why does sheet music show sharp symbols to the far left, when none of the notes are sharp/flat?

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#121
Quote by chronic_stp
If we are going to just start creating new mixed sharp/flat key signatures out of thin air for the sake of removing accidentals from a score to "simplify things", then I am going to start respelling English words to streamline the language and remove unneeded letters to "simplify things." "White" is now "wite", "knee" is now "nee", and "castle" is now "casl."
That's similar to phonetic language, and spelling really doesn't matter as long as communication is unhindered. However, this is apples and oranges.

It doesn't really do much besides confuse people who understand the language, whether it be English or music. Next thing you know, people are going to be spelling a G harmonic minor scale (or D Phrygian sharp 3 scale as pictured) with Gb instead of F# because all flats look more appealing than 2 flats and a sharp. Why not turn that monstrosity of a key signature into Bb Eb Gb?
Music is not a language, let alone a universal one. However, there are well-formedness conditions; notes in heptatonic scales in Western contexts cover every scale degree, and making it all flats would erase the third scale degree and leave two based on the fourth scale degree (b4 and 4 instead of 3 and 4).

I've already given examples of real music written in non-standard key signatures, including a Harvard graduate. Furthermore, post-tonal music does not need to adapt to the tyranny of tonal theory. There are reasons to do things in non-standard ways, particularly when music's scope is expanding and existing tools do not suffice to give it description.

You are entitled to an opinion, no matter how strong; however, hanging onto them as beliefs, particularly when dealing with a subject matter so malleable as music is, will only lead to cognitive dissonance.
#122
Quote by NeoMvsEu
That's similar to phonetic language, and spelling really doesn't matter as long as communication is unhindered. However, this is apples and oranges.

Music is not a language, let alone a universal one. However, there are well-formedness conditions; notes in heptatonic scales in Western contexts cover every scale degree, and making it all flats would erase the third scale degree and leave two based on the fourth scale degree (b4 and 4 instead of 3 and 4).


I would argue that there are indeed some similarities to written music and written language. I'm not saying they are exactly the same thing, I was just trying to prove a point. An augmented 6th and a minor 7th may sound the same, but written down they suggest two different functions. Much in the same way, if you were to hear me say "come hear so I can here you" you would understand what I'm saying, but written down it's complete gibberish. This ties in with the topic of the key signature because my point is that there needs to be a consistent way of writing music in order for everybody to be on the same page in understanding it. I'm sure the key signature example provided to the OP did nothing but confuse them further when the whole topic of this thread was to explain what a key signature is to them. If we all take our own liberties in altering how music is written, then there is no point in having a systematic way of writing tonal music.    
I've already given examples of real music written in non-standard key signatures, including a Harvard graduate. Furthermore, post-tonal music does not need to adapt to the tyranny of tonal theory. There are reasons to do things in non-standard ways, particularly when music's scope is expanding and existing tools do not suffice to give it description.

You are entitled to an opinion, no matter how strong; however, hanging onto them as beliefs, particularly when dealing with a subject matter so malleable as music is, will only lead to cognitive dissonance.

I agree with you on non-tonal music. However, a D Phrygian sharp 3 scale does fall into the realm of tonal music along with the 99% of all other written music and it should follow upon the conventions of tonal music that have been agreed upon for centuries. Im not saying people should not be allowed to write music how they wish, Im just saying that it is technically wrong and it shouldn't be presented to people who are trying to learn things the agreed upon way.
#123
chronic_stp
I would argue that there are indeed some similarities to written music and written language.
I agree to a certain extent, thus discussion on well-formedness.

The rest of the post assumes a context when there is no specific context given. 2 flats is preferred; however, there are completely valid contexts for such a key signature; whether you like using them or not is another discussion entirely, and we started that before page 2. (general consensus: 2 flats preferred; however, all is readable. If non-Western, different notation methods and media a possibility.)

