SYOS

Beginner A beginner on scales

fishpond

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143
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Havant, Hampshire
Trying to understand scales.
Having now studied a piano keyboard (2am this morning), when I woke up.
Would I be correct in saying that there is no E SHARP,F FLAT--B SHARP, C FLAT.
If so, using the formula TTSTTTS for scales seems to be slowly making sense as the semi tone for E would be F (ie, because there is no sharp or flat) , also B would be C.
Please keep any replies very, very simple as this is ground level building blocks . :)

Note:-"seems to be slowly making sense ". No it doesn't!
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Yes you're correct. There is no named key for the notes you mention.

But the notes you name do exist and can be/are written on the stave, If you come across one of these notes in the music , use the key a semitone up or down, depending on if it's sharp or flat. (e.g. E#, play F) But you probably won't see them for quite a while.

Same goes for sax and most other instruments.
 

ukwoody

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Milford Haven, Pembrokshire, Wales
Yes you're correct. There is no named key for the notes you mention.

But the notes you name do exist and can be/are written on the stave, If you come across one of these notes in the music , use the key a semitone up or down, depending on if it's sharp or flat. (e.g. E#, play F) But you probably won't see them for quite a while.

Same goes for sax and most other instruments.
If the notes do not physically exist, why write them in music, why not just use F as you suggest?

woody
 

kevgermany

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If the notes do not physically exist, why write them in music, why not just use F as you suggest?

woody
I was asking the same question a few months back. ;}
At the risk of muddying the waters somewhat, this is a synopsis of my understanding since then...


The piano keyboard is one side - a physical implementation. As the interval is a semitone, there's not really a sensible way to put in a black key between E and F or between B & C.

However in music..... ignore the physical for now.

Two ways to do it - the way you're suggesting and the way they decided to do it.

The reason they decided to do it that way was to make lear the structure of the tune - so if, for instance, a B# is needed, it's logically clearer to write it as B# than C - it tells the player the composer want to sharpen the B, not just to play a C.

But why....? There it really starts to get complicated. Today A# = Bb. Always. Because we use a system of pitch intervals known as equal temperament. In this system there's a fixed frequency ratio between the different notes in the scale. But it wasn't always that way.

Previously there were many different ways of tuning & playing musical instruments, where there were differences bewteen the sharps and flats, i.e. A# is not the same as Bb. This would necessitate the different notation.

So for historical reasons AND because it shows the musical structure more clearly we newbies have to conform.... And as tehy said to me when I asked the question, as you progress, it becomes more natural. And you'll see it wouldn't work as well the other way...



The debate over different temperaments goes on today, the argument being that a fixed mathematical interval between each of the notes does not sound right. Hopefully they'll stick with the current system. I'm finding it difficult enough to play in tune as it is, without needing to compensate on all the black notes for different temperaments or tuning systems, depending on whether I'm ascending or descending.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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I know how you feel. I'm only a few months ahead of you guys. This was causing me so much grief/confusion, I had to get it straight - and draw a boundary between what I needed to know thoroughly and what I wanted to know for background. The background remains very murky, but the basics are clicking into place (aided by a really musical and understanding wife!).
 
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