Ebay Classic organs

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

A-flat major or G-sharp major? 

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • A-flat major or G-sharp major? 

    I hear "A flat" a lot in modern times. It seems like years ago, like before 1975, if my memory serves me correctly, Columbia Records used the terms "in G-sharp Major" for various works by Bach for key-naming convention. The term "A-flat" was never used key-naming for any Bach pieces on any Columbia Records label on vinyl LP's with E Power Biggs or Anthony Newman as the organist and/or harpsichordist.

    Would the old wiggy master himself, Johann Sebastian Bach, have known the difference between A-flat and G-sharp in his well-tempered tuning system?

    Why then is the term "G-sharp minor" still in practice since it seems that A-flat major and G-sharp minor might be parallel keys (having the same tonic)?

  • #2
    Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
    It seems like years ago, like before 1975, if my memory serves me correctly, Columbia Records used the terms "in G-sharp Major" for various works by Bach for key-naming convention.
    I think you are perhaps mixing up the majors and minors.

    The major key is Ab major which has 4 flats. G# major is only a theoretical key: it has 6 sharps and one double sharp (so it would be a very strange- looking key signature).
    The minor key is G# minor which has 5 sharps. Ab minor has 7 flats so is rarely used. (Though it's useful for the well-worn joke: What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft? A flat minor.)

    Actually, I'm not aware of any organ music by Bach in Ab major - it would probably have been quite uncomfortable tonally before equal temperament. There are the Ab preludes and fugues in the "Well-tempered Klavier" of course.

    If Columbia used the terms "in G-sharp Major" for various works by Bach for key-naming convention I'd be amazed.
    Last edited by Peterboroughdiapason; 06-24-2020, 07:56 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Peterboroughdiapason View Post

      I think you are perhaps mixing up the majors and minors.

      The major key is Ab major which has 4 flats. G# minor is only a theoretical key: it has 6 sharps and one double sharp (so it would be a very strange- looking key signature).
      The minor key is G# minor which has 5 sharps. Ab minor has 7 flats so is rarely used. (Though it's useful for the well-worn joke: What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft? A flat minor.)

      Actually, I'm not aware of any organ music by Bach in Ab major - it would probably have been quite uncomfortable tonally before equal temperament. There are the Ab preludes and fugues in the "Well-tempered Klavier" of course.

      If Columbia used the terms "in G-sharp Major" for various works by Bach for key-naming convention I'd be amazed.
      No, I don't have majors and minors confused. To quote Leonard Bernstein, major is glad and minor is sad. I'm not familiar with key signatures and I'm not versed in written music. I'm just familiar with keys for classical music pieces as used by record companies for tracks. I don't know the term "double sharps". I just know the white keys are called naturals and the black keys of a piano and such are called sharps and flats. What might YOU call the black key on a piano between G natural and A natural? Who is to say commercial record producers are always well-versed in musicology when printing track names on their record labels?

      Looking at my Casio LK-175 keyboard, the keys are named on the lowest octave and a half (C2 through F3) for the one-touch accompaniment chords. It does in fact label the black key between the G and A naturals down there as "Ab".

      The question might be is how should keys on a keyboard instrument be correctly named? It appears that all 24 major/minor musical keys/scales aren't always named for each (mechanical) key and/or respective tone it produces on a diatonic keyboard within the octave. Regardless how music is written, a mechanical key when pressed on an instrument can only have one and only one tone(pitch) when properly tuned and voiced. Whether you call a certain black key a G-sharp or an A-flat, it sounds the same to mine ears.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAc509uEa68

      I found the above video saying each and every black key can be called a sharp or a flat in relation to the natural it's adjacent to. This is really messy: having dual names for black keys!! I wish the musical community would decide to have one and only one name for each and every black key on an instrument since they all remain the same in tone to the human ear.
      Last edited by jonmyrlebailey; 06-24-2020, 07:57 AM.

      Comment


      • tbeck
        tbeck commented
        Editing a comment
        Is this a joke? Your last post looks like something out of "The Onion".

    • #4
      Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
      Why then is the term "G-sharp minor" still in practice since it seems that A-flat major and G-sharp minor might be parallel keys (having the same tonic)?
      Sorry, I wrote G# minor instead of G# major on the 2nd line of my post. Apologies - now corrected.

      To answer your original question, quoted above: one is major and one is minor.

      The minor scale starting on G# is G# minor; the minor scale starting on Ab is Ab minor. They sound the same on an equally-tempered instrument. However Ab minor is very rare for a whole piece as there are so many flats and it's more awkward than G# minor.

      The black key between G and A is G# or Ab, depending on the key. The two notes are enharmonic equivalents: same note - two names. G# if the music is in, for example, E major; Ab if the music is in, for example, Eb major.

      LATER, FOLLOWING YOUR REWRITE:

      Music, and it's notation, is not very logical, I'm afraid. Who knows what we would come up with if we started again from scratch!

      To take G#/Ab:
      The first three notes of E major are E, F# and G#. It can't be Ab or there wouldn't be a G. And you can't have Ab and then A - it would be impossible to read.

