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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Choosing accidentals when transcribing


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/54137

annie315 - Posted - 10/08/2020:  07:46:50


How do you decide whether to choose a flat or a sharp accidental (like a G# vs an Ab, i.e. the same pitch) when you're transcribing? Is there some kind of rule about that?

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 10/08/2020:  11:12:20


You choose accidentals that are in line with the key signature as much as possible. It’s best to avoid confusion wherever possible for the player’s sake.

Also, keep in mind that G# and Ab are only enharmonic equivalents—they use the same keys on modern pianos, but they’re not truly the same pitches.

One way to look at it is to consider the note without the accidental. Which version would fit the key signature better, and how does the accidental modify the feel of the key? Accidentals often create a need for resolution in the syntax of the piece.

ricepaper - Posted - 10/08/2020:  13:20:58


a good rule of thumb is that the diatonic scale of the key you're in should have one note from every letter (ex: The C sharp major scale contains a B sharp but no C natural even though these two notes are enharmonic equivalents) I am very glad there are no C sharp fiddle tunes (yet - ?).



edit: for accidentals, if the accidental is being come at from a lower pitch, use a sharp, from above, a flat (sharp when you move up, flat when you move down). another rule is to use sharps when you're in a key that uses sharps (G - F#), flats keys that use flats (F - Gb). I do suppose that these two rules might occasionally conflict with each other. Also, these rules are sometimes specific to the genre you're writing in. When it's ambiguous, I guess your best bet might be to try to find a similar example in one of the tune books out there of the same genre you're in (ex: M-K book for OT), and see how they notated it. At the end of the day though, notation is just a tool and it's not absolutely necessary to do it "right," just as long as it's legible.


Edited by - ricepaper on 10/08/2020 13:56:03

bsed - Posted - 10/11/2020:  08:05:27


By 'transcribing', I assume you mean writing out the dots or the tablature of a tune.



The main kinds of tunes where I would tab out accidentals are rags and waltzes. For instance, I have frequently been writing (in tab) 2 2 2, meaning use the 2nd finger of the indicated string. Below the first 2 I might write a flat (b) symbol, below the second 2 I would write the natural sign, and below the third 2 I would write another flat(b). And those '2's are usually slurred together, indicating you play them in one bow stroke. So I guess you'd say I'm using accidentals mostly to indicate half steps. 


Edited by - bsed on 10/11/2020 08:06:13

DougD - Posted - 10/11/2020:  08:35:38


I took a brief look in "Ryan's Mammoth Collection" and the accidentals seem in line with the key signature i.e. sharps in the sharp keys. If you need to raise the G natural in the key of D it would be written as G#, not Ab. I didn't see any evidence that it has anything to do with the direction of the melody at that point.
The key of C doesn't offer this kind of guidance, but the accidentals I saw were all sharps. I didn't study it enough to get a feel for it, but it seemed that the melody was suggesting a chord/scale in that direction i.e. a momentary G or D scale with an F#.
BTW, I also came across your videos with Jeremy. Very nice music.

mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 10/11/2020:  10:38:34


I use the accidental that ends up using the least total of these symbols.

Petimar - Posted - 10/11/2020:  12:37:22


quote:

Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

I use the accidental that ends up using the least total of these symbols.






 



I do this as well.  The fewer the marks on the page, the easier it is to decipher (to me anyway).

carlb - Posted - 12/18/2020:  04:46:26


What about tunes with "in between" notes? e.g. Greasy Coat and quite a few modal tunes. In Greasy Coat, the third for me is about 1/3 sharper than C natural (determined many years ago, for me, on a fretless banjo). I don't know of a way to transcribe that note.

Baileyb - Posted - 12/18/2020:  05:59:34


quote:

Originally posted by carlb

What about tunes with "in between" notes? e.g. Greasy Coat and quite a few modal tunes. In Greasy Coat, the third for me is about 1/3 sharper than C natural (determined many years ago, for me, on a fretless banjo). I don't know of a way to transcribe that note.






