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Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
Originally Posted by wouter79
No. It's irrelevant what the forum is or what instrument the music is played on.

The music shows the intention. The intention is not the same.

....

I am doubtful the original poster had any intention to explore such subtleties.


Maybe he did not realize. But the question "why is F sharp the same as G flat?"
is a fundamental question about the intention of what is written on the sheet music.
You're ignoring what the poster asked which was specifically why about those notes on the piano. You're just confusing the poster with information completely irrelevant to his question.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
Originally Posted by wouter79
No. It's irrelevant what the forum is or what instrument the music is played on.

The music shows the intention. The intention is not the same.

....

I am doubtful the original poster had any intention to explore such subtleties.


Maybe he did not realize. But the question "why is F sharp the same as G flat?"
is a fundamental question about the intention of what is written on the sheet music.
You're ignoring what the poster asked which was specifically why about those notes on the piano. You're just confusing the poster with information completely irrelevant to his question.

You’re right again. I think we scared off the OP. shocked

Last edited by j&j; 11/05/20 03:00 PM.

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Originally Posted by FrankCox
Quote
Key signatures can be written with flats or sharps. So if the piece's key is written with sharps the note will be call F sharp and if the key is written using flats the key will be called G flat.

Tain't necessarily so.

I don't play a lot of classical music, but I have several books of "popular songs" that I do play and some of them (not commonly) have a sharp accidental in a key signature with flats and so on. I don't know much about music theory so it doesn't bother me and it may be "wrong", but it definitely exists.

Leaving the issue of unequal temperaments out of the discussion because it just clouds the issue for the purpises of the present discussion.

Many pianists find it beneficial to be aware of what key a piece is in at a given point in time. It can greatly facilitate reading the music because most of the notes will be notated of the key's scale, and much of the harmony will be based on the key as well. If a score throws in the enharmonic equivalent of a note or chord (eg F# and Gb are enharmonically equivalent), it disrupts the reading method.

The role of a chord in the harmonies of a given key also influences how it is played as part of the overall musical interpretation and articulation.

Sometimes you will see enharmonic key signature changes. If a piece were scored in F# major (which by the way uses E# for the leading tone scale position) and were to modulate into the major key of the 6th position of the scale for a section of a piece, and not just a transient thing as a bridge to something else, that would be D# major, and there probably would be a full key signature change to Eb major so that it could be scored in 3 flats instead of 6 sharps and 2 double sharps.

Note that you can avoid the E# of F# major ( 6 sharps) by using Gb major (6 flats) but then you get Cb.


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Originally Posted by motelseti35
I currently don't have a teacher so I am trying to learn how to read sheet music and memorize where all the keys are. Why is F sharp the same as G flat and so on? Wouldn't it be easier to remember one note instead of two?

It's a good question, and the answer is pretty simple, but it involves thinking way outside the box. It comes down to the note labels themselves being misleading in fundamental ways. This is because of the long history of the evolution of musical notation. As far back as the Pythagoreans, folks knew about the Circle of 5ths, which means they conceived of all 12 chromatic pitches in the octave, not just the 7 diatonic pitches, at least on some level. But for centuries most music was fundamentally diatonic within the Ionian and other church modes, with a few "accidentals" thrown in. (Note the almost discriminatory language used to describe the "other", nameless notes.) This meant that the "real" labels (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) were given only to the "white keys", with the other five diatonic notes ("black keys") being considered less relevant since they occured less often and not given labels of their own. This made more sense back then, because they were not using equal temperament, and there often were shades of tonal difference between, say, F# and Gb.

