Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Sharps and flats

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    2,284

    Default Sharps and flats

    Simple question I've yet not found a definitive answer. What's the point of having sharps and flats in music theory?

    Well actually that's pretty obvious question if looked from theoretical point of view (ie. moving to smaller increments of fraction from tonic creates dissonance), but I decided to go for that, because I was having hard time paraphrasing this question in a way I meant it. (If that makes any sense?)

    I used to have hard time trying to understand music when starting to play until I went down to the very basics: Notes being simply a certain fraction off from tonic that creates the unique tonality of notes and harmonics. That's simple to understand and "unlocked" the idea behind chords, scales and their relationship.

    On string instrument that's easy to see, because notes are laid out in logical order. That's the way I learned to play what I can play these days. Never really need to think sharps or flats; they're all just notes and sound different due to their relation to tonic. Rest is just practice how to use them.

    It's only turned problematic when I've tried to play with keys. I can't play a thing with those instruments; white and black keys throw me off and I don't know which I should use.

    Why does note certain fraction from tonic should be called flat or sharp instead of just a note? Just because it sounds certain way and is further from the "perfect" fractions of the given frequency, or is there something I have missed?
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
    Iron Maiden - Wasted Years

  2. #2
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    2,284

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    So I did some digging on the matter and found out this:

    "Altered notes want to continue in the direction in which they have been altered. Sharps indicate a raised note and the direction it wants to resolve. Flats indicate a lowered note and the direction it wants to resolve."

    I guess that's the definitive answer I was looking for: Tension and resolution. Reading that it's stupidly obvious to be honest and begs a question why I had to read few pages of random internet forum to find out that! Seem like the first things to mention about subject matter to me...
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
    Iron Maiden - Wasted Years

  3. #3
    Darkness on the edge of Tone TwilightOdyssey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    NYC
    Age
    10
    Posts
    12,607

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacew View Post
    So I did some digging on the matter and found out this:

    "Altered notes want to continue in the direction in which they have been altered. Sharps indicate a raised note and the direction it wants to resolve. Flats indicate a lowered note and the direction it wants to resolve."

    I guess that's the definitive answer I was looking for: Tension and resolution. Reading that it's stupidly obvious to be honest and begs a question why I had to read few pages of random internet forum to find out that! Seem like the first things to mention about subject matter to me...
    It’s not quite that easy, but that’s the gist of it.
    Why don't you take your little Cobra Kais and get outta here?!
    My collaborative PROGRESSIVE ROCK PROJECT, As Follows.
    FACEBOOK page for As Follows.

  4. #4
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    2,284

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsaBass View Post
    If written music did not exist, there'd be no real reason why we use sharps and flats, as opposed to every one of the 12 western notes simply having its own name. It's just a naming convention.

    But each note having its own name wouldn't fit the traditional musical staff.
    That was sort of the lines I was thinking: That 7 alphabet scale was first and sharps and flats came later as addition.

    But it seems a bit too random to just build up like that when the system is pretty far crafted and gone under numerous renditions. You'd think someone would have reworked it at some point to accommodote all notes more reasonably.

    Which is why that quote from Bert Ligons Jazz Theory sounds really understandable and logical answer. Haven't yet tested out though...

    Quote Originally Posted by TwilightOdyssey View Post
    It’s not quite that easy, but that’s the gist of it.
    Can you elaborate?
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
    Iron Maiden - Wasted Years

  5. #5
    Ultimate Tone Slacker
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Athens, Greece
    Age
    50
    Posts
    2,173

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    My grandpa used to sing in a church. Those guys had a completely different eastern roman (aka byzantine) system of music notation, completely different from the western one, There were not only sharps and flats but also divisions of those. Thats all I know on the matter.

  6. #6
    PenultimateTone Member Demanic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Phoenix area.
    Age
    52
    Posts
    13,495

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Quote Originally Posted by greekdude View Post
    My grandpa used to sing in a church. Those guys had a completely different eastern roman (aka byzantine) system of music notation, completely different from the western one, There were not only sharps and flats but also divisions of those. Thats all I know on the matter.
    I studied Byzantine music 30 years ago. It can only be properly played on a fretless instrument as the different tones have different intervals, but not the standard half/whole division.
    The other thing that I recall about it is that the notation is not fixed, it's based on going up or down from the previous note. If you loose your place in the music, you are pretty much screwed.

    Sent from my Alcatel_5044C using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    PenultimateTone Member Demanic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Phoenix area.
    Age
    52
    Posts
    13,495

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    I like using unresolved notes. That and "resolving" them in the opposite direction.

    Sent from my Alcatel_5044C using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    U.S.A.
    Posts
    11,579

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    If written music did not exist, there'd be no real reason why we use sharps and flats, as opposed to every one of the 12 western notes simply having its own name. It's just a naming convention.

    But each note having its own name wouldn't fit the traditional musical staff.

