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Author Topic: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...  (Read 299 times)

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Roger Hare

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B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« on: June 23, 2019, 01:19:42 PM »

I'm not sure if this comes under musical theory or ABC (1)...

I'm writing a program to process ABC files and produce a modified ABC file as output.
Briefly, the program scans the file, detects all characters/strings which represent musical
notes, and prepends an annotation string to the notes - everything else is unchanged.

I've noticed a few 'odd' notes in a couple of files, such as ^B (same as C?), ^E (same as F?)
and _F (same as E?).

I can handle these exceptions by hard-wiring them into the program,(2) but I'm curious
as to why one should write an E-sharp when it's really an F.

Why please?

Ta.

Roger
(1) I think this may have been asked before, possibly even by me, but I can find no trace of the answer.
I'll make sure I don't forget this time - I'll include the answer in the comments to the program!
(2) I was taught: 'If you are programming in too many exceptions, you are doing it wrong!' The 'rules' of
music seem to be composed very largely of exceptions, so I've had to bin that idea  (:) .
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 01:37:39 PM by Roger Hare »
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Rob Lands

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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2019, 01:53:33 PM »

I am sure wiser people will give a full answer but b# is a note in the c# major scale. It is a c on a tempered scale but not if you don't temper the scale.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2019, 02:09:30 PM »

I can suggest two (or, maybe three) possible reasons

1. As you go round the circle of 5ths the key signatures pick up an extra sharp (or flat depending on which way you go, starting from C  major). When you get to the key of  F# (6 sharps), aka Gb (6 flats) you find you have F natural and F# in the scale. You use E# to make it possible to define a key signature. C#, and Cb (aka Db and B) have similar problems.

[It is very unusual to see  Cb and C#, but it can happen]

2. If the note is an accidental, rather than a key signature, this can happen when tunes are transposed.

I suspect funny happen when you hit non Western standard keys, but I don't really know much about these

« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 02:23:57 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Roger Hare

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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2019, 02:51:41 PM »

Thank you folks. I think I have a glimmering of understanding starting to dawn, but I wonder if my
example is actually simpler than that? Here is a sanitised version of the tune with the ^B. The A part
is in B♭, the B part is in F.

Code: [Select]
X:1
%%barnumbers
T:Jordan's Reel
M:4/4
L:1/8
Q:120
K:Bb
|: fe | "Bb" dBAB FBDF | "Bb" B,FDF BcdB | "Cm" Gccd ecge | "Eb" cecA FAcA |
 "Bb" BFDF B,FDF | "Eb" GEB,E G,B,EG | "Eb" FcAF ecAc | "Bb" Bbfd B2 :|
K:F
AB | (3cdc ^Bd cAFA | cfAc fcaf | dbfd cafc | Bgec BcAB |
(3cdc ^Bd cAFA | cfAc fcaf | dbfd cafc | Bgec f2 :|

I suppose my question is really "Why is that single ^B in bar 13 shown in that way?".
It sounds on playback like a c, and there are three examples of a c in the same bar,
so why the different representation for that single note?

Sorry if this is a really dumb question, but it's doing my head in  :-[ .
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Pete Dunk

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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2019, 03:15:05 PM »

FWIW I think it is incorrect, there's no reason for this note to be anything other than c. Writing an accidental sharp into a tune written in a flat key is, as far as I am aware, against the rules of musical theory but I would accept a correction from someone with greater knowledge of theory than I have.


Edit. My wife informs me that she has played classical pieces in five flats (Db) with accidental sharps and double sharps in but she doesn't know why it is so. So much for my knowledge! I still think it's wrong in this piece though.  ???
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 03:21:07 PM by Pete Dunk »
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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2019, 03:24:43 PM »

They're actually not  Cs. The B is flattened by the key signature, so they're  Bb# which is B natural. ;D

Probably the result of a transposition. I've had this happen. They come out wrong.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 03:28:51 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Pete Dunk

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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2019, 03:29:26 PM »

Not so Greg, if a note is marked with a sharp it is played as written, only a natural sign would signify B natural in a flat key.
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Roger Hare

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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2019, 04:40:12 PM »

I now see there are two ^Bs in my example. Missed the first one...
FWIW I think it is incorrect...
They're actually not  Cs. The B is flattened by the key signature, so they're  Bb# which is B natural...
I've had this happen. They come out wrong.
Not so Greg, if a note is marked with a sharp it is played as written, only a natural sign would signify
B natural in a flat key.
Aye, having worked through the Bb# argument myself, I was coming to the conclusion that it's a
mistake, and that =B was intended - what's more, I should have spotted it! The simplest reason
is often the best reason!!!

Thank you folks!
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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2019, 05:19:26 PM »

Yes - confirming that those two Bs should be B naturals not B sharp. It's obvious if you play through the tune. For those particular bars, the tune actually modulates into C major, so needs the B natural at those points. It sounds wrong if you play it any other way.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2019, 05:53:44 PM »

Not so Greg, if a note is marked with a sharp it is played as written, only a natural sign would signify B natural in a flat key.

 ;D That's not what I mean.  It's a weakness of some abc editors. As I said, it comes out wrong. It happens to me if I have a tune in G with accidental C#s. If I transpose to F I get ^B when it should be =B.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 05:56:16 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Is not the space between Heaven and Earth like a bellows?
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The more it moves, the more comes out of it.
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Roger Hare

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Re: B-sharp, E-sharp, F-flat, and other pecooliar notes...
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2019, 07:36:02 PM »

...It's a weakness of some abc editors. As I said, it comes out wrong. It happens to me if I have a tune
in G with accidental C#s. If I transpose to F I get ^B when it should be =B.
Wow! Correct! I see exactly this if I use ABCMus. It seems to work correctly with EasyABC and ABCExplorer,
but I've become a little puzzled recently, about some odd behaviour by the in-program editor in EasyABC.
Worth watching - thanks for the tip.
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