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#2913615 - 03/07/18 07:31 PM What's it called when the key signature is always C...?
kelp Offline
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But accidentals are used throughout the piece, which imply a different key. So, the staff shows key of C. But all my C's and F's are indicated sharp throughout.

I feel like there's a proper term for this (other than "confusing"). Ring a bell for anyone?

As a side note, I exported a score from Cubase once and gave it to a friend. I didn't indicate the key sig and just let Cubase do the accidentals. He yelled at me. I had it comin'.
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#2913616 - 03/07/18 07:36 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: kelp]
ElmerJFudd Offline
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Modulation?
But that's typically temporary, comes and goes and returns to C.
If your tune is really in a different scale for its entirety, let the player know.
And save yourself and others a lot of time reading/writing accidentals.
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#2913617 - 03/07/18 07:53 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: kelp]
mate stubb Offline
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Originally Posted By: kelp
But all my C's and F's are indicated sharp throughout.

I feel like there's a proper term for this (other than "confusing"). Ring a bell for anyone?


D major? <ducks> wink
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#2913619 - 03/07/18 08:29 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: mate stubb]
yamoho Offline
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...or C double sharp...

sorry

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#2913623 - 03/07/18 08:54 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: mate stubb]
MathOfInsects Offline
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Right, it's just in D, and your file was set up to the default key of C so had to compensate.

I told this story here once before, but...I was hired for a wedding gig. The guy MDing the night was the bass player. He sent over all the song titles and the keys they were in. The group had already rehearsed, so I trusted the keys. But it was odd: Probably 70% of them, maybe more, were in C, with a couple of additional ones in Cm, and in many cases this involved large transposition intervals from the original key. I kinda figured that maybe that was just where the singers were comfortable singing, but of course the melody was in different places in the scale on each tune, so it still seemed odd.

I wrote him to confirm. "Yes, I double-checked, all keys are correct as listed."

OK. I show up. Song after song, they are not in C. They are in whatever the original key was (which of course, I don't necessarily know any more, since I learned them in C and don't necessarily remember where I transposed them from). I start every song waiting to hear what key the band is actually going to play in, since being "that guy" and asking what key it's in at the beginning of EVERY song, for 40 songs, like I didn't do my homework, is the less attractive option to me than fading in after a bar or two when I'm on familiar ground.

I pulled MD over during break and said, "Hey, none of these songs are in the keys you sent over. Maybe one or two. What's up?"

He checks his ipad and says, "no, these are right. Look."

And he shows me his iRealpro index. They are all in C. I click on a chart. It is obviously charted in Gb (or whatever). It's a lead sheet, so it's just chords and rhythm. Not uncommon for some guys to let the chord names themselves do the heavy lifting and not worry about key sig. But because he didn't change the default key in the file, and just charted it using the correct chords, iReal listed each song as being in C.

So that's how he sent them to me. And then confirmed them the same way.

This is a working bass player, who probably plays more than me.

That's in the key of SMDH.
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#2913625 - 03/07/18 09:12 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: MathOfInsects]
linwood Offline
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I've told this one here too, but it still cracks me up so here goes:

I'm doing a gig where the drummer is the bandleader and this is back in the cassette days. He gives me a cassette of tunes to learn and it was playing in the cracks so I called him up and asked what key is the first song in. He goes and gets his song list and tells me "I don't know what key it is. The only thing written next to the title is Ehh Bum". It was in Ebm.

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#2913626 - 03/07/18 09:23 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: kelp]
zephonic Offline
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Originally Posted By: kelp
But accidentals are used throughout the piece, which imply a different key. So, the staff shows key of C. But all my C's and F's are indicated sharp throughout.

I feel like there's a proper term for this (other than "confusing"). Ring a bell for anyone?

As a side note, I exported a score from Cubase once and gave it to a friend. I didn't indicate the key sig and just let Cubase do the accidentals. He yelled at me. I had it comin'.


Yeah, it has become kind of the norm to not indicate key sigs on the staff, especially in more involved jazz or fusion tunes that are tonally ambiguous or have a lot of key changes.

I first noticed it in Bob Mintzerís book, on most excercises he wouldnít put in the key sig, instead just raising or lowering individual notes.

I guess it makes sense for certain things, for example, if a tune is in Ab and it has like Emaj7 or B7 chords in there, it makes sense to not assign a key signature on the staff and just deal with each individual chord/note on an as needed basis.

What's more, technically those chords would be Fbmaj7 and Cb7, but if you notate it that way everybody will hate you.

