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Strange Notation

Bude Bill

Member
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42
Just getting to grips with "Luck be a Lady" the Frank Loesser tune from Guys and Dolls.
In bars 18 & 22 there seems to be a "Cb" or "B#". These are not in any notation I have seen. Driving me nuts. It sounds correct with a "C#" but is this correct?
Can any of you guys help me out.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
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2,419
Bill
It's a bit difficult without knowing what key the version you are playing from is in and thus what the sequence of notes is. As there is just a semitone between B and C, it could be Cb as an enharmonic name for B natural. Or it could be B# as an enharmonic name for C natural. But they are different notes and neither are the same as C# of course. And there's always the possibility it is a printing error!
YC
 

Pete Thomas

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Yes, these are legitimate notes. I know this has been discussed here before but i can't find it right now.

A B# is the 7th degree of the scale of C#, which is like C but all 7 notes are sharpened. You don't have a C and a C# in that key, it makes more sense for a note name to only be once in any scale.

It's also more useful when alternating B# to C#, it would be clumsy to keep changing an accidental from C ntuaral to C#

For the same reason Cb is the 4th degree of a Gb scale. Gb, Ab, Bb Cb, as opposed to repeating the B:

Gb Ab Bb B is wrong, as B appears twice.

This is obviously a lot more involved, but that's a brief summary.

Or it could be a mistake as Young Col says.
 

Bude Bill

Member
Messages
42
Strange Notation Contiued:-

Yes, these are legitimate notes. I know this has been discussed here before but i can't find it right now.

A B# is the 7th degree of the scale of C#, which is like C but all 7 notes are sharpened. You don't have a C and a C# in that key, it makes more sense for a note name to only be once in any scale.

It's also more useful when alternating B# to C#, it would be clumsy to keep changing an accidental from C ntuaral to C#

For the same reason Cb is the 4th degree of a Gb scale. Gb, Ab, Bb Cb, as opposed to repeating the B:

Gb Ab Bb B is wrong, as B appears twice.

This is obviously a lot more involved, but that's a brief summary.

Or it could be a mistake as Young Col says.
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Thanks to both Col and Pete, the beginning of the piece is in C Maj. ie there are'nt any sharps or flats.
Then at bar 17 it indicates G,A,B,D & E are all flattened. Accordingly I play the A as G# and the G as F# which leads me to play F#, G# and then this Cb which could be B# if you say so.
I have tried to find the key for the above in the books I have without luck. Even Taming the Saxophone doesn't help.
If the note is a B# how do I play that? Thats not in the books either.
I only play for my own relaxation, and I left my teacher as she didn't seem interested. So here I am struggling.
Thanks again Bill
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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This lot got me really badly when I started, but when you get used to it, it's not bad and even makes sense...

5 flats is Db major or Bb minor. It's thus equivalent to C# major/A# minor.
So assuming it's still major, the music/tune moved up a semitone, from C to Db (C#).

Do a web search for circle of fifths, the key signatures are usually all there, and there's a good one on wikipedia, here with an explanation of the key signatures:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_signatures


Playing:
B# you finger a semitone higher than B, which is the same as (enharmonic with) C ( remember there's a semitone between B&C and between E&F, but a full tone between the other named notes ).
So for Cb finger as B. And similarly for E#/Fb.
 

Bude Bill

Member
Messages
42
Again my thanks to Kev. I am not sure I entirely understand what you are saying but it gives me a basis for learning.
Do you really trust Wikipedia then? I've seen some very stange explanations from that arena.

Thanks Bill
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Wikipedia's like any other on-line resource, you have to be careful, and check other references. Here it's OK. And all the music theory sections I've looked at have been OK.

Expanding slighly on what Pete said, when music's written, each scale has all 7 letters/notes. To maintain the sound of the scale and retain the lettes, we need to eithe sharpen or flatten some/all of the notes in the scale. Simplest major scale is C, where no notes are sharpened or flattened. Next is G, where only the F is sharpened. But when start on F, then to get the half tone afte the two full tones, we need to flatten B. All good so far..... Cos there's a key for Bb. On the piano, and on the sax.

Now going slightly sideways, as we add more sharps or flats, sooner or late you're going to need to sharpen E (for isntance). And there isn't a black key on the piano - neither is there an extra key on the sax. Cos the next note a halftone above the E is the F. So E# is the same key on the instrument as F.

Strange, but it has a few advantages - a couple being:
First is as already said, that the scale always has all 7 letters in the note names.
Second is that as you look at a chord written on the stave, it's much easier to recognise the chord - because the notes are on their normal lines/spaces (Fb doesn't shift down to the E line, but stays on the F space....

As for the Db being equivalent to C#, go to the piano and following the rules FFHFFFH go up the keyboard seeing which notes you play. As Pete says, it's C#, D#, E#, F#, G#, A#, B# and back to C#. Now it just so happens that if you start on Db, you press the same keys, in the same order - but it's easier to name the notes, as it's Db, Eb,F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C.... only 5 flats, instead of 7 sharps, and the hassle fo remembering that E# is F. And so for simplicity, Db is sometimes prefered to C# as a key signature.

If you're not sure about minors, look up relative minor - C major has a relative minor of A. And so on.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
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2,419
Yes, I was going to say that Kev's post is right, but both his posts are right (having just seen the latest!).
I think it is less confusing to think of the notes as in key, ie that they are flats rather than the enharmonic name equivalents, eg think Ab in a flat key, not G#. In the end it is less confusing, as well as being correct.
Pete's webpages Taming the Saxophone has the cycle of fifths and major key signatures with it. It really is the most useful thing to get in your head for all sorts of reasons. A crude but quick way to work out minor key signatures is to count up two letter notes: A minor = C Major (no sharps/flats),D minor = F major (1flat)...
YC
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
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Thanks to both Col and Pete, the beginning of the piece is in C Maj. ie there are'nt any sharps or flats.
Then at bar 17 it indicates G,A,B,D & E are all flattened. Accordingly I play the A as G# and the G as F# which leads me to play F#, G# and then this Cb which could be B# if you say so.
I have tried to find the key for the above in the books I have without luck. Even Taming the Saxophone doesn't help.
If the note is a B# how do I play that? Thats not in the books either.
I only play for my own relaxation, and I left my teacher as she didn't seem interested. So here I am struggling.
Thanks again Bill

I don't know how long you've been playing but I wondered what these meant when I started and the explanations I found were complicated for a beginner with the references to music theory.
I found it best to think of them simply as the playable note above or below.
So B# is above B and the playable note above B is C.
Fb is below F and the playable note below F is E.
 
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Young Col

Well-Known Member
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2,419
Quite so Targa. I was going to point out the slight error in your second example, but you've edited it to make it corrrect!
YC
 

Bude Bill

Member
Messages
42
Thanks once again to Kev, Col. and Targa. I printed off the Wikipedia pages and spent last evening reading and I think I have it now.
Hope you didn't get cramp typing up all that stuff Kev. it was a substantial note.
You were all quite correct Cb is basically B and it sounds correct when played.
I think we have done this to death now guys, thanks once again for your help.
Bill
 
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