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Sharp and flats rule! (Read 2491 times)

Offline luvlvb

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Sharp and flats rule!
« on: May 08, 2015, 03:10:35 PM »
I've been playing for well over 30 years and recently realized that through my entire musical life, I always thought a sharp in a measure meant that the note was to be sharped in both treble and bass clefs within the measure, unless of course there is a natural sign.  I googled the question with no success.  I went thru a dozen music theory books and method books and could find nothing to indicate that a sharp or flat sign only pertains to the notes in that particular clef.  Where can I find this rule?  How is it that I never learned this in college? :o

Offline chechig

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #1 on: May 08, 2015, 03:35:13 PM »
You are not the only one, I have always tought the same thing. But my teacher recently told me that It's incorrect

Offline mjames

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #2 on: May 08, 2015, 03:58:04 PM »
lmfao.....30 years of playing...

Oh god. Of all the music you played during that period. LMFAO, I'm sorry but this is just too good.

Offline anamnesis

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #3 on: May 08, 2015, 08:40:51 PM »
Actually it goes further than that. It only applies to the same to that specific register, even in the same clef within that measure. 

So an accidental sharpened two-line C doesn't apply to the one-line C or three line C etc...which is why if the C in other octaves is still supposed to be sharpened, they have to put an accidental on their placement on the staff as well.   

Offline luvlvb

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #4 on: May 08, 2015, 09:32:56 PM »
Yes, sorry, I did read on yahoo that the sharp/flat refers to the note in the same "octave." I didn't mention that in my initial post, b/c I don't think yahoo should be the definitive answer for my inquiry. But surely, there are pedagological texts or theory books that define the rule!  how could I not know this?  All these years, I thought the edition had mistakes, never imagining that such a simple rule could be so misunderstood.  I need textbook references, anyone?

Offline michael_sayers

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #5 on: May 08, 2015, 09:48:20 PM »
I've been playing for well over 30 years and recently realized that through my entire musical life, I always thought a sharp in a measure meant that the note was to be sharped in both treble and bass clefs within the measure, unless of course there is a natural sign.  I googled the question with no success.  I went thru a dozen music theory books and method books and could find nothing to indicate that a sharp or flat sign only pertains to the notes in that particular clef.  Where can I find this rule?  How is it that I never learned this in college? :o

Hi luvlvb,

I my quest for notational accuracy I have learned that even in 2015 there are differing sets of rules in use (and on a very limited basis for the variants from main stream practice) for the application of accidentals in Western music, and that even in the mainstream use of accidentals there isn't agreement on all the fine points.  Courtesy accidentals are supposed to smooth all of this out so that no one has to dwell on it, in addition to being a harmonic guide to the eye while sight reading.

The best thing when reading a piece of music is just to use common sense about it.

For example, if in one measure and after a clef change in one staff, and then a clef change back again in the same measure, the accidentals are not reprinted for the notes, but the harmony of the other clef and of the music for its stylistic period seems to require them, then apply them.

Scores can contain all sorts of errors which pianists need to be able to fix.

Just look at the I.M.S.L.P. scores of Louis Vierne.  In some measures of some of those, you'll spend almost as much time sorting out "mistakes" and editorial failures of consistency from what is or likely was originally intended and makes sense, as you will in practicing the music!  You have to then become the music editor of Louis Vierne's piano music.

It is best just to use one's knowledge of music harmony and also common sense as a guide.

In harmonically old fashioned music, if something doesn't sound right, then nine times out of ten it isn't right.  And one considers the stylistic tendencies of the composer and the period in deciding that something does not sound right.

There are some composers in France that follow the notation rule you describe, with an accidental covering ALL instances of a particular note (and not just for a particular register) in both staves in a measure until a new accidental is applied to the note and at ANY register for the note in that measure; I haven't looked at the music, but it may have a particular construction to it such that it just looks better and is more readable with that rule in place.  The accidental rules make me suspect this music is quite esoteric.


Mvh,
Michael

Offline luvlvb

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #6 on: May 08, 2015, 10:37:04 PM »
Michael, thank you for such a thought-out reply.  I use my musical sense in most cases, but it seems that whenever that four letter word RULE rears its ugly head, I feel compelled to find absolute written proof.  Especially since I am a teacher.  Every method book simply states that the note is sharped in the measure.  No mention of clefs. 

On another topic on FB, there was a waging battle over whether or not a chord consists of 3 notes or can be a chord if only two notes appear.  In only one theory book was I able to find a definition for an "implied" chord.

Offline anamnesis

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #7 on: May 08, 2015, 10:47:17 PM »
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory9.htm#accidentals

To be honest this is all just standard convention, and as with all conventions...not everyone follows them.  As Michael said, courtesy accidentals tend to smooth this all out, and it's mostly older published music and handwritten music where this might be an issue.  

Quoting from the Complete Musician by Laitz:

"A chromatic alteration applies only in
the octave register in which it occurs and will remain in effect until the end
of the measure. That is: accidentals operate on pitches, not on pitch classes.
Composers often  add courtesy  accidentals  in  parentheses to  clarify
ambiguities."

Now, imo, if you think about it from the point of view of voice leading and diatonic bias, it makes perfect sense.  An accidental is a chromatic alteration, which implies a local alteration of what was a particular diatonic space in a horizontal sense.  





Offline michael_sayers

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #8 on: May 08, 2015, 10:57:01 PM »
Michael, thank you for such a thought-out reply.  I use my musical sense in most cases, but it seems that whenever that four letter word RULE rears its ugly head, I feel compelled to find absolute written proof.  Especially since I am a teacher.  Every method book simply states that the note is sharped in the measure.  No mention of clefs.  

On another topic on FB, there was a waging battle over whether or not a chord consists of 3 notes or can be a chord if only two notes appear.  In only one theory book was I able to find a definition for an "implied" chord.

Hi luvlvb,

With music harmony there is both the horizontal and the vertical aspect.  In the first measure of the piece below, looking across that measure horizontally, one sees a C E G chord.  Vertically though there are five voices or layers.

http://imslp.nl/imglnks/usimg/a/a8/IMSLP194153-WIMA.bee1-Bach-PreludeC-28846-29.pdf

Now go back to Facebook and win the battle! ;D


Mvh,
Michael

Offline anamnesis

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #9 on: May 08, 2015, 11:00:48 PM »
Hi luvlvb,

With music harmony there is both the horizontal and the vertical aspect.  So in the first measure of the piece below, looking across that measure horizontally, one sees a C E G chord.  Vertically though there are five voices or layers.

http://imslp.nl/imglnks/usimg/a/a8/IMSLP194153-WIMA.bee1-Bach-PreludeC-28846-29.pdf

Now go back to Facebook and when the debate! ;D


Mvh,
Michael


This.  And if you want to blow everyone's minds show them these two links to show how ridiculous that debate actually is:

https://mathemusicality.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/principles-of-westergaardian-theory-lines/

https://mathemusicality.wordpress.com/2007/10/14/the-westergaardian-vertical-dimension-part-1/

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sharp and flats rule!
«Reply #10 on: May 09, 2015, 01:32:03 AM »
Actually it goes further than that. It only applies to the same to that specific register, even in the same clef within that measure. 

So an accidental sharpened two-line C doesn't apply to the one-line C or three line C etc...which is why if the C in other octaves is still supposed to be sharpened, they have to put an accidental on their placement on the staff as well.   

Yes. That is generally true. I'd add that one common exception is that 8vo and 15vo notation carries the accidental with it.

There are other exceptions as well that I've encountered in some polyphonic writing and in some atonal pieces, but these are generally explained in footnotes to the pieces.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant