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Topic: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps (Read 16335 times) previous topic - next topic

Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
What are they? I'm sort of young and still taking piano lessons, and haven't come across these yet.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #1
They're in the Notes toolbar, or you can select them from the Notes menu.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #2
No, I mean what are they?

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #3
They are used when you want to sharpen a note which is already sharp in the key signature. Its to do with correct composing techniques I think! An F double sharp would be a G. Its exacly the same senario for the flats. Hope this makes sense!

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #4
An F double sharp would be a G.
No, an F double sharp would sound the same as a G, or be fingered the same as a G, but an F double sharp would be an F double sharp.  This note can occur as the leading tone in g# minor, or as a chromatic lower neighbor to a G#, among other occurrences.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #5
Too bad MIDI note numbering wasn't discovered by the Visigoths.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #6
Actually, midi note number is a severe liability if you want to operate outside of the usual boring 12-tone system. But it's unlikely to change, so we work around it. ;-)

To explain, perhaps, why double accidentals are used: Let's take for example a harmonic minor scale on A. The notes are:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G#, A

Note that there's one of each letter (except the last one, which is the octave.) Now, let's take the same scale starting on A#:

A#, B#, C#, D#, E#, F#, Gx, A#

The leading tone (second to last note) has to be "some kind of G" otherwise it wouldn't be a correct scale. That's why we have to call it Gx (G double-sharp) instead of A, because we already have an "A" (the tonic, A#).

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #7
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Theory buff reply:

Start from a note (let's say C) and go upwards with perfect fifths: C, G, D, A, E, B, F#, ... If you go further enough, you'll meet the double sharps. Do the same operation downwards, IOW upwards with perfect fourths: C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, ... This time, it's double-flats that you'll come up with if you go further enough.

The 12 tone equal temperament is a workaround, which assumes all black notes the same. (Actually all notes are green but that's another story.)

If you have difficulty finding perfect fifths and fourths, use Canadian ones instead, which are rumored to be close enough. ;D

Cheers!
_
Hisar Ensemble on Youtube

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #8
LOL! I love your sense of humour. But actually, this time of year Canadian notes don't look green, but covered with white stuff. ;)

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #9
Nah, you can't find fifths in Canada, they went metric a while back.  Even before they used a weird modern system call "Imperial".  Now a days you can't even find fifths in the good old U S of A, 'cause the one business here that has gone metric is wine and liquor.  They switched from fifths (for the traditional measure impaired, that was a fifth of a U.S. gallon, which is what the English gallon used to be before they inflated it to the Imperial gallon) to 750 millilitres as a way to get a quick price increase with no one noticing.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #10
I believe this is what is known as "Gin and tonic." If you want green, add a twist of lime.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #11
Make mine a supertonic

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #12
Am I the first coastal Canadian to see this thread?  (Fred lives in the interior - they deserve winter there).  White stuff doesn't hit us often on the west coast.  Trees are still green, leaves just starting to turn and fall.  Back east ('central Canada'), the hills are likely still ablaze with autumn colours.

Hate to boast, but our gallon was 5/4 the size of the US gallon.  When we wanted a jug of liquor, we got a jug!

We went metric in 1974.  Get used to it.

It's not all bad.  When we drive at 100 km/h you guys are only doing 62 mph.  We may not be going faster, but our speedometers look more impressive showing 3 digits.

And it's quite mild here when the temperature is below zero.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #13
Forget all this theory stuff.  In jazz notation, let's say you've got a bunch of 8th notes in B major (there are 5 sharps in that key - F#, C#, G#, D#, A#.

It may be that you want to play an accidental natural (an accidental is a note that isn't in the scale you're using).

A rule is that you don't have to write sharp or flat signs if the sharp or flat note is part of the scale you're using.  If you use an accidental, all other notes in the same bar at the same vertical posiiton on the staff will be changed until you use another accidental sign, but you don't have to write the sharp or flat again.

