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Black notes sharp or flat ?

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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:42 pm

molecular wrote:
The Korff wrote:It's possible that, if you were getting a piano tuner in to tune a piano to A#m, some of the accidentals in would be at different frequencies compared to if you'd had the piano tuned to Bbm, but that's a different story altogether!

It's this bit I don't understand - I was always under the impression that the accidentals would be slightly different if they tuned to Bbm or Abm... but won't the piano in both the above cases just be tuned around whatever frequency is chosen as A#/Bb, And they would only differ if you were tuning the piano to a key that wasn't either of them?

Is there a temperament that particularly favours minor keys? In any case, it isn't going to make any difference how the notes are labelled.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby molecular » Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:16 am

Well, I'm ready to be skooled aswell :)

I can't think my way around how the way you would tune a minor scale to fundamental note X could differ depending on what you called it, I can only see that the tunings can differ between X being the IV or the II etc...
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:21 am

If a piano is involved, and we're venturing as far into the harmonic undergrowth as Bb minor, the piano had b... well BETTER be tuned in equal temperament. End of, really.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby alexis » Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:45 am

Speaking of equal vs. just temperaments ...

can someone help here with some advice for the next time I get my piano tuned?

It's a Steinway upright, very nice tone. I asked around and got the name of the tuner from a musician I respect, so I think that part is OK.

He showed up and asked, "Do you want me to tune it by ear, or using a tuner?". I had no idea why he might ask that, so I asked him what the difference was, and I guess I didn't do a good job of questioning, because in retrospect the only thing I remember his saying is something like, "Well some people like it one way, and some another". So I said, sure, go ahead and use a tuner.

So ever since he left I have noticed a ... "harshness" is the only word I can think of. It just doesn't sound sweet and mellow, clear like a waterfall anymore.

Could he have actually been asking whether I wanted it tuned to equal vs. just temperament? Or is that not applicable to pianos, and I should look somewhere else?

Thanks much -
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Feb 13, 2016 1:40 am

alexis wrote:Speaking of equal vs. just temperaments ...

can someone help here with some advice for the next time I get my piano tuned?

It's a Steinway upright, very nice tone. I asked around and got the name of the tuner from a musician I respect, so I think that part is OK.

He showed up and asked, "Do you want me to tune it by ear, or using a tuner?". I had no idea why he might ask that, so I asked him what the difference was, and I guess I didn't do a good job of questioning, because in retrospect the only thing I remember his saying is something like, "Well some people like it one way, and some another". So I said, sure, go ahead and use a tuner.

So ever since he left I have noticed a ... "harshness" is the only word I can think of. It just doesn't sound sweet and mellow, clear like a waterfall anymore.

Could he have actually been asking whether I wanted it tuned to equal vs. just temperament? Or is that not applicable to pianos, and I should look somewhere else?

Thanks much -


Piano tuners are taught how to "set" the middle octave so that certain intervals beat at certain rates. They're generally aiming for equal temperament - most pianists want to be able to play in B and Db as well as in C. They then "stretch" the tuning in the higher octaves because - well, let's just leave it for now as "because it sounds better"!

You can also tune using a meter. This is a more sophisticated device than the ones we use to tune a guitar. It it designed to emulate a lot of the craft of an experienced and skilled tuner. But all pianos are different, position in the room makes a difference... The human can often do a better job.

Also, you suspect you may have made the wrong decision, and are therefore being hyper-critical :-)

http://howtotuneapiano.com/blog/piano-tuning-procedure/
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby alexis » Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:17 am

Exalted Wombat wrote:...

Piano tuners are taught how to "set" the middle octave so that certain intervals beat at certain rates. They're generally aiming for equal temperament - most pianists want to be able to play in B and Db as well as in C. They then "stretch" the tuning in the higher octaves because - well, let's just leave it for now as "because it sounds better"!

You can also tune using a meter. This is a more sophisticated device than the ones we use to tune a guitar. It it designed to emulate a lot of the craft of an experienced and skilled tuner. But all pianos are different, position in the room makes a difference... The human can often do a better job.

Also, you suspect you may have made the wrong decision, and are therefore being hyper-critical :-)

http://howtotuneapiano.com/blog/piano-tuning-procedure/

Thanks, Exalted Wombat, interesting article! :)

You actually had it a backwards though - I'm critical of the sound, so I'm wondering if the decision to go with the automatic tuning contribute to that ... not vice versa. Nothing "hyper-" about it either!

