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Huckleberry
07-18-2011, 06:15 AM
Been playing for about two years and sorta sliding into music theory, circle of fifths, major chords, minor chords, sevenths, etc.

Would like to know more about sharps and flats, specifically why no sharp/flat between b-c or e-f. Someone refered to the fact that there are no black keys between these notes on a piano. So i guess my next question is, why are these black keys missing on a piano ??

Any help would be appreciated.

ItsMrPitchy
07-18-2011, 06:34 AM
Never though about this but just been doing some research because i was curious. Keep in mind i know very little about this and this is just what i gathered in 10 minutes so somebody will most likely correct me.

1. One answer was that the way that western music has divided itself is so that their has to be 12 notes for everything to work for the circle of fifths and some really complex math about how its divided which i dont know about. But b sharp is the same frequency as c. Lets use reps a minute to try and imagine it so f is 1000 reps and then f sharp is 1500 and then g is 2000. Well lets just say b is 4000 reps then c is 4500 reps. Im not sure of the actual frequency's but i was just trying to make a example from the little info i have.

2. But another answer was that in Eastern music there is a such thing as a b sharp but also a c as well. And apparently you can reach the notes with a wammy bar or effects or with sliding on some wind instruments.

What i need someone to clarify is if b sharp is the the same frequency as c im pretty sure it is but i need someone to clarify. If so then then the first answer i gave about the way the circle is divided and how western music has evolved should be on the right track of the answer your looking for. Sorry for the awful answer but i only did a little research.

Huckleberry
07-18-2011, 07:03 AM
never though about this but just been doing some research because i was curious. Keep in mind i know very little about this and this is just what i gathered in 10 minutes so somebody will most likely correct me.

1. One answer was that the way that western music has divided itself is so that their has to be 12 notes for everything to work for the circle of fifths and some really complex math about how its divided which i dont know about. But b sharp is the same frequency as c. Lets use reps a minute to try and imagine it so f is 1000 reps and then f sharp is 1500 and then g is 2000. Well lets just say b is 4000 reps then c is 4500 reps. Im not sure of the actual frequency's but i was just trying to make a example from the little info i have.

2. But another answer was that in eastern music there is a such thing as a b sharp but also a c as well. And apparently you can reach the notes with a wammy bar or effects or with sliding on some wind instruments.

What i need someone to clarify is if b sharp is the the same frequency as c im pretty sure it is but i need someone to clarify. If so then then the first answer i gave about the way the circle is divided and how western music has evolved should be on the right track of the answer your looking for. Sorry for the awful answer but i only did a little research.

i think your answer 1. Is close to the answer. I'm pretty sure there is a mathematical equation involved here, and as you stated, probably has something to do with the circle of fifths.

Maybe others will chime in on the subject and clarify further.

pulelehua
07-18-2011, 08:37 AM
It's all so that scales fit neatly. A major scale goes in semitones:

0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12

You can hear this if you just play those frets on your ukulele on any string. Stay on the same string and play 0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12

So, if you take the difference/distance in semitones, between those numbers you get

0 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

A major scale has two places where there is a semitone. So, when they designed keyboard instruments, they included 2 places without black keys, so that you can play a major scale ONLY using white notes. It also means that the pattern stays the same. If it alternated black-white-black-white continuously, then the scale would have a different pattern over each octave. Which would be a nightmare.

Our scale is divided into 12 semitones. A major scale has 7 notes. So, that leaves 5 semitones. There are 7 white and 5 black keys. It's all cleverly designed so that the maths works out.

As for B sharp, it gets complicated. For all intents and purposes B# and C ARE the same. But many string players will tell you that they're a bit different, because strings can play ANY pitch, and a good string player will play B# and C slightly differently.

As for other cultures, they likely don't use sharps and flats, and don't think in sharps and flats, and so it's not always useful to try to create parallels between our tuning system and theirs.

This is probably more than you wanted... ;)

There are connections to the circle of fifths in scales, but that's a different story.

