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Sharps and flats

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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
Topic starter  

I know that every key has its own signature on the staff, and it's governed by the number of sharps or flats in the scale of the root note...

Question.....how do you whether a note is sharp or flat....I know Noteboat has explained that Ab is not necessarily the same note as G#.....so, for example, is the third note in the key of B Eb or D#? and more importantly, how do you know?

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

You know because every letter needs to be used once, and only once.

Starting from B, write the letters: B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B

Now that's not a major scale, because it doesn't conform to the WWHWWWH pattern, so you use accidentals to adjust notes up or down to fit:

B-C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#-B

If you started from F:

F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F

you end up with:

F-G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F

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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
Topic starter  

Thanks Tom....is my face red!!!! I didn't realise it was so easy, but I should have been able to work that one out for myself

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@anonymous)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

To expand on this just a bit I have my own comment/question.
When told a piece of music is in the key of A I would assume that to be the key of A#.
G,D,A,E,B are all sharped key signatures and the scales for each of these would only contain the appropraite sharp notes.
If a piece is in a flat key, with the exception of F, it would be called the key of Ab, for example.
in the Flat keys, F, Bb,Eb,Ab,Db, the scales would only contain the appropriate Flatted notes.
To sum it up , if I am told to play in a key signature of B, E ,A, or D it would be a sharp key signature unless I am specifically told it is flat.
Am I right?


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Yes, you're right.

With the exception of C and F, all keys with a natural letter name are sharp keys.

F is the only flat key that doesn't include flat in the name.

The sharp keys: G, D, A, E, B, F#, C#
The flat keys: F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb
(shown in order from 1 to 7 key signature accidentals)

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(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

Yes, you're right.

With the exception of C and F, all keys with a natural letter name are sharp keys.

F is the only flat key that doesn't include flat in the name.

The sharp keys: G, D, A, E, B, F#, C#
The flat keys: F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb
(shown in order from 1 to 7 key signature accidentals)

Except that there are enharmonic keys just like there are enharmonic notes.

So the key of A isn't the key of A#. A# is the same key as Bb, but no one ever uses A# because there are so many sharps in the key signature as to be unweildy.

Key of :

A: A B C# D E F# G# A
Ab: Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab
A#: A# B# C## D# E# F## G## A#
Bb: Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

You can see why no one in their right mind uses A# as a key signature, as it realy is the key of Bb with simply different names for the notes. But it is still a perfectly valid key signature.

So when you say that the key of A is really A# you're wrong. A# is a key with 4 sharps and 3 double sharps used by masochistic classicical composers as a bad joke. (at least for the last 250 years since the development of tempered tunings. Prior to that it was a different key from Bb).

If you mean that the key of A has sharps in it, you're right, but that's not the same thing as the key of A#.

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