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Thread: C Flat B sharp?

  1. #1

    Default C Flat B sharp?

    Hi all.

    New member here.
    I took up alto sax a few years ago, stopped playing before going far,
    and picking it up again.

    Maybe this is addressed somewhere, but I looked and could not find it.
    Looking at the major scales, I see C flat (for example in key of G flat major scale) and B sharp (for example in E sharp major scale.)

    But I thought there was no C flat key and no B sharp key. So, how do you play them them when you see them in the scale?

    Thanks,
    TJ

  2. #2

    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    C flat is the same pitch as B natural. B sharp is the same pitch as C natural.

  3. #3
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by jatsax View Post
    (for example in E sharp major scale.)
    I don't think any sane person would ever use an E# major scale or write in the key of E#

    But C# major is fine, and there is a B# in that scale.

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    I don't think any sane person would ever use an E# major scale or write in the key of E#
    Wasn't the sanity of several major composers questionable?

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    I don't think any sane person would ever use an E# major scale or write in the key of E#
    Wasn't the sanity of several major composers questionable?
    And minor composers.

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    I don't know if this answers the question or not, but by convention when you spell out a scale you never repeat a letter name. So for the scale Gb:

    Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F

    The Cb is of course the same note as B (nat), but there is already a Bb in the scale, so the next note up is Cb.

    Here's the exact same major scale in F#:

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

    The Cb here is called B and the F is E#, again because you don't want to repeat a letter name when spelling out the scale. In my mind I always think F, not E#, but to spell it out correctly you have to use E#.

    Make sense?

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Oh, I really worship enharmonics, not!
    I can think of a few great ones I have come across in shows. One that comes to mind is in The Scarlet Pimpernel, clarinet solo in Gb major, thats bad enough. Turn the page and the exact same solo in F# major...Duh! Great if you are sight reading.
    Got the same thing in 42nd Street, if I can remember the tenor part went E#,D#,C## (can't find a key for a double sharp) B#, A#,E#. Which is basically a F mixolodian scale or even a Bb scale starting on F, if you get my drift. Even so, it makes you think what the... when you first see it. Guess what? We get the same thing later in the show this time F,Eb,D,C,Bb,F. Why do people write this way? I blame computermubles myself....

  8. #8

    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Thank you, everybody,
    for your kind replies.

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by JL View Post
    I don't know if this answers the question or not, but by convention when you spell out a scale you never repeat a letter name.
    Yeah, I was talking through the F- dorian with my teacher. So that's F, G, G sharp...then? No, it's F, G, A flat

    Who decided this system in the first place? It's not very scientific is it? Why can't we just refer to the frequencies? Is it any harder to say give me a 440 than give me an A?

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by barisaxbeast View Post
    ...Why do people write this way? I blame computermubles myself....
    I asked the same question when I was looking throught some music with my teacher. There were two quavers, both the same note with a tie, next to each other in the same bar. What's the point? Why not just put a crotchet? He said he thinks it's when software is used to generate the score.

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by barisaxbeast View Post
    ...Why do people write this way? I blame computermubles myself....
    I asked the same question when I was looking throught some music with my teacher. There were two quavers, both the same note with a tie, next to each other in the same bar. What's the point? Why not just put a crotchet? He said he thinks it's when software is used to generate the score.
    To make things easier to read, and also to give a quick visual impression of what they sound like. You may think "what the heck, why don't they just write F" when you see an E# written, but when you see C# E# G# written as a chord it it is (or at least could be, which is a start) the major chord which it is. Write it as C# F G# and it looks like a suspension.

    Similarly the rules of "note grouping" usually make rhythms easier to read by clearly showing where the beat falls - which is the usual reason some notes are split.
    Last edited by stefank; 10-19-2009 at 10:28 AM. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post

    Who decided this system in the first place? It's not very scientific is it? Why can't we just refer to the frequencies? Is it any harder to say give me a 440 than give me an A?
    That's a joke, right?

    There are times when spelling melodic or harmonic notes that this exact syxtem works. As a composer/arranger, I might have the "correct" names spelled vertically, but when I write out the individual parts, I am only concerned about what reads the best, melodically.
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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    That's a joke, right?
    Absolutely...there's really no need to refer to it as a 440. Like in snowboarding, I refer to a 3 or a 7...etc when the actual rotation is 360 or 720 etc, then you could quite simply refer to it as a 44. Much easier to remember

    Music could be written on graph paper with the note placed on the correct frequency axis. Much easier for communication too. No more 'when you say a B, do you mean a 2nd or 9th?'


