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  1. #1

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    I am self taught and while I am reasonably proficient there are vast gaps in my basic knowledge. I have been getting into the habit of practicing in every key but was interested to know when you may use and encounter the keys of B#, Cb, E#, Fb?

    Are there many pieces in these keys?

    Thanks!

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  3. #2

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    Practicing in all keys... how many is that?
    Think about that for a bit before watching...

    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  4. #3

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    Traditionally there are 15 major key signatures

    Flat Keys

    C D E F G A B C ---------- 0
    F G A Bb C D E F---------- 1
    Bb C D Eb F G A Bb--------2
    Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb-------3
    Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab------4
    Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db-----5
    Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb----6
    Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb Cb---7

    Sharp Keys

    C D E F G A B C ----------------- 0
    G A B C D E F# G ----------------1
    D E F# G A B C# D---------------2
    A B C# D E F# G# A-------------3
    E F# G# A B C# D# E-----------4
    B C# D# E F# G# A# B---------5
    F# G# A# B C# D# E# F#-----6
    C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C#---7

    C Major is neutral, no flats or sharps

    B#, Cb, E#, Fb?

    Cb is the only one of these that has a key signature.
    The others appear as notes within the key signatures with 6 or 7 accidentals.
    After 7 accidentals, there is little reason to go any further.
    Cb major 7 flats is enharmonic to B major 5 sharps, guess which one is more in common use.
    C# major has 7 sharps is enharmonic to Db major with 5 flats, same question
    Gb major with 6 flats is enharmonic to F# major also with 6 sharps, fielder's choice.

    In a modulation situation is the only time I would choose to write something in Cb or C#.
    I would stick with flats if I started in a flat key, or the reverse, with sharps if I started in a sharp key.
    Last edited by bako; 04-14-2019 at 11:40 AM. Reason: accidental redundancy

  5. #4

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    ISTR a flute piece with half in Cb, half in B. I think the writer was trying to make a point. The best way to notate music is the way that's easiest to read, assuming you want people to play it.

  6. #5

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    Probably the French

  7. #6

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    French-hater! (Austin Powers riff)

  8. #7

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    Friends don't let friends use double-accidentals.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Babaluma View Post
    I am self taught and while I am reasonably proficient there are vast gaps in my basic knowledge. I have been getting into the habit of practicing in every key but was interested to know when you may use and encounter the keys of B#, Cb, E#, Fb?

    Are there many pieces in these keys?

    Thanks!
    jokes aside.. locally they show up quite often in epsiodes and sections inside classical music (mostly starting from romantic period) .. but usually nobody thinks of all the sharps and flats of course - just of accidentals.. but essentially when you learn to improvize classical form you have to be able to make good modulation from C major to Cb major for example))

  10. #9
    Thanks for all the answers!! Very helpful

  11. #10

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    --- The ultimate answer to almost all guitar questions: "Practice more!" ---

  12. #11

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    When the tune is in Eb Minor / Gb, and that exists ! The most famous one being .... Take Five (not written by a French by the way )
    Perfection is in the Details, but Perfection isn't a Detail (Leonardo da Vinci)

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhch View Post
    When the tune is in Eb Minor / Gb, and that exists ! The most famous one being .... Take Five (not written by a French by the way )
    Also "'Round Midnight," right?
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  14. #13

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    Among the answers you will find is the one that says a diatonic scale must include all seven letter note names, but only each one once. That may explain why certain seemingly "artificial" accidentals are used - to enforce that the scales do include one of each letter. What is usually not explained is why and how the whole system of only seven letter named notes and accidentals, and key signatures, etc. exists in the first place.

    It begins with the unexpected proper definition of the term "note". Even musicians will casually use the word "note" in the same way as the word "pitch", but this is strictly incorrect. A "note" means only one thing - a position among the lines and spaces of the staff. A particular note takes the letter name of that line or space in the staff, so the bottom line of the G-clef is called "E", and a note positioned there is an "E". That note may indicate to play different pitches based on the application of accidentals, so that E might be an Eb, or E, or even E# or Ebb... so "notes" represent multiple pitches, and which pitch you play for a note is indicated by presence or absence of any accidentals either in the key signature or temporarily applied within a measure, or a naturalization of a note subject to an accidental in the key signature or within the measure.

    The reason this approach was adopted is because if you attempt to score music by assigning a chromatic pitch to each line or space of the staff, the number of lines and spaces becomes unmanageable, but even more interesting is that when you write all the diatonic scales on that kind of staff, they all show two discontinuities (the half-steps among the whole steps) in their lines of pitches, making it difficult to read. However, by using the seven note name system and enforcing it by using key signatures, all diatonic scales in all keys progress across the staff in straight lines without discontinuities, which makes reading (and reading ahead) much easier - one just needs to know the key, indicated conveniently at the beginning. So this is the result of a very clever kind of musical notation data compression system designed to suppresses the irregular appearance of the diatonic scale half steps for easier reading of written music.
    Last edited by pauln; 04-17-2019 at 10:09 AM.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    Among the answers you will find is the one that says a diatonic scale must include all seven letter note names, but only each one once. That may explain why certain seemingly "artificial" accidentals are used - to enforce that the scales do include one of each letter. What is usually not explained is why and how the whole system of only seven letter named notes and accidentals, and key signatures, etc. exists in the first place.

