Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 24 of 24
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    I have a simple question and hope "Theory" is the right board.

    When notating a blues - say in F - usually people use the key signature the blues is in, in my example one flat (Bb).

    But technically a blues is mixolydian and hence a blues in F should be notated with two flats (Bb and Eb).

    But nobody does that.

    Why?

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    It’s probably just clearer and less confusing for people used to reading conventional notation and key sigs. to just stick to F key sig. and notate any ‘blues’ accidentals such as flat 7 and flat 3rds.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    I think the way it works is
    Chords have roots
    Scales have tonics
    Keys have a key note and a "one chord" whose root is the key note
    The melody notes and any scales with which they may share notes don't determine the key
    The "one chord's" root determines the key note of the key
    Last edited by pauln; 06-30-2020 at 07:05 AM.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    My guess is using the key signature with two flats would suggest that the tune is in the key of Bb and F7 is the V chord. But that's not how the listener is supposed to hear it. It starts with the tonic chord with an accidental.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-30-2020 at 12:32 PM.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Both the IV and the V chord (both dom7) wouldn't fit the key designation of Bb (major) - they contain notes not in the key.
    Although Blues follows the basics of western harmony it is something of a system of its own with dom7 chords for I, IV and V (and beyond that) and pitching the b3rd against the natural 3rd for example. A Blues in F is in the key of F - see above.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    It’s probably just clearer and less confusing for people used to reading conventional notation and key sigs. to just stick to F key sig. and notate any ‘blues’ accidentals such as flat 7 and flat 3rds.
    I think clarity might be a big point.

    Can't count the times I got the name of the first chord when asking for the key they want a song being played in.

    "Autumn Leaves, OK, what key?"
    "A minor" (means E minor / G maj, but names the first chord)

    With the guys I usually play with we normally say the number of accidentals, so:

    "Autumn Leaves, OK, key?"
    "One up!"

    Never fails.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    What key is the melody in??

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy
    What key is the melody in??

    Take "Sidewinder" (Lee Morgan).

    It's notated with 3 flats. But there is not a single "D" in the melody, lots of Db though ... shouldn't we say it's in Eb mixo = 4 flats?

    Just asking...

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    Depends what you're looking at. There are several transcriptions of that tune on You Tube. One has it in F, another in Bb, and another with varying key sigs for different instruments (but they all sound the same).

    Personally, I'd use the least confusing for the reader/player. As Tommo said, a blues in F is in F.

    And there probably should be a 'rule' on it too.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    I guess I'd just say, "for (confusing) simplicity's sake."

    Take a basic, I7-IV7-V7 "blues:" even though we can just say, "blues in Bb!" and everyone knows what to play, it's not in a (diatonic) "key" of Bb. If we made this a "minor blues " in Bb, it's the same thing: not in the (diatonic) key of Bbmin. So the key signatures will also not be "accurate," since there's no corresponding key to these chord progressions.

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    So the key signatures will also not be "accurate," since there's no corresponding key to these chord progressions.
    Exactly.

    But if the tune ends on an F note preceded by C7 - F (or even F7) then it's in bloody F!

    Actually, I'm pretty sure most blues at the start was played with major chords. Then, later, they changed it to dom chords for effect. So the F7 in F is really an ornamentation rather than anything else.

    The dominant V chord, of course, doesn't have the blue note. It's a C7 with a natural E, not Eb. That's very significant.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    No key signature or a flat for F and D minor.
    But for a blues, I prefer when there is no key signature.
    You can find with and without.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Blues introduced a 3rd way in a manner of speaking, adding a dominant key center to the construct of the major and minor ones.

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy
    What key is the melody in??
    Music sheets are harmony oriented as opposed to melody oriented, note for example that you often see melody written using chord tones where easier to read enharmonics exist.

    The key signature that would make blues melodies easiest to read would probably be dorian or aeolian. I've never ever seen one written like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax
    No key signature or a flat for F and D minor.
    But for a blues, I prefer when there is no key signature.
    You can find with and without.
    I'm the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    The dominant V chord, of course, doesn't have the blue note. It's a C7 with a natural E, not Eb. That's very significant.
    I don't see how that's significant given that it's definitely no requirement that the leading tone (that's the major third of the V chord you describe) should be in the key signature. Minor blues for example, or anything "vanilla minor" tonal for that matter, hasn't got it.

