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Beginner Cb on Gb major scale?

JasonC

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Hi All,

I was just looking through the major scales and noticed that Gb major scale has 6 flats, one of which is Cb, but I'm sure this note doesn't exist? can someone clarify this as I'm sure I'm reading something wrong somewhere!

Many thanks
Jason
 

kevgermany

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Cb = B
B# = C
E# = F
Fb = E

They're known as enharmonic notes.

Basically flat means go down a semitone, double flat down two semitones. Sharp means go up a semitone, double sharp up two semitones.
 
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JasonC

JasonC

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Right ok, thanks for that, I understand. I guess I shouldn't ask why they don't show them as normal notes then instead of the enharmonic notes! I'll leave that one until I know a bit more.

Thanks again
Jason
 

half diminished

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Major scales run alphabetically upwards - this is called diatonic and so for Gb major for example you'll get:

Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F rather than F# G# Bb B C# Eb F which is a bit of a mess.

Similarly with Db major you get:

Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C rather than C# Eb F F# G# Bb

It's also important to think in either flats or sharps and to avoid the mis-translation enharmonically of say Gb to F#. It may appear easier in the short term to think of Gb as F# but is isn't - trust me :)
 

Phil Edwards

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Right ok, thanks for that, I understand. I guess I shouldn't ask why they don't show them as normal notes then instead of the enharmonic notes! I'll leave that one until I know a bit more.

Thanks again
Jason
It's also because you have one of each note in a scale, i.e. you have a G, A, B, C, D, E, and an F, in one form or another.

If you spelt the Cb as a B then the scale of Gb would consist of a Bb and a B, but there'd be no C; so it's Cb and not B.

There might be a more technical description but that's basically it.

Phil
 
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kevgermany

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Jason, you're obviously interested in the theory. Good thing.

When you have some time, and want to get thoroughly confused, look up temperaments. Just, even etc.... Then the B#/Cb will become more obvious - maybe. Lots of good articles on music theory on Wikipedia and Pete's main site.

But for now, the keeping of all the letters in the scale AND the all sharps/all flats arguments are more than enough reason.

Diatonic refers to the sequences of tones and half tones in the scales we use :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatonic_scale
 
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I really don't understand this. If there is no Cb in reality why write it as Cb when it is really a B? Once it is written down on the stave you just read it and play it regardless of whether it fits the scale or not. I have a Duke Ellington book from which I'm learning "I'm beginning to see the light" It starts off in D# but on the 15th note it is marked as an Eb. This is silly and confusing to a beginner. (Most Jazz tunes don't seem to adhere to a rigid scale anyway). I suppose these books aren't written for beginners but why the ambiguity. I'm a big believer in standardisation, then everyone knows what is what. I sometimes think that music is purposly made more complex than it really is to baffle the non musicians. I am sure more people would learn to read music if it weren't for the ambiguity and needless complexity.
 

Pete Thomas

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I really don't understand this. If there is no Cb in reality .
But there is a Cb. It would be very confusing to me if a Gb scale was Gb Ab Bb B Db etc.

Every major scale has 7 degrees, and each one has a different not letter attached. This helps us work out the intervals between various notes, and it would be very confusing if the were two Bs - one b and the other natural. And also if the step between the 4th and 5th degree (Cb to Db) which is one whole tone step, went from B to Db (which is also one whole tone) but looks at first glance like it's two tones as you would expect some kind of C to be between B and D.

I know it appears odd that notes have more than one name (it's called enharmonic). You also get double sharps and double flats for the same reason.

Another way to look at it is a G scale is

G A B C D so it makes sense to just flatten each note for Gb:

Gb Ab Bb Cb Db

Also see posts 4 and 5 above.
 
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But when you finger the note Cb are you thinking Cb or are you thinking B? I learned the fingering for that note as B not Cb. If it is written on the music score as a B you would just follow the score surely! After all, there are two A's in an A major scale, Ab and A natural. Just because it is written as a G# doesn't mean it's not an Ab. When I started to learn music I was told that "there are NO sharps or flats between B and C or E and F. So who is right?
 
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Nick Cook

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The only enharmonic I can 'do' is Eb/D#. If I see either of those I know the fingering. However, if I see Ab I have to think "ah, that's G#, I know that fingering". I suppose they'll come with practice!!!
 
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I still say that just because it's a G# doesn't mean it's not an Ab. Call it what you want it is still either/or. I have been playing "I'm beginning to see the light" and one time round you play B another time you play Bb. To use your argument this is incorrect because you can't have 2 "B's" in a scale. Wether you call it an A# or Bb it's still the same note and your fingers still press the same keys. Same piece of music writes D# most times but changes it to Eb in one section. There is a D natural in there as well, so you have 2 D's D and D#. Is this wrong too? It is so over complex.
 

Pete Thomas

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To use your argument this is incorrect because you can't have 2 "B's" in a scale.
That's right, you can't in any one major scale. But that tune has a melody based off more than one scale.

Basically though, if you aren't concerned about learning music theory or learning to improvise, it really doesn't matter what you are thinking, the important thing is to make the music sound the best you can. If you are just as happy with an Ab instead of a G# etc then I think that is fine. It would only become a problem if you do start to learn any theory. And many musicians are very happy to never bother with it.
 
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