Thanks again!
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Guest » Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:15 pm

Oh my gosh, almost confused me again, but molecular states you only chose when notating cos it's easier to read, this is kinda what i felt, or similar, because i think people write in certain keys
to accomodate brass, whatever, so the choice, in this case is just to benefit sight readers.

& to be clear, not chords, keys and labelling them, my only worry was I have choice of flat or sharp, before i moved the riff up it was in A Minor, but when you label from a black key you are
presented with a choice, even so there's absolutely no diff.

Equal temp, i was preparing a forum query about this too, but i've just checked the freq ratios so i've either answered my own question or it will be less complex/muddled. Just need to take it all in before i post if need be.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby permanent_daylight » Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:00 pm

Generally chosing the one with the least accidentals is easier to read.

Gb/F# are the only choice really. But there's not really anything between them, other than you can consider how they relate to other keys in the piece (Gb minor is 9 flats, F# is 3 sharps), and even how they work with transposing instruments (the flats transposed from Gb have less accidentals).
Of course you could just write those keys in any way you chose, and ignore the relationship, and it would sound the same.

In your case Bb has a lot less accidentls. And it also fits music theory: you modulated a minor second. You don't really get 'augmented unision'.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby damoore » Mon Feb 15, 2016 1:25 pm

ef37a wrote:"so just to save your breath, especially if you're a wind player,"

Ah! Now! Why are wind instruments always, AFAIK, specified by the "flat", e.g B flat clarinet. E flat trumpet and not the corresponding sharp? And why does my reply not wrap properly at the end of the page please?

Dave.

Clarinets come in A as well as Bb. Trumpets come in sharp keys although mostly the music for them is played on C or Bb instruments.

If you work round the cycle of fifths, with each step adding one sharp, You get C (0 sharps) G, D, A, E, B, F#, C#(7 sharps), G#, D#, A#. So A# major has ten sharps. Subtract three for minor and A# minor is 7 sharps. But the leading note is G double sharp. So it's going to be harder to read than C# major. And when you modulate to the dominant major (you know you will!) chaos will probably ensue.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Feb 15, 2016 9:08 pm

You certainly get augmented unisons. Maybe more commonly when going down from a whitenote key, or up from a blacknote one. Ebto E is an augmented unison.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby permanent_daylight » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:45 am

True, stand corrected, that you'd call it augmented unison especially if going to a natural from a much easier key than it's enharmonic for notational purposes. But not in this particular context, A to Bb. I'd tend to avoid them if it makes sense to.

I guess i meant more with music theory and the discussion of intervals, scales, chords or cadences it would be treated as a minor second in most situations, even if not for practicalities of notation. This is just as you don't tend to describe relations between the same number in the scale as the unison tending to be a fixed point to discuss other notes from, nearly always it would be a key change by a minor second, and you might even use the more difficult enharmonic, than notated to discuss this.

Keep it easy for the players. Its always pretty sound advice, whatever the intricacies of theory they don't necessarily provide the best performance. Plenty of instruments often ask for no key signature IME, of course the horn, but often other winds/brass prefer this with frequent modulation, and with VERY frequent modulation that would be probably for all instruments.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:09 pm

Here's a very common chord sequence. C C#dim7 Dm G. It's more useful to call the chord (and the note) a C# rather than a Db. Minor 2nd or Augmented Unison? Either label could be useful.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Guest » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:27 pm

Flippin' 'eck cain't i get a straight answer to a straight question, i do actually understand my query as you all prob know, no diff, so going off kilter in this case is still a learning process, but boy oh boy it's getting beyond me, but i'm working on it.

So all you bleedin' clever clogs, you all seem to agree and disagree about naming, righty ho, cop a load of this:

"Strutural Hearing - Tonal Coherence In Music" by Felix Salzer first published in 1982 is an unabridged and corrected version by C. Boni published in 1952.

This is my bible, now I 'ave no idea if all these type of books tell the exact same thing but he is explaining, in no uncertain terms how to label stuff correctly, i guess the clue is in the title? The published tome is divided between 2 parts, the second part is musical illustrations, notation, frustatingly that's no flippin' good to me, so can't hear the examples or practice them.

