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Eb and Bb preferred by piano players??

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by elroyjetsn, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. elroyjetsn


    Mar 21, 2010
    West Virginia
    I'm guessing this is so because it's easier to play mostly black keys without looking. Especially if you will be singing, too.

    You can feel for the 3, 2 key sets that are raised and know right where your hands need to be fast and easy?

    Piano players seem to get very nervous playing in C or G and have to always look down at the keys when singing.

    I think it's just a practical thing...
  2. not so sure about that. I think it depends on the type of music. If you've covering The Band, there are two keyboards playing a lot of tunes in C or G. If you're covering "the American songbook," not so much.

    I used to think Eb and Bb were difficult keys on bass, but after I played upright for a while I reached the opposite conclusion, esp. for upright or fretless. Having the third as an open string makes the intonation easy in those keys.
  3. RedMoses


    Jul 4, 2012
    My keys player Def preferes Black keys, i try to F$ck with him and write songs in keys he doesnt like and refuse to transpose, it will make him more well rounded in the end.

    String players tend to prefer E A and G...
  4. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010

    As a not-particularly-brilliant pianist myself, I tend to prefer keys that don't go too heavy on the sharps and flats. The scales are just easier to remember! And easier to finger, in most cases.

    (Conversely, I can see why C and G major/mixolydian might be a bit awkward; it can be handy to have a couple of black keys to pivot around.)

    Is it possible that the pianists you're talking to have a bit of a jazz background, and have therefore worked mostly with brass and wind players, for whom Eb and Bb make life easier?
  5. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Players like what they are used to. I've found many keyboard players that prefer F# and C#, mostly for the black keys. But there's no real reason.
  6. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Interesting topic... :meh:

    The OP may very well have a point. IME, keyboard players definitely do tend to write in keys that are considered "unorthodox" or "unconventional" - from a guitarist's or bassist's point of view (i.e. E major, A major, D major or G major).

    Personally, as a bassist, I don't mind it. It helps to keep things fresh.

    Two keys I usually enjoy are C#/Db, and F#/Gb. I guess because my favorite intervals are probably 3rds & 6ths, and each of these keys allows me to hit an open string (E string & A string, respectively) as a minor 6th (?) below the root, as well as hit an octave above the open string as a major 3rd (?) above the root. :smug:

  7. basslayer


    Jan 3, 2008
    Beaverton, OR
    gospel musicians, in my experience, tend to play in Db, Eb, Ab and Bb. i don't know if the songs happen to be in those keys so they become stronger in those keys or they prefer those keys so they write/choose songs to fit said preference. when i write, i try to choose different keys for each piece.
  8. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I think the OP has a point, at least some of the time. There are bass lines I've gone to figure out by ear that made no sense to me, or at least seemed odd. Then I sat at a keyboard and a light went on - they were rather obvious things to tinker with on piano visually, all black keys or whatever.
  9. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    I see it VERY often which is why I moved to a 5er for gospel
  10. Never heard of keyboard players liking flats more.
    Now Horn players, hell yeah. They live in Eb, Ab and F
  11. Testing123

    Testing123 Eschew obfuscation

    Jan 21, 2006
    Orange County, CA
    Not to forget the ubiquitous Bb. :D
  12. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    When my pianist starts to improvise the first thing I check is Ab against what he is doing. When its our guitarist I try E. More often then not I got the key and can startblistening for the change in the progression.

    Does it make it easier to slid off of a black key instead of having to slid onto a black key?
  13. Yes, and Bb as mentioned. Except that everyone likes what they're used to.

    Funny story about a tenor sax player who is very used to playing rock n' roll, so comfy with E, A, D, C, and G for the most part. He's sitting in with this blues band, and the leader is calling out all the keys: Eb, Bb, F, Ab. It's killing the sax player just b/c he's not used to it. On the break he asks the bandleader if they really play all that material in all of those flat keys- and he say's heck no, he's transposing to make it easier for the sax player! :eek: :D
  14. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Many keyboard players study jazz and end up playing standards; most of which are written in flat keys for ease of transposition for the horns. So it may be more of a question of experience with flat keys than an intended preference.
  15. Piano players often like the flat keys, especially Eb, Db, and Bb. Listen to Ray Charles, Elton John, Billy Joel, and they nearly always play in flat keys.
  16. BruceL


    Jan 23, 2013
    and do not like the flat keys so much.. maybe becasue i have not played them much. Not so much into C as i guess my finger is always looking for a black key. Play alot of D G and A.
  17. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Speaking of Ray Charles when I saw the key signature in Stevie Wonder's music I thought he could choose that key he can't see all those sharps. As a beginner I was comfortable with two accidentals. At best
  18. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Currently playing with a chick singer/writer who does most songs in Bb or Eb.

    I also played with a guy singer/writer who played everything in C. He used the transpose button if he needed it to be in a different key.

    I have written a lot of songs myself on keyboards (not a singer though) and my preference was to always try something new. As a writer with modest keyboard skills, I would tend to fall into the same fingering patterns over and over, so trying a different key produced different ideas.

    Someone else mentioned sliding off of the black notes. That's a biggie for certain styles of music. I particularly like F, G and C for this because you can slide from a flat third to a major third.
  19. I'm a very average piano player, but I like the flat keys (especially Eb and Bb), especially when I'm playing blues or R&R sort of stuff. It's just easier to play in those keys. Most piano player I know are the same. This used to be a hassle - using capos, detuning guitars, etc, but these days most electric pianos can simply be dialled up or down to more "guitar type" keys. It saves a lot of hassles for everyone.
  20. Testing123

    Testing123 Eschew obfuscation

    Jan 21, 2006
    Orange County, CA
    Are you referring to two #'s (sharps) or two b's (flats)?
    In music notation, an accidental is a sharp, flat or natural not in the key signature.

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