#1
Why is it that some keys have just major after them and some have -flat major and -sharp major?

For example:

F Major
F-sharp Major

why isn't the F Major named F-flat Major? Is it because F flat is an E? this is confusing me
#2
Get to know the circle of fifths, that should help you.

EDIT: F natural, F sharp and F flat are all different notes if that's what's confusing you.
#5
You wording is a little confusing. Are you asking why some major scales use flats instead of sharps? If so, then it's because all diatonic scales (7 note scales) must use every letter of the musical alphabet once and only once. For instance, a D major scale has the notes D, E, F#, G, A, B, and C#. As you can see, each letter is used only once. If you had Gb instead of F#, you would be missing a letter.

Another example. F major has the notes F, G, A, Bb, C, D, and E. If the Bb were A#, it would be missing a letter. Does that answer your question?

Edit: In the context of certain scales, it may be necessary to have an unusual note such as B# or Fb. For instance, a C# major scale has the notes C#, D#, E#, F#, G#, A#, and B#. You couldn't use C because you would then be missing another letter of the musical alphabet.
"It is always advisable to be a loser if you cannot become a winner." - Frank Zappa

The name's Garrett.

Gear and stuff:
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Last edited by Iron_Dude at Jul 2, 2008,
#6
Quote by metal4ever6328
Traditionaly we dont say f flat or b sharp or g sharp.


I'm guessing that G sharp was a typo, right? Also, B sharp exists if you're in the right context (like the C# major scale)
#7
Quote by Iron_Dude
example. F major has the notes F, G, A, Bb, C, D, and E. If the Bb were G#, it would be missing a letter. Does that answer your question?
Don't you mean A#?
#8
yes F-flat is an E. an f sharp major scale is called an f sharp major scale cause thats what it is. an f major scale is called an f major scale cause thats what it is, they are two completely diferent notes. what you saying is equivelant to someone saying why isnt a G major scale called an A major scale, it makes no sense. buy a theory book
#9
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Don't you mean A#?

Ha, thanks for the catch. Corrected.
"It is always advisable to be a loser if you cannot become a winner." - Frank Zappa

The name's Garrett.

Gear and stuff:
Taylor 310
American Strat w/ Texas Specials
Ibanez JS1000
Vox Wah (true bypass & LED mod)
Dr. Z Maz 18 JR NR
#10
Quote by adam561
Why is it that some keys have just major after them and some have -flat major and -sharp major?

For example:

F Major
F-sharp Major

why isn't the F Major named F-flat Major? Is it because F flat is an E? this is confusing me


It looks like you need to start right at the beginning.

There are 12 tones in the Western Musical system. C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C
notice the big fat marker on the 12 fret of your guitar - that's not an accident.

Please note that the tone we call C# can, in other instances, be called Db. These notes are "enharmonic". This means they are the same tone, and have the same sound or physical vibration of sound waves through the air but whether we call it C# or Db is determined by the context they are used in. We will get to this soon. To understand it lets just stick with all sharps for now.

There are many different ways to move through these 12 notes. When we do this we are using what is called a scale. A scale is like a ladder with steps climbing up and down the 12 tones.

Moving one place along the 12 tones is called a HALF STEP or HALF TONE - this would be moving from C to C# or from E to F for example. From here on when you see H think HALF TONE.

If we were to climb the 12 tones one at a time we get what is known as the "Chromatic Scale". It's step pattern is made up of 12 Half tones or H - H - H - H - H - H - H - H - H - H - H - H since the distance between each note is a Half tone. This scale does not make for very appealing music however and so we use other ways of climbing the notes by taking Whole steps.

A WHOLE STEP or WHOLE TONE is when we move two places along the chromatic scale. This would be from C to D or from E to F#. From here on if you see W think WHOLE TONE.

Major Scale Construction
Now lets look at scale construction. The most fundamental step pattern, or scale is the Major Scale. It breaks the notes down into 8 notes and does so with a step pattern made up of a W - W - H - W - W - W - H. We can start this pattern on any of the 12 notes to come up with the Major Scale for the note we started on.

So if we look at our notes C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C and start on C we get the following scale.
C Whole step D Whole step E Half step F Whole step G Whole step A Whole step B Half Step C
This is the major scale in the key of C. Each of the notes in this scale can be represented by a number C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, B=7, C=8.

Each 8 note scale should use each letter only once before ending on the same note it started on. This is important otherwise we would have issues that could threaten the whole musical system as you will see shortly.