So let's say you want to write a bunch of 8th notes that alternate between G sharp and G natural.  You're in B major, so by default, all the G notes in the bar will be sharp unless an accidental is used.

You might write G (which is sharp), G natural, G#,G natural, G#,G natural, G#,G natural.

That's a hassle, takes up lots of space, and is hard for the eye to follow when you're reading music.

It may be easier and take less space to write just

G, XF, G, F, G, F, G, F

The G is sharp due to the key signature, the x means double sharp.  It only needs to be written once because the following F's will also be doublesharp until an accidental or a bar line intervenes.  So instead of adding 7 natural and sharp signs to the bar, you just use the note below and use the double sharp sign one time.  You've saved space and made a neater product.

Same principle applies for double flats, denoted by 2 flat signs (bb).

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #14
Ok, if an F double sharp sounds the same as a G and is fingered the same as a G, and if an F double sharp is say 5000 Hz (I know that's not right, just an example) and a G is 5000 Hz, than what's the difference except on the printed score?  If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, I calls it a duck!
:-)

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #15
... "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, I calls it a duck."

But it might be a drake!

And (pushing the analogy much too far) in a lot of cases it doesn't really matter either way but in some cases it does.  Fred's reply (#6) gives a good musical example.  I'll leave the ornithological examples to your imagination.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #16
Alas, Western musical notation has many oddities. For example, when I encounter a note with a natural, I must remember the key to know whether that note is sung higher or lower.

Color-coding the notes would help, but when I was a kid the Crayola box only had 8 colors. No doubt the kids who grew up in the richer part of town, where their moms would buy them the 64-color deluxe box, grew up to be better musicians.

Come to think of it, there are now crayon colors never imagined in my youth, just as there are new forms of music. I am sure there is an association.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #17
Here's a very good reason why double sharps are important:

Say you're on piano, playing a piece in B major.  Now I know this isn't a beginner key, but you do get it, especially in rock operas and other cases where you're working with guitars.  There are also other keys where this discussion applies.

Now B major has 5 sharps.  Let's say the piece modulates to the ralative minor - G# minor.  Still 5 sharps.

Quite often there will be a dominant chord - D# major.  The notes in this chord are D#, Fx, and A#.  When thses notes are written out they form a nice visually-standard chord.  An excperienced player can merely glance at it to play it.

But if the chord is written out as D#, G and A#, it no longer appears as a pair of thirds, but rather as something else.  When you glance at it, the immediate thought is that it's probably some sort of sus4 or a 9th.

So what if we say the D# major chord should be written as Eb instead.  We then get momentary confusion each time we come to a new note:  What relationship does this note have to the previous note?  Where does it fit in the key?  What is the key, anyway?  How many sharps were we in?  Or are we in flats?  Do I add a sharp or a natural to that leading note?

So let's change the whole key signature - instead of modulating from B major to G# minor, we'll modulate to the enharmonically equivalent Ab minor instead.

So let's write out the notes of our tonic chord.  Ab, Cbb, Eb.  A similar argument against Ab, B, Eb applies.

So in short, if we want to play in the relative minor of B major, and play tonic and dominant chords, we have to use either double sharps or double flats.

Other instruments also have "chords" although not writeen as such.  Brass idiomatically get arpeggio writing - bugle calls, fanfares and the likes - where knowing the relationship between notes is important for pitching.  Strings and woodwinds will also have arpeggios, especially the higher instruments.  Knowing where you are in the key is important for intonation.  Any instrument can get scalar passages, and - if you know your scales - D#, E#, Fx, G#, A#, B#, Cx, D is much easier than D#, F, G, G#, A#, C, D, D#.