The layout of early keyboard instruments (those with 12 keys per octave), which is the same 7-white/ 5-black pattern we use today, may have also influenced the evolution of this labeling system. The reason we have this specific layout is because it's the only possible layout. (Try it for yourself and see if you can arrange any number of white keys and black keys, adding up to 12, in any other arrangement that gives each position a unique visual identity.) So the linkage between musical cultures all over the world evolving music system based either on the 7 whites (diatonic scales/church modes) or the 5 blacks (pentatonic scales), presumably by ear through centuries of aural tradition, and this physical reality that the 12 notes can only be arranged in this diatonic/pentatonic polarity that we know as the piano keyboard, well that linkage may never be known, being so far back in time. It may be that the keyboard layout affected the scales people played and "heard" musically, or it may just be that these are archetypal patterns that are unavoidable in the long run, whether in the spacial dimensions or in the musical/time dimensions.

So now that we use an equal temperament system, at least for most acoustic pianos and most fretted instruments (guitar is by nature an equal temperament instrument), it would be more convenient if we had a system with 12 discreet names. Such as system could use the last 12 letters of the alphabet, or the numbers 1 through 12, the Greek alphabet, colors, or whatever. But if young kids learned to give 12 distinct names to the 12 distinct pitches within the octave, it would avoid a lot of confusion as they grew musically. This would unfortunately necessitate coming up with an entirely new system of music theory and notation. It gets tricky; the notation system would require at least 7 lines above and below "middle C", and tons of ledger lines, but the payoff would be no accidentals whatsoever! Think about that for a second.

In the world of classical music theory, harmony and counterpoint, there are many illogical consequences to this fundamental problem of trying to describe 12 things with 7 labels. Almost all of the "exceptions" to the "rules" can be traced back to this unwieldy symmetry-challenged system. One example is the so-called "augmented 6th" chord. Anybody with half an ear will confirm that these chords sound like dominant seventh chords, whether of the Italian, German, or French variety. But classical music theorists insist on calling this dominant 7th interval an augmented 6th, because, well, it sort of makes sense if you do enough mental backflips and summersaults and stick to the "rules" of our 7-label system.

But ultimately it makes no sense in the big picture. Music theory is hopelessly confusing for most people due to this long evolution, and the impossibility, after so many centuries, of throwing it all out and starting over with 12 labels for 12 notes. Imagine if people 500 years from now were still using some patched up version of of the earliest operating systems. It would be a nightmare. It's similar with our system of notation. But we have learned to live with it.


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The OP has not been on line since the 4th. Too bad


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
Originally Posted by wouter79
No. It's irrelevant what the forum is or what instrument the music is played on.

The music shows the intention. The intention is not the same.

....

I am doubtful the original poster had any intention to explore such subtleties.


Maybe he did not realize. But the question "why is F sharp the same as G flat?"
is a fundamental question about the intention of what is written on the sheet music.
You're ignoring what the poster asked which was specifically why about those notes on the piano. You're just confusing the poster with information completely irrelevant to his question.


I'm exactly answering his question. No idea where you're getting that "specifically about piano". This is his question
Quote
I currently don't have a teacher so I am trying to learn how to read sheet music and memorize where all the keys are. Why is F sharp the same as G flat and so on? Wouldn't it be easier to remember one note instead of two?

He does not mention "piano" at all, He's asking about "read sheet music".


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Originally Posted by dogperson
The OP has not been on line since the 4th. Too bad

So now we’re just arguing advanced music theory. Dang! This is significantly cheaper than the music theory for non- music majors I took online from the university about 2012. smile

I found Calculus easier.

Last edited by j&j; 11/06/20 01:35 PM.

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Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
[quote=wouter79]

No. It's irrelevant what the forum is or what instrument the music is played on.

The music shows the intention. The intention is not the same.

....

I am doubtful the original poster had any intention to explore such subtleties.


Maybe he did not realize. But the question "why is F sharp the same as G flat?"
is a fundamental question about the intention of what is written on the sheet music.
You're ignoring what the poster asked which was specifically why about those notes on the piano. You're just confusing the poster with information completely irrelevant to his question.


I'm exactly answering his question. No idea where you're getting that "specifically about piano". This is his question
Quote
I currently don't have a teacher so I am trying to learn how to read sheet music and memorize where all the keys are. Why is F sharp the same as G flat and so on? Wouldn't it be easier to remember one note instead of two?

