Page 1 of 3
#1
So i was randomly playing some covers with a friend of mine (she plays piano, i play guitar), and we were playing "spirit of the radio" by rush. anyway, she asked me about one of the notes in the intro, and i told her it was a G#, and i was told that i was 'wrong' and it was an Ab, so i said it was the same thing, and she told me its actually not. anyway, she seemed kind of pissed or something about this (???) so i didnt bother asking.. but..

so what is the actual difference here? its the same pitch, right? (for stringed instruments at least..??) i thought keys could be written with sharps OR flats?
#3
There is a difference, but that comes when you learn about it.


The Gear I Use Most:
Gibson guitars, Les Paul, ES-335, SG and more.
Dunlop Crybaby | Dunlop Volume | Boss TU-2 | Ibanez TS-9 | Maxon AD-999
Planet Waves Custom Leads
Marshall JCM900 (model: 4100 + 4101)

TooJoo The Band
#4
It can be either - it depends what key the song is in. By my reckoning Spirit of Radio is in E major, so it is indeed A#.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
Last edited by steven seagull at Apr 8, 2008,
#6
It's Dah Same!
I'd rather die than go to heaven.

Quote by Chris.Rock.Art
I like you and you are special



Quote by perry589
I don't wank. I auto fellatio.



#9
Quote by Dark_Merlin
She's wrong, G# and Ab are the same thing.


They are enharmonic, but they are not the same thing. Notes are named according to their function, and western musical notation has its own conventions about how notes are written in key signatures.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#10
Quote by Archeo Avis
They are enharmonic, but they are not the same thing. Notes are named according to their function, and western musical notation has its own conventions about how notes are written in key signatures.


So does that mean if a piece was in A major, for example, there would be a G# in it but no Ab?
#11
Quote by supergerbil
So does that mean if a piece was in A major, for example, there would be a G# in it but no Ab?


Correct.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#12
Quote by supergerbil
So does that mean if a piece was in A major, for example, there would be a G# in it but no Ab?


Yes, it does mean that. In a tempered tuning system (such as that on guitar and piano) then G# and Ab are the same pitch, but on a non-tempered system (fretless string instruments/voice/some wind instruments) Ab should actually be lower than a G#. The reasons for this are fairly complicated, so I won't go in to that. On top of that, G# and Ab will vary according to the key; G# probably wants to be higher in A major than in E major.
#13
YAY another of these threads!

Nattional Antherm, where can I listen to some music that isn't equal tempered?
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#14
Quote by Ænimus Prime
YAY another of these threads!

Nattional Antherm, where can I listen to some music that isn't equal tempered?


Any half decent string player (violinist, cellist, violist, double bassit) should make a distinction between enharmonics. The difference is very subtle, though, so you'll have to listen carefully if you want to notice anything. If you listen to romantic music, I'm pretty sure that a lot of artists will make sharps sharper, and flats flatter than they would in classical music. Like I said, it's very subtle.
#15
Cool. Next time I listen to a romantic peice for strings I'll try to hear it.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#16
Quote by Ænimus Prime
Cool. Next time I listen to a romantic peice for strings I'll try to hear it.


I explained that badly. You won't just notice it in Romantic music, just it's likely to be more pronounced than someone playing Classical music.
#17
Yeah don't worry I understood that, it was pretty clear. If it's most pronounced in Romantic then that's just a logical starting place.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#18
Quote by National_Anthem
Any half decent string player (violinist, cellist, violist, double bassit) should make a distinction between enharmonics. The difference is very subtle, though, so you'll have to listen carefully if you want to notice anything. If you listen to romantic music, I'm pretty sure that a lot of artists will make sharps sharper, and flats flatter than they would in classical music. Like I said, it's very subtle.
Maybe 200 years ago. In the past 100-150 years, no-one has used anything other than equal temperment. That includes Romantic composers. It went out of style when bach showed everyone off with "a well tempered clavier." It was just too complicated not to have equal temperment.
#19
Quote by demonofthenight
Maybe 200 years ago. In the past 100-150 years, no-one has used anything other than equal temperment. That includes Romantic composers. It went out of style when bach showed everyone off with "a well tempered clavier." It was just too complicated not to have equal temperment.


I beg to differ, but that's simply not true. Equal temperament is essentially taking the mean of, say, both F# and Gb, and having F# and Gb equal in pitch. Hell, you probably know that already. But string players all over still differentiate between enharmonics, and that alone should be enough to tell you that it hasn't gone out of fashion. Maybe you're thinking of mean tuning? It's a different system, that the "well-tempered clavier" replaced. I don't know much about it, but to modern ears, it sounds plain out of tune.