Pippin
07-18-2011, 08:41 AM
Long time, no C "b". lol

Huckleberry
07-18-2011, 09:18 AM
It's all so that scales fit neatly. A major scale goes in semitones:

0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12

You can hear this if you just play those frets on your ukulele on any string. Stay on the same string and play 0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12

So, if you take the difference/distance in semitones, between those numbers you get

0 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

A major scale has two places where there is a semitone. So, when they designed keyboard instruments, they included 2 places without black keys, so that you can play a major scale ONLY using white notes. It also means that the pattern stays the same. If it alternated black-white-black-white continuously, then the scale would have a different pattern over each octave. Which would be a nightmare.

Our scale is divided into 12 semitones. A major scale has 7 notes. So, that leaves 5 semitones. There are 7 white and 5 black keys. It's all cleverly designed so that the maths works out.

As for B sharp, it gets complicated. For all intents and purposes B# and C ARE the same. But many string players will tell you that they're a bit different, because strings can play ANY pitch, and a good string player will play B# and C slightly differently.

As for other cultures, they likely don't use sharps and flats, and don't think in sharps and flats, and so it's not always useful to try to create parallels between our tuning system and theirs.

This is probably more than you wanted... ;)

There are connections to the circle of fifths in scales, but that's a different story.

That's exactly what I wanted. Your example of twelve notes to the scale and the 0 2 2 1 2 2 2 1 pattern works for me. Tried it on starting with different notes, even Bb and it works. Not very clear yet on the WHY, but it works for me. Ahhh, the mysteries of music.

Thank you.

JamieFromOntario
07-18-2011, 09:22 AM
This is a complex scientific and historical question.

Here are the two simplest reasons:

1. Physics (you can thank Pythagorus and his experiments with hammers)

2. A movement towards equal temperament and a yearning to be able to play instruments in more than just a few keys. If you've heard of Bach's Well-tempered Clavier, you are (unconsciously) familiar with this idea.



Now instead of spewing out a few pages of music/science history (i'm a bit of a musicologist and an avid, armchair scientician), here are a few other funny tid-bits on this topic:


-Ask a professional violinist (any around here to comment?) if there is a difference in how you play C and B# on violin (or other fretless instruments).

-Some early pianos and clavichords would have two black keys directly adjacent so performers could play C# or D-flat, for example.

-Music that is played perfectly in-tune today would sound terribly out of tune to listeners from 500+ years ago. Test your own ear by finding a good "historical performance" of some Baroque or Renaissance and then comparing to a "modern" performance of the same music.

-In modern tuning, major 3rds are not really in tune, they are too large. Try using a tuner to get your C and E strings dead on 'in tune.' Now see if you can hear the 'beats' (a rapid pulsing sound when the two strings are played together) - beating is caused by an interference pattern between the two notes. If you can hear the beats, try lowering the E note until you get a 'pure' sound with no beats. This pure sound is what would have been normal or correct to musicians 500 years ago.

didgeridoo2
07-18-2011, 09:27 AM
Try poking around on this site: http://www.thecipher.com/. It's a different way to approach music theory. I found it useful, but I think it works well in conjunction with traditional music theories. It's interesting nonetheless.

Here is a direct link to the ukulele section http://www.thecipher.com/ukulele-3_minute_intro.html

Huckleberry
07-18-2011, 09:53 AM
Try poking around on this site: http://www.thecipher.com/. It's a different way to approach music theory. I found it useful, but I think it works well in conjunction with traditional music theories. It's interesting nonetheless.

Here is a direct link to the ukulele section http://www.thecipher.com/ukulele-3_minute_intro.html

Thanks for the "The Cipher" URL. Very interesting.
At my age ( or any age for that matter ) I may not reach Jake Shimabukura's level of play, but I'll figure out why the Ukulele works.

Thanks to all contributors to this thread. Keep it coming.

pulelehua
07-18-2011, 10:01 AM
-Ask a professional violinist (any around here to comment?) if there is a difference in how you play C and B# on violin (or other fretless instruments).


