How would you explain...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by BrianT, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    If you were helping a new player (1 year or less) to rehearse a piece of music containing E# or B# how would you explain the note? Would you say it is an F natural or a C natural? Or would you say it sounds the same and has the same fingering but has a different name? Or something else? I'm faced with this sort of question quite often, and I want to give an accurate answer, but without being confusing or appealing to concepts of scales that the student might not have. I particularly don't want to give the impression that music theory is hard, as an early bad experience of music theory (like maths at school) could be enough to put someone off for life.
    Suggestions please!
  2. dizzy068

    dizzy068 Member


    I would explain it as follows.....using a keyboard layout as an aide; a flat lowers a note by a semitone and a sharp raises the note by a semitone. So here is E....and raising it a semitone makes it E sharp. You will note that that is the same as F and F flat is the same as E!! The usual response will be why not just write F instead of E sharp, that answer is more complet and will have to depend on the music theory level of your student. It is no different to C sharp and D flat being the same note but in different contexts, ie a sharp key or a flat key. It is just that the likes of E sharp are less common and therefore seem wierder.

    I'm not even sure if I have managed to explain it but hope it helps!!
  3. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    I would have put it much the same, then comes double sharps and double flats, I hate those
  4. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    It's one of those daft things about music - that is just about how I describe it, lol.

    I tell them that it is the same note, but it is called something different because sometimes it is "correct" for composers to do that, in the same way that sometimes they might be called Johnny, whilst at other times they might be referred to as Mr Smith.
    I don't get into the theoretical reasons unless they really pursue it, I just say that it is just done that way and when they become great composers they can do things their way (of course, if any of them ever do become fantastic composers they will then be able to explain why they are using E# and Cb, but I won't tell them that, yet).
  5. dear oh dear.............................................................
  6. Cornet Nev.

    Cornet Nev. Member

    Ok, it is down to technical music theory reasons. Don't ask what they are, for I don't fully understand them. however, a simple answer is that they quite often occur when, because of the key the music is written in, for example, in any one of the keys that "C" is sharp, then a "B" sharp will be written rather than a naturalised "C". Especially if another "C" sharp is in the same bar. The same would apply for "F" and conversely when the key demands flats, "C"flat or "F" flat would be written for simillar reasons.
  7. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    You could also demonstrate with specific examples. Maybe by writing a bar or two of music where the player is in a sharp key, but has to move from F Natural to F sharp repeatedly.

    I should imagine that if a student was shown a bar with several accidental F-naturals followed by accidental F-sharps to re-sharpen the note, and then shown a bar with one marked (And therefore repeating) accidental E-sharp, followed by the F, already sharpened by the Key signature - that they would quickly grasp why it's often easier to use an odd accidental than a seemingly simpler one.

    As for the double-sharp or double-flat, you could use the same method. For example, in a rising scale/passage of music it's often easier to read a note and then sharpen it, rather than have the accidental flat and followed by the subsequent natural.

    For example in Pomp & Circumstance No.1, the basses have rising 3 note groups (quaver + 2 semiquavers) in semitones, starting with a G. So the simplest way of writing that and avoiding sharpening, re-naturalising and sharpening the note again is G, F#, G, G#, F##, G, B.

    Hope that helps!!
  8. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    that's how I did it when I taught learners - there's plenty of time for them to learn and understand the technical stuff later! I always used a piano/keyboard to show them if there was one handy too, because it always helped things make sense.
  9. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    We were playing Elgar Howarth's arrangement of In a Sentimental Mood(Duke Ellington). I don't know if any of you guys know of this particular arrangment but what happened at band rehearsal last Friday was quite surprising. This is from a quite expereinced average player to. On the Eb bass part the 2nd to last bar is an Eb, then Howarth changes the note to D#. My colleague next to me saying, quite surprisingly, whats the point of that, they are the same note! Then trying to tell him no they are not, well like talking to a brick wall. Any easier option?
  10. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Just to add that these notes may not be 'exactly' the same. We have what is rather idealistically called an 'Equal temperament' tuning system. In reality the placement of a note within a chord can affect the 'real' tuning of the note causing thirds for instance to be a bit flatter than they need to be.

    So in the example below the E# as a third in a C# major chord would be ever-so slightly different to an E# which forms the root of a chord. (not a great example but illustrates the point).

    So when teaching the starting principles could be as described by others, however the next step needs to be to let the ear guide perfect tuning.