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Author Topic: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?  (Read 7518 times)

StooB

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Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« on: June 07, 2011, 06:59:59 AM »
This is something I have been puzzling over for a long time... Coming from a predominantly white congregational-contemporary praise & worship background, most of the songs I play are in white keys  ;)  but so many of the gospel songs I hear and love to play are in flats (Ab, Bb), why is this??

Playing in flats is so much more complicated than straight keys, is this just to seperate the good musicians from the bad??  Or is it a black/white thing ;D

Offline phbrown

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2011, 08:32:49 AM »
Or is it a black/white thing ;D

ROFL!!!

StooB

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Offline under13

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2011, 09:57:32 AM »
Playing in flats on the piano/organ feels sooooo much better than playing in most of white keys. 

Offline MykeMyke

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2011, 10:19:12 AM »
Doesn't make much difference to us bass players... Unless u want to play open strings  ;D :D

But u can tune to flats or detune during the song to get that feel...

StooB

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2011, 11:14:16 AM »
Playing in flats on the piano/organ feels sooooo much better than playing in most of white keys.

I'm guessing that's probably the reason, as a lot of songs are written on the piano/organ?

Offline betnich

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2011, 11:43:36 AM »
Or is it a black/white thing ;D

Most keys are integrated - except for C Major...
;)

StooB

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 03:37:32 PM »
lol  :D

Offline phbrown

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2011, 03:47:43 PM »
ROFL

Offline BassbyGrace

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2011, 04:06:02 PM »
This is something I have been puzzling over for a long time... Coming from a predominantly white congregational-contemporary praise & worship background, most of the songs I play are in white keys  ;)  but so many of the gospel songs I hear and love to play are in flats (Ab, Bb), why is this??

Playing in flats is so much more complicated than straight keys, is this just to seperate the good musicians from the bad??  Or is it a black/white thing ;D

I know it was a joke, but Im going to admit, in my 35 yrs Ive lived and played in 5 diff states and overseas.  I swear throughout my life Ive noticed that more white ppl play in white keys and black ppl play in black keys.  If I figure out some way to stat it up and analyze it, I'll have my dissertation already done LOLOL.  I dont know why it is, but its just what Ive observed.
Praise Him!

Offline fbates

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2011, 07:19:29 PM »
My hypothesis...

White keys or the "natural ear" keys B E A D G C sound brighter, and have a more "formal" happier sound. (Think Israel's Again I Say Rejoice or You Are Good)  Also many songs were written to be played on the guitar which is tuned in E A D G B E.

Black keys are jazzier, darker, funkier.  The jazz and blues blackground of the Black Gospel sound definitely plays a lot into this...They allow for more use of chromatics during improvisation.  Also many of the old Negro spirituals were sung in black keys.  I think they are naturally more natural to us...well the sound is... 8)

and well, they are easier to play on the keys/organ  ;)


This would definitely be a great thesis for someone in Music Theory...seriously.  I would do the study for mine but I'm a chemist lol
Its more simple to keep it simple.

StooB

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2011, 08:18:42 PM »
I know it was a joke...

Well I did put a humorous angle to it, but like you I have noticed that many black gospel songs are written in flats, being written on an organ or piano is a logical reasoning and as fbates has said, black keys add a bluesier & jazzy tone which allow for more feel. Lots of black gospel bass tutorials I have seen are also played in flats which I rarely see in praise & worship songs.

In my experience, the majority of white guys (me included) tend to play more straight and safe, where black players take more risks and push the boundaries in music. I am constantly amazed & inspired at all the gospel players I see on youtube not only with their skills but with their feel, drummers & bassists especially. Gospel bassists are some of the best musicians out there. I'm learning loads.

Offline floaded27

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2011, 09:33:38 PM »
how could black keys create a jazzier feel? as a bass player i can play the same exact thing in any key and have it sound exactly the same. it has to do with the player and playing style, not the fact that there are black keys involved.

