1

Always with Me from Spirited Away

I watched a Synthesia video of this music paper, and on the Synthesia is played that note as a A sharp, but I see no sign of playing an A sharp.

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    Incidentally, that's a weak-looking notation. I would prefer by far an 8va or 15va to 5 lines above the staff – and then it would be so much clearer to you that the flat is on the B. – Luke Sawczak Sep 7 at 4:09
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    What is there about it that makes you believe it's A#? – Tim Sep 7 at 15:49
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    @Tim Synthesia might have incorrectly identified the note as "A#" specifically, but I can't check because the "English Note Names: C, C#, D" option for labels is not a free feature. But its name hints at that possibility, and afaik MIDI files do not contain enharmonic information, at least not necessarily. – Leif Willerts Sep 7 at 21:41
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    @LeifWillerts - just another example of really poor information from the 'net. It may well be the case, but how can such an organisation show a definite Bb, and then call it A#? English note names? Bb is Bb in anybody's language (apart from some guitarists..!) – Tim Sep 8 at 10:19
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    @Arthur - thanks for reminding me. Germany does the same. However, the vast majority of the Western world would name the dot on the line as Bb. And I don't believe anyone who is cognisant of music would call it A#. It's certainly a B by any other name! – Tim Sep 8 at 20:01
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It's not an A♯, it's a B♭. The key signature tells you that all B's you come across are flat hence this B is flat unless otherwise stated.

See the related question: Is a high A in the key of D flat still flat?

17

The note in the music is a B note.Of some sort, not an A of any sort! Count up, and that line will be a B. As Dom says, because of the key signature of one flat, which happens to be the note B, then that note is played as B♭.

Whilst A♯ and B♭ are the same black key on the piano, they're not always the same note on other instruments - but that's for another day! And in any case, when there's a B♭ in the key signature, it's extremely rare that the same sounding note will be named (or written) as A♯.

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    @LaurencePayne I don't understand your comment: Neither Fis major nor E major have a B flat in their key signature. – Arsak Sep 6 at 20:17
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    @LaurencePayne Arsak is saying something like if, in that F# major piece for your example, there came a Bb. That would be extremely rare. I hope that clears things up – MCMastery Sep 7 at 3:08
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    @LaurencePayne - I missed your point. F#major, whether key or chord, hardly ever features in pieces that are in key Bb. Or pieces in F#maj don't have Bb notes. Please read the answer again. And this isn't guitar music anyway. – Tim Sep 7 at 6:02
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As others have explained, that note is B♭, not A♯. The B♭ in the key signature applies to all B notes - regardless of position on the stave.

It may help to think of the scales with a "each letter must appear only once" rule. So, for the key of F only one of the following is correct:

    a) F, G, A, A♯, C, D, E, F
    b) F, G, A, B♭, C, D, E, F

It is, of course, b) as each letter appears only once.

If we apply this rule to a more awkward key such as F♯ we get:

    F♯, G♯, A♯, B, C♯, D♯, E♯, F♯

Notice here that we have to write E♯ to comply with the "each letter must appear only once" rule even though it would be simpler to write 'F'.

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This is a B flat. Technically, every flat is the sharp of is preceding note if it is not a natural half tone gap, at least within the same temperament. Thus, B flat is the same as A sharp.

Also, no instrument I am aware of has distinct keys or strings for A sharp and B flat.

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    But C flat is not the same as B sharp. – phoog Sep 7 at 17:56
  • Most instruments don't even have distinct keys/strings for every note in a chromatic scale. – Stop Harming Monica Sep 7 at 22:01
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    Enharmonic tones like A# and Bb are completely identical under equal temperament (which is the most common system in the West, to my knowledge), but they have distinct frequencies in other tuning systems, like just intonation (used in string ensembles) and meantone. – Bladewood Sep 7 at 22:23
  • @phoog I updated it – rexkogitans Sep 8 at 6:29
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    @Bladewood enharmonic tones are identical in every 12-tone temperament, including meantone temperaments. – phoog Sep 8 at 10:48

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