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#1940749 - 08/11/12 08:29 AM Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread  
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A few of us decided to work together on analyzing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The idea is to try to understand the way the piece is put together, the chord progressions and modulations that make it work. Several of us don't have teachers, so hopefully we'll be able to gain something by pooling our knowledge and discussing with one another. Please feel free to join if you think this sounds like an interesting way to learn about music! (...or if you're playing Moonlight Sonata now and would like to get a better understanding of it.)

Here is a pdf of the score from IMSLP. If you'd like to join, please download it and have a look at it; I'll try to kick us off properly tomorrow.

If this goes well, it might be fun to do something by Bach (maybe from the WTC or the Ana Magdalena Notebook) afterwards. smile


Yamaha Arius YDP-161

Bach Prelude in C (BWV 846)
Petzold Minuet in G minor (BWV Anh 115)
Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, first movement
Working on: Alfred's Adult Piano Level 2, Satie Gymnopedie N. 1
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#1941193 - 08/12/12 03:30 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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...

Last edited by Bosendorff; 08/12/12 12:54 PM.
#1941340 - 08/12/12 11:07 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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With respect, Bosendorff, the analysis is ALL about the music.

The interpretation may be altered by external influences e.g. that it tells a story of unrequited love or that Beethoven wrote this as a funeral march for himself when he discovered he was losing his hearing and was contemplating suicide.

Originally Posted by thurisaz
The idea is to try to understand the way the piece is put together, the chord progressions and modulations that make it work.


We have the music. Let the analysis begin.



Richard
#1941451 - 08/12/12 02:24 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Ok, I'll start us off lol;

C#, D#, F# G# in the key signature, so it's written in C# minor.

Bar 1: G#, C#, E (C# minor, 2nd INV)

Bar 2: errr is it C#minor7/B again 2nd INV?

First half of Bar 3: A major root Inv
Second half of Bar 3: D major/F# 2nd Inv.




Last edited by wayne33yrs; 08/13/12 12:26 PM.
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#1941915 - 08/13/12 11:59 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Hello, I will be interested to participate in this thread.

Background: I was shown this piece as a kid (well teens.) Key is, shown, as I could not read ZIP at the time and certainly nothing at this level. But, I did learn to play this 1st movement, and still play it completely by memory. So, will be keen to learn what I am actually playing in terms of notes on a page.

If part of this exercise is to dissect the chords being used, there are so many ways (I suppose) one could do this. For example, I agree with everything so far, Wayne ... kinda ...

I would tend to think of 2nd half of bar three as:

F#min+5(1st inv in right hand.)My way of thinking is the chord will tell me where my left hand needs to be, in most cases without having to indicate a separate pedal note. On the other hand though, I could be entirely out to lunch with this blush

I would also point out that we are starting off in pianissimo (PP). IE. very softly in relation to the rest of the piece. And the obvious ... in 4/4 time (4 clicks to a bar.)

Hope I am on track for the kind of analysis to be achieved in this thread. Happy of course, to adjust accordingly help

thanks

Last edited by Greener; 08/13/12 12:09 PM.

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#1941927 - 08/13/12 12:27 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: Greener]  
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Originally Posted by Greener


I would tend to think of 2nd half of bar three as:

F#min+5(1st inv in right hand.)My way of thinking is the chord will tell me where my left hand needs to be, in most cases without having to indicate a separate pedal note.



I get you, and agree smile

#1941932 - 08/13/12 12:40 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Wondering if may also be worthwhile to solicit some help on this thread from any of the many experts on PW that really know this stuff (proper interpretation of a score,) so as not to have the blind leading the blind, so to speak.

Sorry, Wayne, but one other minor correction ... there is no 7 in the second bar. C#minor over B is fine, but there is no 7th anywhere in this chord.

Jeff


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#1941941 - 08/13/12 12:57 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Oh, I thought because there was a "B" in the bass cleff, that made the overall chord C#minor7 ie C# E G# B

#1941953 - 08/13/12 01:12 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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You're right. The B is the 7th. I would still be inclined to write it simply as C#min/B, as the first chord is exactly the same (C#min) and we are just changing the pedal note.

But you are completely correct, it does make up a C#min7. My bad ... and confirms why we could maybe use some expert help on this thread smile

Fun already though ... thanks for pointing out Wayne.


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#1941975 - 08/13/12 01:48 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Hey Wayne, shall we continue ... without the flock?

Measure 4 (1st beat) ... G#7 and have no idea how to write the chords for the other beats in this bar laugh.

Question: do we need to account for a chord with every beat?

