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#2041746 - 03/02/13 07:22 AM Trouble with flats and sharps basics
90abyss Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/22/13
Posts: 9


First of all please excuse my ignorance as I'm just a beginner so my question might sound a little stupid.

Now, I know that if I'm playing in the key of G major then all F's will be sharped.

But if a note is flat in only one measure then I continue playing that note flat in that measure only. I mean in the image, please look at the treble clef third measure. Here, B is flat, therefore I play B flat throughout that particular measure only. Correct?

Then... why was there a need of a natural sign (circled in red) before B in the 4th measure? The B flat in the 3rd measure does not carry forward to the 4th measure too, does it? So ideally had there not been a natural sign in 4th measure, was I supposed to play a B flat? If yes, then why?

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#2041750 - 03/02/13 07:59 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11185
Loc: Canada
It is called a "courtesy accidental" to remind you that the B is natural again. The reason is that when people are good readers and read fast, then their ear may carry the Bb over, and the accidental creates a reflex to play the right note.

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#2041763 - 03/02/13 08:55 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: keystring]
aTallGuyNH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 468
Courtesy accidentals are often put in parentheses, which makes them much easier to interpret quickly IMHO. I don't know why this is not done more universally. It is "the proper way" AFAIK.
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2041781 - 03/02/13 09:47 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
SoundThumb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/10
Posts: 325
Loc: San Diego, CA
Ah, keystring, finally an explanation that makes some sense to me. These courtesy accidentals drive me crazy. They always bring my playing to a complete halt while I go back and try to figure out if I missed something in a previous measure. So apparently they are actually of use to good players and not inserted as a form of torment for beginners.

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#2041787 - 03/02/13 09:57 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
I hate courtesy accidentals. They are redundant, and thus completely unnecessary, since the basic rule of accidentals is that they cease on the upcoming bar line.

When I see one while playing, especially when sightreading, it takes a tiny bit of time and concentration to process it, which ultimately is not productive to fluid playing.

And, because they are not universally used, they are always a surprise. (They are not universally used because they essentially violate a basic rule, and thus are unnecessary.)

In the example above, the courtesy accidental is on the very first beat of the first measure of the line, a tiny fraction of an inch away from the key signature which is on a different line, which therefore should make it completely obvious that the note is to be played natural.

I think they are a symptom/example of the dumbing down of things.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#2041792 - 03/02/13 10:08 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11185
Loc: Canada
Rocket88, I have vacillated. I disliked them and did wonder whether they were a dumbing down. I'd be playing, see an accidental which signaled to me "change something" when I had already been doing the right thing. Sometimes I would change to the wrong thing, or I would have a second's pause trying to figure out what needs changing - because I had already done it. But apparently this is not a dumbing down but rather something that has been done for a long time and is thus convention. What I understand presently is that if there have been a lot of modulations and things, someone reading fast might miss the return to signature and so the courtesy accidental is used. I don't read super-fast yet, so I can't tell.

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#2041795 - 03/02/13 10:20 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11185
Loc: Canada
To Rocket88 - this is not a genre of music I'm used to. I am curious about how you might hear measure 2, and whether there is some kind of idiom here. M. 2 is marked as IV, and indeed, C is IV of G major. We can also pick out a C7 because of the Bb - C7 often moves to F, but this goes back to C. So maybe a "seven sound" is just a nice sound to have. At the same time, the melody traces G major, G minor, G major. I think that this is something that often happens in this kind of music. Is that roughly the way you would hear it?


Edited by keystring (03/02/13 10:49 AM)

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#2041797 - 03/02/13 10:24 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: keystring]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: keystring
But apparently this is not a dumbing down but rather something that has been done for a long time and is thus convention.


The problem is that it is not a standard convention, but an optional thing that is done sometimes. If it were standard, it would not be such a surprise and thus not a problem.