My wife studied violin at uni. I'll ask her when she gets home. I THINK that accidentals (sharps and flats) are based on "leaning" to and from notes. So that, for instance, in the key of G, F# is closer to G than a corresponding equal-tempered F#.

Part of the problem, of course, is that you need a pretty sensitive ear to pick up on lots of these things.

I had a mentor a few years back who could play a note on the piano, then sing the just-intoned note, then play the equal-tempered note. That was great, because it was very clear how out of tune some notes are in equal temperment. He is a French Horn player, so is used to adjusting for nature vs Western music.

JamieFromOntario
07-18-2011, 10:38 AM
So that, for instance, in the key of G, F# is closer to G than a corresponding equal-tempered F#.



I'm pretty sure that this is correct. It also makes sense if we agree that, in true-tuned music, the major third is lowered. If you're thinking of the dominant chord in G major, you'll get D, the third of which is F# - hence your lowered third and lowered 7th.

As more and more key changes (modulations) started appearing in music, there needed to be more powerful ways to reinforce the (new) tonic after each modulation. I think that a modified/raised leading note (7th note of a scale, 'ti') accomplishes this...?



I also appreciate that this takes a finely tuned ear. I think you need to be doing a lot of this fine-tuning on a regular basis to get really good at it. I sang for years with a professional Renaissance choir and we were always fiddling around with tuning, though i found I just went into Renaissance mode and started singing slightly lowered major thirds and leading notes.


I'll bet there's a good site out there that uses a tone generator or other pure tone to demonstrate the beating I was mentioning before. It is harder to hear the interference patterns when your source/instrument is producing a more complex sound, like say a piano or reed instrument.

pulelehua
07-18-2011, 10:46 AM
Ages ago when I had much more time on my hands, I took a sequencer and designed it so that each track was for a single note. I then detuned each track to just-intonation in a particular key (probably C, can't remember). Then I typed in music so that each track only played its note. Then, when I played it back, it was in just intonation. I haven't dealt with that problem in years, but I'm sure there's a better work around now. I would hope.

But the result was interesting. I'm a bit rusty on this nowadays. And my really good book on it is in school. Doh.

<Hey, another MP player! ;)>

JamieFromOntario
07-18-2011, 10:50 AM
Ages ago when I had much more time on my hands, I took a sequencer and designed it so that each track was for a single note. I then detuned each track to just-intonation in a particular key (probably C, can't remember). Then I typed in music so that each track only played its note. Then, when I played it back, it was in just intonation. I haven't dealt with that problem in years, but I'm sure there's a better work around now. I would hope.
>

I'll bet you could do the exact same thing in Audacity - I believe it has a tone generator where you can generate by Hz.

Lemme go download a copy and see what I can do.

...

I found this: http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/scales.html which isn't exactly what I was looking for, but it gives a good explanation of equal temperament (modern tuning) versus just tuning (olde-timey tuning).

I tried to create good examples using Audacity, but the overtones generated totally obliterated the main tones. I'm gonna dig around and see if I have any recordings of myself in just/true tuning.

Kem
07-18-2011, 11:08 AM
Advice for the OP (as a return from the Misty Heights of Music Theory): you can play a major scale in any key by remembering the following pattern: tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone. (I had to chant this pattern when I was a kid and learning about scales.) Other posters have said the same thing with numbers, but I have always found the words useful, as they have a mnemonic rhythm to them.

Ukuleleblues
07-18-2011, 11:18 AM
You can find out a lot by doing THE Google on "why 12 notes" or "why no C#". I tried to get an answer to this and four hours later I realized it is quite complex. I wrote up the attachment for the beginners in our club.


25781

JamieFromOntario
07-18-2011, 11:19 AM
you can play a major scale in any key by remembering the following pattern: tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone. (I had to chant this pattern when I was a kid and learning about scales.)