Peter Cooper in his book "Mel Bay's Complete Irish Fiddle Player" on page 94 " The Banks of Ireland" uses an upward pointing arrow above the note to indicate a pitch midway between a sharp and natural. In this case it is a half sharp. For a half flat I would assume you would use a downward pointing arrow.

Dick Hauser - Posted - 12/18/2020:  07:32:40


If I am ascending in pitch, I use a sharp. If I am descending in pitch, I use a flat. And I don't like having them used unless absolutely necessary. Some notation uses them for "complimentary" purposes. Unnecessary items in notation are distracting. For example, a note is one measure has a sharp or flat, and the next measure indicates a return to normal pitch.

DougD - Posted - 12/18/2020:  07:57:03


Dick, those are called "courtesy" accidentals, and they are used only in specific situations. To you they may be distracting, but to a professional musician they can be very helpful in avoiding mistakes.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 12/18/2020:  11:21:10


i think generally for my own purposes if i where to sharpen a note in a "key" or "mode" i would mark it as sharp. Or vice versa

eg: D Dorian ...Key C Maj....The #5= A#

Similarly... D Dorian Key C Maj The b5=Ab

If the Tune was a "Blues" tune i would indicate that by sharpening the 4th of the D minor pentatonic by using a G# instead of an Ab

pete_fiddle - Posted - 12/18/2020:  20:12:44


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

i think generally for my own purposes if i where to sharpen a note in a "key" or "mode" i would mark it as sharp. Or vice versa



eg: D Dorian ...Key C Maj....The #5= A#



Similarly... D Dorian Key C Maj The b5=Ab



If the Tune was a "Blues" tune i would indicate that by sharpening the 4th of the D minor pentatonic by using a G# instead of an Ab






Then again...i suppose if i where thinking in Major/minor terms rather than thinking modally, i would sharpen the 4th of the Dorian mode to indicate the 4th mode of the harmonic minor. Or flat the 6th degree of the Dorian to indicate the Natural minor  (Aolian). ...Suppose it must just depend on the intensions of the person writing down the music ?

Brian Wood - Posted - 12/18/2020:  20:44:24


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle

i think generally for my own purposes if i where to sharpen a note in a "key" or "mode" i would mark it as sharp. Or vice versa



eg: D Dorian ...Key C Maj....The #5= A#



Similarly... D Dorian Key C Maj The b5=Ab



If the Tune was a "Blues" tune i would indicate that by sharpening the 4th of the D minor pentatonic by using a G# instead of an Ab






Then again...i suppose if i where thinking in Major/minor terms rather than thinking modally, i would sharpen the 4th of the Dorian mode to indicate the 4th mode of the harmonic minor. Or flat the 6th degree of the Dorian to indicate the Natural minor  (Aolian). ...Suppose it must just depend on the intensions of the person writing down the music ?






I think it's been said, but the intentions of the writer should be making it easy for someone to read, not making someone figure out what he meant. The rules of thumb are for clarity.

buckhenry - Posted - 12/18/2020:  22:26:54


If it was chromatic descending passage....A-Ab-G

Ascending.. G-G#-A.

If it was part of the E chord... E-G#-B

If it was a chord with an Ab.

If it was a modulation which included a G# or an Ab.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 12/19/2020:  01:49:19


Yes i suppose it would also depend on whether the reader wanted clear simple notation for sight reading or, whether they wanted a more in depth analysis of the music so they had a better idea of the structure of the music, and how to improvise, arrange, or memorize a piece in blocks etc.

Personally i cant sight read (well i can but very slowly), so i prefer a more analytical approach to understand the structure of a piece and play from memory and my own arrangement and variations

Brian Wood - Posted - 12/19/2020:  08:44:49


quote:

Originally posted by pete_fiddle





Personally i cant sight read (well i can but very slowly), so i prefer a more analytical approach to understand the structure of a piece and play from memory and my own arrangement and variations






I don't sight read very well either. I make transcriptions however, which strive for clarity and usually means using as few accidentals as possible, and keeping the visible shape of the melody if possible. (I also rely on my notation program's ability to "respell pitches" as a check when I'm done).

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