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#1
My friend asked me this awhile ago during the last school year... why would someone choose the key of C# Major, when Db is so much easier to play in/read? I argued with him over it, but now that I think about it... I don't honestly know.

I was thinking about it and if you wrote something in Db, to put it in C# all you would have to do is change the sig and drop everything a letter name... it'll sound EXACTLY the same. No difference. Only things that change are the name of the chords and the notes position on the staffs.

So, MT, I ask this: Why would someone choose to write in the more complex key of C# Major over Db Major?
#4
I can't think of any possible reason. Apart from maybe a teacher having you do it as a lesson to show why certain keys should be used over others.
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#5
Less sharp signs?

it's easier to read????

That's a very good question to be honest with you
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#6
...well there's no tangible difference besides the names... so... yeah...
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#7
They are enharmonic keys, which mean they are exactly the same, only written differently. Really, it's all preference which one you use, it doesn't really matter.
#8
Quote by zincabopataurio
They are enharmonic keys, which mean they are exactly the same, only written differently. Really, it's all preference which one you use, it doesn't really matter.

I've seen composers (even the same one) use both C# and Db. There must be something more I'm not getting.
#9
Quote by DiminishedFifth
I've seen composers (even the same one) use both C# and Db. There must be something more I'm not getting.
The only context I can think of would be when a composer modulates to the key of C# major, as if the piece started in C# then it would be much simpler to write it in Db.

For example, if the piece is in C# minor and the composer wants to modulate to the tonic major. This is a common modulation and you wouldn't want to go from C# minor to Db major because that would no longer be modulating to the tonic major. The sound is the same but the function is different.

Similarly, if you were in the key of F# and you wanted to modulate to the dominant key you would modulate to C# major, as modulating to Db would not be modulating to the dominant.
#10
Quote by 12345abcd3
The only context I can think of would be when a composer modulates to the key of C# major, as if the piece started in C# then it would be much simpler to write it in Db.

For example, if the piece is in C# minor and the composer wants to modulate to the tonic major. This is a common modulation and you wouldn't want to go from C# minor to Db major because that would no longer be modulating to the tonic major. The sound is the same but the function is different.

Similarly, if you were in the key of F# and you wanted to modulate to the dominant key you would modulate to C# major, as modulating to Db would not be modulating to the dominant.

Alright... that makes sense. I can accept that!

But I don't understand why someone would write it in C# as opposed to Db. I just looked through some Liszt music and noticed he's got some pieces in C# and others in Db (both Major). Hmm...
#11
Even if the modulation I was performing said I should be in C# Major, I'd do Db Major anyway for my eyes' sake. When the choice isn't huge I'd go with #s because I like them better.
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#12
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Alright... that makes sense. I can accept that!

But I don't understand why someone would write it in C# as opposed to Db. I just looked through some Liszt music and noticed he's got some pieces in C# and others in Db (both Major). Hmm...
Can you give an example of a piece? I know that Hungarian Rhapsody goes into C# major briefly but it's actually in C# minor.
#13
I actually recently came across this issue when I was working on this piece. I was writing the beginning piano part in Db major. I then switched to guitar and modulated to the parallel minor. I figured Db minor would be an odd time signature to write in, so I changed that part to C# minor. I then looked back at the original part, thinking it would be a bit odd to switch from a Db key signature to a C# key signature, and I noticed that the first part borrowed a lot of chords from the parallel minor anyway, so I figured it'd be easier to notate it as C# major. I also modulated by a minor third later (to E minor) so it also made a bit more sense to me to go from 7 sharps to 4 sharps to 1 sharp than to go from 5 flats to 4 sharps to 1 sharp, because it just modulates by minor thirds (basically).
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#14
I wrote this in another thread like this one but I don't feel like finding it so I'll just type something similar

One reason one could choose C# over Db is to adjust for an instruments capabilities. I play harp and in order to change keys/accidentals, you have to use adjust switches or pedals. If we're playing in a sharp key already like B and have to modulate to C#/Db, it would be far easier to just add two sharps than to have to change every single one.
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Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 4, 2010,
#16
@Food and Facet: Both of those are valid points! But Facet, taking instrumental capabilities out of the question (I'm not worried about it for now... I write on the computer!)... anything else?

@12345: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 in Db Major

I've got a song in my iTunes by Liszt that's called "Zigeuner-Epos,S695b-No.4 in C sharp". It sounds more like a writing exercise, being that it's only 24 seconds long, but it is definitely in C# Major.

@Dodeka: I want that 31-tone guitar..!
Last edited by DiminishedFifth at Aug 4, 2010,
#17
Some composers just like to make things as 'correct' as possible. Alkan a composer from the romantic period swore by not using enharmonic spellings and would often modulate to keys containing double sharps/flats and even the occasional triple sharp.

Some people might find it easier reading and working with sharps or vice versa.

...and some people just like to make things more complicated than they should be.
#18
Quote by DiminishedFifth
@Dodeka: I want that 31-tone guitar..!


I wouldn't mind one, either!
#19
Quote by griffRG7321
...and some people just like to make things more complicated than they should be.


