Why C# and F#?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ozzyman, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    I'm kinda confused. Why do you say a low F# and low C# instead of Gb and Db?
    When you go higher then you say Bb and Eb strings, so why do you use #'s instead of b's?
  2. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    We tune our instruments in 4ths down, not fifths up which is why you say C# instead of Db. IIRC
  3. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Because the strings are all tuned a perfect fourth from one another.

    A perfect fouth from F# is B: F# G# A# B

    Whereas a perfect fourth from Gb is Cb: Gb Ab Bb Cb

    The pitches are the same, but how they are named is important. It wouldn't be "Gb Ab Bb B" because there's already a B in the Gb scale (the third).

    Since you've already got a "B" string, not a "Cb" string, the one a perfect fourth down from it should then properly be called an F#.
  4. i thought it was a fifth up EADG for example, but a fourth down GDAEBF# and so on and so forth?
  5. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Not sure I get your meaning.

    From a B UP to an E, that's a fourth.

    From an E DOWN to a B, that's a fourth.

    If you go from E UP to a B, that's a fifth.

    Likewise, from B DOWN to an E, that's a fifth.

    [b]B[/b] C D [b]E[/b] F G A [b]B[/b]
    | 4th |  5th  |
  6. I think it's probably because F# and C# are just the first two sharps in the series of sharps. The key of G has an F#. The key of D adds a C#, A adds a G#, E adds a D# etc. You are much more likely to encounter an F# and a C# in playing than Gb and Db because so many more keys use them.

    Meanwhile you'll notice that when people describe the multiple-string basses that go up in fourths past F, they use flats, e.g.: B E A D G C F Bb Eb. Again that's probably because Bb and Eb are the first two flats and more keys use those than A# and D#.

    (BTW, if you look at BEADGCF, that's the order that flats are added in key signatures. Read it in reverse and you get the order sharps are added)
  7. JoobyFoo


    Jul 11, 2004
    Athens, Georgia
    Technically, the reason we use sharps is because that we are playing string instruments. Our strings are normally tuned to pitches that have keys with sharps in their major scales. Therefore it makes it easier. I am betting that you play a brass instrument because I do too and I used to wonder why we just didn't use the enharmonics also.

    Plus, when you are reading music, it logically would seem easier to move your hand up when you see a sharp than to move down when you see a flat. I'm used to reading flats also... but I'm just saying.

    Hope this helps.
  8. bassjus


    Mar 30, 2004

    two kids in on of my classes were having the same discussion earlier this week.
  9. Great discussion...wrong forum...this is one about music theory...where does it get filed?
  10. jvbjr


    Jan 8, 2005
    I will say what I always say when such a topic comes up...

    Music theory is too complicated.

    If the notes were called 1~12 instead of A~G#, it would be much easier for people to grasp.

    Lets see....instead of an A string it is a "1", fifth fret.....1+5=6, instead of having to remember D.

  11. Rowka

    Rowka Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2002
    Jacksonville, FL
    This is the correct answer.
  12. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Yes, it is.

    It is also why you see flats as you go higher. A perfect 4th up from C is F, a perfect 4th up from F is Bb (no A, whether you sharp it or not, can ever be a 4th up from F--it can only be some kind of 3rd, by definition), a perfect 4th up from Bb is Eb, and so on.

    Of course, I tune my high string to B rather than C, so if I used higher strings than that, I would tune them E, A, and D rather than F, Bb, and Eb. But regardless, the principles of naming still apply.