Also, Freygish has deep roots in other ethnic (Jewish) music; alternate notation is a valid option with explanation.
#124
NeoMvsEu 

My question is how far would you take it? Lets say you write something using D# double harmonic major. Would you use the key signature Fx Cx G# D# A#? Or to avoid double sharps would you write it in Eb harmonic major using the key signature of Ab minor and leave out the Gb and Db from the key signature? I'm trying to understand your point of view, but as you start getting into more and more exotic scales, it just starts losing more and more sense to me why anybody would want to do that in any case, let alone present music with key signatures notated like that to a musician. It would come to a certain point where I would want those key signatures scratched and just have all of the accidentals notated.
#125
chronic_stp
Theoretical keys (as in more than 7 accidentals or introducing double sharps/flats) are generally not written. (There are pieces with theoretical keys; however, most composers default to the enharmonic equivalent in order to avoid such situations.)

The point I've been trying to make is that there are different ways to notate and while some are easier to read for the vast majority of people, non-standard ones can be found and reasoned about.

Music theory is not rules; it's systematic description. And for my part, I was always mad that they wrote "Music of the Night" in C# major
#126
Quote by NeoMvsEu
chronic_stp
Theoretical keys (as in more than 7 accidentals or introducing double sharps/flats) are generally not written. (There are pieces with theoretical keys; however, most composers default to the enharmonic equivalent in order to avoid such situations.)

The point I've been trying to make is that there are different ways to notate and while some are easier to read for the vast majority of people, non-standard ones can be found and reasoned about.

Music theory is not rules; it's systematic description. And for my part, I was always mad that they wrote "Music of the Night" in C# major

Yes, I was aware that keys with double sharps/flats are generally not used, but I was also under the impression that keys with mixed sharps/flats and keys with random accidentals missing (like a Bb in the key of Ab major) were not used either. Both seem equally ridiculous to me, but I understand the point that it is just another way of doing the same thing. I just fancy the idea that the key signature provides the master framework from which all the music in the piece derives from. I feel that information is lost when using theoretical key signatures, but I suppose I understand where you are coming from.

And I'm sure someone, somewhere, has done the right thing and rewritten Music of the Night into the key of Db Major  
 
#127
chronic_stp, accidental usage is not random unless the composer is completely trolling. There is a reason composers do everything; whether or not it is easy to read instantly is a matter of experience and personal taste.

Also, if people are adding accidentals, surely that is an addition of information, though access to that information might be more difficult

Unfortunately, that's not the case in the actual Broadway scores :')
#128
Mixed key signatures are used sometimes, but they are pretty rare (I guess the reason is that most people are used to standard key signatures and would find mixed key signatures more confusing than using a standard key signature + accidentals). For example Bartok used them. But there is no rule saying what key signature you should use, especially when it comes to music that is not based on diatonic scales (and even when we are talking about music that is based on diatonic scales, some people prefer D Dorian to have an open key signature whereas others write it with one flat).
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Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#129
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Mixed key signatures ... Bartok used them. 

 I think this would only underscore their use a specialty indication. Bartok did a lot of musicology work and drew heavily from traditional eastern European folk music, where you might actually see a piece that melodicizes G harmonic minor (and was likely never written down before Bartok's research). 
#130
I'm pretty sure i can reinvent sheet music theory. a better format. not like tab though. 
begginer geetarest.
#131
Quote by Lloyd_rogers
I'm pretty sure i can reinvent sheet music theory. a better format. not like tab though. 


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#132
Quote by Lloyd_rogers
I'm pretty sure i can reinvent sheet music theory. a better format. not like tab though. 
You can probably invent a more sensible language than English too, with all its crazy spellings. Off you go.

But before you start, "sheet music theory" is a meaningless phrase. "Sheet music" is a system of notation. "Music theory" is a body of knowledge.
Both systems have evolved over centuries, through practical use by musicians. They are therefore - inevitably - the best possible systems for most of western music. (For writing it down on the one hand, and for discussing it and analyzing it on the other.)

Music does progress a little ahead of the theory, of course. But the answer is not to throw the whole lot out and start again. (That's impossible as well as inadvisable.) The answer is to adapt accordingly. And to that do that you have to understand existing music theory perfectly to begin with.

Lots of people think they can improve on either theory or notation by inventing some new "logical" system. Almost all of them start from ignorance of standard notation or theory - ignorance either of all its details, or of its actual purpose.

If a majority of musicians were confused by the systems as they are, you can be sure they would be changed. Obviously that's not the case.
Last edited by jonriley64 at Jul 7, 2017,