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ripock

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I just awoke from my 3 hour nap and I am ready to talk enharmonic notes if anyone else is up for it.
 

Oldscruggsfan

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I just awoke from my 3 hour nap and I am ready to talk enharmonic notes if anyone else is up for it.
It’s Friday bedtime here in the Eastern US Time Zone but I’m interested to read (on Saturday morning) why there is a distinction between A# v Bb.
 

ripock

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It is all about language. Music Theory is just a language that lets musicians communicate and like any language there is grammar. So first of all let me say you are at liberty to do whatever you want just like a person can use Shakespearean Middle English words like betwixt and anent. However if you just want to communicate and be understood without controversy, there is a grammar to follow.

It is all based on the circle of fifths. If you look at the circle, one side is typified by sharps and the other side is typified by flats. So when talking about a key like G or D or A or E, you keep all the notes sharp. Same thing on the other side of the circle.

And there is a reason. For example the key of Ab has four flat notes. If you use the enharmonic key of G# that key has 8 sharps. It is simpler to use Ab than G# and since this is a language, simplicity is always the key. You want to express yourself as simply as possible.

The thread was using A# as an example. I know of only 2 instances when A# is used. It is used as the 7th degree of the key of B. B is on the sharp side of the circle of fifths with 5 sharps ( whereas its enharmonic equivalent Cb has 7 flats). Then there's the controversial key of Gb/F#. Gb has 6 flats and F# has 6 sharps so that there is no advantage to either enharmonic key. However, if you conceive of the key as F#, the 3rd degree is A#. So in the keys of B an F# are the only time I have seen A# as opposed to Bb.

I should add that I am currently using A# because I am improvising with the E altered scale. Since E is on the sharp side of the circle of 5ths, I use the notes E F G G# A# C D. That A# could be a Bb except when working in E you always use sharps.

That should be enough to get things started. Obviously I just touched on some aspects of this topic. Let's see where people want to take it.
 

ploverwing

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It is all based on the circle of fifths. If you look at the circle, one side is typified by sharps and the other side is typified by flats. So when talking about a key like G or D or A or E, you keep all the notes sharp. Same thing on the other side of the circle.

And there is a reason. For example the key of Ab has four flat notes. If you use the enharmonic key of G# that key has 8 sharps. It is simpler to use Ab than G# and since this is a language, simplicity is always the key. You want to express yourself as simply as possible.
Thank you it's been a long time since I looked at this part of theory. I never knew about circle of fifths when originally learning theory, but I do remember (now that you brought it up) practicing converting between enharmonic keys to determine which was the simpler key signature as an exercise my teacher had me work through. The circle of fifths aspect make sense, and your explanation cleared up why this issue was irritating me (I knew there was a reason, but I didn't remember what it was).
 

ripock

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This is not anent anything or anyone, but I am glad the uke doesn't have to worry about a lot of this. On a flute, for example, playing in B in quite a travail because 5 of the 7 notes are sharped and you have to consciously use the fingering that will elicit the sharp. And the sheet music doesn't help any because they don't put the sharp next to the F, G, D, C, or A; they expect you to remember those notes are sharp. With the uke you don't have to do anything except move your hand. You play c major at the nut with no sharps. You play B maj at the 11th fret with 5 sharps but it is the same exact shape. The uke takes care of all the accidental notes.
 

LorenFL

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^^^ The combination of that fact and the fact that I have no intention of learning to read sheet music is why I simply don't care if the note is called A# or Bb. At least not presently.

And as a former programmer, I know it would add a lot of complexity to the program to have to use two different names for a the same note and include logic as to which one is which. Programmatically, I guess they'd be considered two different notes and the context of a given chord would define which one is correct. I definitely understand why it ended up being written the way that it was.
 

ploverwing

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^^^ The combination of that fact and the fact that I have no intention of learning to read sheet music is why I simply don't care if the note is called A# or Bb. At least not presently.

And as a former programmer, I know it would add a lot of complexity to the program to have to use two different names for a the same note and include logic as to which one is which. Programmatically, I guess they'd be considered two different notes and the context of a given chord would define which one is correct. I definitely understand why it ended up being written the way that it was.
Oh yes absolutely. I am just happy to enjoy this tool, I've found it support helpful. It's not 100% accurate from a theory perspective, and if that were important to me, I'd make the effort to find another tool that did a better job from that perspective. But for my general purposes, I really appreciate that it's there and as useful as it is.
 

Oldscruggsfan

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I’m guessing there is a difference if playing other instruments besides the flute. I seem to recall reading in earlier post in which someone said the preferred key for horns is Bb.
 

Renaissance-Man

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I have a Bb clarinet. Technically, it's a woodwind instrument though. Also, I haven't been following this conversation, so my reply may be out of proper context.
 
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Oldscruggsfan

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I have a Bb clarinet. Technically, it's a woodwind instrument though. Also, I haven't been following this conversation, so my reply may be out of proper context.
That’s precisely the context as I understood the “A# vs Bb” thread. Thank you for the added perspective.🙏