I missing here?


The bridge is in the correct position and the setup is correct. I've heard the same noise trying out different banjos in music stores.


I'm trying to understand how this became a go-to chord shape. 


It's suggested, and go-to because it works just fine for most other folks, for the music they want to play using Double C... often preferable (to other options, like up neck); maybe even desirable chord sound... the harmonic resonance isn't horrible problem for them.

I'm not really sure what you are hearing or referring to as harmonic resonance? 

It could be an issue with "your' banjo, intonation, set-up. Is it still and issue if tuned or capo up/down, half step? 

But your comments suggest, what you might be noticing, (if intonation and set-up are correct), is just the natural combination of notes coupling; which should give a bit more  harmonic resonance. But again, for most folks, (with good playing technique); it's not a problem; even part of what makes that tuning work well.
 

edit: it could be a playing technique issue?

Edited by - banjoak on 08/29/2019 14:49:24

Aug 29, 2019 - 2:55:10 PM

7 posts since 8/28/2019

quote:
Originally posted by banjoak
quote:
Originally posted by richieb

Hello, everyone!

I realise that I can play it further up the neck but I'm just trying to understand why I see this chord shape suggested to me on every website. What am I missing here?


The bridge is in the correct position and the setup is correct. I've heard the same noise trying out different banjos in music stores.


I'm trying to understand how this became a go-to chord shape. 


It's suggested, and go-to because it works just fine for most other folks, for the music they want to play using Double C... often preferable (to other options, like up neck); maybe even desirable chord sound... the harmonic resonance isn't horrible problem for them.

I'm not really sure what you are hearing or referring to as harmonic resonance? 

It could be an issue with "your' banjo, intonation, set-up. Is it still and issue if tuned or capo up/down, half step? 

But your comments suggest, what you might be noticing, (if intonation and set-up are correct), is just the natural combination of notes coupling; which should give a bit more  harmonic resonance. But again, for most folks, (with good playing technique); it's not a problem; even part of what makes that tuning work well.
 

edit: it could be a playing technique issue?


It is still produced by tuning either string up or down a half step, but that's a slippery slope. It also does it when capoed to double D. 

It very well may be a technique issue, I'm very new to this tuning. 

Aug 29, 2019 - 3:29:28 PM

2718 posts since 10/17/2009
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It can also be an expectation thing... these tunings are not just about playing the notes; but create what some call "atmosphere" - different tunings used specifically on tunes to get those different qualities;  they simply don't sound quite like gDGBD (esp. if more chord based); and also might be different "ringy" quality to different tuning/styles.  Some folks just might not like certain sounds (or limitations).

Edited by - banjoak on 08/29/2019 15:32:11

Aug 29, 2019 - 3:44:44 PM

844 posts since 8/7/2017

So far, this new-to-BHO member has heard:
1. There is no problem.
2. Most people don't have a problem.
3. Try this "better" tuning.
4. You are doing something wrong.

Now 4. might be true, I'd have to be in the same room and watch and listen to see. I kind of doubt he's doing something wrong, though, because I've heard the same thing, and I know I'm not doing anything wrong with the tuning buttons (I've got the ears to tell).

But for 1. that's on you not him: physics says there is a problem, look it up. Same for 3. since dissonance exists in all tunings based on Equal Temperament, not just Double C.

For 2, the reason is probably a) you did not take care of your ears when you were younger and they are blown out, sorry. b) your genetics gave you insensitive ears, lucky for you. c) you've taught yourself to not hear the problem (and I think this is probably the most common reason). This makes your tuning life easier, so lucky you.

But for people who can hear the difference, there are ways to reduce the dissonance, which I think is what he was asking for. I would like to hear your tips on reducing dissonance.

There are several types of perfect pitch. On type is hearing dissonance that people (w/o any of the types of perfect pitch) can't hear (genetics).  I have that type of perfect pitch; I'd call it darn-it pitch :-) Mine varies from day to day; on a perfect pitch day, with old strings on the banjo, I have to put it down because it sounds so bad. Yet, the next day, w/o doing any tuning knob twirling, the banjo sounds fine to my ears. Ain't life grand?