Roughly, most of it is way beyond my comprehension, i keep referring back to it cos some info, even the basic stuff (to you lot), i just cain't seem to hold/store in my head, even so, what I have managed to glean so far has been a revelation, I pounced on this immediately, cos i knew I could hear superior intervals when writing/playing when i didn't even know there was such a thing.

I-V-I he states is the highest harmonic progression, a I-V, is also but it's incomplete, a I-III-V-I is the next best and so on, i think you must all know this, because you've read this stuff before, but I'm pretty sure he seems to have the naming well and truly sorted, and that naming, of course can be a composers guide, I hope you understand what i'm rattling on about, borrow it from the library.

And if i'm right about the, (i think,) brilliant concepts? ideas? could you start a thread on it, jus' so i can borrow your brains for a mo', or is there owt new in it, er innit, hmm no, it's, in it, innit.

Oh my giddy aunt some bod's posted it on line

http://hugoribeiro.com.br/biblioteca-digital/Salzer-Structural_Hearing%201.pdf

cost me £11.99, 'bout i dunno 12/15 years ago, do i want my money back, nah i would've payed the earth for this kinda info

I must mention Hienrich Schenker, i believe it was his original work but I think he died before it was completed, and Salzer and the other dude were able to "fill in" the gaps, I think this is right

So thank you Mr Schenker you're a real gent and a clever clogs mate.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Guest » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:35 pm

just looked seems it's only part 1, part two is the notation examples, you find 'em, I've got it, 'tis you lot that's gotta catch up wiv me now.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby CS70 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:53 pm

LdashD wrote:how do I know wether I should scribble ( I can't ) a # or a flat, what determines something being in e flat minor rather than d# minor? for what reason?

I understand that you just pick whatever makes it more concise to write it down (i.e. with the least number of sharps or flats).

As of sharp/flat themselves, in old tunings A# and Bb were not the same pitch, so you needed two distinct notations; but with equal temperament instruments the distinction between (note)sharp and (next note)flat has no longer audible significance.

Incidentally, if all you're interested is in giving someone else the idea on which key a pop piece is in (like when one does, for example, when jamming with others over a guitar riff or progression), the key signature isn't really that interesting - what you want to refer to is what's the tonic (i.e. the note whose corresponding scale is used in the majority of chords feels like it's a start/conclusion of the riff or progression) and if it's minor or major. To make a rough test, when you say a pop piece is in the key of X (minor/major), you should then find that most of the chords used in the piece are built with notes of the X (minor/major) scale. I guess one could also do with specifying natural, melodic or harmonic minor, and even other scales but in practice in pop I've not experienced it.

If for example someone tells me a piece is in Cm I will expect it to have mainly chords such as Cm, Eb, Fm, Gm etc. - i.e. chords made with notes from the C natural minor scale.

If the piece modulates a lot - like some jazz - then you simply can't give a single "key" indication (even if a theme may be in one key, to give the listener's brain something to grip to), and the player has to know/read exactly what's playing in that moment in order to know which scale or other chords will work.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby tacitus » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:01 pm

If you're not a string (or trombone) player or interested in Historically Informed Performance, just keep to the simplest way of notating your stuff. So, in the instance we're talking about, Bb minor rather than A# minor. Make sure you have a scale that haas an A, B, C, D, E, F, and G in it, with whatever sharps or flat you need to make it work. Major scales will always be all sharps or all flats, minor scales, melodic or harmonic, are a bit more complicated.

When notating for players, I always use flats going down chromatically and sharps going up as it's easier to read at speed (and if you can't read at speed it ain't gonna matter ...). So A, Ab, G going down, and G, G#, A going up. Also this avoids having to put naturals everywhere.

Not sure why (wind) band instruments got to be in flat keys, but once some instruments were established in Bb and Eb, it makes sense to keep them in those keys. Older instruments, like strings, keyboards, oboe, recorder, and bassoon tended to be in concert pitch and the players sorted out the fingering for different sizes. With band instruments, you want some standardisation, so you keep the fingering the same and make them into transposing instruments to keep it easy for brainless band players.

