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When would you pick Ab over G#

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Lewi_wilko, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. Lewi_wilko


    Mar 24, 2004
    Hello, this is something that has bugged me ever since i started learning music theory, why would someone choose to call a note flat or sharp e.g. Ab when they would say G#? Is there any reason? If they are the same thing why have two differant ways of saying it?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. It helps when trying to communicate with other players.

    Just as an example:

    If you are in the key of E major the scale wouldn't be
    notes E F# Ab A B C# D# E

    it would be
    E F# G# A B C# D# E

    G is the 3rd in the key of E, A is the fouth in the key of E. If you wanted a flat 4th for the key of E it would be Ab, G# is the major 3rd.

    Or in a B fully diminished (edit) chord:
    it would be:
    B D F Ab

    B D F G#

    becasue G# is Maj 6th in the key of B and Ab is the diminshed 7th. G# B D F would be a G# fully dimished minor chord. The same tones in each chord, written differently.

    Does that help at all???
  3. Lewi_wilko


    Mar 24, 2004
    Yes, thank you
  4. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    It's stuff like this that has me baffled with actual written music. I've never taken a class since grade school, and this stuff scares me. If it sounds the same, it seems to me that the only difference is what scale it falls into.
  5. EmmSee


    May 23, 2004
    Boston, MA
    If one of those notes in is the key ... it will be so. Either flat or sharp accordingly.

    Generally speaking if you're writing a free line and you're using passing tones from one chord tone or scale tone to the next, if you're going DOWN use flat, if you're going UP use sharp.

    like if I have a piece in C .... and I start a little note sequence:
    C D D# E G Gb F

    ta-dahh... you see how I went up with the sharp and down the flat.
  6. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Yes, that IS the difference.

    That, and that there is a KEY of Ab, but NO KEY of G#.

    When you are in sharp keys, the [sharped] notes of the scale are expressed verbally as "sharp." When you are in a flat key, the flatted notes are expressed as "flat."

    Of course, you don't SEE this in the written music, because the key signature at the beginning of the staff signifies the notes to be flatted or sharped.

    EmmSee, you may see your "up and down" method used sometimes, but it will bother a classically-trained composer/arranger; they generally expect to see things in correct enharmonic spelling.

  7. There is most certainly a key of G#, it has 7#s and one ## (double sharp).
    the notes in G# (maj):
    G# A# B# C# D# E# F## (G#)

    I've play many things is "odd" key signatures before. Why would you use G#? If you are in B maj and modulate to the relative minor's major (G#maj), Just the number of sharps would change, you would be changing from a 5 #'s key to a 4b key. This of course only applies to written music, and is up to the discretion of the composer.

    Yes, most clasically trained people would prefer to see things in the most enhormonically written way, but as long as I know what note you want, I'll play it. Beit A##, Cb or B.
  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    You won't find any musicians, classically trained or not, that would rather read 8 sharps (!) than 4 flats, no matter what the preceding key.

    G# major, by the way, is referred to as a 'theoretical key', meaning that it's not used in practice.
  9. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005


    The only difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference.

  10. Yeah, you're right, I suppose I'd rather read Ab maj that G# maj.

    But there certainly is the key of G#, theoretically or practically, it exists, it's easier to read as Ab for sure. F## major exists... would I like to read it? Heck no, but I bet someone out there someone has written something in it.

    I certainly have read things in G# maj or with double sharps and double flats in them many times, especially the likes of Stravinsky. The key may only be there for a few measures, but I have seen it marked in scores, along with Cb maj and B# maj.

    But in the end, it's all just semantics.
  11. Kroy


    Jan 19, 2006
    I am a classically trained composer and arranger and, like always, I have a few unwarrented thoughts.

    I think the use of double sharps and flats outside of tonal music is absolutely bogus. I guess if you're Max Reger and writing in some whack key then fine, but even then I tend to think it would just be easier to just write out the enharmonic equivalent. I completely disagree with composers who use those things just to make their music "look cooler." I've actually heard that. I'd far rather my music "sound cooler" and be easier to read and thus easier to be made to "sound cool".

    In this day and age, I don't think they have much place, any composer that is using them now is just trying to seem overly scholastic.
  12. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    A# Harmonic Minor anyone?

    A# B# C# D# E# F# G##

    This was called by a player in a group I'm in who didn't realize that calling it Bb h.m. would make more sense. But, it stuck.
  13. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    I have a score to Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", and I have to say that some of the key choices still baffle me. Quite a few of the movements have almost every note flatted or sharped; with double flats / sharps not that uncommon. Many of the scales used are not regular modes, so there would always be accidentals. However, the keys picked are pretty far from the ones that would yield the fewest of them.
  14. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    I think that'd be C#...

  15. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Yep, that's right. oops!
  16. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Please correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't it just a B Fully Diminished chord-no need for the minor. E.g. B D# F A# = M7, B D# F# A = Dom7, B D F# A = m7, B D F A = Half Diminished 7, B D F Ab = Fully Dimished 7.

    I realize it's getting picky, but-i think it matters enough. I'm in college theory-we get corrected on everything if we make a mistake in wording.

    That's all
  17. yes.