2nd beat (G#11aug5 ?)
3rd beat (G#11 ?)
4th beat (G#7 ?)

that would be my guess ... or we could just write ... "Please refer to the score" laugh

Last edited by Greener; 08/13/12 02:30 PM.

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#1942010 - 08/13/12 02:46 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Before you get too far ahead let's stop and make sure we're getting it.

The direction "Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordini" means we're at PP throughout not starting PP in relation to the rest and we have "sempre PP e senza sordini". Always pianissimo and with dampers raised. We can also bear in mind that todays instruments have greater sustain than Beethoven's but lesser digitals can follow to the letter.

The time signature is cut time so two minims per bar not four crotchets (2/2 not 4/4). The adagio sostenuto then is in relation to minims so not as slow as we might think.

C#min/B works best for me in bar two. As you say, Greener, the chord stays the same in RH.

The two slurs in bar three and four are Beethoven's. Bar 4 is in the dominant and leading by step down to the tonic in bar 5.

I wouldn't get too far ahead without the flock. They won't learn as much if half the work is done for them and they're having to catch up. Just a suggestion.



Richard
#1942016 - 08/13/12 02:55 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: Greener]  
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Again, as we're in cut time there's only two beats per bar but determining the principal chord, eg. G# min, is sufficient for me. Whether we're adding in sevenths and elevenths is clouding the issue too much rather than helping my understanding. What do people think?

Originally Posted by Greener
"Please refer to the score"


Love it! smile




Richard
#1942018 - 08/13/12 03:03 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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I'm lost on Bar 4 already lol. If you play the notes in block chords, you can hear whats going on, stepping closer to resolving on C#min in Bar 5, but I have no idea how to describe it in musical terms. Anyone?

#1942019 - 08/13/12 03:05 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: zrtf90]  
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
determining the principal chord, eg. G# min, is sufficient for me. Whether we're adding in sevenths and elevenths



Oh that explains it smile

#1942034 - 08/13/12 03:40 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: wayne33yrs]  
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Hi Richard ... thanks for clarifying and not letting us get too far along with an incorrect basic setup (2/2 vs 4/4 and pp throughout )

OK, no more jumping along (hand slap) and will slow down for the flock.

But question: Not sure where the minor comes from in the 4th measure. G# to C(or rather B#) is major 3rd. So, shouldn't we simply say ...

G# ?

Last edited by Greener; 08/13/12 03:43 PM.

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#1942039 - 08/13/12 03:48 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Yes, my mistake. I originally had C# minor (as the key) but edited too quickly. It is G# major.

A hand slap for me! smile



Richard
#1942044 - 08/13/12 03:56 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: wayne33yrs]  
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Originally Posted by wayne33yrs
Originally Posted by zrtf90
determining the principal chord, eg. G# min, is sufficient for me. Whether we're adding in sevenths and elevenths



Oh that explains it smile


Oh dear, I need to pay more attention, but I knew what you meant wink

#1942052 - 08/13/12 04:05 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: zrtf90]  
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Hi. Just found this thread. It's a little over my head but I'll try to keep up.

One question. I thought "C" meant common time not cut time. Cut time would be a "C" with a line through it. Am I wrong?


Carol
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#1942054 - 08/13/12 04:07 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: HeirborneGroupie]  
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Never mind. I was looking at a different version of the score. Sorry.


Carol
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#1942126 - 08/13/12 05:50 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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It's all good. Welcome Groupie. Can I call you Groupie?

You can call me anything you want, accept late for dinner laugh .

Let us know when you are up to speed. Perhaps you would like to take a crack at measure 5?

Hint: it has already been disclosed. So, take 6 if you want to. I have my own ideas about this one, but do not want to get my hand slapped again so early, if I haven't already.


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#1942163 - 08/13/12 07:11 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Welcome, Carol. Don't worry about the time signature. Most students miss it anyway - I did for years. Just ask if there's anything you don't understand. Explaining it often helps us understand it better too. That's why we're here. smile

Greener, I can see we're going to have some fun on this thread!

I re-read what's been done so far and found another little point - the F# +5 in bar 3. I see that as D maj/F#. What do you think?

A simple experiment using C# (making F# min) instead of the flatted supertonic (D) will show how much the colour lifts the harmony and why he might have used D.

Here's a quick recap as I understand it.

We're in cut time at an adagio but the sostenuto suggests we can slow it down a little. Adagio for 2/2 but not adagio for 4/4.

Pianissimo throughout and damper pedal down (with just enough changes to maintain clarity in the harmony).

