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Chopin Etude Op. 9 No. 2 In the 13th full bar, Right hand 5th note. My music sheet shows a Cb (equivalent to B). Should it be there? Should it be played as B natural followed by B-flat?

marked as duplicate by Dom, Jacob Swanson, Neil Meyer, Bradd Szonye, Josh Darnell Jul 23 '15 at 12:13

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  • The key most probably already has a Bb so thinking of Cb as B would be confusing. The idea of having one note per letter name in a Major / minor scale is a good thing. – Neil Meyer Jul 23 '15 at 6:37
  • If you could show as an excerpt of the music you are referring to it would help people a great deal in answering this. As it is we are just theory crafting. – Neil Meyer Jul 23 '15 at 6:38
  • @Neil Meyer I have no problem thinking that Cb and B are the same nore on the piano, don't all the notes have two names already? My question is aimed at Chopin players who have printed music that may differ from mine. – cuddlyable3 Jul 24 '15 at 12:26
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    It's the same concept on a different note that's why it's a duplicate. It's even the exact inverse scenario so it should be easy to see what's going on. – Dom Jul 24 '15 at 13:02

In keeping with the melodic and rhythmic elements Chopin is working with, his intention is to flatten the sixth degree of Eb (key) - i.e., the C. This happens to be the enharmonic equivalent of B. Regardless, his intentions lead him to write Cb.

This is an idiosyncratic feature of the key of Eb. Flattening the sixth of other major scales does not lead to this sort of enharmonic equivalent ambiguity.

EDIT As Matt points out in the comments, the same ambiguity arises if Ab major, where the 6th is F.

  • "Flattening the sixth of other major scales does not lead to this sort of enharmonic equivalent ambiguity." It does. In Ab major the flattened sixth degree is an Fb, enharmonically an E. – Matt L. Jul 23 '15 at 6:48
  • @MattL. Gosh, you're absolutely right. I thought I'd considered all of the cases using F, but I guess I only considered A major, where F is sharp. – UserZero Jul 23 '15 at 11:28

I haven't checked the sheet music, but in any case, a Cb is enharmonically the same as a B natural. As is always the case, the flat just lowers the note by a semi-tone.

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