    It begins with the unexpected proper definition of the term "note". Even musicians will casually use the word "note" in the same way as the word "pitch", but this is strictly incorrect. A "note" means only one thing - a position among the lines and spaces of the staff. A particular note takes the letter name of that line or space in the staff, so the bottom line of the G-clef is called "E", and a note positioned there is an "E". That note may indicate to play different pitches based on the application of accidentals, so that E might be an Eb, or E, or even E# or Ebb... so "notes" represent multiple pitches, and which pitch you play for a note is indicated by presence or absence of any accidentals either in the key signature or temporarily applied within a measure, or a naturalization of a note subject to an accidental in the key signature or within the measure.

    The reason this approach was adopted is because if you attempt to score music by assigning a chromatic pitch to each line or space of the staff, the number of lines and spaces becomes unmanageable, but even more interesting is that when you write all the diatonic scales on that kind of staff, they all show two discontinuities (the half-steps among the whole steps) in their lines of pitches, making it difficult to read. However, by using the seven note name system and enforcing it by using key signatures, all diatonic scales in all keys progress across the staff in straight lines without discontinuities, which makes reading (and reading ahead) much easier - one just needs to know the key, indicated conveniently at the beginning. So this is the result of a very clever kind of musical notation data compression system designed to suppresses the irregular appearance of the diatonic scale half steps for easier reading of written music.
    Thanks for the thorough answer!

  16. #15

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    While we're at it, spell out a Cb dim7 chord: Cb Ebb Gbb Bbbb. No, your eyes do not deceive you, my leetle friends, that is a triple flat.

    Build bridges, not walls.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    While we're at it, spell out a Cb dim7 chord: Cb Ebb Gbb Bbbb. No, your eyes do not deceive you, my leetle friends, that is a triple flat.
    Cbo7 would be a leading tone diminished resolving to ...............Dbb or Dbbm

    Cbo7 would be a common tone diminished chord to Cb major, while possible
    is more likely to be referenced as Bo7 > B major

    Fear not BDLH

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    While we're at it, spell out a Cb dim7 chord: Cb Ebb Gbb Bbbb. No, your eyes do not deceive you, my leetle friends, that is a triple flat.

    Nice...

    When I come across a chart in Cb I down tools, walk over to the composer, smack him or her up side the head and tell them there is more where that came from.

    More seriously, I have charted a piece in Db minor (for trumpet) because this great trumpet player refused to play anything in sharp keys. Meanwhile I am always playing flat keys for him. He caught my drift.

  19. #18

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    In years of reading all kinds of charts, I've never seen Fb Cb E# or B# in a chord name.

    I have seen at least some of them as single notes, occasionally. I'd rather see the natural sign in every case.

    My notation software has a setting to avoid double sharps, but I'm not sure how most notation software handles these notes. Say you're transposing something, will it allow you to spell with the maximum number of naturals?

    EDIT: I had played that RB chart of Take Five, so I had seen a Cb, but not so often that I remembered it.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 05-16-2019 at 02:21 PM.

  20. #19

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    Take Five for sure has Cb Major 7 as a chord name in the bridge section
    Attachment 62280
    Attached Images Attached Images When would you use or encounter the keys B#, Cb, E#, Fb?-take-five-score-realbook-jpg 
    Perfection is in the Details, but Perfection isn't a Detail (Leonardo da Vinci)

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhch View Post
    Take Five for sure has Cb Major 7 as a chord name in the bridge section
    The B section is in Gb and that is just the IV chord. This thread is looking for a song in the *key* of Cb.
    Build bridges, not walls.

  22. #21

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    I missed the point you raised, thanks
    Perfection is in the Details, but Perfection isn't a Detail (Leonardo da Vinci)

  23. #22

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    Horn players prefer flats. Almost always.

    So with Take 5 you go G flat not F# major

    Now consider I am arranging for horns a tune in B. Unlikely .... but a good example is Stevie’s Sir Duke

    Now there are horn parts on that - the horns will thank you for putting the concert key into Cb, so tenor and trumpet are reading in Db and the alto and baritone in Ab. As opposed to C# and G#.

    I’ve always found this an issue when preparing parts on Sibelius. Even tunes in E and D, horns like charts with flats rather than sharps IME.