The first four bars move through 1. C# min; 2. C# min/B; 3. A maj., D Maj/F# ; 4. G# Maj

Bar 4 can best be understood by playing the last note of each triplet on its own up to the first beat of bar 5, then as intervals or quavers with the first note (G# and F#, G# and E, G# and D#, F# and D#, E and C#) before adding in the middle note of each triplet. The B# is the sharped seventh, the harmonic minor scale. Try using C# again here and see why LvB thought better of it. Using block chords here might cloud the harmony for inexperienced ears so revert to triplets for this experiment (or use block chords an octave higher).

If you're into composition you might consider what other middle notes you could use in bar 4 and why the fourth triplet dropped the G# to F# or, for the more adventurous, what other ways you could move from bar 3 to tonic.

The sharp sign for the D in bar 4 is a courtesy accidental. It's just to remind us the D natural in bar 3 is no longer applicable.

If you're learning the piece as we go, I would memorise this up to the the first beat of bar 5 and get bar 4 right before moving on to the melody. If you allow a wrong 'un in here now it'll take an age to fix it later. Think of the triplets as two groups of six per bar not four groups of three except bar 4 where we have a fluid four step descent resolving to tonic in bar 5.

We seem to have mislaid thurisaz and dbush2765, the originators of the thread, so I guess we can trundle on without them. Are you up for bar 5 or 6, Carol? I can feel Greener straining at the leash.



Richard
#1942169 - 08/13/12 07:33 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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I'm not straining at the leash. Maybe chomping at the bit ...

But now I'm going to have to take some time with this and figure out what you just said.

Quote
I re-read what's been done so far and found another little point - the F# +5 in bar 3. I see that as D maj/F#. What do you think?


Wayne and I already had this discussion and I thought I won frown

Both are right I suppose ...

Hey, do you suppose Beethoven had a sense of humor ? He looks very mean.


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#1942184 - 08/13/12 08:04 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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It's not a contest. smile

It's just nomenclature.

We're trying to understand the machinations of the composition here - at least as far as I gather from the discussion on the other thread - so whatever helps you see what's going on is what's important and you can call it whatever you like - even late for dinner! smile

Play a regular augmented fifth chord and then play this and see if it sounds like an augmented fifth to you. It sounds like a regular major to me but if it helps you remember the bass go with works for you.

I've heard that Beethoven looks mean in some portraits but I've always seen it as intense concentration. I know he's been written as a grumpy old man but he had a good few long term close friends. I'd say his humour was something you got used to - and that it was very dry.

Edit: And he's the guy that put Scherzo in the Sonata!

It's 1 am here. Catch you later.


Last edited by zrtf90; 08/13/12 08:08 PM.

Richard
#1942210 - 08/13/12 08:42 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: zrtf90]  
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OK. I'm with you AND agree. Happy to call it a D/F# as that is the chord he likely intended. They probably hadn't invented augmented chords back then anyway smile

Anyone with this beauty in his soul, was more than he seemed on the outside. That is for sure. I would say, of course he had a sense of humor and is probably rolling in his grave at this very moment and having a good chuckle at us.

Look forward to more discussion tomorrow.



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#1942414 - 08/14/12 07:37 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Wow, this thread seems to have gotten off to a really great start! Thanks for the excellent input!

I like using Roman numeral analysis (Wikipedia has an introduction), since it helps to see the functional relationships. Adding that to what's been done so far, we have: 1. c# (i), 2. c#/B (i), 3. A (VI (or III of IV)), D/F# (VI of IV), 4. G# (V). Adding the Roman numerals helps me think about what's happening with modulation, etc; in this case, I'm still a bit confused about the second half of the third bar. D is not a chord in the key of c#; I've resorted to annotating it as the VI chord of F# minor (the subdominant key) but I don't think that's quite right. It almost seems like there's an aborted attempt at modulation here and in bar 4, but I'm not convinced that's right either. It also almost seems like a VI-ii-V progression, but D isn't the ii chord of c#. On the other hand, thinking of it as f# +5 would give something like a VI-IV-V, which seems to make more sense. I'm on my lunch break at work, so I can't listen to different +5 chords as Richard suggested and will just have to trust you that this sounds more like a D major. Any other ideas or explanations? Am I just getting hung up on details?

Also, note that the bass line descends towards the dominant (G#): C#, B, A, F#, G#. Once we reach the dominant we have a descent in the highest notes back towards the tonic (as Richard pointed out): F#, E, D#, D.

The fifth bar starts with the tonic (c#) in bass and brings us back up with an asending arpeggio. This is also where the top line (can we call it the "lamentation"?) is introduced. It starts on a G# which is an octave above the lowest note in the triplet and is the fifth of the chord.

Originally Posted by zrtf90
Think of the triplets as two groups of six per bar not four groups of three except bar 4 where we have a fluid four step descent resolving to tonic in bar 5.


