I am playing Round Midnight by Thelonius Monk and I ran into a problem. If there is a C♭ and I am in the key of E♭ Major, which has a B♭, do I play a B♭ or just a B (since C♭ is technically a B)?

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    Cb is not "technically a B"; both Cb and B are enharmonic spellings of the same pitch (as is A##). Play a Cb (the same pitch as a B) if that is what the score says. – ex nihilo Aug 20 '17 at 22:49
  • I'm not sure that my title is the best, feel free to change it -- but please note that it should be specific! – user28 Aug 21 '17 at 4:59

You play exactly what's written (provided it's written correctly!). If Monk had wanted a Bb played, wouldn't he have written a Bb dot in the Bb line or space?

He wanted a B played, but probably for technical reasons, it shouldn't be written in the B place, so had to be called Cb and written as such. One example of that might be if the chord Abm comes along. Ab major is spelled Ab C Eb. To make that minor, the 3rd needs flattening, making it Cb. Not B, which with the key sig. would automatically be played as Bb. Also not B natural, as that note does not feature in an Abm chord.

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    Beat me to it, Tim. Although there are occasionally reasons to write Cb instead of B that are purely for ease of reading (say, in a very dense tone cluster or a chromatic passage), as you say, the usual reason is functional: a scale or chord demands some kind of "C" (say), because that's the letter name that goes in that position in the scale or chord. – Scott Wallace Aug 21 '17 at 6:35

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