Anyway, the fact of the matter is that Equal temperament sacrifices being perfectly in tune in a few keys and being wildly out further round the circle of fifths, for being almost in tune in all keys. When string players can play perfectly in tune in all keys, not being constrained by frets or whatever, then why would they opt for the equal tempered system? Of course, it's stupid to be talking of "perfect" intonation, seeing as it is largely to do with taste, as far as the non-perfect intervals go (i.e. fourths, fifths, octaves). And you're right; it is very complicated, but it's still very much alive.
#20
Quote by National_Anthem
I beg to differ, but that's simply not true. Equal temperament is essentially taking the mean of, say, both F# and Gb, and having F# and Gb equal in pitch. Hell, you probably know that already. But string players all over still differentiate between enharmonics, and that alone should be enough to tell you that it hasn't gone out of fashion. Maybe you're thinking of mean tuning? It's a different system, that the "well-tempered clavier" replaced. I don't know much about it, but to modern ears, it sounds plain out of tune.

Anyway, the fact of the matter is that Equal temperament sacrifices being perfectly in tune in a few keys and being wildly out further round the circle of fifths, for being almost in tune in all keys. When string players can play perfectly in tune in all keys, not being constrained by frets or whatever, then why would they opt for the equal tempered system? Of course, it's stupid to be talking of "perfect" intonation, seeing as it is largely to do with taste, as far as the non-perfect intervals go (i.e. fourths, fifths, octaves). And you're right; it is very complicated, but it's still very much alive.
Equal temperment is when each semitone is exactly 100 cents. It forces all keys to sound the same and forces all keys to be perfectly intuned and forces enharmonic notes to have the same frequency and therefore sound the same. It pretty much ratifies all modern day theory, modal theory (IMO the quantom mechanics of music) just wouldnt be the same. Check wikipedia if you dont believe me.
#21
Quote by demonofthenight
Equal temperment is when each semitone is exactly 100 cents. It forces all keys to sound the same and forces all keys to be perfectly intuned and forces enharmonic notes to have the same frequency and therefore sound the same. It pretty much ratifies all modern day theory, modal theory (IMO the quantom mechanics of music) just wouldnt be the same. Check wikipedia if you dont believe me.


I believe you, and it's in tune insofar as each semitone is exactly 100 cents. My point is that many performers, for expressive reasons, will distinguish between enharmonics, sharpen leading notes etc. etc.

And the system of mathematically tuning the semitones was devised after the introduction of equal temperament; it's perfectly in tune in a mathematical sense, but where people have the choice, they will always be inclined to sharpen/flatten certain degrees of the scale, because they feel it sounds better.
#22
Quote by National_Anthem
I believe you, and it's in tune insofar as each semitone is exactly 100 cents. My point is that many performers, for expressive reasons, will distinguish between enharmonics, sharpen leading notes etc. etc.

And the system of mathematically tuning the semitones was devised after the introduction of equal temperament; it's perfectly in tune in a mathematical sense, but where people have the choice, they will always be inclined to sharpen/flatten certain degrees of the scale, because they feel it sounds better.
Thats all well and good for peices without improvisation that are written down to specific sheet music that only stay in 1 maybe two keys. And I can understand the leading tone thing, as the closer the note is to the tonal center (without being too close obviously), the more resolved it sounds.

But, improvisation would be a real bitch on any instrument other than guitar and violin and other instrument capable of microtones. Most live music these days is improvised, and even romantic peices have had improvisational sections.

Arghhh, this microtonal stuff. I only *just* understand bits of it.
#23
Quote by demonofthenight
Thats all well and good for peices without improvisation that are written down to specific sheet music that only stay in 1 maybe two keys. And I can understand the leading tone thing, as the closer the note is to the tonal center (without being too close obviously), the more resolved it sounds.

But, improvisation would be a real bitch on any instrument other than guitar and violin and other instrument capable of microtones. Most live music these days is improvised, and even romantic peices have had improvisational sections.

Arghhh, this microtonal stuff. I only *just* understand bits of it.


The most important part, and the part I found most difficult, is to accept that being in tune, at least where equal temperament is not concerned, is a matter of taste. You could play an F# as a G if you really wanted to, but because it doesn't sound good, nobody does. Violinists all over the world play incredibly sharp, sometimes, and pay no regard to the pianist. Sometimes it sounds good, sometimes it doesn't. With regards to improvisation, we're only talking very marginal differences here. As my violin teacher puts it "just enough to be tantalising, never enough for it to sound wrong."
#24
Quote by National_Anthem
The most important part, and the part I found most difficult, is to accept that being in tune, at least where equal temperament is not concerned, is a matter of taste. You could play an F# as a G if you really wanted to, but because it doesn't sound good, nobody does. Violinists all over the world play incredibly sharp, sometimes, and pay no regard to the pianist. Sometimes it sounds good, sometimes it doesn't. With regards to improvisation, we're only talking very marginal differences here. As my violin teacher puts it "just enough to be tantalising, never enough for it to sound wrong."
Your a violinist? cool. I tried violin, except I could never hit the notes exactly and I always sounded off. And my bowing technique sounded like that violinist off spiderman, I wanted to sound like vannessa mae
/spam