Edited by - BrooksMT on 08/29/2019 16:00:23

Aug 29, 2019 - 8:59:28 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

4441 posts since 1/5/2005

Do the open 1st and the second string fretted at the 2nd show up as a proper D on your tuner? If so, raising/lowering the pitch of one, or both, strings might sweeten it to your hearing.

Banjo heads make the banjo behave differently at higher/lower tensions so the tonal properties of the banjo can be altered quite a bit this way. On average, banjo heads don't come to life until they're in the 88 to 91 Drum Dial tension range. Sadly, this tension cannot be achieved on budget banjos as their hardware will fail at these tensions, their tension hooks max out at about 82~84 DD tension before they start uncurling/unfurling.

if your tailpiece is adjustable then go up/down in tension to see how your ears appreciate the diff. If that doesn't, or can't, work then play around with the head tension. Could easily be that you luck out and discover a sweet spot.

You didn't mention anything about your banjo so we don't know what kind of setup you have. One thing that can affect banjos, and their tonal behavior, quite drastically is the bridge - some do a much better job at making the banjo's tone toe the tonal property line than others. More info on your banjo will give us a better idea about which bridge might suitable for you to consider - or whether you even should.

Aug 30, 2019 - 9:04:52 AM

7 posts since 8/28/2019

I'll post this to try and avoid confusion:

I've adjusted the head tension three times and while I don't own a drum dial I've torqued it using a 24-bolt pattern and progressively to each stage - I haven't verified with a torque wrench but there is practically no sag at the feet of my bridge at this point so there isn't much wiggle room anymore, my tailpiece is adjustable and I've done that as well, it is not a fret buzz but I'm well aware of how to fix that by both the truss rod and outside co-rod on top of replacing/sanding the bridge, I've tried the stuffing trick, I've tried different gauge strings, the bridge was positioned and marked by a banjo-maker who works for a very reputable banjo brand (I won't give the name out of privacy, but they are high-end).... the "problem" is still there. I don't think hardware is the issue.

It isn't really a problem in the sense that I'm trying to get rid of it. I'm an engineer by trade so I'm not afraid to mess with the hardware to alter the sound nor am I blind to the effects it will have (I'm not saying I'm a luthier or a banjo-maker, just that I'm not a complete novice), and I'm not surprised in any way that a string sitting directly next to the one I pick will resonate when they are both the exact (or at least extremely close, in the case of tuning one or both up/down) note, and in the same octave. I am merely wondering why that particular chord shape is always suggested, seeing as it produces this effect and the fact that it doesn't even contain all of the notes for a G major. My current partner is a music teacher holding a four year degree in music theory and she is also somewhat baffled by it. I'm just really... curious.

To those who suggested it may be my playing - it might VERY WELL be a technique issue, as I am relatively new to playing the banjo (about 1.5 years, self-taught). I started by playing 3-finger style in open g, transitioned to clawhammwer, and am now trying to play with sounds I like and a more chord-based approach. I'm not doubting the merits or drop C, I just really like the sound in double C, its haunting. So if it IS a technique issue, I'm wondering what I could do differently, as I don't always want to rely on the G chord at the 7th fret.

For those interested in my instrument, I own a Washburn B-160k, Sonny Smith edition. It has been completely modified though and only the neck, rim, tone ring, and tension hoop are still original. I've added a flange to convert it to open back, I've changed the tuners and pegs, added a ren head, .656 bridge, an adjustable kershner tailpiece, custom Bill Keith gauge strings, added a frailing scoop, etc etc etc. I can attach a picture if anyone would like to see it. I could also try to record the sound (audio and/or video).

I'm just trying to find my own sound.

Thanks for for all of the helpful hints and tricks. 

