There is not a lot of tenor tabs out there so I’m thinking of trying my hand at making some tabs....what key should I be trying for when I’m transposing? Someone suggested that tenor jazz tuning suits key if F best, is that right?
On your own you can do whatever you want - BUT - if you in the future plan playing the jazzy tunes together with others - do stay with the original keys!
Only - when arranging some tunes for soloist performances - with accompaniment of let´s say bass and drums only - do pick the key best suited for your own playing - however max. two half notes away from the original key.
Just my 2 cents - LOL!
Agreed that on your own, you can do as you please! But I'd add two caveats to that "rule":
1. If you're playing the melody, either by way of melody chords or single-string work, you may want to adjust the key so that most or all of the melody notes fall in convenient or accessible places on the fretboard. For example, on a plectrum banjo, most chord melody work uses the 1st string, the lowest note of which is D. So if I'm playing a solo on a tune, I try to select a key that allows the most or all of the lowest notes to be D or higher. That way, I don't have to go to the 2nd string for inside string work, which is not easy for me. (And for the occasional C or Bb note, I can usually fake a workaround if needed.) On the other hand, I try not to transpose into too high of a key, because that can force you to get too high on the fretboard, where things can get crowded fretwise or too high-pitched earwise. To a lesser extent, the same is true for playing harmony chords --- some keys may be easier to work in than others, because some chords are easier to finger than others. And you may also be more familiar and comfortable with the "chord families" and changes in some keys, like C, F, G and Bb, than others, like D, Eb or Ab, which are less commonly used.
2. If you're accompanying a vocalist (including yourself), you won't have much of a choice on the key; you will have to transpose into whatever key best suits the vocalist's range. Singers don't have the luxury or the option of transposing their instruments! SETH
Edited by - sethb on 09/22/2020 05:17:57
F is a banjo friendly key but I agree with the comments above. Perhaps choose tunes that are often played in F such as: Jada, Some of these Days, Honeysuckle Rose, Lazy River, Sweet Georgia Brown...
You can´t use any plectrum methods for a tenor - on this the melody/solo voice is basically placed on the 2nd string - with occasional trips to the 1st and 3rd string.
Standard chord melody playing has the melody/solo line on top - a possible bass line at the bottom - and harmonies in-between (and always below the lead). Meaning - that using the 2nd string for the lead will call for the 1st string not to be used/stroken.
Do study and listen to dear late Eddy Davis at his numerous YouTube recordings - he was (and will IMO remain) the MASTER - with regards to advanced tenor banjo playing.
Oh - do I miss him!
Polle -- Thanks for clarifying the differences in chord melody work for tenor and plectrum players. I only used the example of a plectrum setup in discussing key transposition issues because that's what I'm familiar with.
As an aside, I should also mention that if folks are buying downloadable scores and lead sheets from licensed Internet sheet music providers, many (but not all) tunes sold in digital format can also be instantly transposed into any key desired, along with the chord changes, with just one or two mouse clicks. If you lead or play in a band that includes Bb or Eb instruments such as a clarinet, tenor sax, alto sax or trumpet, these digital transpositions will save you a lot of time, effort and aggravation, so look for that feature before buying. They're also a godsend if you use vocalists who often require a tune to be transposed up a third or down a fifth from the original key, for example. SETH
Edited by - sethb on 09/22/2020 06:44:45
thanks everyone, great leads :)
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