Playing even slightly out of key can make you sound either dull (if its too flat) or suddenly make the listen sound like they're on edge. But that takes at leat 15 cents, below 5 cents and no one nottices. But some just intonation intervals, minor seventh I think, are off by 30 cents, and thats bad, really rip my eyes and ears out bad.
#25
Quote by demonofthenight
Your a violinist? cool. I tried violin, except I could never hit the notes exactly and I always sounded off. And my bowing technique sounded like that violinist off spiderman, I wanted to sound like vannessa mae
/spam

Playing even slightly out of key can make you sound either dull (if its too flat) or suddenly make the listen sound like they're on edge. But that takes at leat 15 cents, below 5 cents and no one nottices. But some just intonation intervals, minor seventh I think, are off by 30 cents, and thats bad, really rip my eyes and ears out bad.


I can never hit the notes exactly, and I've been playing for 9 years.
Yeah, the differences I'm talking about are probably somewhere between 15 cents and 5 cents; possibly more than 15 cents in extreme cases, but there is never too much variation from equal temperament.
Sorry, I lost you at the part when you said minor sevenths are out by 30 cents.
#26
Quote by National_Anthem
I can never hit the notes exactly, and I've been playing for 9 years.
Yeah, the differences I'm talking about are probably somewhere between 15 cents and 5 cents; possibly more than 15 cents in extreme cases, but there is never too much variation from equal temperament.
Sorry, I lost you at the part when you said minor sevenths are out by 30 cents.
Eh, I was reading it up on wiki today because a site was telling me to tune the minor seventh of my harmonica down 30 cents (which would sound horrible). It was than telling me it would sound great, I know for a fact it sounds bad. Btw, the minor seventh they were talking about was a Bb in the key of F, its a minor seventh from C.

Coincidence, hey?
#27
Quote by demonofthenight
Eh, I was reading it up on wiki today because a site was telling me to tune the minor seventh of my harmonica down 30 cents (which would sound horrible). It was than telling me it would sound great, I know for a fact it sounds bad. Btw, the minor seventh they were talking about was a Bb in the key of F, its a minor seventh from C.

Coincidence, hey?


Why would you want to tune a harmonica? I thought the whole point was that they sound horrible.
#28
Quote by National_Anthem
Why would you want to tune a harmonica? I thought the whole point was that they sound horrible.
lol, Yeah cause harmonicas just a toy for poor people, oldies and kiddies

Trust me, a harmonica can sound like a saxophone, a trumpet, a driven blues guitar or even a violin, with the right technique and modifications... Its just that 90% of harmonicist (including me ) have crappy technique.
#29
Quote by demonofthenight
lol, Yeah cause harmonicas just a toy for poor people, oldies and kiddies

Trust me, a harmonica can sound like a saxophone, a trumpet, a driven blues guitar or even a violin, with the right technique and modifications... Its just that 90% of harmonicist (including me ) have crappy technique.


I know, I've heard some great harmonicists. I was just kidding.
#30
Quote by 2020vision
So i was randomly playing some covers with a friend of mine (she plays piano, i play guitar), and we were playing "spirit of the radio" by rush. anyway, she asked me about one of the notes in the intro, and i told her it was a G#, and i was told that i was 'wrong' and it was an Ab, so i said it was the same thing, and she told me its actually not. anyway, she seemed kind of pissed or something about this (???) so i didnt bother asking.. but..

so what is the actual difference here? its the same pitch, right? (for stringed instruments at least..??) i thought keys could be written with sharps OR flats?


Well, yeah, they're the same note - play it. But in theory, they're not. The thing is that you can't have two same named notes in one scale: just like in your case - G and G#. It's G and Ab. But who gives a ****. right?
#31
Quote by 2020vision
So i was randomly playing some covers with a friend of mine (she plays piano, i play guitar), and we were playing "spirit of the radio" by rush. anyway, she asked me about one of the notes in the intro, and i told her it was a G#, and i was told that i was 'wrong' and it was an Ab, so i said it was the same thing, and she told me its actually not. anyway, she seemed kind of pissed or something about this (???) so i didnt bother asking.. but..

so what is the actual difference here? its the same pitch, right? (for stringed instruments at least..??) i thought keys could be written with sharps OR flats?


well its in the key of E Major.... so G# is correct, and Ab is wrong.
shred is gaudy music
#32
But who gives a ****. right?


