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Re: triangle chord notation (bit of toppic: why c != b sharp)

From: tiM Sportny
Subject: Re: triangle chord notation (bit of toppic: why c != b sharp)
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 01:24:04 +0000

I'm just an amature on music theory. But still i think it makes sence to define things like a B# chord. You know, there's an actual difference between, lets say a sharp and b flat. Not only in a harmonic way, but also in real pitch. Play a song with g# and one with an a flat in it and try to remember the pitch of the accidental. If you listen closely you'll hear an (imaginal) pitch change. If you don't, try the following (only works for people who know how to sing!!!) Sing a piece with an g# in it and record it. Than sing a piece with an A flat in it and record it. Cut out the g sharp and a flat and listen. Now... if you agree with me after some experiments an a sharp and g flat is a total different thing. That means the chords are actual difference as well!!! In modern music were all instruments are almost tuned in a mathematical way, there is no practical relevance so we try to easy things up a bit. My personal oppinion is, just write down how you think it's easiest to play. I once had a piece of music written in F key, full of naturals in front of every b flat. And it didn't sound alteratic. Well, theoreticly it sounds diffenent, but don't try to be so interesting and just say it's in C key. I don't even bother the difference between Cmaj7 and Em/C but maybe that's a bit to careless.

some background info for those who are interested:
the whole tuning problem is a result of the following. The frequency of a natural harmonic of a tone is 2 times of ones frequency. That's like an octave. An other natural harmonic is 3/2, like a perfect fifth. And 4/3 for a perfect 4th. (so 3/4 for a perfect 4th downwards) so lets define freq{note} as the frequency of a note.
freq{g} = 3/2 * freq{c}
freq{d} = 3/4 * freq{g}
freq{a} = 3/2 * freq{d}
freq{e} = 3/4 * freq{a}
freq{b} = 3/2 * freq{e}
freq{fis} = 3/4 * freq{b}
freq{cis} = 3/2 * freq{fis}
freq{gis} = 3/4 * freq{cis}
freq{dis} = 3/2 * freq{gis}
freq{ais} = 3/4 * freq{dis}
freq{eis} = 2/3 * freq{ais}
freq{bis} = 3/4 * freq{eis}

We want bis to be equal to c. We went up exactly one octave. freq{c'} = 2 freq{c}. now we want bis to be equal to c. Lets check: (3/2)^6 * (3/4)^6 = 2.027... So here we go... no perfect pitching possible in our 12 notes in an octave system. In western music we've decided to equally make the intervals just a little bit smaller. But i guess you've heard ugly (no offence) arabic music at least one time. And in the past they've been using many different systems by many different people (a famous one is by pythagoras (that a^2 + b^2 = c^2 guy you hated at geometrics)) who thought of new ways to tune an instrument. Another famous way of tuning is the meantone. For this one they've decided that the difference between dis and es, and gis and as was so large, they made an extra key on some harpsichords keyboards.

Just one more small thing for your interest: we do use pitching with equal distances, but much piano tuners don't ignore what is said above. What you'd expect to be the most important thing: freq{c'} = freq{c}, they play around with. Most time the lower notes are tuned just a bit lower, and the higher ones just a bit higher. The notes in the middle are equally tuned.

Still, for the people who say a b# and a c chord is the same. I must admit that using chords as we do are relatively new in the music world were pitching isn't really an issue anymore.

gr. tiM

From: Andre Schnoor <address@hidden>
To: address@hidden
Subject: Re: triangle chord notation
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 01:42:08 +0200

Well, D# may not occur as the tonal center of a key, but it occurs as a horizontal scale step in some keys (E Minor, F# Minor). Anyway, it's a rather difficult to decide what momentary tonal center exactly rules at each particular position in a piece. It also depends on the vertical scales being used. This decision should be left to the composer/transcriber.

I believe it is a good thing if chord root tones are able to express the full pitch vocabulary, even with double sharps/flats. This way a composer can decide what the actual meaning of the chord should be.


address@hidden wrote:
I haven't heard of the key of D#, but if it did exist it would contain two double sharps. All chord symbols are named by convention. As for the root relating to the key signature; I doubt it, because musical compositions contain many tonal center shifts - hence accidentals. The root of a chord symbol and is related more to the the momentary tonal (key) center, not necessarily the written key signature.

-----Original Message-----

From: Andre Schnoor <address@hidden>
Sent: Aug 9, 2006 5:02 AM
To: address@hidden
Subject: Re: triangle chord notation

Michael J Millett wrote:

Key signatures don't count when using chord symbols.

Only for the naming of the root. There's a big difference between Ebmaj7 and D#maj7, so the root pitch should reflect its meaning within the current key. This information is valuable when looking at chord progressions as a whole. The interval construction on top of the root, as you suggested, is handled by convention (static).


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