#1
Although I've been playing cello for 5 years and guitar for almost 4 now, I'm still a little confused on when you would use accidentals rather than change keys. How exactly does that work? Couldn't you use another key and use different accidentals?
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#3
Quote by deHufter
Accidentals create tension within a certain key, they dont change a key.

Well I know that much
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#4
Quote by andrew12398
Well I know that much


There you have your answer then. You can use accidentals to spice things up. If a piece is in A major and you use tons of accidentals, it still resolves to A. If you change the key it doesnt resolve to A anymore. So what is exactly what you're confused about?
#5
accidentals are mainly used for modulation or certain chords used to create tension so you can resolve to a chord which then sounds pleasing to the ear (the resolution and the resolving chord should)

I modulation for example in C major, you could use a Bb if you want to modulate into F major/Dminor, or add a F# to modulate into G major/E minor. Those are the most common accidentals for that purpose (to remind you a flat 7th to modulate into the sub-dominant (4th) and a sharp 4th to modulate to the dominant (5th))

In chords there are too many to explain but I'll do one example of the 7th chord where you do a normal chord (I-III-V) then stack a FLAT 7th ontop. If you are in D minor for example and do D7, that can resolve to Bb (the 6th).
#6
Quote by andrew12398
Although I've been playing cello for 5 years and guitar for almost 4 now, I'm still a little confused on when you would use accidentals rather than change keys.
You would use them when either those notes don't fit into a key signature, or when the change to those notes are brief.

Quote by andrew12398
How exactly does that work?
Start with a key signature that fits, for the most part. Then write in the accidentals as needed.

Quote by andrew12398
Couldn't you use another key and use different accidentals?
You could, but it would get a bit confusing. There are certain conventions that keep things simpler.

Let's take A minor, for an example. It's the relative minor of C major.
The simplest key signature to write, as there are no sharps or flats.

A natural minor shares the same signature a C major.
We could write the key signature as A major, having 3 sharps.
Then write an accidental (natural) for the 3rd, 6th, and 7th tones, each time they occur.
But that becomes messy. And pointless, really.
So the convention is to write the key signature the same as C major.


Now let's look at something that would be impossible to write as a key signature.
Melodic minor.
In that scale, we raise (compared with the natural minor) the 6th and 7th tones , when ascending. But play the unaltered tones from the natural minor when descending. The pattern of sharps necessary for the ascending portion of the scale doesn't fit into our standards for key signatures. And can you imagine trying to re-write the key signature every time you changed direction up to down?
In the case of A melodic minor, we'd simply use the same signature as A harmonic minor (C major) and write in the accidentals to raise the 6th and 7th tones when ascending.
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#7
Accidentals create tension within a certain key, they dont change a key.


It sounds to me you are suggesting that you can't indicate a change of key without a change of key signature, or with accidentals which is obviously false. Observe page 7 and 8 of this transcription of beethoven's 5th, 1st movement in C minor.

http://imslp.org/wiki/Beethoven_Symphonies,_S.464_%28Liszt,_Franz%29

The 2nd theme, which appears in the exposition clearly in Ab appears now clearly in Cmajor, briefly modulates F and G for a bit before modulates to C major again where beethoven sticks around (first theme now developed) for a little while before gradually modulating back to C minor for the coda. He obviously doesn't bother rewriting the key signature although he is very obviously in C major for awhile.

I'm still a little confused on when you would use accidentals rather than change keys. How exactly does that work?


When you say change keys I'm assuming you're talking about changing key signature. It's generally out of convenience. If you're a composer and you're going to stick around in another key, like in the 3rd movement of Beethoven's 9th piano sonata (E major) it modulates from E major to E minor and then to G major where beethoven then rewrites the key signature as a single # out of convenience since he stays there for quite awhile. Now that I think about it, also occurs in the minuet like 2nd movement where in the would be 'trio' section changes key signature to C major, rather than remaining in the same key sig as the A section, which is E minor.