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 Post subject: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:50 am 
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I threw a question into an earlier post, almost flippantly, but now it is bugging me. Since No-one picked up on it I will ask it in its own topic.

I have whistles in several of the most common keys: A Bb, C, D, Eb and I believe that I am missing F and G.

These notes make the key of Bb major (I think). Is there some underlying reason for this? Or is it just happenstance?

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:45 am 
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Their bell notes (and hence nominal keys) also cover the major key signatures from three sharps to three flats:
A ###
D ##
G #
C
F b
Bb bb
Eb bbb

But it's just coincidence that flat (major) keys get flat names quicker than sharp (major) keys get sharp ones, hence spelling out your Bb scale.

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:14 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
But it's just coincidence that flat (major) keys get flat names quicker than sharp (major) keys get sharp ones, hence spelling out your Bb scale.

Thanks for the reply, but I am not sure that I grasp what you are saying - could you elabourate a little please....

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:10 am 
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I think what is being said/implied is that musical instruments are commonly named after the flat rather than the sharp, Bb/Eb rather than A#/D#.

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:56 am 
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No, that's not what I meant...

Sharp-side major keys (from one sharp to seven):
G, D, A, E, B, F#, C#.

Flat-side major keys (from one flat to seven):
F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb.

So you've already got a key called something-flat (Bb major) with two flats, whereas it takes six sharps to get one called something-sharp (F# major). The common range of whistles cited by Phill simply covers the most common keys, so his Bb scale of keys is just coincidence.

Interestingly, it's the opposite way round for minor keys; the first on the sharp side to be called something-sharp is F# minor at three sharps, whereas the first on the flat side to be something-flat is Bb minor at five flats. But we don't make or name whistles for minor-key bell notes!

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:40 am 
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OK, thanks. That explains why that series of notes is called Bb major. And on the face of it answers my question, but (and there is always one...) why is that particular series of notes used as the keys for the common whistles? Or to put it the other way round, why were those keys chosen for the common whistles? There are seven common keys for whistles - following a pattern for an octave, I guess. But why that particular seven notes? why did the whistle bell notes not make A major or C major or D major, or F# major? I am sure that there is a rational (maybe even a logical) answer - it may even be blindingly obvious to everyone but me :D

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 10:21 am 
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Let me try again, Phill...

The major key with no sharps or flats is C. G has one sharp and F has one flat. D has two sharps and Bb has two flats. A has three sharps and Eb has three flats. These keys were chosen for the most common whistles because they're the most common keys; you're far more likely to want to play in C or D than F# or Db. So nothing I've said explains why that series of notes is called Bb major, but everything I've said attempts to explain why these are the common whistle keys.

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 10:29 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Let me try again, Phill...


Ah that did it for me, thanks Peter. Let me rephrase to ensure that I have the meaning....

The common whistle keys are those with none, one, two or three of either sharps or flats. Nothing more.

It just so happens that the key of Bb major has the root note (?) of all of those keys.

No magic?

Phill

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:16 am 
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You've got it, Phill. No magic! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:18 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
You've got it, Phill. No magic! :)

Just happenstance.
Thanks Peter.

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:05 am 
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It's just because you get to keys with flats as the tonic earlier than you get to keys with sharps as the tonic, to simplify it.

Moving sharpwise five keys from C: G D A E B

Moving flatwise five keys from C: F Bb Eb Ab Db

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:42 am 
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Come to think of it, there's more than happenstance involved, and maybe a bit of magic. Each time you add a sharp or flat to the key, you move to the next position on the circle of fifths. As soon as you get 7 notes in a row on the circle of fifths, you have a diatonic scale. That's the magic of the diatonic scale.

Interesting observation, Dr. Phill.


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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:39 am 
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Tunborough wrote:
Come to think of it, there's more than happenstance involved, and maybe a bit of magic. Each time you add a sharp or flat to the key, you move to the next position on the circle of fifths. As soon as you get 7 notes in a row on the circle of fifths, you have a diatonic scale. That's the magic of the diatonic scale.


Does that mean that from the standard starting point Bb is seven steps around the circle of fifths? That would be the kind of inevitability that would explain Bb turning up here. Given a certain starting point (I am assuming C here) and a desire to use all variants of 1..3 sharps and flats, the end point can only be Bb. Must find that circle of fiths I had lying around so I can check.....

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:48 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
It's just because you get to keys with flats as the tonic earlier than you get to keys with sharps as the tonic, to simplify it.

Been there, done that! :wink:

Peter Duggan wrote:
But it's just coincidence that flat (major) keys get flat names quicker than sharp (major) keys get sharp ones, hence spelling out your Bb scale.

DrPhill wrote:
Does that mean that from the standard starting point Bb is seven steps around the circle of fifths?

No, Bb is seven steps round the circle from B in one direction (Bb, F, C, G, D, A, E, B) and A in the other (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, E, A). It just means that the key notes of the particular seven adjacent keys in question (from three sharps to three flats) spell out a Bb scale rather than some other.

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 Post subject: Re: Bb
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:07 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
But it's just coincidence that flat (major) keys get flat names quicker than sharp (major) keys get sharp ones
Tunborough wrote:
Come to think of it, there's more than happenstance involved, and maybe a bit of magic .
I can't help thinking that there must be a better way of accounting for this. But I can't think what.
Tunborough wrote:
Interesting observation, Dr. Phill.
Yes.


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