Edited by - richieb on 08/30/2019 09:18:21

Aug 30, 2019 - 9:42:52 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

4441 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by richieb


there is practically no sag at the feet of my bridge

    > that's kinda close to the too-tight side - search this site for the coin & ruler method

I am merely wondering why that particular chord shape is always suggested

    > it's the closest thing to a G chord below the 5th fret (a lot of clawhammer players don't venture higher up on the fret board than that) that sounds recognizably G-enough to the folks playing along with you

she is also somewhat baffled by it. I'm just really... curious

    > banjos often defy logic smiley

So if it IS a technique issue, I'm wondering what I could do differently, as I don't always want to rely on the G chord at the 7th fret

    > with clawhammer people usually choose between the index and the middle finger as the "hitter." Whichever one you chose, try another finger (ring and little are fair game) - the tone will change and, with luck, eliminate your concerns

I'm just trying to find my own sound

    > see above. I'd been playing for years and broke my middle finger's nail so I had to use the index finger instead. Wow, all of a sudden I had the tone I'd been looking for for so many years, no more sour sounds etc. With luck, it might be just that easy...


Aug 30, 2019 - 9:57:38 PM
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Your post is trying to address different issues. (and bit of confusing terminology.)

The issue keep mentioning is the chord shape.

[Any problem with intonation, ET, string, body resonance, head tension, creating wolf tones or dissonance... are mostly separate. None of those are going to address the basic issue of the chord shape of V chord,  2020 with fifth string drone; gDGdd (same issue if aEAee).]

 I am merely wondering why that particular chord shape is always suggested, seeing as it produces this effect and the fact that it doesn't even contain all of the notes for a G major. My current partner is a music teacher holding a four year degree in music theory and she is also somewhat baffled by it. I'm just really... curious.

For folks that come from perhaps more chord based (esp guitar/piano); some of what happens in banjo chord ideas can seem odd. (due to limited voicing options, range, flow and/or pragmatic choices.)

First and foremost, it isn't even a G major... 

...doesn't even contain all of the notes for a G major

Yep, No thirds can be baffling to some.  Some of that is pragmatic playability reasons, so is a bit more deliberate musically (even in standard G tuning folks often play the V chord without a third.)

Odd inversions is another issue - F chord as gCAcf  has it's root high. Other chords/tuning might put the third as the lowest note. Can sound a bit odd at first.

The other issue has to do with - Fifth, octave and unisons. (gDGdd has lot's of d ness including harmonics). Same with other string instruments, (oct/fifth and/or doubling unison stacks) can create a lot of power, sustain, ringing, droney sound. Might be desired affect; but for others might seem overpowering... unbalanced to other chords... but leads to...

why that particular chord shape is always suggested...

...it might VERY WELL be a technique issue,

One of the technique issues with CH and tunings that might be involved... is a different way of thinking "chords". Some of these are not really about playing about making full chord strums rhythm (like guitar). The chords shape is just planting or reference guide, (or help sympathetic?)... the notes played are more arpeggio and or just add rhythmic/harmonic content with the melodic flow. If playing more than one note, just plays partial chord, 2 (or 3) strings; such as x02x (GD); again just to add a bit of harmonic weight. Not full strums, getting both d unisons, or worried about full triad chords. (might try this approach)

In that tuning and playing style, the reason of suggested 2020 concept, it's pragmatic, works fine (if not desired)... for what those typical players want. That said, those are just suggestions, not requirements; probably wouldn't be great chord option (or tuning) for trying to play guitar like full triad strums. 

Edited by - banjoak on 08/30/2019 22:06:08

Aug 30, 2019 - 11:19:13 PM
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janolov

Sweden

39802 posts since 3/7/2006

Just a simple thought: What happens if you in open G tuning makes the "G power" chord - fret second string at third fret and all other strings open?

