Apparently, sharps are ascending and flats are descending. Certain notes are interchangeabe between being named a sharp or flat. If they are the same note, what's the point? It completely changes the chord names. Any help is appreciated, thanks.
no sharps and flats dont have a direction.
they are not technically the same note
look up enharmonics
If the key signature has sharps or flats, you will usually use whichever the key signature uses.
Quote by tunasband
Who's ug?
Sharps and Flats are the black notes on a keyboard. They are named according to the notes that they are next to - so the note a semitone above C is a C#, the note a semitone above F is an F#, the note a semitone below B is a Bb, the note a semitone below E is an Eb.

'Enharmonic' means two notes that have the same pitch but different names - if you take F and G there is a full step between the notes, so there is another note in between which is a semitone higher than F, and a semitone lower than G. You can call it F# or Gb, and the name you choose will depend on the context.

Do you understand the Major scale? It can be constructed using a set of steps - WWHWWWH, and is a diatonic scale - which means it progresses through the notes, using one of each note name. So any Major scale will use some kind of A, B, C, D, E, F and G, and must follow the pattern WWHWWWH, so some of those notes will need to be sharp or flat to fit. To use each note once and once only, and to keep to the same pattern of steps, you have to use sharps and flats in different places, which is where you get enharmonic notes.

For example:
C Major has no sharps or flats - C (W) D (W) E (H) F (W) G (W) A (W) B (H) C

all nice and simple

But when you get to E Major, or Ab Major, you start getting lots of sharps and flats

B Major = E F# G# A# B C# D#
Ab Major = Db Eb F G Ab Bb C

Ab sounds the same as G#, but to keep the scales diatonic you have to use Ab for Ab Major, and G# for B Major

You can also get double flats and double sharps for the same reason.
Without any musical context flats and sharps are interchangeable, but in most cases there will be a musical context so they will not be interchangeble.

The reason that they are not interchangeble is because of the intervals the note makes up (with the note before, at the same time or after). Intervals can be enharmonic, they have the same number of semitones between them, but they will be used in totally different contexts.

For example, a major chord has a major third followed by a minor third. If you want a Db chord (the choice of note will become clearer in a minute) you'll get:

Db (major 3rd) F (minor third) Ab

In this case to get a minor third or b3 above F you find the major third by counting up the F major scale, to get A, then you flatten it to get Ab (not G#).

However, in a harmonic minor scale you find an augmented second. In A minor this becomes:

F (aug 2) G# (m2) A

To get the augmented 2nd you find the major 2nd of F by finding the second note of the F major scale, to get G, then sharpen it to get G#.

Now this interval sounds exactly the same as an minor 3rd and Ab and G# also sound exactly the same, but you would never have an augmented seond in a major chord, so it had to be a Ab in that case, and you have to have an aug 2 not a m3 in a harmonic minor scale, so in that case it had to be G#.

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/columns/music_theory/intervals.html

Also, read the post above mine and look up major and minor scale formation if you don't already know it.
Quote by 12345abcd3
in a harmonic minor scale you find an augmented second.
No, you won't. Harmonic minor scale goes like so: tonic, major second, minor third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, minor sixth, major seventh (1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7). No augmented second, I don't know where you got that idea.

Also, everything after the part that I quoted makes absolutely no sense.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Quote by food1010
No, you won't. Harmonic minor scale goes like so: tonic, major second, minor third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, minor sixth, major seventh (1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7). No augmented second, I don't know where you got that idea.

Also, everything after the part that I quoted makes absolutely no sense.

b6 to 7 is a augmented 2nd, is it not? F to Gb is a m2, F to G is a M2 and F to G# (as is found in the Am scale) is an Augmented 2nd.

The augmented second is found between the 6th and 7th scale degree, the intervals you posted are all the scale degrees in relation to the tonic.

Hopefully this clarifies things, if it doesn't please tell me which part you don't understand .
Quote by 12345abcd3
b6 to 7 is a augmented 2nd, is it not? F to Gb is a m2, F to G is a M2 and F to G# (as is found in the Am scale) is an Augmented 2nd.

The augmented second is found between the 6th and 7th scale degree, the intervals you posted are all the scale degrees in relation to the tonic.