That's why I play in Dx major.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#21
Chopin's Fanataisie Impromptu starts off in C# minor that modulates to major, but it's written as Db major. So, I dunno. I agree with all the points made in the thread so far, but I guess it all depends on the composers preferance.
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#22
C# is also a programming language. +1 for C# there.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#23
Well I'd do it for instrument reasons. When writing for different instruments, they all have different 'tunings' like trumpets are Bb, and some Saxes are generally Eb. So taking that into consideration, I figure that trumpets are a Major Second apart from concert tuning, and Saxes are a minor third. So when applying this, if you are say, playing in lets say Db major, I would say that trumpets would be in Cb Major, rather than B major. sure, B major is easier to write *5# as opposed to 7bs* but seeing as its a major second away, id use Cb major as my key for the trumpets. So maybe the piece in case was in C#maj, but if it was oriented to a different instrument, say, saxes, as in they play more so then others, then they would be playing in Emaj, which would be easier for them. Maybe thats why?
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#24
TS, the simple answer is this. Really good composers and musicians are equally comfortable in all 12 keys. To them its no easier or harder to write or play a song in C# or Db. Therefore, they choose whichever they want...just because
#25
If you look at composers from the Austro-German tradition, from Beethoven onwards, then the tonalities visited in a piece often resemble some kind of functional harmonic progression when reduced. Composers were very aware of these long distance key relationships, and for the same reason that you would probably write C# maj -> D maj over Db maj -> D maj, composers may choose to write something in C# major rather than C# minor.
It's also worth remembering that up until probably the end of the 19th century, C# and Db were regarded as two different pitches, and split-key pianos where you could distinguish between the two were relatively common.
#26
I never really got how enharmonically the same notes / key gets treated differently.
I always figured it was because of the limits of staff notation, but how so is in this example bD different from C# other than the naming of the notes?
#27
Since a Diatonic Key only has one of each note name in it, C# gives you E# and B# which are a little off-kilter for a few people.

Db = Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C

C# = C# D# E# F# G# A# B#

Remember, you can only have one of each note name in a Diatonic Key/Scale. This is how we name the notes in a Key. This is also why the Circle of 5th's only shows us so many Keys, because once you get past 7 sharps or flats, you end up with "double #'s" and "double b's" in your Key Signature...then things get hairy for quite a few good readers even.
Last edited by MikeDodge at Aug 5, 2010,
#28
Quote by DiminishedFifth
I've seen composers (even the same one) use both C# and Db. There must be something more I'm not getting.



That's because the piece might have originally been in a different key and they transposed it to C#, not even thinking that Db is easier.
#30
Quote by Dodeka
If there's a desire to freely disregard enharmonic distinctions, we could always go full bore and use chromatic notation...

http://musicnotation.org/

I could embrace that actually. It makes sense and wouldn't be too hard to get used to.

I'd just want more staff lines. 6 or 7 would be good, since that'd give us a full octave per staff. Just like the current one.
#33
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There isn't.


I noticed a little in this very thread.
#34
Quote by DiminishedFifth
I was thinking about it and if you wrote something in Db, to put it in C# all you would have to do is change the sig and drop everything a letter name... it'll sound EXACTLY the same. No difference. Only things that change are the name of the chords and the notes position on the staffs.


It sounds easy in theory, but if you're more used to playing in keys with flat key signatures (which is what I encountered most playing music at school; and when a song even went into G major you could hear people whining about sharps), it's probably easier to remind yourself that there are extra flats rather than having to get used to reading sharps.
Obviously if you know the fingerings for the songs, it's the same difficulty to play no matter what's written on a sheet of paper, but that's only half the challenge.
#35
nevermind, i made a point about transposing instruments, then realized that i was wrong.
(edited).
#36
Quote by Dodeka
I noticed a little in this very thread.


I'm guilty of such a thing.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#37
I personally prefer to read in C#, but i think it may have to do with transposition, maybe it transposes to simpler keys on non-concert pitch instruments. Or its just the arranger's preference.
#38
Quote by Meurglys3
It sounds easy in theory, but if you're more used to playing in keys with flat key signatures (which is what I encountered most playing music at school; and when a song even went into G major you could hear people whining about sharps), it's probably easier to remind yourself that there are extra flats rather than having to get used to reading sharps.
Obviously if you know the fingerings for the songs, it's the same difficulty to play no matter what's written on a sheet of paper, but that's only half the challenge.

I like to consider myself proficient in all keys... at least reading wise.

Though, I do prefer the sound of flat keys (it's probably just a psychological thing)... but I also much prefer the visual of flat key signatures of the weird open sharp things behind the Treble and Bass clefs.
#39
This a completely non-reader participant thread, right?

Each Key gets only one note name per note in it. Once you understand that you'll see a HUGE difference in why Db and C# are considered not as 'easy' as each other. It blurs the lines most people have seen drawn...E# and B#.
#40
Quote by MikeDodge
This a completely non-reader participant thread, right?

Each Key gets only one note name per note in it. Once you understand that you'll see a HUGE difference in why Db and C# are considered not as 'easy' as each other. It blurs the lines most people have seen drawn...E# and B#.

Trust me Mike. I know this :] You've probably seen me posting in threads giving advice before!

But, aside from one being easier to read, what is another reason? What about reasons not mentioned here?
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