[Dixielandjazz] Re: Irving Berlin's piano>>Troublesome Gb

DWSI at aol.com DWSI at aol.com
Sat Dec 6 10:00:39 PST 2003

Bud: You wrote:

Years ago I played in a bar with a self-taught pianist who did everything is 
Gb.  That is the key that uses ALL the black keys.  He said he learned on 
because the keys stuck up and were easy to find. 

Not only is it a B--- to play on the tuba (if you say so), it is no fun to 
play on the piano.Yes, you use black keys more often than in predominantly white 
note keys (such as C), but you NEVER NOT use any key in any key so to speak. 
The key you're playing in is based on the major scale of the same name: e.g., 
F# or Gb, (same key as played) is F# or Gb major scale based. C, G, F, D, are 
keys based on those major scales. The difference to piano players is 
fingering. Most of the white note based keys use C major scale fingering (e.g., RH: 
1-2-3, 1-2-3-4-5). In the weird keys you are typically instructed to start the 
major scale on a different finger.(e.g., for  F# you start on 2-3-4-1-2-3-1). 
This is not a huge problem when you're playing in weird keys, it just takes 
getting used to. Dick Hyman had a reputation in recording circles of being able to 
play any song in any key; literally. I would never dream of attempting that 
skill level. Most pianists I know prefer Db (same as C# when played) if they 
have a choice. Again you've got to work in that key awhile to key acclimated. 
The "black keys stick up" story doesn't really explain to me why someone started 
playing and then keeps playing in that key.

All the best,

Dan (piano fingers) Spink 

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