Fellow Musicians!!

My main musical influences are John Philip Sousa, George Crumb and the guy who runs the leafblower outside my window every Tuesday morning at 7AM.

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Bucket list instrument achieved.


My knees and hips hurt just lookin’ at it!


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It occurs to me that I never dropped my main influences, although the tiedye and the sitar probably give a couple hints. First and foremost, I’m an unreformed and unrepentant Deadhead, so we’re talking Phil Lesh, Rob Wasserman, and John Kahn. Second, a good healthy dose of British Invasion—Kinks, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Who, Stones, you know the list. Add some jazz: Guaraldi, Brubeck, that sort of thing. Toss in a little Rick Danko, Rick Kemp, and Tina Weymouth, and set the blender for frappé.

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Just found this thread thanks to @trdsf bumping it.

Primary instrument growing up was piano. The story goes that when I was a wee tyke my older sister was getting lessons and then after she was done practicing I would go over and play her stuff by ear so the parents started me in lessons.

Added cello in 4th grade and trumpet in 7th grade. Have a very small ability on bass (maybe I’ll post thatb story later from a machine with an actual keyboard.

I was a piano performance major through the first semester and a half of college until I realized I didn’t want to put in the necessary effort for that and changed majors to Music Theory and Composition before ultimately dropping out of college when I got married.

Had perfect pitch as a kid, which my parents treated as a parlor trick when they had people over. Playing trumpet largely ruined it since it is a Bb instrument and my brain started questioning whether I was hearing a note in concert pitch or hearing it in Bb.

For the lat 15+ years my primary instruments have been the stereo and the iPod, though 4 keyboards, the cello, the trumpet, 2 guitars, and various children’s instruments stare at me everytime I go into my office.


Yeah what is up with that anyway? Was it really so common for people to play differently tuned versions of instruments that it made more sense to print sheet music with transposed notes so that players wouldn’t need to learn new fingerings?

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Last year I donated a bunch of neglected instruments to an El Sistema music program and it made up for all the guilt I’d feel knowing they had been silent for years.

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I’m a lapsed musician from a family of musicians. Immediate family (dad, stepmother, sister, brother in-law) make 4 (four!) French horn players and a bassoonist (my mum). I also played the French horn for a bit, but switched to tuba.
Also, when much younger, I had some teaching on the piano and cello, but didn’t get far with either. We’re very much a wind instrument family.

I plan on keeping my unused instruments because I keep telling myself that i will get back to them. But you know, the internet just keeps existing and distracting me.

Although I am kind of surprised the piano didn’t get a workout after my cancer diagnosis. It was always my valve to pound out agression and depression.

Without researching it at all, my guess would be that it goes back to the pre-tempered days where, yeah, you needed a differently tuned instrument depending on the key.

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The pre-tempered days certainly ignite my temper.


Here’s an article about it…

So the answer to my question seems to be “yes, there are enough people playing several different versions of an instrument that it makes more sense to have most of them play notes different from what are written and the musician understands.”

That still seems off to me. I think it’s a conspiracy of music publishers. “Oh, you have a differently tuned instrument? Well, sorry, unless you want to do some brain work, you should buy this other version of the sheet music. Cha-ching!”

It’s not a problem for most people who don’t have perfect pitch. They know that to play a “C” is this fingering, and they also know that “C” on this instrument is not necessarily “C” on that instrument.

Plus, imagine if–for example–sax players (many of whom cross between the four main types of sax) had to learn four different sets of fingerings. With transposing instruments they don’t have to.

Ah, see, that’s the thing! I didn’t know for years. I thought open valves on a trumpet meant C (or G or whatever depending on airflow). It made it hell to add horns to songs. Like, I wasn’t the best trumpet player, but even taking that into account it still always sounded wrong. And maybe that’s why I got funneled into avant garde music and am not a mainstream pop superstar.

But I thank you for that explanation. I still don’t like it, but at least I understand it.

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I’ve been told on many different occasions that I have a nice singing voice. I can also play various percussion instruments - bongos, cajón, congas - respectably.

OTOH, played bass a couple of times in bands but it never worked out for long* because I can’t read music. Correct that - I couldn’t read bass. I can read the very basics of keyboards. So this Christmas my wife got me a book to teach myself how to read and play bass. So far, so good.

  • The best backhand compliment I ever got was “His enthusiasm and humor almost makes up for his lack of musical ability. Almost.”
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You know, I think is a valid point.

