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Fis or not fis, that is the question.

From: Michal Seta
Subject: Fis or not fis, that is the question.
Date: Mon, 09 Dec 2002 15:00:18 -0500

On Mon, 09 Dec 2002 12:03:09 -0500
address@hidden wrote:

> Can anybody explain why, despite having a "fs" specified by the current key
> (for G Major), "fs" or "fis" needs to be specified, rather than just
> assuming that the key fills in the gaps?

I think that a main misconception is that a key signature "makes" certain notes 
altered.  A key signature is only an _aid_ for writing down a piece of music 
_clearly_ so that the musicians who will end  up playing it can 
understand/follow it without much fuss.  When you're a 
composer,transcriber,musicologist, performer or any other music professional 
you know that regardless of what's in the key signature a G major scale has an 
F sharp as the 7th scale tone.  It is not an F.  It's an F sharp.  While ther 
was a necessity to provide a shortcut via key signatures, it was mainly for 
clarity related reasons.  However the person who is writing the music (and the 
performer who is reading it), when s/he sees a note on the fifth line in a G 
Major key, s/he knows it is an F sharp and not an F.  So, in a textual mode of 
describing a score, it will alaways be f sharp.  I think it is a good idea to 
keep it this way because just by looking at the notes (g fis g d) you know 
exactly what they are wi.

Michal Seta
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