    I think the blues is what it is, it's got many unique features and it's not a type of music where the key signature makes such fundamental sense. Where that's the case, I normally don't use a key signature. As for the blues specifically, I've seen it written using a major key signature (most times), mixolydian (rarely), and no key signature (all accidentals, some times, my preference).
    Last edited by alez; 07-11-2020 at 03:28 PM.

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    when I started to write music..when it came to a blues tune I left the key signature "blank"...thus I was asked "is this in the key of C..?? even though it was a blues in the "key" of E

    sometime musicians have to be very specific to communicate basic ideas..

    if you search for the sheet music of "all blues" by Miles Davis...you may be amazed at all the variations of key signatures and even time 6/8 vs 3/4 it is written in

    and on this tune I have had some arguments-theory wise ..is it even a "blues" tune

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    But technically a blues is mixolydian and hence a blues in F should be notated with two flats (Bb and Eb).

    But nobody does that.

    Why?[/QUOTE]

    Writing an F blues with two flats would seem to conflate diatonic and modal tonalities, which I understand to be against the law...

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by DonEsteban
    But technically a blues is mixolydian...
    Why do you think that?

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    I am overwhelmed how such a simple question can elicit so many answers.

    To my original question:

    I was in no way concerned with questioning the millions of ways to interpret or play a blues, or scales or anything like that.

    It was just that the other day after many years I checked again Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder" and remembered how I - a complete beginner then and really bad at reading music - struggled with playing this melody. I couldn't master it until I copied the sheet using 4 flats (=Ab major or Eb7).

    That helped me handling the frequently appearing D flat notes then.

    So, it's really only about how to write and read, not about how to play. And of course today being an experienced sight reader it's more of a theoretical interest for me now.

    Thanks for all the answers!

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by DonEsteban
    I was in no way concerned with questioning the millions of ways to interpret or play a blues, or scales or anything like that.
    But I kind of think you were... a blues in F needs to be heard as in F. This is the basis of tonal music; to do otherwise by entertaining the idea of using a different key signature will certainly lead to confusion. It may make some mechanics "easier" but that would confound the conceptual aspect - you want to hear and know the pitches as intervals and scale degrees with respect to F, even if some of the notes take awkward accidentals with respect to the key.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    But I kind of think you were... a blues in F needs to be heard as in F. This is the basis of tonal music
    So would you write "So What" with one flat because it's in D minor?

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by DonEsteban
    So would you write "So What" with one flat because it's in D minor?
    now we enter "modal harmony"...a much different animal than diatonic harmony..



    note there is no key signature even when the harmony changes ...

    this is the best transcription of "so what" I have ever seen

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by DonEsteban
    So would you write "So What" with one flat because it's in D minor?
    The Bb is replaced by the B natural during the "D" sections, except when superimposing D wh diminished lines. So lines from C major scale or A minor scale by referenced to D.

    If you play Lydian Dominant rooted from G but referenced to D during the "D" sections, all the notes are natural except Db. So whatever you call the D scale with the F# flatted to F natural, still keeping the C#... D melodic minor.

    Once it moves to the "Eb" sections, which is not a modulation, the lines might be interpreted as Db major, or Bb minor... except when superimposing Eb diminished wh lines, or Ab Lydian Dominant lines, etc.

    Whatever key, the moves between the "D" and "Eb" sections are going to invoke and relieve accidentals, repeatedly.

    The classical sounds of major and minor don't match some of the sounds of jazz and other music. "So What" is neither minor nor major, but since the tonality is around D, better to error on the minor side and call it D minor (because that is closer in spite of not flatting the sixths and thirds consistently relative to D and Eb.

    Practically, you can't call "So What" in a key other than D expecting others to start off rooted on what sounds like D. Don't tell me that you would provide the score or chart... it's a two change tune.

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by DonEsteban
    So would you write "So What" with one flat because it's in D minor?
    So What is not in D minor! Until it goes somewhere else, it's in D dorian, which the key signature must reflect. Like Little Sunflower.

    The blues is not modal, however.

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by alez
    So What is not in D minor! Until it goes somewhere else, it's in D dorian, which the key signature must reflect. Like Little Sunflower.

    The blues is not modal, however.
    "so what" is in D dorian ?...thus no key sig (C major) ..so when it moves to the Ebmi7..should the key sig reflect five flats..??...does that movement imply a modulation..??
    (see the transcription in my above post)

    BUT the "blues" can be modal...as the definition of "blues" is varied ..it can just be a one chord vamp..
    Last edited by wolflen; 07-14-2020 at 03:14 PM.