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D flat major

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dim ots
27826.  Sat Oct 22, 2005 10:36 am Reply with quote

raindancer wrote:

As far as I know, Bach avoided enharmonic duplicates and only wrote in 24 keys, a prelude and fugue in each. He didn't write in Db, Gb or Cb major, or A#, D# or Ab minor.

ok, i have to admit to being lost now... what precisely do you mean by "enharmonic duplicates"? it's not a phrase i've come across in the musical world (though admittedly i was taught the theoretical side of music in welsh, so that could explain why i don't recognise it)

27827.  Sat Oct 22, 2005 11:22 am Reply with quote

They're usually called enharmonic equivalents. Every note has at least two possible names - F# is also Gb and Ex for example, and A could also be spelled Bbb or Gx (B double flat or G double sharp).

Only three key-signatures, on the other hand, have enharmonic equivalents - for example there's no key of D# major, as this would require some of the notes to be double sharps and foul up the signature. The enharmonic pairs of major keys are C#/Db, Cb/B and F#/Gb.

It's easier to understand D meddalnod mwyaf!

27833.  Sat Oct 22, 2005 11:50 am Reply with quote


I'm not sure, but didn't he choose each key so that all numbers of #'s and b's would be covered? I can't be bothered to wade through them all!

I mean, there are 15 major keys including enharmonic alternatives, but he only used 12. Some would have to go.

27834.  Sat Oct 22, 2005 11:53 am Reply with quote

dim ots

'I was taught the theoretical side of music in welsh'

Oh well!!!

It's OK, I love the Welsh...

Zaphod Beeblebrox
27836.  Sat Oct 22, 2005 11:59 am Reply with quote

Anyone know anything about Mongolian Overtone singing? Sounds a pretty cool idea but I don't know much about how it's done or anything...

27891.  Sun Oct 23, 2005 2:46 am Reply with quote

Zaphod Beeblebrox

This should help:

Zaphod Beeblebrox
27909.  Sun Oct 23, 2005 6:51 am Reply with quote

Cheers, raindancer, that's really quite interesting :)

dim ots
28112.  Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:35 pm Reply with quote

Cheers for that.
I presumed that was what you were meaning, but wanted to make certain.
I'm familiar with the different ways of writing equivalent notes (as you say- Cb = B, and also double #s, etc..) but doesnt that therefore mean that Bach did actually write in all available keys, considering that the enharmonic equivalents are merely a different way of annotating the same basic scale.. and would, as i understand it, therefore sound identical?
In which case would there therefore be any actual musical reason for him to write a piece using the enharmonic equivalents?
sian x

28114.  Mon Oct 24, 2005 1:04 pm Reply with quote

No. As a point of fact, it looks as though the Bach Preludes subject was brought up by raindancer, though addressed to me.

To summarise - there are only 24 keys - 12 major and 12 minor - but three of each have enharmonic equivalents. It's completely up the composer which he chooses, though it would seem sensible on the face of it to choose one with fewer sharps/flats in the signature - as I mentioned before, Db has only 5 flats, while its equivalent C# has seven sharps.

The reason why Bach wrote his two sets of Preludes was to display the latest "well-tempered" tuning of keyboard instruments. This is an extremely challenging subject and can't be gone into in detail on a forum like this, but suffice it to say that if you tune a piano so that C major sounds perfect, then the extreme keys like F# major will sound absolutely dreadful.

Under equal temperament, all the semitones in the scale are equal, and all the other intervals (perfect fifths, major thirds &c.) are slightly wrong. There are some synthesisers which allow you to choose which temperament you want to use - I have had hours of fun, well all right then minutes of harmless amusement - playing in Db major in "pure major C" or Kirnberger.

28209.  Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:38 am Reply with quote

Gaazy, dim ots

Also, as far as I know, if you do the maths and physics etc, Db is slightly sharper than C#, and I suppose it would be the same for the other equivalents.

In other words they're not true equivalents, and there really are 30 major and minor keys rather than 24!

28214.  Tue Oct 25, 2005 2:22 am Reply with quote

It's important not to confuse physics (vibration theory) with equal temperament. As I mentioned before, equal temperament makes all semitones exactly equal, meaning that, in keyboard terms, there can only be 12 major and 12 minor keys.

Remember we're talking here about musical key[signature]s, not scientific vibration-relationships (whereby, for example, the note E can be defined as two different notes a Didymian comma - about a fifth of a semitone - apart). Many instruments, such as orchestral strings and the trombone, not to mention the human voice, are free from the restrictions of equal temperament in theory, but in practice (in Western music at least) find themselves confined within it, at least when in concert with equal-tempered instruments.

So, yes, the note C# is not scientifically the same as the note Db, but under equal temperament they are defined to have exactly the same pitch, so it follows that there are only 12 discrete pitches to the octave under this system and therefore only 12 major (and 12 minor) keys.

28266.  Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:43 am Reply with quote


Yes, and thank god for it!

Did you know Ravi Shankar tuned his sitar (normally in C) to C#/Db? Strange fellow.

28269.  Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:14 am Reply with quote

So why do you think (to go back to my initial post) Chopin refers to his beloved's intimate areas as her little Db major, nestled between her C and her D?

He could have been writing in either Polish or French, so C and D could have been the initials of slang words for other parts of her body in the vicinity (d for derriere? c for cul?)

Or is there some musical reason I might have missed?

28309.  Tue Oct 25, 2005 3:17 pm Reply with quote

I think you may have hit the spot there Jenny... ;-)

28312.  Tue Oct 25, 2005 3:20 pm Reply with quote

Maybe it was just a 'nudge nudge, wink wink' 'if you know what I mean...' sort of comment. =D


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