This is from Wikipedia:

Quote:
Since about 1700, accidentals have been understood to continue for the remainder of the measure in which they occur, so that a subsequent note on the same staff position is still affected by that accidental, unless marked as an accidental on its own[citation needed]. Notes on other staff positions, including those an octave away, are unaffected. Once a barline is passed, the effect of the accidental ends, except when a note affected by an accidental is tied to the same note across a barline. In this case subsequent notes at the same staff position in the second bar are not affected by the accidental carried through with the tied note. Sight reading music at speed can be mentally (and physically) taxing, so where an editor or engraver sees a possible opportunity for confusion, a courtesy or cautionary accidental may be placed by a note whose pitch is, strictly speaking, already given by the key signature.


Also, the article also says this:
Quote:
This accidental is usually within parentheses.


In parenthesis is better, but it also is not a universal convention.

So accidentals "may be placed" and "usually within parenthesis"...I don't consider that a convention, but I see your point.

In my thinking, courtesy accidentals are in the same category as stickers on the keys, lighted keys, and other "helps" that ultimately do not help very much if at all, IMHO.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#2041802 - 03/02/13 10:41 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: keystring]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: keystring
To Rocket88 - this is not a genre of music I'm used to. I am curious about how you might hear measure 2, and whether there is some kind of idiom here. M. 2 is marked as IV, and indeed, C is IV of C major. We can also pick out a C7 because of the Bb - C7 often moves to F, but this goes back to C. So maybe a "seven sound" is just a nice sound to have. At the same time, the melody traces G major, G minor, G major. I think that this is something that often happens in this kind of music. Is that roughly the way you would hear it?


First, I think you meant that C is the IV of G major.

This is a simplified Blues, and the most common Blues is called a 12 Bar Blues, which means 12 measures.

A common variant of that is for the second measure to be the IV, as is this case.

It does appear that the melody traces G major, G minor, G major. But the chord is now C7, and the 7 of C is the minor third tone of a G chord.

In more advanced Blues, when in the IV of measure #2, it is common to play (in key of G) a C-7-9 chord which is: C E G Bb D. That is the sum of all the notes in the first part of measure two.

If you look at that chord, it could be seen as a C major chord "C E G", or a G minor chord "G Bb D" but the sound is not minor-ish but rather a Bluesy sound. It is known as a "seven-ninth" chord, and is used in all positions (I, IV, V) of a Blues.

So I don't think of the melody as a major to minor to major sound because it does not sound minor, but rather is a Blues sound that, well, go play a C-7-9 chord...it has a sound of its own.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#2041805 - 03/02/13 10:53 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11185
Loc: Canada
Yes, I did mean G major. My first language is still solfege syllables and letter names are still foreign to me. So what I'm hearing is "bluesy". And so the "IV" is actually a bit more than that. I'm familiar with the flat nine chord. And I also suppose that someone like the OP learning to read this music, being familiar with these patterns will make reading and remembering the music easier. You could pretty well predict that the B natural will be there before you ever come to it. (I'm asking this for everyone).

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#2041818 - 03/02/13 11:28 AM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2205
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I get the same "change something" hitch when I see unnecessary finger numbers.
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A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#2041828 - 03/02/13 12:01 PM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: malkin]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: malkin
I get the same "change something" hitch when I see unnecessary finger numbers.


Amen!

Which is why I do not like any finger numbers. With certain exceptions, there is no "one size fits all" for fingering, due to different hand sizes, technique abilities, etc, so why put numbers in at all? I think that they are all "unnecessary" and cause me to stumble even more than courtesy accidentals.

The thing is that when reading music, we have split-seconds to make decisions based upon visual cures. If the cues are not what we are trained/used to, there is a hiccup of time while translating the confusing cues.

All so unnecessary, and the sad thing is that courtesy accidentals and fingering are there to "help" people, but they only help some people, but make things more difficult for others.

Just my opinion.

pss...This problem is very apparent with students...I see all kinds of hand sizes and abilities every day, and if two or more students are working on the same piece, it is immediately obvious that what works for one student can be a train wreck for another.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#2041990 - 03/02/13 06:36 PM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
aTallGuyNH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 468
The parentheses are really the key to making it work... then you can easily ignore the "courtesy" accidental if it seems superfluous, without breaking stride.
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2042000 - 03/02/13 06:47 PM Re: Trouble with flats and sharps basics [Re: 90abyss]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Yes, parentheses do help a bit, but even so, there is a moment where you have to process the information.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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