Double sharps and double flats have a practical performance use.  They're not just for theory.  Ducks ain't always ducks.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #18
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Imagine a notation system in 16.7 million colours...
_
Hisar Ensemble on Youtube

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #19
What relationship does this note have to the previous note?
You hit the nail on the head, Ewan - the key word here is relationship.  Good explanation.
And D(in D)P's example G, XF, G, F, G, F, G, F is a good one as well.  It is similar to a piece I played once in orchestra by some local hack.  One of the movements of his symphony was basically a struggle between F Major and f minor.  One passage had a long string of eighth notes alternating between these two chords.
The 1st trombone had C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C.
The 3rd trombone had F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F F.
The 2nd trombone had A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab.
<BARF!>
This is a case where linear considerations should take presidence over harmonic considerations.
Notation is about makin' it easy to read!

o dang - i fell off my soapbox...

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #20
I think we're all on the same page.  I particularly appreciated Ewan's explanation related to chords.  I'm a reed player so don't read notated chords often, but Ewan makes sense.

To sum up for Chris, the composer's challenge is to make it as easy as possible for the musician to read the music.  Some musicians will be sightreading it, perhaps even sightreading in performance, and the notes go by awful fast - legit piano music, orchestral, jazz, pit orchestra, etc.

The double sharps and flats are just conventions that will assist you in communicating the substance of your music to those who will try to perform it.  Most musicians who read western music know most of the written musical language, and those who don't understand x or bb will soon learn when they encounter it.

(Ertugrul reads western music too - grin)

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #21
Rose: The 2nd trombone had A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab A Ab.

That one's notationally so ugly that it would be only marginally better if written as either enharmonically incorrect version Gx Ab G A G A ... or A G# A G A G ...

The most elegant way of dealing with this particular construct would be to notate it as a tremolo. This looks like a half-note A single-beamed with a half-note Ab. You'd need only two of those to accurately convey the two whole-notes' worth of alternating 1/8's.

Unfortunately, NWC can't do that at this time. :(

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #22
I like the GAGA reference, Fred.

The problem with tremolo is many readers won't understand it.  But I'm not sure Bbb Ab alternating would be much more useful.

Ain't music fun - and we haven't even played a note !

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #23
Yes indeedy, I get the message!  It will make it easier for the performer to hit the right note without having to worry his (or her) brain about what key they are in at the time of playing, however the point I was making is that no matter if the note is an F double sharp or a G, the same key is pressed.  Yes - no?

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #24
On a keyboard - yes, although there are some baroque keyboards that have different keys for G#/Ab. That's because in the days before equal temperament they were two quite distinct pitches.

On a violin they could well be played differently since theoretically they are not quite the same.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #25
>So let's change the whole key signature - instead of
>modulating from B major to G# minor, we'll modulate to the
>enharmonically equivalent Ab minor instead.

>So let's write out the notes of our tonic chord. Ab, Cbb, Eb.
>A similar argument against Ab, B, Eb applies.

Unfortunately, not quite:  the Ab minor chord is Ab Cb Eb, not Ab Cbb Eb.  However, it does serve to illustrate that the
rationale for using double sharps and double flats is essentially the same as that for using Cb, Fb, B# and E#.

- seb

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #26
In current music, yes (ignoring microtonal works), but not always.  In meantone temperament C-sharp may not be equal to D-flat, and the same thing holds for double sharps and flats.  For an example see:

http://www.chapel.duke.edu/organs/Brombaugh/FromBuilder.htm

Check out the picture of the keyboard, with split black keys!

http://www.dolmetsch.com/faqtuning.htm

will tell you a lot more about this, but the graphics are pre-stoneage ASCII art (apologies to the justly famous NWC file "bones", by Richard Woodroffe, see below).

ASCII-art at it's finest.

http://nwc-scriptorium.org/ftp/folkethnic/bones.nwc

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #27
Even within the 12t "workaround", a -say- G# and Ab will not be played the same, except on keyboard/fretted neck. Especially sensible (leading) notes tend to be played much closer to the tonic (in cadences).

