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Malvis

Tuning down a tone - your string suggestions requested...

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Lately I've been playing with an Arabic classical band, where the convention is to play with all the instruments tuned down a tone.

My regular bass, an Eastern European cannon, copes with being tuned down to DGCF well enough.  However, I've recently bought a removable-neck Kolstein travel bass from @Lodekka for an upcoming tour, and the Evah Weichs I like to use are inclined to be a bit floppy when they're tuned down.

Which strings might be a good choice for a bit more tension - ideally something that'll be stable enough to cope with the removable neck? 

Thanks very much 😁

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I don't follow. If all the instruments tune down a tone, would it not make more sense to tune them all correctly but play in a lower key?

Not trying to extract the urine, just puzzled.

 

Edited by Happy Jack
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The strings I have for sale will do it!

But seriously, I stopped using them because they were a bit tight for me at correct pitch so I am sure they would be happy with going down a tone. 

 

Edited by owen
because he cannot spell

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Ah, the Helicore hybrids...  Thanks Owen, you reminded me I have a knackered old set somewhere that I can experiment with.  I didn't much like them in regular tuning, but it's worth a try.  My other bass is loving your Innovations btw!

Jack, you're right in that it'd be a lot more straightforward if we could just play our tunes in a different key.  We do sometimes, but it's not quite the same thing.  The Arabic system is based on maqams, which are like modes, but aren't based on western ideas of harmony.  

To find out about the whys and wherefores of this habit of tuning down a tone, I asked a pal of mine in the band.  He's an expert, whereas I am just the opposite.  If what follows is unclear it'll be because I've garbled his answer...

There was no standardised tuning in Arab music traditionally.  In 1932 in Cairo, there was a Congress of Arab Music, which was massive, and the first of its kind.  The explicit aim was to modernise and standardise, and one of the main maqams, called Rast, was identified with the C Major scale (more or less the same, give or take a quarter-tone). Turkish tuning is standardised a tone higher, but when accompanying they tend to play 3 or 4 tones below pitch.  My friend from the band, Martin, said that "all this suggests that the standardisation of pitch was for the benefit of the instrumentalists, together with the hegemony of the Western 'soprano' i.e. G clef - the clef adapted in western music for the highest imaginable voices.  Most adult voices in either octave tend to fall naturally a fourth or fifth lower as their comfort range."

As I said, my own understanding of this stuff is still fairly slender,  but if you're curious to find out more maqamworld.com has loads of info. There, I've only gone and derailed my own thread 🙄 

Any other string suggestions would be most gratefully received...

 

 

Edited by Malvis
Because I garbled the sentence about garbling my sentences
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I was going to say helicore hybrids too - as I have them on my (full scale length double bass) but have to tune the E down to a C (!) for an orchestra thing next week (Lyadov's Enchanted Lake with lots of low Dflats) and amazingly they still work.  Should think standard Thomastic spiro-cores would be OK too as normally quite high tension.

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