Sharp keys.

If we use this same step pattern again but this time started at F# we get the F#Major scale.
Use the list above, start on F# and writing each note as you go follow in the same Major Scale step pattern as before W - W - H - W - W - W - H.

The notes you get should read F# G# A# B C# D# F F#

But WAIT!! there's something wrong. There is no E and two F's! This is an outrage and E is gonna bring in the union and go on strike. He's upset because he's out of work and F is in there doing two jobs! This means disaster. With union involvement and E on the picket lines Metallica has to close up shop till this mess is sorted out.

So after a quick scare and because we need F# as the root of the scale we solve the problem by using E# instead of F as the seventh step. Now we use each note once. Awesome. Crisis averted!
Seriously though don't worry too much about why at this stage, but accept it as a rule we only use each note once in an 8 note scale before ending on the note we started on.

What about the flats??

Well let's do the exercise again using the same notes from before and again writing down each note as we move through the Major Scale step pattern but this time we will start on C#.

Now we end up with C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C#.

Wow 7 sharps that's a lot of sharps. Hmm...isn't B# the same tone as C and E# the same sound as F? But if we change them we get C# D# F F# G# A# C C#. Now there's less sharps but no B's or E's and too man C's and F's so that won't work.

Let's try this again but instead of #'s we will rewrite our chromatic scale with b's.
C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B C Note that these are the same 12 notes as before, in the same order just spelled different. So we use our Major scale pattern and start on the C# ooh I mean Db right!
Db W Eb W F H Gb W Ab W Bb W C H Db

Ah! Exactly the same notes as we had with the C# fiasco but now we have only five accidentals and we still use each letter once and only once in our scale before ending back on Db. This is much cleaner.

As a side note we could have respelled our F# Major scale earlier as Gb Major but it is neither here nor there in that particular instance. See if you can figure out why?

The Circle of Fifths is a tool to work out your sharps and flats in each key and if I had more time I'd draw you a picture but google it and you'll find something.

Anyway this should answer your question as to why there are F major and F# major etc.

Minor scales?? Well that's just using a different step pattern to climb through the 12 tones but most of the same principles above apply to the minor scale as well.
Minor step pattern = W - H - W - W - W - H - W

There are many scales - Major and minor are the two most common but a firm grasp of the Major scale should be your first goal as nearly everything else is described by how it relates to the major scale.

EDIT: thanks BGC.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Jul 3, 2008,
#11
Quote by adam561
Why is it that some keys have just major after them and some have -flat major and -sharp major?

For example:

F Major
F-sharp Major

why isn't the F Major named F-flat Major? Is it because F flat is an E? this is confusing me


F# Major is a major scale built off of F#. F Major is a major scale built off of F. They have different names because they're built off of different notes. F major isn't named Fb major because it isn't Fb Major (which isn't E, by the way. It's enharmonic to E, but the terms are not interchangeable)
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 20Tigers
I have listed all the notes as sharps but in fact the sharps are known as "accidentals"
Only if you're playing in C or Am.


Quote by 20Tigers
For example C# could be replaced by Db or F# by Gb etc.
No, not really. It is correct to write the note as a sharp since you are ascending chromatically. Though C# and Db sound exactly the same, they are not to be used nterchangeably.
#13
Quote by bangoodcharlotte
Quote:
Originally Posted by 20Tigers
For example C# could be replaced by Db or F# by Gb etc.


No, not really. It is correct to write the note as a sharp since you are ascending chromatically. Though C# and Db sound exactly the same, they are not to be used interchangeably.

Okay. I see what you are saying and you are correct. My wording was off and so misleading. In my defense I did go on to state in the next sentence or two that whether we call it C# or Db depends on the context in which they are used. However, the sentence you quote is false. I'll fix it.

As for the other thing regarding accidentals. Would you believe in 11 years no one has ever told me that before. I think someone right at the beginning must have forgot. I almost can't believe what you're saying is true - but I do. I'll fix that too.

You're probably the only person who bothered to read that post anyway - I need to work on brevity.

Cheers.
Si
#14
Quote by 20Tigers
As for the other thing regarding accidentals. Would you believe in 11 years no one has ever told me that before. I think someone right at the beginning must have forgot. I almost can't believe what you're saying is true - but I do. I'll fix that too.
"Accidental" refers to the sharp, flat, or natural sign by a note in standard notation when you go out of key. The note would be called a chromatic tone.