    So jazz is mostly on the flat side obviously (well apart from gypsy jazz where the violinists moan about flats) for this reason. That’s also pretty much the only reason why Cherokee is inherently hard btw (not that it bothers guitarists.) Parker could play equally fluently in all the keys which was apparently very unusual in the early 40s.

  24. #23

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    B# = C
    Cb = B
    E# = F
    Fb = E

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzman1021 View Post
    B# = C
    Cb = B
    E# = F
    Fb = E
    Define "="
    Build bridges, not walls.

  26. #25

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    Look it up.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzman1021 View Post
    Look it up.
    = - Google Search

    The equals sign or equality sign (=) is a mathematical symbol used to indicate equality. It was invented in 1557 by Robert Recorde. In an equation, the equals sign is placed between two (or more) expressions that have the same value.

    Wow! I wasn't aware they knew the who and the when.

    On the other hand in what sense are enharmonic keys equal, in what sense not equal?
    Build bridges, not walls.

  28. #27

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    I personally used to avoid writing Cb and Fb because I was afraid of making things harder to read, but, these are very common in classical music and I think they often make musical and notational sense. If you're writing a line in Gb, it's much clearer to use Cb instead of B natural and this will result in less accidentals overall.

    I play classical upright bass and while I wouldn't say Cb or Fb is common as a key, it's very common to see these notes as accidentals and I don't think they should be avoided.

  29. #28

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    In a tempered scale environment, enharmonics are the same sonic event (=).
    The difference then exists solely on paper. Musicians make an informed individual choice
    whether to use the technically correct contextual spelling or go with the expediency of
    using the more familiar note spelling. And for those who believe that B#,Cb, E#, Fb
    were put on this earth just to make our musical lives more difficult.......

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Babaluma View Post
    I am self taught and while I am reasonably proficient there are vast gaps in my basic knowledge. I have been getting into the habit of practicing in every key but was interested to know when you may use and encounter the keys of B#, Cb, E#, Fb?

    Are there many pieces in these keys?

    Thanks!
    I've never seen them in a key signature.

    I've seen them more than occasionally in melodies. Well, mostly Cb out of that group.

    I've seen them, but rarely, in chord symbols. I suspect it's usually a computer-transposed chart.

  31. #30

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    I reckon this is the time to ask for assistance here.

    I've a vague memory of Roy Acuff or Maybe Jimmy Martin, probably with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,
    on a record calling out a song in " the key of K-sharp flat minor."

    Anyone remember this?

    Dare you to learn that in all 12 keys.

  32. #31

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    I saw a passage in Ab minor (7 flats) in a piece by John Rutter. It then transposes to A minor so probably that‘s why he didn’t write it down as G# minor (5 sharps). Hell to read as a player, I was lucky I only had to sing it.

    The reason why there are no pieces in the aforementioned keys is that they are easier to read in their enharmonic keys (B instead of Cb and so forth).

    Recently I saw a chart that had Bb in the bass and A# in the treble of the same chord. This is sheer incompetence IMHO. Same with an A# chord in a passage in D minor. Absolutely no reason to confuse the player by opting for the less obvious choice.



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  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    Define "="
    ===

  34. #33

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    Enharmonic keys (my preference in bold)

    Db and Bbm

    or

    C# and A#m (contains E# and B#)

    Gb and Ebm (contains Cb)

    or

    F# and D#m (contains E#)

    B and G#m

    or

    Cb and Abm (contains Cb and Fb)

    But if in a flat key area, I hesitate to modulate to a sharp key or vice a versa.
    There are inevitable challenges. We can use our preferred spelling of a note,
    but it somewhat obscures the interval ex. Gb > E or Gbm > D.
    I guess all the experience reading music badly spelled helps develop the skill to
    make sense of whatever version appears before us.

  35. #34

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    After reading through this thread.

    My head hurts.

  36. #35

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    The most obvious use of Cb is when you're playing the relative minor. The relative minor of Cb is Abm, not nearly as unintuitive as Cb.
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  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway View Post
    The most obvious use of Cb is when you're playing the relative minor. The relative minor of Cb is Abm, not nearly as unintuitive as Cb.
    Is that G#m for Sax players?

  38. #37

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    Actually as we often play Abm on G7 it’s a good point

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Actually as we often play Abm on G7 it’s a good point
    Or if you have a song in Am and the vocalist can't quite hit the top notes. The easy solution is to drop it to Abm. For that matter, as a solo guitarist l play some songs in odd keys because they lay out on the fingerboard better. I play Bluesette in Gb. See how many jaws drop when you tell them that
    My CD "Bare Handed" is available as a download at Bandcamp.com
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  40. #39

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    I just play in G# minor and don’t tell anyone

  41. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway View Post
    The most obvious use of Cb is when you're playing the relative minor. The relative minor of Cb is Abm, not nearly as unintuitive as Cb.
    Yeah. That's interesting. You otherwise end up with more double sharps in those minor keys.