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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JL View Post
    I don't know if this answers the question or not, but by convention when you spell out a scale you never repeat a letter name.
    Yeah, I was talking through the F- dorian with my teacher. So that's F, G, G sharp...then? No, it's F, G, A flat

    Who decided this system in the first place? It's not very scientific is it? Why can't we just refer to the frequencies? Is it any harder to say give me a 440 than give me an A?
    It's not harder to say, but it does not give the information about note/key relationships that the conventional system does (provided you understand it reasonably well, which your posts suggest that you have not yet done). Octave relationships, would be fairly easy to spot, but after that the maths gets more difficult - perhaps you should use a logarithmic rather than a linear scale for frequency? Let us know the details when you have fully worked them out.

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by stefank View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Yeah, I was talking through the F- dorian with my teacher. So that's F, G, G sharp...then? No, it's F, G, A flat

    Who decided this system in the first place? ....
    It's not harder to say, but it does not give the information about note/key relationships that the conventional system does....
    Yes, as stefank says, there is some logic to this. Using your F minor example, Tiberius, the defining characteristic of a minor chord or key is the minor 3rd. The 3rd in F is A. To get the minor third, you flat that note, giving you Ab. Yes, it is enharmonic to G#, but the Ab gives you more information; it's the minor third.

    Having said all that, you are free to think of it however you want in your head. But when communicating with other musicians, it helps to clarify harmonic function if you use some of these conventions.

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    That's a joke, right?
    Absolutely...there's really no need to refer to it as a 440. Like in snowboarding, I refer to a 3 or a 7...etc when the actual rotation is 360 or 720 etc, then you could quite simply refer to it as a 44. Much easier to remember

    Music could be written on graph paper with the note placed on the correct frequency axis. Much easier for communication too. No more 'when you say a B, do you mean a 2nd or 9th?'
    And some of it is.

    This would work very well for scientists, but not so well for many creative musicians who want to to understand the relationships between notes, and use the momentum (or lack of it) of harmonic relationship (tension, release, climax) to create music which can touch people's feelings.

    EDIT:

    Some musicians do that with no knowledge at all of enharmonic correctness, yet for others it can be a real boon. We are all different.

    Where the graph paper notation works is often in avant garde music, where less conventional tonality is used. It can still be emotional though.
    Last edited by Pete Thomas; 10-19-2009 at 05:22 PM. Reason: afterthoughts

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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    That's a joke, right?
    Absolutely...there's really no need to refer to it as a 440. Like in snowboarding, I refer to a 3 or a 7...etc when the actual rotation is 360 or 720 etc, then you could quite simply refer to it as a 44. Much easier to remember

    Music could be written on graph paper with the note placed on the correct frequency axis. Much easier for communication too. No more 'when you say a B, do you mean a 2nd or 9th?'

    ROFL

    Too bad not everybody got it

  18. #18

    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JL View Post
    I don't know if this answers the question or not, but by convention when you spell out a scale you never repeat a letter name.
    Yeah, I was talking through the F- dorian with my teacher. So that's F, G, G sharp...then? No, it's F, G, A flat

    Who decided this system in the first place? It's not very scientific is it? Why can't we just refer to the frequencies? Is it any harder to say give me a 440 than give me an A?
    But some orchestras (including Berlin Philharmonic, IIRC) tune to A = 442
    Iain
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    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by IainC View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JL View Post
    I don't know if this answers the question or not, but by convention when you spell out a scale you never repeat a letter name.
    Yeah, I was talking through the F- dorian with my teacher. So that's F, G, G sharp...then? No, it's F, G, A flat

    Who decided this system in the first place? It's not very scientific is it? Why can't we just refer to the frequencies? Is it any harder to say give me a 440 than give me an A?
    But some orchestras (including Berlin Philharmonic, IIRC) tune to A = 442
    For a practising musician pitch is a relative thing.

  20. #20

    Default Re: C Flat B sharp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    That's a joke, right?
    Absolutely...there's really no need to refer to it as a 440. Like in snowboarding, I refer to a 3 or a 7...etc when the actual rotation is 360 or 720 etc, then you could quite simply refer to it as a 44. Much easier to remember

    Music could be written on graph paper with the note placed on the correct frequency axis. Much easier for communication too. No more 'when you say a B, do you mean a 2nd or 9th?'

    It's made a bit more complicated than that by the fact that many countries in Western Europe and the whole of Scadinavia use a different nomenclature.
    What we here on SOTW call "Bb" they call "H" and our "Bb" is their "B" So, for a "concert pitch B" major scale, the tenor saxophone plays C major Many Scandinavian players talk about "BB" when they mean Bb"

    And, (as if that isn't enough) in most of the English speaking world (except the US and Canada) the term "breve" is used for a whole note, "semi-breve" for a half note, "crotchet" for a quarter note, and "quaver" for a eighth note.
    Iain
    Yamaha Custom Z (black lacquer) Otto Link 7 mp. Legere Studio Cut #3 reed.

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