Long before they had valves, baroque trumpets tended to be in D, so the music was written in D, so new trumpets were made in D and so on. Again, not sure which was the chicken and which the egg in that situation. Similarly, while they had extra crooks (small lengths of tube) to change it, horns (French horns, originally hunting horns in Europe) were popular in F and of course are still made in that size. It may be that an F horn is a good size for the huntsman to put his arm through the loop to carry it on horseback.

LIke orchestral strings, guitars tend to have open strings tuned for sharper keys - E A D G and so on. So notating in sharps is common in the pop world. Midi always seems to take the sharp option, as if whoever invented it hadn't worked out how to do flats! Also, on computers, the hash sign makes a better sharp then lower case b does a flat. Might be relevant.

In summary, then, you're looking for a key signature that allows you to have seven differently named notes and no more than seven sharps or flats, as there's no provision to notate more in standard music. Even minor keys will conform to this as they have the same key signature as their relative major key (a minor third up: A minor has a relative major of C, so both keys have the same key signature - no sharps and flats as it happens). This determines that it's F# minor, not Gb minor, and Bb minor not A# minor. Or, indeed, that it's Eb major and not D# major. If you look at a notated scale in all of the major keys, they have no accidentals and go stepwise from note to note; the key signature tells you which are sharps or flats.

Anything else I can confuse for you?
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Richard Graham » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:58 pm

LdashD wrote:Flippin' 'eck cain't i get a straight answer to a straight question, i do actually understand my query as you all prob know, no diff, so going off kilter in this case is still a learning process, but boy oh boy it's getting beyond me, but i'm working on it.

So all you bleedin' clever clogs, you all seem to agree and disagree about naming, righty ho, cop a load of this:

"Strutural Hearing - Tonal Coherence In Music" by Felix Salzer first published in 1982 is an unabridged and corrected version by C. Boni published in 1952.

This is my bible, now I 'ave no idea if all these type of books tell the exact same thing but he is explaining, in no uncertain terms how to label stuff correctly, i guess the clue is in the title? The published tome is divided between 2 parts, the second part is musical illustrations, notation, frustatingly that's no flippin' good to me, so can't hear the examples or practice them.

Roughly, most of it is way beyond my comprehension, i keep referring back to it cos some info, even the basic stuff (to you lot), i just cain't seem to hold/store in my head, even so, what I have managed to glean so far has been a revelation, I pounced on this immediately, cos i knew I could hear superior intervals when writing/playing when i didn't even know there was such a thing.

I-V-I he states is the highest harmonic progression, a I-V, is also but it's incomplete, a I-III-V-I is the next best and so on, i think you must all know this, because you've read this stuff before, but I'm pretty sure he seems to have the naming well and truly sorted, and that naming, of course can be a composers guide, I hope you understand what i'm rattling on about, borrow it from the library.


You are Nigel Kennedy and I claim my £50!
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby damoore » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:53 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:Here's a very common chord sequence. C C#dim7 Dm G. It's more useful to call the chord (and the note) a C# rather than a Db. Minor 2nd or Augmented Unison? Either label could be useful.

On the other hand, you would normally notate I N V in C as (C,E,G) (F, Ab, Db) (G, B, D)
(N (the Neapolitan six) being the flattened two chord (in first inversion) rather than the augmented unison chord)

But C#dim7 is correct in the Exalted one's example because the root has been raised. Whereas for the Neapolitan, the second has been lowered.

Another example would be where you used the Phrygian Dominant mode over C7 (in key of Fm, of course). There you would also write Db. Because it is the lowered six not the raised five.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Guest » Sat Feb 20, 2016 6:08 pm

Richard Graham wrote:You are Nigel Kennedy and I claim my £50!

Hey, Ricardo mon ami, you've ruled out me possibly being a Nigella? silly boy.
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Re: Black notes sharp or flat ?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Feb 21, 2016 3:15 pm

CS70 wrote:If the piece modulates a lot - like some jazz - then you simply can't give a single "key" indication (even if a theme may be in one key, to give the listener's brain something to grip to), and the player has to know/read exactly what's playing in that moment in order to know which scale or other chords will work.

There are degrees of modulation. You can go for a trip around the neighbourhood, or you can move to a new city. As a child, your "neighbourhood" may be one house. Then horizons widen, but you stay rooted. There's a good musical analogy developing here... :-)

Maybe all we have to say to players who crave a list of "permitted" scales and notes for every situation is "you should get out more!".
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