When you're trying to communicate with other musicians, people are going to "give a ****". G# and Ab have completely different functions, and if you use the terms interchangeably, no one is going to know what the hell you're talking about. Just because "there" and "their" sound the same when spoken, doesn't mean that they're the same thing.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#33
Depends on the key. For instance, Bb will not have a D# in it, but I think you understand judging by your previous post.
#34
G# and Ab have completely different functions
Why is that?
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#35
Quote by Ænimus Prime
Why is that?

It's about context. For example, E G# B is E major, E Ab B is obviously not. They're the same pitch on guitar, but are used differently.
#36
E G# B is E major, E Ab B is obviously not
So you're saying that G# is a major third and Ab is a diminished fourth. So how is the function of a 3 different from a b4?
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#37
Quote by Ænimus Prime
So you're saying that G# is a major third and Ab is a diminished fourth. So how is the function of a 3 different from a b4?

This has been at the center of many debates, but in addition to chord construction (like my example), it's about scales and diatonic harmony. For example, the major scale is diatonic so you can't have b4 and 4. It must be E F# G# A B C# D# as opposed to E F# Ab A B C# D#. Tonally they may be the same, but in terms of accurately describing chord construction and diatonic harmony you'd need to know that you can't just use the terms interchangeably.

As for the function, a 3 would be found in the major triad, and a b4 in a susb4 chord just to provide some basic examples. Again, tonally the same but different chord spellings.
#38
The concept of “same pitch/different name”, is enharmonicism
I'll address that after an over view of accidentals and key signatures...

Theoretically speaking, any notated pitch or scale degree can exist in five different forms...

It has it's original form as an unaltered note on a line or space, but it can be lowered or doubly lowered; raised or doubly raised...

D (natural)
Db (lowered one 1/2 step) flat
Dbb (lowered two 1/2 steps---or one whole step) double flat
D# (raised one 1/2 step) sharp
Dx (raised two 1/2 steps---or one whole step) double sharp

To be practical, no one scale degree is subjected to all five variants of itself...

As far as when to use what...

If you look at each key, it's made up of either NO sharps or flats (as in the case of the key of C); or it's made up of some combination of either sharps OR flats...never both...

What this does is create, is an environment of pitches that exist in different tonalities, and sound the same, yet have different accidentals applied to them...

How this occurs is that each Major key is created from a series of whole steps and half steps...and from any starting pitch, that series becomes the created key and it's notes have to be named in accordance with the step series from that starting note...

The formula for this is: (W = whole; H = half)

W W H W W W H

From C:

C D E F G A B

From D:

D E F# G A B C#

Now, why F# instead of Gb (it's enharmonic equivalent)?

Because instead of just throwing the notes in sequence and calling them what you like, you have to follow an alphabetical sequence...

Meaning: the musical "alphabet" is A B C D E F G

All series of notes in a key, have to follow this pattern (in whatever order applies to the given key)

So, D E Gb G A B Db is NOT correct, because it repeats pitch names alphabetically Gb G, Db D...etc...

So to maintain the alphabetical order, you find that the sharps occur exactly as they should...

D E F# G A B C#

In the case of keys with flats, the same alphabetical rule applies...

From Ab:

Ab Bb C Db Eb F G

NOT: Ab A# C C# D# F G

In other cases:

Say in notating a single note line or phrase that ascends and descends...

Typically, the rule is:
when ascending use a sharp; when descending use a flat

Typically, in practical everyday use, string players prefer sharp keys, and accidentals; horn players, keyboard players, prefer flat keys etc...

Also, NO ONE I have ever worked with, be it St. Louis Symphony musicians, or studio players, don't like to see Cb, Fb, B#, E# (B, E, C, F) it's just taxing to read, and if it can be avoided, do so...

However, if it occurs in the key as in the case of Gb (which has the theoretically correct Cb) then it is fine (but even then, when applying chord symbols, I still might write Bmaj7 instead of Cbmaj7, just because)

Hope this helps,

Scott


#39
Quote by Ænimus Prime
So you're saying that G# is a major third and Ab is a diminished fourth. So how is the function of a 3 different from a b4?


it just comes down to spelling chords. E G# B = E Major E Ab B is not the correct way to spell the chord. Its more a matter of consistency in labeling than function.
shred is gaudy music
#40
it just comes down to spelling chords. E G# B = E Major E Ab B is not the correct way to spell the chord. Its more a matter of consistency in labeling than function

Okay thats what I thought. It's the label, not the function, that differs due to the naming convention.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
Page 1 of 3