Still, a string player and a brass player would play the same pitch at slightly different frequencies.
Hisar Ensemble on Youtube

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #28
Oops! Yes, the third of Ab minor IS just Cb (not Cbb).  My apologies for carelessness.  Sometimes I think I'd rather have a clever transpose button and just play in easy keys rahter than have to worry about these obscure bits of theory.  Irving Berlin had a transposing piano and played everything in F#.

There is no case where the minor third is a double sharp or flat, and the major third of the dominant is also a double accidental, even enharmonically (unless you go into really obscure enharmonic changes - calling C minor Dbb minor, and having the third as Fbb and calling the dominant Fx major and having the third as Ax; but if you go around doing that sort of thing, there's no court in the world that wouldn't return a verdict of justifiable homicide against you!)

ObPuzzle:  We all know that in equal temperament C = B# = Dbb.  Which note has only two names?  (Triple sharps and flats are NOT allowed!)

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #29
Since singers (as with violins) are not locked to a frets or a keyboard, voices in harmony can (in principle) sing notes to any theoretical temperament. When accompanied by piano or organ, the voices must necessarily sing to the instrument temperament. But unaccompanied, two voices could make a perfect fifth that is perfect 3/2 pitch ratio, and do it no matter what they key, or no matter what the tonic.

I do believe there are some singing groups that specialize in this sort of thing for new-age sort of music.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #30
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G#-Ab?
_
Hisar Ensemble on Youtube

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #31
G#/Ab can also be called Cbbbb or Exx - without the use of triple sharps and flats...

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #32
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Good one! ;)
_
Hisar Ensemble on Youtube

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #33
This forum has gone a long way from its original request for information by a Beginner !
To understand what it is all about a beginner needs to look up the background to scales and tuning, the thing called temperament. Here you learn that a 12 note instrument can only be in tune for one Key signature, and that as a result the tuning of nearly all instruments, and the music written for them  is a compromise which usually sounds all right. But to a professional, some of the compromises are not acceptable and so we get these strange double accidentals. For most people it would be best if the music were easy to read and play, without having to know all the background theory

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #34
Ah, Tony, I think you've missed the point.  Double sharps and flats DO make music easier to play, when you're playing in obscure keys.

The good news is that the obscure keys are simply not presented to beginners!  So it's all a moot point.  (No prizes, Forum, for making puns on "moot".)

The doubles are easy to learn for theory quite early on ("double the effect of a single"), but take a while to learn their practical use.  At first they are - and should be - just quirky little bits of theory, but later they're practical work tools.

Slightly OT:  During my last show, we had a fairly young flute player who came across her first-time-ever double sharp - she'd always played in concert bands.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #35
No prizes, Forum, for making puns on "moot".

Take a look at https://forum.noteworthycomposer.com/?topic=2354.msg13205#msg13205

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #36
"G#/Ab can also be called Cbbbb or Exx - without the use of triple sharps and flats..."

Should Exx in this answer be Exxxx?

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #37
All I know is, my car runs better with Exxon than with Exxoff.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #38
Should Exx in this answer be Exxxx?
No, it may be Exx, E##x, Ex##, E#x#, or E####, but not Exxxx.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #39
All I know is, my car runs better with Exxon than with Exxoff.

Yet my old modem worked better with Xoff.

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #40
what two ways can a double sharp be cancelled?  one is a natural sign, is the other a flat???

Re: Doubel Flats And Double Sharps
Reply #41
I.m guessing that a new accidental of any sort replaces an earlier one on a note of the same vertical position.  In other words, if the first A in the bar is marked double sharp, all A's in the same octave that follow it in the bar will also be double sharps unless and until there is another accidental sign, be it sharp, natural, flat or double flat.  That second accidental sign will govern the remaining notes A's in the bar unless/until a third one occurs.

I'm suggesting, therefor, that there's no real need to use a natural and a sharp to cancel a preceding double sharp, except as a courtesy to the reader of the music.