He does not mention "piano" at all, He's asking about "read sheet music".[/quote]

He may not have mentioned the word ‘piano’ but he mentioned learning notes by using the ‘doghouse principle’. Is that used with any other instrument with the exception of possibly the organ? Can’t think of any. To assume the question was not related to piano seems a little obscure,


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Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by MarianneØ
[quote=wouter79]

No. It's irrelevant what the forum is or what instrument the music is played on.

The music shows the intention. The intention is not the same.

....

I am doubtful the original poster had any intention to explore such subtleties.


Maybe he did not realize. But the question "why is F sharp the same as G flat?"
is a fundamental question about the intention of what is written on the sheet music.
You're ignoring what the poster asked which was specifically why about those notes on the piano. You're just confusing the poster with information completely irrelevant to his question.


I'm exactly answering his question. No idea where you're getting that "specifically about piano". This is his question
Quote
I currently don't have a teacher so I am trying to learn how to read sheet music and memorize where all the keys are. Why is F sharp the same as G flat and so on? Wouldn't it be easier to remember one note instead of two?

He does not mention "piano" at all, He's asking about "read sheet music".[/quote]This is a piano forum. I think at least 999 out of 1000 would agree with what I said.

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Saying someone was a split personality used to be common in the 60's . So if we wish we could just say f sharp and Gflat is a split personality., you know like Dr jekyll and Mr Hyde .
Well while the world laughs through chaos , deceit and horror at confusion over a clown we shall still be thinking we are talking about the spelling of a note when we are actually talking about ........

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[...]
He does not mention "piano" at all, He's asking about "read sheet music".
This is a piano forum. I think at least 999 out of 1000 would agree with what I said.[/quote]

He does mention "... memorize where all the keys are..." and since it's "where," can we not presume he's talking about the keys' locations on the keyboard?

Regards,


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[...]
He does not mention "piano" at all, He's asking about "read sheet music".
This is a piano forum. I think at least 999 out of 1000 would agree with what I said.

He does mention "... memorize where all the keys are..." and since it's "where," can we not presume he's talking about the keys' locations on the keyboard?

Regards,[/quote]

Yes and he mentions he is learning by the ‘dog house’ method — only used with piano or organ keys
https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=txk5ME2wJVw

I know one thing ... if I were a rank beginner and received answers discussing advanced theory, I would run away —- kicking and screaming.


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From my perspective its just the limitation of a keyboard. There’s only 12 notes to capture all the nearly infinite pitch degrees between C4 and C5 which a human voice, a violin, and guitar can all produce. Keyboards can only approximate through chords of varying complexity. This is why writing musical score for a known piece is so lucrative for Alfreds and all.


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That was for the OP if he ever comes back.


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What I've taken away from this discussion is that the piano has only twelve notes in which to express the multitude of tones that exist within an octave. Equal temperament smooths out the differences note to note, at the expense of losing the subtlety between a G# and Ab, for example. Violins, cellos and other string instruments are capable of producing these subtleties and so they tune to just temperament.

If these differences were significant, we would be able to hear some discordancy when the piano is accompanying string instruments in a quartet or concerto, e.g. In a string quartet, the violinist would object if they heard the violist play a G# that was closer to an Ab. But we don't hear these differences.

Therefore, why do string players bother with just temperament?

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Originally Posted by Numerian
What I've taken away from this discussion is that the piano has only twelve notes in which to express the multitude of tones that exist within an octave. Equal temperament smooths out the differences note to note, at the expense of losing the subtlety between a G# and Ab, for example. Violins, cellos and other string instruments are capable of producing these subtleties and so they tune to just temperament.

If these differences were significant, we would be able to hear some discordancy when the piano is accompanying string instruments in a quartet or concerto, e.g. In a string quartet, the violinist would object if they heard the violist play a G# that was closer to an Ab. But we don't hear these differences.

