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Stupid question

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Whammytap, Mar 3, 2005.

  1. Whammytap


    Oct 17, 2004
    Kansas City
    I was just wondering to myself the other day, why is there no B#/Cflat on a guitar or bass? Is there a B#/Cflat on any other instrument, or even such a note? I seem to remember not having had that note on my trombone either, way back when.

    Why is this? :confused:

  2. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN

    It's a phenomenon that happens anywhere in musical scales where two natural notes are only a half step apart. So therefore, E#=F and Fb=E.
  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    It's there, you're just not looking hard enough ;)

    They're enharmonic equivalents as mentioned above.

    You rarely see them in music, but when you do, you have to think twice. I've been playing sax 10 years, and have seen maybe this occurence twice.
  4. Whammytap


    Oct 17, 2004
    Kansas City
    Ahh. I kind of got that. I know what a half-step is! Thanks both of you!
  5. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    You will first run into this in classical theory during analysis and what not...in A, an augmented 2nd cannot be a C, it has to be a B#..any C is always going to be described as a third in reference to A because it is the third note...Because of this you will see lots of double sharps (X) as well..You will get used to it....
  6. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Well, that's true with instruments using tempered tuning.

    But on a violin, for example, B# and C are two different notes, but they sound very similar to an untrained ear.
  7. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    Should that apply to a fretless bass as well?

    Or should we just throw some vibrato on and ignore the whole problem?
  8. ombudsman,

    thats a rather hideous avatar you have there ... :eyebrow:
  9. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    I guess so, since it has no frets. Or you could simply ignore the true B# and all those other odd notes.

    Thank you, I love it. :smug:
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Partly true. On any instrument that you can "tune as you go" (strings, brass, woodwinds, etc) B# and C can be different, depending on the musical context. But B# in the key of C# major, for instance, will sound differently than B# in the key of G.
  11. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    There's also the practical consideration that even though fretless, URB, et al don't *have* to make B# always equal to C, we often play with instruments in tempered tuning, so it's in our interest to be in tune with them. I'm also not sure how many of us--honestly now--could consistently make the distinction between B# and C anyway. I'm not claiming I could.
  12. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Thanks for clarifying. I'm a theory newbie. :p
  13. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    I'm still confused.

    Does the B#, in the key of G, sound anything like a perfect 4th?

    How would your ears determine that it is not a C since C has the stronger resolution in the scale? In what context could this B# be used to differentiate it from a C? What clues would you look for when deciding to transcribe/describe it as a B# instead of a C?
  14. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Just look in a real book, you'll see Cb all over the place.
  15. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Hey, you're right!

    Sorry, I guess I lied. I forgot about that!
  16. When writing music, you would pick your note based on theoretical rules.

    B#, in G, will sound exactly like a fourth to any normal person. A performer might choose to play it as different from its enharmonic equivalent or not, but it's very unlikely that anyone could pick that out by ear.
  17. Personally I like double sharps or flats. The occasional triple flat/sharp can spice things up, too. No, not really.

    Though I did play a Bartok song that used so many double sharps and flats. It has an entire section in the song that's in B#, so everything looks really weird when you sightread it, but if you work it out, it's actually quite easy.