Yes, this is definitely the right way to approach it! When I was learning this piece I listened to a lecture about it by Andras Schiff. He emphasized the fact that it's in cut time and so the measures should really be thought of as having two beats rather than four; I've tried to keep that in mind and it feels like it's made quite a difference in my playing.


Yamaha Arius YDP-161

Bach Prelude in C (BWV 846)
Petzold Minuet in G minor (BWV Anh 115)
Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, first movement
Working on: Alfred's Adult Piano Level 2, Satie Gymnopedie N. 1
#1942432 - 08/14/12 08:24 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Quote
On the other hand, thinking of it as f# +5 would give something like a VI-IV-V, which seems to make more sense. I'm on my lunch break at work, so I can't listen to different +5 chords as Richard suggested and will just have to trust you that this sounds more like a D major.


It also sounds like an augmented 5th since that what it also is. I'm happy to call it either as Richard has suggested, (for whatever ever makes the most sense in ones learning.) But you raise a good point, about the D in the key of C# min.

At any rate I would say, it just goes to show that we can call the same thing by different names (just like a gm7 is the same as a Bb6, but perhaps with a different intended pedal note in the score.) So, one may make more sense for the composition at hand ... agreed.

Just my elementary thoughts though.


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#1942455 - 08/14/12 09:45 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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If you're using RN's you can use bII (flattened second) for the D major.

<puzzled> It's a D major second inversion. My ear isn't picking it up as an augmented fifth - I know it is from F# to D and the F# bass should make it more prominent but it just doesn't sound like an augmented chord to me. If you play instead A#, D, F#, does that not sound more like an augmented chord? Never mind. It needn't delay us.

If the details interest you then go ahead and work on them but if you're just trying to understand the construction of the music it's sufficient for me to see it as the preparation for the stepwise descent through the dominant to tonic.

Originally Posted by thurisaz
I'm on my lunch break at work...and will just have to trust you

You mean you're not taking the day off for this?! <gasp>
Don't trust me. Wait till you get home and try it. I tried to show that F# min was a logical chord through the bar but the C# was just too bland; it didn't let the music 'travel'.


The top line is the melody but you can call it a lamentation. We've already been through the jokes about what we can call things but there's always room for more. smile

While you're looking at the melody it may be interesting to observe here the rhythmic similarity to the Marcia Fun├ębre in the previous opus (26 not 27/1).


Looking ahead at the next few bars up to the first beat of bar 9, the end of the first phrase, it's interesting to compare the bass line - since you pointed it out and also as a prelude to analysing the chords through this section - of bars 1 to 5 with the bass line of bars 5 - 9.

For those learning the piece as we go - is there anyone? - the stretch in bar 8 is tricky for small hands but can you see why it's important that the thumb can make that A?



Richard
#1942472 - 08/14/12 10:18 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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If you play instead A#, D, F#, does that not sound more like an augmented chord?


Yes of course, but this is an augmented triad. The chord in question is a minor triad with an augmented 5th.

So, suffice it to say that a minor chord with an augmented 5th is the same as a major chord of a different root?

Agree ... lets move on.


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#1942506 - 08/14/12 11:36 AM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: zrtf90]  
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Posts: 223
HeirborneGroupie Offline
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HeirborneGroupie  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 223
Florida
Hey thanks for the welcome guys smile .

I really don't want to slow you guys up in your progress here. I have only just begun to study chord theory. I know how to construct chords and about inversions, augmented and diminished chords but recognizing them on a score takes me some time, and recognizing them by ear...... not even close. I don't want to derail this thread with talk of basic chord theory.

That being said, I believe that measure 6 is G#7. If I am off please let me know.


Carol
Kawai RX 2
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#1942521 - 08/14/12 12:03 PM Re: Moonlight Sonata First Mvmnt study thread [Re: thurisaz]  
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Posts: 2,140
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014
Greener  Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,140
Toronto, Canada
Hi Carol, thanks for coming back. Not sure I would worry too much about slowing things up. I need to count out the chords often as well, so you are in good company.

I agree with G#7 in measure 6. But we also have a C bass. So, I believe we will likely be calling it:

G#7/C

Further to this though, I think we agreed earlier in this thread that we will not be worrying about the 7, 9, 11, 13 etc. and instead just the root chord (triad.) Or, maybe it was just anything beyond the 7th. So, we may just call this ...

G#/C

Please stick around ... I for one am certainly learning a lot already.

Correction: I believe this should rather be written as:

G#/B# ... help Because of the score and key we are in?

Last edited by Greener; 08/14/12 12:09 PM.

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