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Lesson 7: Accidentals

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  • old spice man green style avatar for user Elijah Daniels
    In what case would you need to use E# or B#? Couldn't you just write F or B?
    (5 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user Cara Cooper
      You would use them if they were in the key signature, for instance E# is used in F# major and D# minor. B# is used instead of C for the same reason - C# major has B# in the key sig, as does A# minor.
      Because the scale the key sig is based around has these sharps, they are used when writing music in that key.
      (5 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user XaNd3r EdWaRd5 | #1 EDM Proponent | Trap | Dubstep | House | Hardcore | DnB
    At shouldn't that say precede?
    (3 votes)
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  • hopper jumping style avatar for user 22g.wentzel
    Are there any accidentals other than a sharp or flat?
    (2 votes)
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    • female robot grace style avatar for user Violet A. Porter
      The three main accidentals are sharps, flats, and naturals. In more advanced music, you may see the occasional double-sharp or double-flat. Double-sharps raise the pitch a whole step instead of a half step, and double-flats lower the pitch a whole step. Those aren't incredibly common, however.
      (5 votes)
  • eggleston blue style avatar for user EH
    Why do people here in USA use CDEFGABC, while in Europe it is Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, Do.
    (2 votes)
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  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Andrew Lin
    How do you identify different textures?
    (1 vote)
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    • leaf blue style avatar for user CTG
      Textures in music can be analyzed by observing the way melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are utilized in a composition vertically (at an instant of time). Texture is commonly described in simple, general terms of range and density. Rage refers to the pitch separations between different parts, a passage where there is little difference between the upper and lower notes can be described as a "narrow" range and one with a large difference a "wide" range. Density refers to the amount of voices used at one time, very few voices can be described as "thin" and a surplus of voices can be defined as "thick." This is the general categorization of texture, but it goes more detailed beyond this. Monophonic texture refers to music that is a single line, which can be expanded across several voices, intervals, and octaves. Polyphonic texture occurs when two or more melodic lines overlap. Homophony occurs when there is a melody line and accompaniment, which is the most common in Western music. Beyond this, all elements within a composition at a given time can be analyzed and labeled self explanatory names such as primary or secondary melody, parallel supporting melody, static support, harmonic support, and rhythmic support. I hope this helps. Happy reading.
      (2 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user constanta23
    , why not just move the note up instead of making it a sharp or flat? what does that mean moves the note up or down?
    (2 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user shaylawhiton
    What will sharps and flats do.
    (0 votes)
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  • piceratops seed style avatar for user Fernando Mendoza
    At , why is there no accidental?
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Alloice Frederick
    How do you know the key of a certain song?
    (1 vote)
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    • old spice man green style avatar for user Elijah Daniels
      You can tell the key of a song or piece by the sharps or flats in the measures. If there are no sharps or flats, then the key is in C Major, or A Minor (these two key signatures do not have any sharps or flats). But if you are not given the measures to look at, then it's all up to what you hear. After a while you get the feeling for key signatures and are able to tell which key signature a song or piece is in.
      (1 vote)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Just Awesome99
    If sharp and flat are the two common accidentals,what are the other ones and what do the other ones do?
    (1 vote)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user James Guymon
      There is a third common accidental - the natural - which undoes all other accidentals. There is also a double sharp and a double flat. To understand why they exist you will need to move into more advanced music theory, although I will attempt to give a short explanation.

      At first glance they will seem useless, because an FX (F double Sharp) is just a G. So why not just write that?

      Tonal music starts in a specific key center (a Tonic), eventually moves to the Dominant, and returns to the Tonic. You will notice that it is common for historical 'classical' music to tell you what key it is in. This key center is of critical importance to the construction of such works.

      With this in mind, it can sometimes make more sense to use double sharps or double flats to avoid a spelling that might be jarring/confusing for theorists who are thinking in terms of harmonic analysis.

      In more contemporary art music and commercial/film music it makes less sense to me. I generally choose note spellings based upon what gives the lowest probability of a wrong note in sight reading.
      (1 vote)

Video transcript

- [Man] Let's look at our C major scale on the keyboard of a piano. First notice that we only use the white keys. Let's begin on the middle C, and play the eight note scale in the treble clef to the next C ascending. (piano music playing) Now let's begin on middle C and play the C major scale descending in the bass clef. (piano music playing) Still using the piano keyboard, let's study the black notes. To do this, we need to understand accidentals. The two primary accidentals are a sharp and a flat. These signs always preseed the note. The sharp changes the note in an upward direction, while a flat changes a note in a downward direction. Let's play a G in the treble clef on the second line. (piano music playing) If we add a sharp, we have written the note G sharp, and it is the black key on the piano keyboard just above the G. (piano music playing) If we place a flat in front of the G, the note becomes a G flat, and we play the black key just below the G. (piano music playing) Let's also do this exercise on an A. First the A, now an A sharp, now the A again, and then A flat. You've probably noticed that the G sharp and the A flat are the same sounding note, but of course they're notated differently. This is called an enharmonic equivalent. The notes have different names, but they sound the same. (piano music playing) If we place a sharp in front of a C, and a flat in front of a D, these notes sound the same but again are spelled enharmonically. On our piano keyboard, notice that between the B and C, and the E and F, there is no black key. Therefore, a C flat is the same as a B natural, and a B sharp is the same as a C natural. An F flat is the same as an E natural, and an E sharp is the same as an F natural.