A# vs Bb or Db vs C#

Discussion in 'SWS Questions' started by snarf, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. snarf

    snarf audiences like their blues singers to be miserable

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    I started into SWS today and watched through the Solo 1 prep and the solo itself and went ahead and let the DVD keep playing right up through Lesson 6.  I figure I'll spend some time practicing Solo 1 as I have a chance, but Lesson 6 could be started and go with any lesson, so I may as well start into it as well.  But that's probably more than you really wanted to know.

    My question is this...  Griff mentioned that it's not really important whether you call it A# or Bb (or C# or Db for that matter) and I know that for the purposes of SWS that is the case.  However, I'm really curious if A# or C# are ever used in the real world.  I know that I've never seen them used.  On top of that, who really wants to play in 7 #'s anyways (C#)...and I have no idea how many #'s are in A# because I've never seen it even in a music book.  Isn't there some rule of theory that dictates when C# (or A#) would be used instead of Db (or Bb) or are those keys generally avoided and the flat-named keys used instead?

    And, honestly, if the answer is some long-winded, dry bit of theory I'd still like to know.  I figure if my ultimate goal (which it is) is to finally be able to play well enough that I can call myself a musician then some day I need to start learning a little theory too.

    And while I'm asking questions, how many #'s are in A#?
     
  2. MikeS

    MikeS Moderator... Another Man In Black.
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    Snarf,
    Same number of sharps in A# as there are flats in B flat, I'd guess.
    As to your other questions, I haven't a clue, but I've never seen A#.
     
  3. 560sdl

    560sdl Blues Newbie

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    My understanding and I thought he explained it, was that you use the A# when ascending a scale and Bb when descending a scale.

    So the next half step past A is always referred to as A# because you are ascending.  A half step down from B is always Bb. 

    Was the other question how many sharps are in each of the chords A# and C#?  Might depend on the chord fingering.
     
  4. Lame_Pinkey

    Lame_Pinkey Guest

    Thats pretty... sharp !

    LP
     
  5. snarf

    snarf audiences like their blues singers to be miserable

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    @Mike:  not to shoot you down, but 2 flats is Bb and 2 sharps is D.

    @560:  I understand going up you would say A# and coming down would be Bb.  My question is more along the lines that if you're playing in the key of A and shift half a step up you're now playing in A# or Bb.  If that were written out in music which key signature would be used and why.  Same concept for C# or Db...is it just that it's easier to play 5 flats than it is 7 sharps or is there any rhyme or reason to the key chosen.
     
  6. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    There are rules for how to determine a key by looking at the key signature.
    For keys with sharps the key is one half step up from the last sharp in the key signature.
    For keys with flats the key is the next to last flat in the key signature.
    Key signatures are derived from flats or sharps found in a major scale.
    Key signatures will never have both sharps and flats simultaneously.
    http://www.howmusicworks.org/hmw208.html
    chart not checked for accuracy
     
  7. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    One interesting thing about sharps and flats in a major scale is they all have a different number of sharps and a different number of flats...from zero to seven.
    So if asked a question like what major scale has 4 sharps ..there is only one correct answer.
     
  8. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    Here is a handy key signature chart.
    http://www.learnmusicfree.com/lesson/fundamentals/clefs_key_signatures.html
     
  9. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    That's an interesting question.
    I don't see an A# on the scale chart but there's a Bb.
    I do see and C# and a Db.
    But the notes sound the same and are the same place on the fretboard whether it be A# compared to a Bb major scale or a C# compared to Db.
    So does it really matter?
    I'd like to know why as well.
     
  10. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    I have another question that's been bugging me since day one and I can't find the answer.
    B to C is a half step and so is E to F.
    So why is there no B# or Cb and why is there no E# or Fb?
    It's said they are "naturally occurring".
    What happened to them and why?
     
  11. ndjordjevic

    ndjordjevic Blues Newbie

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    Hmmm, good question!
     
  12. Griff

    Griff Chief Cook And Bottle Washer
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    The reason behind using Bb instead of A# is because there is no key of A#, so typically we'd call it Bb. However, all of this only matters in context. And using Bb over A# is merely convenient and "standard," not a rule by any means.

    If you're naming a single note - call it A# or Bb and it truly does not matter. However, if you're in the key of Eb, and talking about A# - that's the wrong spelling of the note and from a theoretical standpoint would be out of key. In fact, if you really go crazy with it this is how Augmented 6th chords come to be in traditional classical harmony (which are the same as dominant 7th chords with a different spelling for the b7).

    If you were in the key of B, however, you'd better call it A#, and not Bb. Make sense? Great!

    There is a B#, it's the same as C. They are called enharmonic equivalents. The key of C# has a B# in it, and the B# is the enharmonic of C natural. Same holds true for E# which is the same sound as F natural with a different spelling.
     
  13. MikeS

    MikeS Moderator... Another Man In Black.
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    Uh.... should I move this discussion out of Soloing WITHOUT scales? :-/
     
  14. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    Thanks Griff.
    Enharmonic equivalents. Of course B# is the same as C. So simple now that you pointed it out.
    I still can't help having the feeling that there's still something missing there..at least on the fretboard..who came up with the half step between BC and EF?
    Why isn't there a half step between the other whole notes instead of whole steps?
    How was the WWHWWWH pattern dreamed up?
    Looks like I'm thinking too much about why and not enough about applying what is and just playing guitar.
     
  15. RichC

    RichC Guest

    When your playing a scales they dictate if something is called a flat or a sharp. Remember when working with a scale no two notes can have the same name (a thru g) Also no scale can contain both sharps and flats. So if we play an A scale ABC#DEF#G. The C# D flat note would be called a C# in the A Scale. And the F# note would not be called a G flat.

    Good Luck

    Rich C 
     
  16. Griff

    Griff Chief Cook And Bottle Washer
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    I don't know how it evolved exactly, but I do know that the way things are setup is the only way in which our existing set of keys and key signatures can work. The original 8 tone scale that we sort of work off of now came from ancient Greece. That's about as much as I know of the history.
     
  17. pornsuda

    pornsuda Guest

      I had a go at working out the number of sharps in the A sharp scale.
    The Major scale is 2 steps, 2 steps, 1 step, 2 steps, 2 steps, 2 steps, 1 step.
      So you get  A sharp, B sharp, C double sharp, D sharp,
    E sharp, F double sharp, G double sharp, A sharp.
      You can see why B flat is a lot nicer!
                  I think I got the logic right.
                             Cheers,
                                 Stratattack.
     
  18. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    Whole Step- whole step -half step- whole step- whole step -whole step- half step.
    Ok that's right now.
     
  19. pornsuda

    pornsuda Guest

    statogeezer, I was using this logic:-
    In the Key of C Major:-
      C - D Whole step
      D - E Whole step
      E - F Half step
      F - G Whole step
      G - A Whole step
      A - B Whole step
      B - C Half step
            Please correct if wrong.
                             Cheers,
                                      SA.
     
  20. stratogeezer

    stratogeezer Blues Newbie

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    SA..your logic is good and I knew what you meant.. but everything I've read refers to half and whole steps.
    Not one step and two steps.
    It's a terminology thing.
    I could be wrong.