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43

See the section on tuning systems on Wikipedia for some background. In short, most intervals do not sound best on equally-tempered scales (where the distance between any two consecutive half steps is the same) but on ones where the notes vary in distance. For instance, fifths usually sound the most in tune when the frequencies are in a 2:3 ratio. Because ...


40

These are also known as augmented and diminished notes, respectively. Often it has to do with altering notes in a key that are already sharpened or flattened, such as a harmonic minor in a key where the 7th is a sharp. Take G♯ minor: You could write F♯♯ (or Fx) as a G, but then your scale would have no F note in it but two different G's. ...


34

The equivalences you mention---C♯/D♭, D♯/E♭, etc.---aren't actually the same note. They're called enharmonically equivalent pairs, but only in Equal Temperament are they tuned to the same frequency. See this question for more information on why they're not the same note. As for why we need flatted notes at all, let's look at ...


30

There are a few general rules. Most accidentals should be of the type found in the key signature. For example, in G Major, use G# -- not Ab. In F# major, use A# instead of Bb. If the accidental is in a chromatic scale, use sharps ascending and flats descending In any other scale, use the accidental that typically goes with the scale. For example, Bb and Eb ...


24

It depends on the tuning system being used. If you're tuning by perfect intervals, i.e. intervals in which the ratios of the frequencies are in whole-number pairs, then Gb isn't exactly the same as F#. For example, say you're tuning to A440 and using perfect intervals. Then the E above the A is tuned to 440 * 3/2 = 660 Hz. The B above the E is tuned to ...


24

It can be. If you were using the F# major scale, you would have the notes F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, and E#. Another common example is in a C# major chord you would have the notes C#, E#, and G#. The E# is an enharmonic equivalent to F. F is used a lot more though, since it is a naturally named note. In the same way, Fb can used to describe E. How you name a ...


20

I'm not sure why you'd have any reason to question why it's real ... it's not really related to G Major though, no more than C# major is related to C Major. It's enharmonically equivalent to A♭ major, just like C# Major = D♭ Major or F# Major = G♭ Major. As for pieces involving it, Wikipedia mentions some. In general, keys with ...


20

It's spelling. It's like "hear" vs. "here". You wouldn't write "Come over hear so I can here you better" even though it sounds the same. A major triad is spelled as if the notes are a certain distance apart. On the staff the notes will be on three lines or three spaces. In the key of C sharp minor, the tonic chord is C sharp, E, G sharp. You write it ...


19

There are the tuning differences, as already mentioned. Then there is the function difference. If you have an entire piece in D major, using the tones in D major, seeing a D♭ instead of a C♯ would be very awkward. When writing music, the rules (simplified) are: use the tones of the key currently in use (could be a different key than the main key, the ...


19

1. Bias against "unorthodox" notes Western music tradition (and some others) was, and to a large extent still is, based on heptatonic scales, that is, seven unequal divisions in an octave. So, in a given musical context, all twelve notes are not created equal. For instance, in a musical phrase in C major, natural notes (ones with no accidentals) are the ...


18

The natural sign next to the C is a "courtesy accidental". It is there only to make it absolutely clear to the player that the C is not to be sharp. It is correct that an accidental only carries through the bar, and thus that the one here is not necessary. But were it not there, though the note would be a C-natural, it would be easy upon sight-reading to ...


14

The flat or sharp symbols (not yet considering double-sharps and double-flats, we'll get to that) are used for two purposes: to indicate how the diatonic notes of a key different from the notes in the key of C to indicate how chromatic notes differ from the diatonic notes It's in the latter case you encounter double-sharps and double-flats. Consider the ...


14

The larger question is why any composer would use a certain key signature rather than its enharmonic equivalent. For instance the choral music composer John Rutter is known for notating songs in C♭ major (with seven flats) rather than in B major (with five sharps). In the equal-tempered system, C♭ major and B major are the same key. Despite the fact that ...


14

No, it is still a B♭. The flat is just reminding you that the B is flat. This is typically done if the previous measure uses a B that was different then the one in the key signature or if there was a different quality of B used in the measure it is used to cancel out the other quality. In the key D minor, if you were ascending from A to D, a typical melody ...