I make my students do almost the same thing - except without the chanting...

pulelehua
07-18-2011, 11:21 AM
You can find out a lot by doing THE Google on "why 12 notes" or "why no C#". I tried to get an answer to this and four hours later I realized it is quite complex. I wrote up the attachment for the beginners in our club.


25781

There is C#. That might have made things trickier for you. ;)

Ukuleleblues
07-18-2011, 11:27 AM
There is C#. That might have made things trickier for you. ;)Damn that Eddie Vetter, I flubbed that up Let me try again.

You can find out a lot by doing THE Google on "why 12 notes" or "why no B#". I tried to get an answer to this and four hours later I realized it is quite complex. I wrote up the attachment for the beginners in our club. Here is a link you can actually read also:

12 Notes (http://www.charlestonhotshots.com/Links/beginners-corner/why-12-notes)

pulelehua
07-18-2011, 11:31 AM
Damn that Eddie Vetter, I flubbed that up Let me try again.

You can find out a lot by doing THE Google on "why 12 notes" or "why no B#". I tried to get an answer to this and four hours later I realized it is quite complex. I wrote up the attachment for the beginners in our club. Here is a link you can actually read also:

12 Notes (http://www.charlestonhotshots.com/Links/beginners-corner/why-12-notes)

Eddie does have a lot to answer for this evening...

Huckleberry
07-18-2011, 04:42 PM
Thank you all for clarifying the scales for me.

And Ukuleleblues, thanks for testing me with the "Why no C#". Had me there for a minute.

Again, thanks to all who replied, I did learn a lot. UU came through for me

The Huckleberry

ukuhelen
07-18-2011, 05:08 PM
Advice for the OP (as a return from the Misty Heights of Music Theory): you can play a major scale in any key by remembering the following pattern: tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone. (I had to chant this pattern when I was a kid and learning about scales.) Other posters have said the same thing with numbers, but I have always found the words useful, as they have a mnemonic rhythm to them.

I agree with this and with a lot of the other folks weighing in. In western music scales are composed of whole and half steps (tone/semi tones, respectively, and sometimes a step and a half).
a major scale is "whole whole half, whole whole whole half" -- just like "tone tone semitone, tone tone tone semitone." so that's why a c major scale doesn't use any "black notes" (on the piane) - it naturally falls into the pattern. c,d,e then the half step to f, g, a, b, half step to c.
the steps in a minor scale (harmonic minor that is, if I'm remembering music theory correctly from 30 years ago, which raises the leading tone to the octave instead of adhereing to the key signature and maybe that's a melodic minor but the name doesn't necessarily matter ) are whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole and a half (to get the leading tone), half. so: c,d, eflat, f, g, aflat, b, c. \

what do the sharps/flats ("black notes" on a piano) do? they mean that the player can adjust, wherever the starting point, to keep the same kinds of whole/half step relationships.

so, music students end up essentially memorizing the key signatures associated with each place one can start a major scale.
c = no sharps or flats
g = 1 sharp, that being fsharp
d = 2 sharps, f sharp and c sharp
a = 3 sharps, f, c, g sharps
e = 4 sharps, f,c,g,d sharps
b = 5 sharps, f,c,g,d,a sharps
fsharp = 6 sharps, f, c, g, d, a, e sharp (and an e sharp is suspiciously like an f natural -- in fact it's the same note on a piano 'tho not necessarily played to exactly the same pitch if one is a fiddle player and not necessarily "even tempered" i.e., can play sharp)

then the circle turns into flats (and fsharp is the same as gflat major which has 6 flats: b,e,a,d,g,c flat [and c flat is same as a b natural]
after fsharp/gflat, it's

dflat = 5 flats, them being: b,e,a,d,g flats
aflat = 4 flats, being: b,e,a,d flats
eflat = 3 flats, being: b,e,a flats
bflat = 2 flats, being: b,e flats
f = 1 flat, which is bflat.
then back to c = no sharps or flats.

ok, so sorry about the too much info is it making your head spin? it's easier to see (for me at least) on a piano keyboard. or a marimba (I'm a xylophone/marimba player).

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