[Harp-L] What key is the band in?

Tin Lizzie TrackHarpL@xxxxx
Fri Nov 4 08:29:30 EDT 2016

I also find that different people respond to different vocabulary.  Sometimes I find it helpful to ask, “What key is the SONG in?”  Some people (one jam host was a trumpet player in a prior life) are pleased to be asked to clarify, “CONCERT G?”

I remember one night when there was a very new harmonica player in attendance, and all he had with him was a G harp.  He only wanted to play one song, and it made sense to just have him up to play when it was my turn.  The ad-hoc band members, who really only wanted to be helpful (and with whom I was acquainted, if not close), were trying to communicate in terms of cross-harp, but let’s just say they were a little uncertain of the facts.  After a bit of hubbub, I finally turned to the whole band, smiled, and said, “Arnold is here with a G harmonica.  He will be playing in the key of Concert D-as-in-Dog.  Other members of the band are requested to play in the key of Concert D, also.  Thank you.”  Everyone got it, the song went well, and a good time was had by all.

Admittedly, this kind of speech is easier to make and is more well-received if you’ve supported the jam for a while and are at least something of a known quantity to the regulars.  Usually I’m not so bossy.  But when the situation calls for it, speaking with confidence and authority makes everyone feel more secure.

Tin Lizzie

On Nov 4, 2016, at 7:38 AM, harp-l-request at xxxxx wrote:

> Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2016 00:41:59 +0000
> From: "Hellerman, Steven L." <shellerman at xxxxx>
> To: "harp-l at xxxxx" <harp-l at xxxxx>
> Subject: Re: [Harp-L] What key is the band in?

> <snip>
> Also: Always insist that they tell you the key that THEY are playing in. "Helpful" guitarists who tell you what key they think you should be playing in are often not really helpful at all. Know your crosses and you'll be fine.

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