      The first three notes of F minor, on the other hand, are F, G, Ab. The third note can't be G# as we've already had G.








      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post

        No, I don't have majors and minors confused. To quote Leonard Bernstein, major is glad and minor is sad. I'm not familiar with key signatures and I'm not versed in written music. I'm just familiar with keys for classical music pieces as used by record companies for tracks. I don't know the term "double sharps". I just know the white keys are called naturals and the black keys of a piano and such are called sharps and flats. What might YOU call the black key on a piano between G natural and A natural? Who is to say commercial record producers are always well-versed in musicology when printing track names on their record labels?

        The other poster did not say you had major and minor confused qualitatively (happy/sad), they wondered if you maybe had G# as a rational tonic key for a major Bach work confused. That is a very different question. And, seriously, "who is to say commercial record producers are always well versed in musicology"? I'm pretty familiar with Bach's oeuvre but I'll be the first to admit I don't know every single title of over 1050 catalogued entries in the BWV. So... why not post a picture of the record label that caused you to start this discussion. I'm sure we could clear up any confusion really quickly.

        Comment


        • #6
          As can be seen from the key signature below, G# major is unwieldy in that regard, having eight sharps. The linked wikipedia article cites several instances of pieces which venture into G# major, but even then, it is extremely rare that the G# key signature is used.

          In general, whether a note is written as a natural, sharp, flat, double sharp, or double flat depends upon its overall harmonic context.
          -Admin

          Allen 965
          Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
          Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
          Hauptwerk 4.2

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post

            Regardless how music is written, a mechanical key when pressed on an instrument can only have one and only one tone(pitch) when properly tuned and voiced. Whether you call a certain black key a G-sharp or an A-flat, it sounds the same to mine ears.
            Actually, the black keys in equal temperament are a compromise. There is a tuning difference between G# and Ab. While there are a few (very few) organs in the world that have keyboards with more than 12 notes per octave so that the black notes can have their proper tuning, most keyboards "temper" the pitch and adjust it between the two values.
            Last edited by voet; 06-24-2020, 03:24 PM.
            Bill

            My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by Admin View Post
              As can be seen from the key signature below, G# major is unwieldy in that regard, having eight sharps. The linked wikipedia article cites several instances of pieces which venture into G# major, but even then, it is extremely rare that the G# key signature is used.

              In general, whether a note is written as a natural, sharp, flat, double sharp, or double flat depends upon its overall harmonic context.
              So enharmonics are used to simplify notation, key signatures, as needed.

              Comment


              • Admin
                Admin commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes, that's one reason. But keep in mind that enharmonics such as G# and Ab are only the same note in equal temperament tuning schemes. Other historic tuning methods exist in which that is not the case. Also, string players and vocalists can and will play these notes differently often more in line with just temperament.

            • #9
              All keys on the keyboard have multiple names, both black and white. It may seem confusing at first, but there are very good reasons for it. Having alternate naming conventions can make things like transposing much easier.

              Take G# Major for example, say we were to name it using note names that seem conventional to us (names we often associate with a given pitch):
              G#,A#, C, C#, D#, F, G, G#

              The above might make visual sense to us, but what happens if we transpose that set of notes into another key, say F major:
              F, G, Bbb, Bb, C, Ebb, Fb, F
              Now that got messy quickly. It even makes it unnecessarily difficult to visualize on a keyboard.


              In contrast to the previous, let say we will stick to the pattern of using consecutive letter names for scale steps and use accidentals to form the correct pitches.
              G#, A#, B#, C#, D#, E#, Fx, G#
              It transposes nicely to:
              F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F

              Alternate note names help us when we have to work with notes, so that we may do so in a more orderly manner. There is a small expense that the score receives more accidentals in certain keys, but with the advantage of greater mental clarity and a uniform system across all keys.

              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
                ...
                . I don't know the term "double sharps". I just know the white keys are called naturals and the black keys of a piano and such are called sharps and flats....
                If you don't know the term "double sharps," you lack the basic background information to understand the answers you are getting from some very helpful people.
                If you don't realize that there are white sharps and flats, again, you lack the basic background information to understand the answers you are getting from some very helpful people.

                Solution? Go study the basic music rudiments, then come back. Until you understand those things, our answers will never make sense to you.

                Also, as Leisesturm suggested, "why not post a picture of the record label that caused you to start this discussion. I'm sure we could clear up any confusion really quickly."

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by jonmyrlebailey View Post
                  Would the old wiggy master himself, Johann Sebastian Bach, have known the difference between A-flat and G-sharp in his well-tempered tuning system?
                  Bach knows all.
                  “I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.” - Johann Sebastian Bach
                  Organs I Play:
                  - Allen 2100(T); 1951 M.P. Moller, 3 manual, 55 stop, 28 ranks, (Opus 8152); and 1965 Balcom and Vaughan 3 manual, 34 stops, 25 ranks (Opus 690)

                  Comment

                  Working...
                  X