Sep 1, 2019 - 8:49:05 AM

844 posts since 8/7/2017

All tunings are a compromise, good to remember that. Because:
A) It means there is no perfect-in-all-ways tuning. Our 12 tone chromatic scale (in an octave) simply won't split into 12 always-harmonious intervals - Musicians & mathematicians have wrestled with this for 3000 years, to no universally accepted solution. Equal temperament is one way to split up the octave. There are various Just Intonation ways to split up the octave. And there ways I have not explored (lots of info on the Web if you want to research the subject).

B) You can adjust the tuning to fit what your ears want to hear. There's nothing wrong with experimenting till you get what you like to hear.

C) This is all non-linear stuff, meaning: to the Good, that little changes can make big differences; that tiny tweek may be all that's needed. And meaning: to the Bad, that seemingly little deviations can make big dissonance. For me, this was one of the first non-linear activities I ever experienced in depth. One turn of a screw will advance it a precise, repeatable amount (think micrometer). But one turn of a tuning peg will change tone a very imprecise amount, and that amount is subject to hysteresis and the effect of string ageing. New world for me :-)

Wood and metal change with temperature and humidity. Strings are not reliable - one packet may last for months wrt tone and consonance, but the next packet may last only a few weeks. I've even had some strings play bad right out of the packet (which the maker replaced, just ask them). So, a banjo you left yesterday, playing perfectly to your ear, may, or may not, play perfectly next time you pick it up. Try not to pull out All of your hair :-)

The dissonance between 1st and 2nd string, while playing the 1st position G chord in DoubleC tuning, can be alleviated by adjusting the tension of the 1st string. Of course, this will make other frets play off pitch...this is where your own judgement comes into play: how much perfection in one fret will you require vs introduced imperfections in the rest? I've found it's not necessary, nor maybe even desirable, to get a perfect match, however. I've found that leaving a tiny bit of dissonance can add interest to the "power" chord. This surprized me, I confess :-). In standard G, I will flat the 3rd string a bit to get better tone at the 4th fret B (in songs that need it). Interestingly, also flatting the low D string makes the 3rd G string sound better. Again, the introduced dissonance of 1st D and 4th D add interest to the overall tone of the banjo, to my ears anyway.

I hope you all have fun experimenting. It can be super frustrating, but can also pay great personal rewards.

Hope this helps.

Sep 1, 2019 - 11:42:13 AM
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68 posts since 8/13/2017

On the subject of temperament I came across this video which I found to be quite a striking example of the differences made by the two. I don't know if this is of interest to anyone or not but I found it really interesting to listen to the contrasts

youtube.com/watch?v=Yqa2Hbb_eIs

Sep 1, 2019 - 10:16:18 PM

844 posts since 8/7/2017

wooster

Thanks for the url. I could hear some of the differences, but not the beats he was talking about. I could hear faint wavering, but I could not be sure....bad sound card in my computer, or just a bad ear day :-)

wrt Cmajor vs C#major under "Pure Tempered", the dissonance in the C# chord was dramatic, to the bad. But, when I made the same 2 chords in my Just Intonation tuned double C banjo, I did not get a dissonant C# major chord (or diss. Cmajor either).

I think there is an error in the organ's computation of the "Pure Tempered" 3rd note in C#major chord. The chord sounds fine until he presses the 3rd note organ key, which is too flat for the chord. But my table of Just Intonation (discussed in the thread I cited earlier) shows that the JI 3rd note should be 15 cents sharper than the ET note. In other words, my table would not produce a note that's too flat for the chord....which is what I experienced with my banjo. Math mistakes happen :-/. Or maybe my banjo has been touched with Greatness...too bad the same brush did not swipe the banjo player *grin*.

Or maybe the Pure Tempered calculation version the organ uses does not produce the same offsets from ET as my JI calculation: there are many different Pure Temper schemes. Each shoves the problems with Western 12 tones/octave onto different notes. Some chords are going to be dissonant, and maybe the scheme used for the organ just happened to shove the dissonance onto C#major chord 3rd note.

Anyway, neat to see what can be done with an instrument that's tuned electronically, thanks again for posting.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 09/01/2019 22:21:41

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