12

C# is not the same as Db any more than the English word "hear" is the same word as "here". Understanding why there is a difference is an important foundation to Western melody and harmony. It's important to understand the following: the vast majority of western music involves 12 notes in an octave the vast majority of western music is based around a scale ...


12

The G minor key signature is written with two flats, but the scale, as you noted, has a sharp in it. The G melodic minor scale has E natural and F sharp going up, and F natural and E flat going down. The key signature is one thing; the scale is another. Some folk music uses scales very different from the major and minor we are used to. I have seen music ...


12

You may want to read this Wikipedia article section, concerning harmonic minor. Short summarized, this variant of minor keys reduces the gap between 7th and octave, so that the seventh tone can be used as a leading tone similarly as in major keys.


11

Based on your question and the comment to left to Neil's answer, the term that seems to fit your needs most closely is accidental. That said, I'm not sure it's exactly what you want, and I'm not sure what you want actually exists. This is because the notion of "flatness" or "sharpness" are not absolute qualities the way major and minor are, rather they are ...


11

You're mostly spot-on with your analysis, but you miss something critically important: the two notes are not the same. They are enharmonic, but they are different notes. Assuming the context of C major, C will trill to its adjacent note, D, and D will trill to its adjacent note, E. Accidentals applied to the base note do not affect the note that is trilled. ...


10

Yes it does affect it. The accidental always remains in effect for the remainder of that measure. However, if the two notes are of different octaves, the first accidental does not change the latter notes. If a G5 is sharped, for example, all remaining G5's of the measure will be sharped. G4's, G6's or G's of any other octave will be left natural. A natural ...


10

When you are playing fretless string instruments, especially bowed instruments in small groups, you become very sensitive to these differences. I will not quantify them as there are already other answers on this area. When I was young, I was told the comma model of the occidental scale and I think it is a good first approach of these issues in most ...


10

A double-sharp would raise a flat note by a tone and a half (three semitones). A double-flat would lower a sharp note by a tone and a half (three semitones). Having said both these things, if you have a piece that is changing a flat note to a double-sharp, or changing a sharp note to a double flat, it is likely that you could use a much better enharmonic ...


9

As an isolated question, it's sometimes hard to understand why it's important that there is a difference but understanding why there is a difference is an important foundation to Western melody and harmony. the vast majority of western music involves 12 notes in an octave the vast majority of western music is based around a scale consisting of 7 of those ...


9

Actually it depends on the instrument. Some instruments can produce different notes for A# and Bb, others can not. There are different ways to intonate. On one side you have a just or harmonic intonation which is built on harmonics scale (each tone has a a matemathical relation between the base tone), this makes each tonality have its own intonation; on the ...


9

Accidentals override key signatures and previous accidentals. The circled chord has two G# and and one C# note. Having "additive" accidentals would make it very hard to read music. In this excerpt, the next octave chords in the top staff would then be B-flat, then B-doubleflat, and then either G natural (if adding to the previous accidental) or or G double ...


8

An accidental is not the note as you describe it. That word does refer to the sign itself, not the note. The question remains whether it is correct to use it in the context of a key signature as well. Personally, I don't have any problem with the phrase "accidentals in the key signature," but would typically just say "sharps or flats," since you're never ...


8

The chord played is Amaj7, made up with A C# E and G#.The key sig. is Db/Bbm.I guess that the G# is shown instead of a possible Ab, which is technically correct for that chord. All accidentals over-ride the key sig., for the rest of the bar they're marked in.Sometimes the author will be helpful and remind the player that a particular accidental is not ...


7

To understand what an accidental is, you must first understand what a key signature is. That is answered at: What is a key signature? .. but briefly, a key signature is a set of markings telling you which notes to always play as sharps or flats. For example, the key signature for F major consists of a ♭ in the B position, meaning "Whenever a B appears in ...


7

Dan, I believe your confusion stems from a a misconception about tonality in composition. Although a piece of music may be in a certain key, the tonal center may shift several times within the context of that key signature. Take, for example, this quickly composed snippet of simple music in C Major (no sharps, no flats): Even though the song is in the ...


7

Truth is, it doesn't really matter... but in general, you should write it so it is easily understood. Some helpful tips for making it easy to understand are: If you are going up, it's easier to read a sharp (C up to D# instead of C up to Eb) If you are going down, it's easier to read a flat (C down to Bb instead of C down to A#) Use accidentals of the ...



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