Sight-transposing for, say, a Bb instrument isn’t the worst thing to do…just anecdotally, most horn players I’ve known were used to that and didn’t really have a problem looking at a C-concert chart. I’ve never played a Bb transposing instrument, but I have some books of trumpet solos and such…and, yeah, it’s a little strange to have to remember that such-and-such a tune is actually in F concert, not as written…but…for simple stuff it doesn’t seem so bad.

As a child playing an Eb transposing instrument (alto sax), sight-transposing would have been beyond me. You know, in real time. I did a bunch of it by hand with my (then) execrable music handwriting, but it took me some figuring. Then again, I was like seven or something, and had never even heard of Cannonball or Bird or Jackie Mac or anybody.

But, it doesn’t take too much more effort to make a nice chart for the separate transposing instruments, though…they carry heavy metal instruments in their hands, and can probably spit like llamas when irritated…best not to annoy them, perhaps.

The one instrument I can’t stand the transposition of is guitar…always transposed up an octave.

It confuses me, because…you know, how do you know if that chart is transposed or in concert, really, a lot of the time?

And it’s just confusing because it’s so similar. Yes, I know, if it weren’t transposed guitar parts would look like a mess, with mixed bass and G clefs, or everything written in the grand staff (I think it was George van Eps, maybe, who actually advocated for that latter standard, but it never took off).

No, I don’t read a lot of music on guitar, but I do transcribe and do exercises and stuff and don’t like having to think too much about where to put each note with a pencil and paper.


And another thing that bothers me! That damned C clef/moveable clef thingy. I don’t like it. Never have, never will. Bugs me.

The C clefs aren’t movable. One is alto clef and one is tenor clef. Two totally separate clefs that just weren’t creative enough to come up with different clef symbols.

Fun fact that I wish had learned way sooner - the line on the staff that centers the clef is where C is.

You can acquire the skill. Not so easy to acquire enthusiasm and humor.

Well that is real special of them…I did know it is the “C-clef,” in that the pointy little thing points to “C”…I just thought it was moveable for some damned reason or something.

Violas, and like singers and stuff…probably other stuff…OK, so an alto voice gets one C-clef and a tenor gets another…meh, it seems moveable! It moves! I guess. Between two spots! Close enough.

I still don’t like it!

Not that I’m ungrateful for the information. But I can’t allow it! Bad clefs!

// Late edit:

Damn! I was all set to go into consumer debt for a Crumar Mojo dual-manual organ, and got the guy at Sweetwater to throw in the half-moon switch for free (it’s a … thing … switch … that changes the speed of the Leslie emulator…it’s usually mounted near the bottom end of the lower manual) and have his tech people install it for a nominal charge)…but then reason stepped in and said “That’s dumb!”

I already have the XK-1 plus the Lester-K, a full set of bass pedals, and an OK slim little MIDI lower manual…it’s just really not convenient to get the two manuals to be as close together as possible. Certainly, no commercial two-tiered stand will get anywhere close, so you just got to use, like velcro hook-and-loop and get them together. The easy thing is that I very rarely change the drawbars on the lower manual, and never on the bass pedals, so with the Lester-K added to improve the XK-1’s rotary emulatory, as well as some preamp circuitry, the sound itself is really not much different from the Crumar. Just the ergonomics of the thing is all. Not worth 2.6K, I decided, for a slightly more compact two-manual setup.

So instead I effectively made a straight trade for what I got for the Ensoniq SQ-80 for one of the Yamaha Reface CP models.

37 mini keys, pretty sweet Clavinet, Wurlitzer, Rhodes sounds, and a handful of built-in effects like tremolo, delay, autowah. Can run on batteries and has a little speaker in it.

Mostly for just sitting at my desk, to have something besides a guitar to reach for, or also use in the car if I have to do any long waiting for stuff.

But can also use it as a MIDI module for my 88-key piano…yes, I have a real Rhodes and real Wurlitzer, but I can’t always be bothered to reach them!

Backordered up the wazzoo…the guy is saying late March is what they’re telling him…oh well. Still, I’m on the list, so that’ll be a fun thing to have.

It also has optional mounting equipment if one wants to put a guitar strap on it and do the (mini) keytar thing…probably hard pass on that for me, but tempting!

The only bummer is that, although it will take audio inputs and put them through the speaker as well…but one can’t apply any of the effects to the audio-in, like, say, use the delay effect for a guitar one has preamped up to line level. But c’est la vie.