Hopefully this clarifies things, if it doesn't please tell me which part you don't understand .
Oh, I thought you were saying the supertonic in a melodic minor was augmented. Misunderstanding. My apologies.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Quote by food1010
Oh, I thought you were saying the supertonic in a melodic minor was augmented. Misunderstanding. My apologies.

Quote by Anteaterking
Also, consider when you right a bunch of 32 notes going from D to D# to E. The easiest way to right this on the page for people to read is D-Eb-Fb.

The Fb is most likely going to confuse, or at least slow down, the player. Personally I would think D D# (as it is ascending) E would be the easiest to read.
Quote by Boxxxed
Apparently, sharps are ascending and flats are descending. Certain notes are interchangeabe between being named a sharp or flat. If they are the same note, what's the point? It completely changes the chord names. Any help is appreciated, thanks.

uhhhh, i thought what determined if they were sharps or flats was the key signature.
Quote by 12345abcd3
b6 to 7 is a augmented 2nd, is it not? F to Gb is a m2, F to G is a M2 and F to G# (as is found in the Am scale) is an Augmented 2nd..

Can you clarify this? I had thought what food1010 thought
^ the interval between the F and G# in A harmonic minor is 3 semitones - which is a aug2 is what he means i think. However it's normal to talk about intervals from the root most of the time between notes i tend to talk about semitones and whole tones - it saves confusion more than anything else.
Quote by 12345abcd3
The Fb is most likely going to confuse, or at least slow down, the player. Personally I would think D D# (as it is ascending) E would be the easiest to read.

You would have to throw an accidental in front of every D though. Even though, in this example, it shouldn't prove a problem to anyone. But I have some violin music where it stays in weird combinations of whole steps and half steps running up and down in a small range where things like that are necessary.
Quote by doive
^ the interval between the F and G# in A harmonic minor is 3 semitones - which is a aug2 is what he means i think. However it's normal to talk about intervals from the root most of the time between notes i tend to talk about semitones and whole tones - it saves confusion more than anything else.

Perhaps it's more normal to use semitones and tones in a rock scenario, but most situations where i've been talking about intervals (which is usually in a classical scenario) most people have used the names to describe intervals within scales as well as from the root note. This is just my experience though .

Also, talking in semitones and tones is usually ambiguous as to the specific interval you're refering to.

I think the confusion came from the fact that I was a bit quick in explaining the augmented second part.

Quote by Thepredster
Can you clarify this? I had thought what food1010 thought

The augmented second is found between the 6th (b6) and 7th (7) notes in a harmonic minor scale. For example in Eminor:

C (the sixth note) D# (the seventh note) the gap between these two notes is 3 semitones (C#, D, D#) which is an augmented second.

Hopefully this clarifies things

Edit:
Quote by Anteaterking
You would have to throw an accidental in front of every D though. Even though, in this example, it shouldn't prove a problem to anyone. But I have some violin music where it stays in weird combinations of whole steps and half steps running up and down in a small range where things like that are necessary.

True, but if it was a chromatic run then it would make more sense to put the D# or D natural in every time.

If the chord the Fb was playing over was a Dbminor chord, or something similar containing a Fb, then it would make more sense to use an Fb but it's more often just a chromatic run. It's all about context anyway.
Last edited by 12345abcd3 at Oct 1, 2009,
^meh I dont think thats right. I think augmented 2nd only works if its from the root
Quote by Thepredster
^meh I dont think thats right. I think augmented 2nd only works if its from the root

Intervals indicate the distance from one note to another. You can do this with any note. The distance between a C and an E is a major third. The distance between a G and an F# is a major seventh. The distance between an F and a G# is an augmented second.
Just remember ..What goes up is sharps ...What comes down is FLAT
Quote by zorbozate
Just remember ..What goes up is sharps ...What comes down is FLAT

This is usually true when discussing accidentals, but key signatures never change, regardless of melodic motion.

It really depends on who you're writing for. If you were writing for a brass player, you'd probably write more flats than sharps, even when ascending. i.e. say you had a chromatic run from G to C. You'd probably write it as G Ab A Bb B C. Brass players like flats more.

Writing the same run for a guitar player, you'd probably just write it as G G# A A# B C.
Quote by Thepredster
^meh I dont think thats right. I think augmented 2nd only works if its from the root

You can have intervals from any note in the scale, to any other note in the scale.