The jazz and blues blackground of the Black Gospel sound definitely plays a lot into this...They allow for more use of chromatics during improvisation.  Also many of the old Negro spirituals were sung in black keys.  I think they are naturally more natural to us...well the sound is...

this is why the black keys "sound jazzier/funkier". also someone pointed out that for all the negro spirituals, the melody can be played using only the black keys. that might have some significance of WHY they picked those notes, but further observation would show that the black keys only form either of 2 scales,
F# major pentatonic
or Eb minor pentatonic
and we all know that the major and minor pentatonic scales are the most simple, fundamental and commonly used scales (simply a shell of the major and natural minor scales) in western music.

often time, any music thats guitar based is in (CCM often is) is in natural keys, because the nature of the instrument (chording and open strings) lends itself to being easier for people in those keys. Piano or organ (contemporary gospel) tends to be in flat keys because players tend to find these keys easier. Remember everything in Funk music was in the key of E back in the 70s for the simple fact that the bass player had to slap that low open string (his lowest note) which was an E on a 4 string bass tuned standard. I've come across a lot of orchestra songs that were in C, because Concert C is easiest to transpose for other instruments like Bb and Eb sax and a lot of the other woodwind instruments.

The problem with this is that if you stick to a particular style, you will most likely be stronger in certain keys. Many shun other styles simply because it challenges them in their weaker keys, but others welcome it to make them more well rounded. A side effect (well for me anyway) is that your style of play isnt universal in all keys since depending on the key, ur playing a different style of music.

Not a black/white thing. Just a big coincidence. who wouldve thought.

For my God... let "Golden Axe" prevail.

StooB

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2011, 10:36:20 PM »
Mmmm, the mystery returns...  :-*

Offline BassbyGrace

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2011, 11:31:17 PM »
The problem with this is that if you stick to a particular style, you will most likely be stronger in certain keys. Many shun other styles simply because it challenges them in their weaker keys, but others welcome it to make them more well rounded. A side effect (well for me anyway) is that your style of play isnt universal in all keys since depending on the key, ur playing a different style of music.

Not a black/white thing. Just a big coincidence. who wouldve thought.

Thats not necessarily true.  Understand Ive played in almost every type of band you can think of from German fest, to rock, to symphonic, to gospel.  All of the literature alternates in different keys.  Only MAYBE jazz and gospel could possibly be an exception and lean more towards specific keys.  I mean Ive asked hundreds of ppl personally, different instrumentalists, including many that can play in all keys, which is partly why it trips me out.  Their preference matches what I stated earlier.  Its not my opinion, it was theirs.  I think it maybe a little more than coincidence.  Ive also done some on reading vs improv (and some band directors have agreed) but thats another subject. :)
Praise Him!

StooB

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2011, 03:06:31 AM »
how could black keys create a jazzier feel? as a bass player i can play the same exact thing in any key and have it sound exactly the same. it has to do with the player and playing style, not the fact that there are black keys involved.

Of course you are right there, I wasn't thinking properly as Bb sounds exactly like A except a semi-tone up. But my experience and BassbyGrace's comment is true that a lot of black gospel is in flats and contemporary praise & worship is in straight keys as CCM songs are mostly guitar based, although I would never write a song on the piano in a flat key as they are harder to play for most musicians.

I was thinking if you play mosly black keys it really is more asian than jazzy:  Remember the  Bb Bb Bb Ab Ab Gb Gb Ab chinese song on the piano?!!  :P
But playing in a flat key, it definately is a black thing.  ;D

Offline phbrown

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2011, 11:34:47 AM »
But playing in a flat key, it definately is a black thing.  ;D

Nice Pun Sir

Offline Elsie8687

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2011, 11:36:54 AM »
I frequent a number of bass forums, and this may be one of the strangest threads I've ever seen

StooB

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2011, 12:48:49 PM »
I frequent a number of bass forums, and this may be one of the strangest threads I've ever seen

But interesting nevertheless!  ;D

Offline BassbyGrace

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Re: Why are so many gospel songs played in b's?
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2011, 03:51:12 PM »
I bet ppl are going to start inquiring now LOLOL!
Praise Him!
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