Therefore, why do string players bother with just temperament?
Numerian,

I don't think it's necessarily a question of them bothering with it. I think it's that they simply hear it that way. And by "that way" I don't mean specifically Just Intonation. My experience with really good string quartets and really good choirs is that everyone slightly flattens the thirds of major triads, for instance, to smooth out the beating and create that "locked in" sound where all of a sudden the chord starts to really resonate and fill the room. I think most musicians will know what I mean by that.

Unfortunately, the acoustic piano must be tuned to fixed frequencies, rather than being able to adjust on the fly as non-fixed pitch instruments can. Many jazz players tend to use lots of 4ths in their voicings, which minimizes the rough beating sounds created by equal tempered major and minor 3rds (and 6ths). Many classical players prefer the old non-equal tunings, which also helps to reduce the out-of-tuneness of non-perfect intervals in Equal Temperament. String and horn players just follow their ears generally, so their non-perfect intervals sound sweeter for that reason.

In all three cases, the holy grail is to get those damn 3rds to sound more in tune.


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To add a bit more, I'll have a go at explaining. Feel free to critique :-)

Music notation and theory is largely based on 5ths. From any note on the piano, count 7 notes up and you'll have a major 5th. Keep counting to find the other notes and you'll see a pattern of 5ths:

F - C - G - D - A - E - B

When you get to one end or the other you'll find you are on a black key. A 5th below F is B♭. A 5th above B is F♯. Therefore you can keep going:

- F♭ - C♭ - G♭ - D♭ - A♭ - E♭ - B♭ - F - C - G - D - A - E - B - F♯ - C♯ - G♯ - D♯ - A♯ - E♯ - B♯ -

Hopefully you can guess where the double flats and double sharps go.

You'll notice some of these notes land on the same physical key on the piano, which lends to the name the circle of fifths. As others have pointed out though, that doesn't make it the same note. Depending on the tuning system used, A♯ and B♭ might be different pitches (frequencies). This is true of pure/just intonation, phythagorean tuning and meantone temperaments.

Regardless of tuning system, it's still useful to maintain the distinction. As Joseph Fleetwood pointed out it means each note name appears only once in every key signature. It would be more confusing if a key signature contained both G and G♯ for example.

Going back to C major and the pattern of 5ths, once we remember the pattern we can apply it to any key:

F - C (major) - G - D - A (minor) - E - B

If we see the key signature has 3 sharps, then we "move" 3 to the right and get the following notes:

D - A (major) - E - B - F♯ (minor) - C♯ - G♯

If the signature has 4 flats we "move" 4 to the left and get the following notes:

D♭ - A♭ (major) - E♭ - B♭ - F (minor) - C - G

If you keep going further left or right you'll get double accidentals, then triples and so on (it's really a spiral of 5ths not a circle). There's not much point in going too far though, as all we're doing is making the whole piece of music lower or higher in pitch. Accidental keys can be nice however due to e.g. the different fingering.

I personally found it useful to write out all the modes and keys. You'll see clear patterns when the accidentals are shown correctly. It's a weird mess if e.g. we just write everything as naturals and sharps.

If you want to go advanced, I like Ross Duffin's article on just intonation. Though, it took me quite a while to understand it:
https://mtosmt.org/issues/mto.06.12.3/mto.06.12.3.duffin.html

(I think it's good to have an appreciation of the complexity, even if it's above your current understanding)

Hope that helps.

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To put it a bit more simply, the vast majority alive today have been subtly brainwashed to believe that the diatonic scale steps are EQUAL, when in reality they are NOT...but on the keyboard they ARE...whereas in actual fact they are NOT. That's just the way it is.

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Originally Posted by P W Grey
To put it a bit more simply, the vast majority alive today have been subtly brainwashed to believe that the diatonic scale steps are EQUAL, when in reality they are NOT...but on the keyboard they ARE...whereas in actual fact they are NOT. That's just the way it is.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Well summed up!

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Ahhhh...the subtleties. Such a complicated answer for a newbie question! I’m glad the OP asked it. I think because I learned at 7 or 8 why it was two or three names for each key, I just accepted that fact without really digging deeper into why that is. Thanks everyone!


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