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I'm current studying RSL Music Theory grades and I'm stuck on a grade 6 question.

The question asks to write out two enharmonic equivalent notes to the note provided using sharps, flats, double-sharps and double-flats. The given staff does not show a key signature.

I got through all of the questions fairly easily with the exception of one in which the given note is Ab. Obviously G# is an enharmonic but I'm struggling to think of a second enharmonic??

The only other notes either side would be "B flat, double-flat" or "F sharp double-sharp" - given that the stave in the question doesn't show a key signature, I'm not sure that this is possible?

any ideas?

Update: here's a picture of the question - the text reads:

Add two enharmonically equivalent notes to those below. The result should be three notes of the same pitch on each stave, and each will be enharmonically spelled differently.

Also, just for clarification, triple sharps/flats aren't taught in the syllabus and, as this is a G6 workbook, there is an assumption that knowledge of anything beyond double sharps/flats isn't available.

RSL G6 music theory

  • I agree, a picture would be nice, just to doublecheck. Otherwise, there's no other way to spell Ab with double-sharps or -flats. Is it possible they're not necessarily asking for enharmonic equivalence, but just equivalence? In other words, are they also testing understanding of 8vb, etc.? – Richard Jul 5 '16 at 10:03
  • From memory the word 'enharmonic' is definitely used, otherwise, yes, octave markings could be used. I'll take a pic tonight when I get home. From memory, it shows a stave with a bass clef and no key signature with a 1/4 note in the first space preceded by a flat. I was studying at 6am this morning - so I may well have mis-read the question - update later. – dazzathedrummer Jul 5 '16 at 10:08
  • I don't know what you mean by "RSL", but the ABRSM theory syllabus certainly does not include triple sharps and flats. But grade 6 does include C clefs, so it's possible you didn't spot the correct clef and the given note really does have two alternative enharmonic spellings. – user19146 Jul 5 '16 at 12:11
  • RSL is the newly rebranded name for what used to be Rockschool (Rock School Ltd). The syllabus doesn't include triple sharps/flats. I don't think C Clefs are included either - but I will double check! – dazzathedrummer Jul 5 '16 at 12:17
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    I'm going to contact RSL on this - I'm teaching myself which is why I posted the question up here. I'm guessing it's either a mistake or octave notation should be used. – dazzathedrummer Jul 6 '16 at 9:56
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Triple flats and sharps do exist. They are extremely rare (never seen one in a piece myself), but theoretically you can use them. My guess is that the answer would be B triple flat or F triple sharp.

Here is an example I found with a triple sharp:

enter image description here

I found it on this website, where you can read some stuff about triple accidentals.

And another example with a triple flat:

enter image description here

Again from the same website.

Wikipedia mentions triple sharps as well:

enter image description here

  • Can't think why it would be technically necessary, though... That flats example has the key sig. of C/Am, so those triple - and double flats don't need writing as such - do they? – Tim Jul 5 '16 at 10:41
  • How strange. The triple sharp there sort of makes sense; it's functioning as an appoggiatura to the leading tone Gx in A# minor. (But why it wasn't written Bb minor, I don't know.) The triple flats seem excessive, but it might make a little bit more sense in a larger context. – Richard Jul 5 '16 at 11:09
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    @George that is why I used phrases like extremely rare and theoretically – Shevliaskovic Jul 5 '16 at 12:04
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    Triple b/# may well exist, but the OP states that the question says 'using single or double b/#, so triples couldn't be an answer to it. – Tim Jul 5 '16 at 14:19
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    @Tim The parameters aren't going to matter to anyone else especially since the test (hopefully) won't make the mistake again. Someone could actually want to know about using other enharmonic equivalents for Ab/G# which this answer then is the only useful one in the long term. – Dom Jul 11 '16 at 19:24
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It's a mistake in the book!!

I just got an email back from RSL, the question is on the use of sharps/flats and double sharps/flats. 8va/vb notation was not supposed to be tested in this question and triple sharps/flats are outside of the syllabus.

I've been informed that future versions of the book will now show an A rather than an Ab.

Phew!

  • I would recommend "accepting" your own answer for future readers. Thanks for following up! – Richard Jul 11 '16 at 15:10
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Is it perhaps a mistake in the clef? If that was a treble clef then you would be looking at an F flat which does have two enharmonic equivalents

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On the assumption it's not written in treble or bass clef, but C clef instead, and you guessed it was treble, the Ab note would actually be a Bb. This then is enharmonically the same as A#, and also Cbb. That obviates the need for any (dubious in my opinion) bbb or #x.

Otherwise, the only notes with 3 enharmonic names are Ax/B/Cb; B#/C/Dbb; Dx/E/Fb; E#/F/Gbb, without going into 3#/b.

I'm going to be so bold as to say it wasn't an Ab. Or if it was, it's a non-question! Does happen...

EDIT - realised some more! D/Cx/Ebb; G/Fx/Abb and A/Gx/Bbb.

NEXT EDIT - the question would make sense if the clef was treble rather than bass, as that note becomes Fb.

LAST EDIT (I hope) - realised even more!! Eb/D#/Fbb; Bb/A#/Cbb; Gb/F#/Ex; Db/C#/Bx.So it may appear that actually the ONLY one which has just two names is the ONE IN THE QUESTION!!!

FINAL EDIT!!! - the correct answers are Gx and Bbb, because the actual question SHOULD have shown an A natural. RSL informed me just now that it is a typo.

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I'm adding a new answer on account of the updated original question. Here are the only possibilities I can think of:

enter image description here

The initial G-sharp is obvious, and it's exactly what you already have. The remaining two G-sharps indicate the exact same pitch, just one with an 8vb (one octave below) marking, the other with a 15mb (two octaves below).

If you've covered 8vb and/or 15mb in your studies, I'd say go with those. Otherwise, I'm betting there's an error in the exercise, and you should probably ask your instructor for clarification.

Edit: If you're not working with an instructor, then hopefully I can speak for everyone here when I say: it's an error!

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    Agreed - I'm going to contact RSL on this to clarify. – dazzathedrummer Jul 6 '16 at 9:57
  • It can't be this as all the G#s have the same spelling. – Dom Jul 6 '16 at 11:57
  • I agree; I was just adding them to show the only other (practical) possibilities with which one could notate that particular pitch. – Richard Jul 6 '16 at 11:59
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    @Richard - see my new edit. I'm waiting for the perpetrator, from RLS, to come back with a plausible explanation. Like mine, maybe? – Tim Jul 6 '16 at 12:09
  • I think we were commenting to each other simultaneously! But yes, I think your answer is much more plausible. – Richard Jul 6 '16 at 12:11

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