    Didn't Bb famously used to have its own name? H, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

  9. #9
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    2,284

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsaBass View Post
    If written music did not exist, there'd be no real reason why we use sharps and flats, as opposed to every one of the 12 western notes simply having its own name. It's just a naming convention.

    But each note having its own name wouldn't fit the traditional musical staff.

    Didn't Bb famously used to have its own name? H, right?
    In Europe B is H and Bb is B.
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
    Iron Maiden - Wasted Years

  10. #10
    Ultimate Tone Slacker NecroPolo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Age
    43
    Posts
    2,428

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    With sharp things you can make other things flat.

  11. #11
    Sock Supplier to RHCP Beer$'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    5,264

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Would that mean that terms like "Eb tuning" and D# tuning" to describe standard tuning down half a step are not interchangeable and only one is technically correct, because they can only resolve in one direction from the lowest string?
    The opinions expressed above do not necessarily represent those of the poster and are to be considered suspect at best.

    Lead guitarist and vocalist of...



    Keep up to date on our ReverbNation

  12. #12
    Mojo's Minions devastone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Longmont, CO, USA
    Posts
    5,283

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Quote Originally Posted by Beer$ View Post
    Would that mean that terms like "Eb tuning" and D# tuning" to describe standard tuning down half a step are not interchangeable and only one is technically correct, because they can only resolve in one direction from the lowest string?
    Either of those is correct because you are not tying it to a specific key, they are enharmonic tones.

    Getting all music theory 101 on you, if you are playing in playing in say, Eb major (3 flats on the key signature, see below), the pitch inventory is Eb F G Ab Bb C D, so, while you the pitches are the same as D# major - D# E# F## G# A# B# C## (yes, that is a F double sharp and a C double sharp, which raises each pitch 1 full step), they are 2 different keys. D# is also considered a "theoretical" key because it is rarely used because it is basically a PITA (Eb is much easier to use).

    As to why accidentals (sharps and flats) exist, I guess is just seemed like the easier thing to do instead of giving all 12 tones individual names(? although there is also some physics involved in the way they are separated?), I really don't know. But I think it is easier to keep up with 7 notes with accidentals instead of 12 individual notes.



  13. #13
    Sock Supplier to RHCP Beer$'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    5,264

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Quote Originally Posted by devastone View Post
    Either of those is correct because you are not tying it to a specific key, they are enharmonic tones.

    Getting all music theory 101 on you, if you are playing in playing in say, Eb major (3 flats on the key signature, see below), the pitch inventory is Eb F G Ab Bb C D, so, while you the pitches are the same as D# major - D# E# F## G# A# B# C## (yes, that is a F double sharp and a C double sharp, which raises each pitch 1 full step), they are 2 different keys. D# is also considered a "theoretical" key because it is rarely used because it is basically a PITA (Eb is much easier to use).

    As to why accidentals (sharps and flats) exist, I guess is just seemed like the easier thing to do instead of giving all 12 tones individual names(? although there is also some physics involved in the way they are separated?), I really don't know. But I think it is easier to keep up with 7 notes with accidentals instead of 12 individual notes.


    No wonder "D#" just sounds wrong.
    The opinions expressed above do not necessarily represent those of the poster and are to be considered suspect at best.

    Lead guitarist and vocalist of...



    Keep up to date on our ReverbNation

  14. #14
    Ultimate Tone Slacker NecroPolo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Land of Confusion
    Age
    43
    Posts
    2,428

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    I was just thinking about carving stuff with my swiss army knife.

  15. #15
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Van Noord's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    METAL PROLIFERATION!
    Age
    39
    Posts
    2,839

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    When I tune down a half step, I only use sharps.
    ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
    ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
    ••••••••••••••••••••••••••


  16. #16
    Mojo's Minions devastone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Longmont, CO, USA
    Posts
    5,283

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Quote Originally Posted by Van Noord View Post
    When I tune down a half step, I only use sharps.
    You like to play on the black keys huh?

  17. #17
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Van Noord's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    METAL PROLIFERATION!
    Age
    39
    Posts
    2,839

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    Quote Originally Posted by devastone View Post
    You like to play on the black keys huh?
    What's funny is I dont ever play in standard tuning. So I'm never "tuning down", when restringing I tune up to CGCFAD and C#G#C#F#A#D# LOL!
    ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
    ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
    ••••••••••••••••••••••••••


  18. #18
    Mojo's Minions
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    3,745

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    You play guitar and don't know???

    There's 12 frets but only 7 "notes" per octave per Euro note naming, necessitating names for the other 5

    Presumably because someone noticed they actually exist and get used a lot, too. Probably while playing a fretted instrument, since that makes em kinda hard not to notice...
    "New stuff always sucks" -Me

  19. #19
    Sock Market Trader GuitarStv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    13,965

    Default Re: Sharps and flats

    I always thought that the difference between sharp and flat mostly has to do with making it easier to write stuff out in music notation. Mostly irrelevant if you don't read/write music with notation.
    Join me in the fight against muscular atrophy!

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas Adams
    This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •