A# or Bb?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by eflatbass, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    Psychologically, does a top A# (above the stave) hold more trepidation for a player, than a Bb?

    I am just curious.

  2. John_D

    John_D Member

    for me it's the other way round. Bb somehow sounds as if its higher than A#, even though we play them the same.
  3. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Funnily enough, I find the top Ab in the Eb Bass Solo in "Journey into Freedom" easier to play if I rub it out and rewrite it as a G#.
    Makes a big difference to me mentally and takes the pressure off considerably - strange isn't it ?

    - Mr Wilx
  4. euphojim

    euphojim Member

    It is obviously all in the mind but for me it depends what key I am playing in, and what note preceeds it.

    Going up a scale from G#, the A# is far easier - it looks like a tone higher whereas, G#to Bb looks like a bigger interval and therefore more risk of over pitching it.
  5. jezza23361

    jezza23361 Member

    I am the opposite - Ab is much easier than G#

  6. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    Me too... surely bandsmen always find sharp keys harder to play in than flat keys, so surely this is part of that concept?
  7. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    Do you think that Tenor Horn and Eb Bass players are perhaps more comfortable with sharp keys?
  8. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Definitely. I've always felt very much at home in sharp keys ~ don't know why.

    Mr Wilx
  9. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Orchestral players, or those of us more used to reading orchestral music probably don't mind too much either way, but I do prefer Bb. A# somehow seems less natural. ;-)
  10. Bb every time is easier. but then Bb is the first flat, and A# is the 5th sharp, so you've probably played loads more Bb's. i also tend to also think of super Eb not D#.
  11. simonium

    simonium Member

    But where do super notes begin? I feel F above top C is the first "super" note. As for preferring a notation - I'd rather see a top Db than a top C#. and I'd rather not see top A at all :)
  12. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    Hi Simon

    We are not really talking about super notes. The reference was intended to be the first A#/Bb above the stave. The A above super F! That's one for the jazz guys.

  13. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Nice !

    - Mr Wilx
  14. simonium

    simonium Member

    In that case I'd rather see a Bb than an A#. Surely this type of query will only lead to other examples - the Eb / D# sharp example and the Journey Into Freedom solo?. Perhaps if bands played in sharp keys more often it wouldn't be an issue, but at risk of digressing again, I'd rather see a key signature - flat or sharp - than the current vogue for writing without. What about double sharps and flats?
  15. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    2nd Section Bass players had better familiarise themselves with double sharps before the parts come out for "Frogs" for next years Butlins !!

    - Mr Wilx
  16. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    Either that, or I can see a lot of rewriting of the bass parts!

  17. Brassbones

    Brassbones Member

    Notes ABOVE the stave?!?! Do people actually have them? ;)

    From my experience brass players in all genres prefer flats, be it brass band, big band, orchestra or wind band. I've played a lot(!) in all of these groups and rarely have I had to play in more than two sharps (concert pitch). Consequently I am moving into my "dis-comfort zone" from three upwards. Conversely seven flats is no problem (although Fb can trip you up occasionally).

    It's weird that most often than not when the orchestra goes into 56 sharps the brass (I'm not counting horns!) are either tacet or have a few semi-breves. I'm pretty sure I'm not imagining that (please don't bother with the counter examples, I can thing of quite a few myself)

    p.s. I love these clowns that write b# and e# for the sake of notational correctness, but thats another thread ......
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    When one bone has a C#, and you have a F natural that's intended to make a major 3rd with it, do you immediately then think on looking at the parts "That's a major 3rd, must flatten it"? I certainly don't... Thoughts about suspensions go through my mind - and then when I've looked at the score, I'll see that, no, it was just written by a clown who thought that E# = F natural to all intents and purposes, and it is indeed a simple major 3rd. There's a practical purpose to writing with different enharmonic spellings - it tells you what function your note has in the chord. And it's not as if it's especially difficult to learn to read either...
    Further, writing against the obvious enharmonic spelling makes passages feel all wrong - unintuitive to the brain. How would you write 'The Lark in the Clear Air', starting on a G#? G# E# C# B# B# C# A# F# G# is consistent with how you'd write it starting on a G natural - would you really prefer to be presented with G# F C# C C C# A# F# G#?

    Re: brass resting during orchestral sharps - they are also mostly resting during the other keys too...
  19. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    3rd Section E flat bass players are already TOO familiar with double sharps, at the moment, thanks to Mr. Wilby!
  20. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Have to say, there are a few occasions when the 'odder' accidentals really are the simplest way of doing things, normally when involving chromatic movement. A descending chromatic in a flat key will often contan an F-flat as it'e clearer than naturalising the E, then flattening it again. Likewise an ascending chromatic in a sharp Key will often have an E-sharp and B-sharp as the C is already sharp from the key signature and it saves naturalising the F and then re-sharpening it again.

    Similarly, certain patterns of notes (Such as the rising bass figure in 'Pomp and circumstance') have to contain a double-sharp to make sense. If I remember that one correctly (on BB at least) it's G, F-sharp, G, G-sharp, F-double-sharp, G-sharp, A. It sounds overly complicated, but it saves cancelling and then reinstating the accidentals on the G-sharp (Or introducing and then naturalising an accidental A-flat against the key & chord) and means the note-heads appear to the player in proper relation as regards their pitch.

    Strange accidentals and double-sharps/flats might be annoying at times, but nine times out of ten they genuinely are an attmept to provide the greatest facility of reading for the player!
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2011