Bryan is correct that the same tune in a different key can make a difference
to an instrument. Dolph Morris was written by an accordion player and it lies
happily on the keyboard. I love the tune in F and personally feel that
lowering it to D would change the voice too much. The fiddler I work with does
admit that the tune doesn't do much for him but he cheerfully plays it anyway.
Lowering it to D would also put it out of the lower range of the flute who
doesn't go below Bb.
There are regional differences in keys, too. Fisher's Hornpipe is found in
Cole's 1000 Fiddle tunes in the Key of F and most of the older musicians I know
in NH and Vermont will play it in F, grumbling if some young upstart tries to
play it in D. I know that the key of E frightens some folks and they would
rather play Calliope House in D than in E. It works but you miss the tone of
the high notes. The tune was written by Dave Richardson from the Boys of the
Lough. I recently was playing with a contra dance friend from the mid-west and
his music collection lists Calliope House as Trad and had it in D.
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord, NH USA