So with the way modern harmony works, no key sig is often less hassle.
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#2913705 - 03/08/18 10:21 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: zephonic]
GovernorSilver Offline
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No key signature on the staff and lots of accidentals is typical of atonal music (Schoenberg, Webern, Babbitt, etc.)
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#2913706 - 03/08/18 10:23 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: GovernorSilver]
MathOfInsects Offline
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Humans of earth: A song where all C's and F's are sharp, is simply in the key of D.
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#2913707 - 03/08/18 10:33 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: MathOfInsects]
richforman Offline
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Not necessarily! The key signature at the top tells what key the song is in, but isn't at all a contract that all the notes in the piece will be in the I major scale for that key. Or most of them. It just denotes the key. I am sure in this case it's just an omission as discussed in the thread (where they didn't even bother to attempt to correctly identify the key on the lead sheet), but it is entirely conceivable (not common, certainly) that a piece of music could be in the key of C, and yet have all the C's and F's sharped.
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#2913708 - 03/08/18 10:38 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: MathOfInsects]
Raymb1 Offline
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Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Right, it's just in D, and your file was set up to the default key of C so had to compensate.

I told this story here once before, but...I was hired for a wedding gig. The guy MDing the night was the bass player. He sent over all the song titles and the keys they were in. The group had already rehearsed, so I trusted the keys. But it was odd: Probably 70% of them, maybe more, were in C, with a couple of additional ones in Cm, and in many cases this involved large transposition intervals from the original key. I kinda figured that maybe that was just where the singers were comfortable singing, but of course the melody was in different places in the scale on each tune, so it still seemed odd.

I wrote him to confirm. "Yes, I double-checked, all keys are correct as listed."

OK. I show up. Song after song, they are not in C. They are in whatever the original key was (which of course, I don't necessarily know any more, since I learned them in C and don't necessarily remember where I transposed them from). I start every song waiting to hear what key the band is actually going to play in, since being "that guy" and asking what key it's in at the beginning of EVERY song, for 40 songs, like I didn't do my homework, is the less attractive option to me than fading in after a bar or two when I'm on familiar ground.

I pulled MD over during break and said, "Hey, none of these songs are in the keys you sent over. Maybe one or two. What's up?"

He checks his ipad and says, "no, these are right. Look."

And he shows me his iRealpro index. They are all in C. I click on a chart. It is obviously charted in Gb (or whatever). It's a lead sheet, so it's just chords and rhythm. Not uncommon for some guys to let the chord names themselves do the heavy lifting and not worry about key sig. But because he didn't change the default key in the file, and just charted it using the correct chords, iReal listed each song as being in C.

So that's how he sent them to me. And then confirmed them the same way.

This is a working bass player, who probably plays more than me.



That's in the key of SMDH.



The leader should have sent you the charts instead of just the key signatures. There are too many songs out there that have different key centers and the key signature of C is convenient.
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#2913709 - 03/08/18 10:39 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: MathOfInsects]
Morrisseysixman Offline
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Kelp: I don't think I am recalling the exact vocabulary term you're seeking, but I'll brainstorm with some terms arguably in the same ballpark: twelve-tone technique / dodecaphony / Second Viennese School are all associated with compositions that strive to have no no key signature. If I recall correctly, these compositions are usually done on sheet music which the composer would argue indicates the absence of a key signature but which many would assume is in the Key of C because it doesn't indicate any sharps or flats.

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#2913710 - 03/08/18 10:41 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: MathOfInsects]
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Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Humans of earth: A song where all C's and F's are sharp, is simply in the key of D.

Or it could be in the key of A, if it were Norwegian Wood.
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#2913711 - 03/08/18 10:43 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: Morrisseysixman]
Morrisseysixman Offline
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Another concept which isn't exactly what you're describing but is in the same ballpark: pedal point / pedal tone / pedal note

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#2913718 - 03/08/18 10:57 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: Morrisseysixman]
kelp Offline
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Maybe there isn't a term. I searched through old e-mails and found where my buddy called me out on this and he referred to it as enharmonic spelling. Nerp. That's obviously different. So this whole thread has served, um, an alternate purpose!
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#2913723 - 03/08/18 11:19 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: MathOfInsects]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Originally Posted By: MathOfInsects
Humans of earth: A song where all C's and F's are sharp, is simply in the key of D.


Yes. Or Bm.

Originally Posted By: richforman
..... but it is entirely conceivable (not common, certainly) that a piece of music could be in the key of C, and yet have all the C's and F's sharped.


It's not written correctly then. And of course in all my years and all the charts I've read, I've never come across something not logical or written right.... smirk cry facepalm

You could have one sharp (F#) and still think of it as the key of C with a Lydian thing going on. But not C#.

Or a D7 or D7 sus., C/D, Am7/D type chord with no key sig. Depending on context, I could be thinking of/treating that as the ii chord of C. But once that C# is in the sig, my brain shifts to two sharps D/Bm mode.

Originally Posted By: zephonic
I first noticed it in Bob Mintzerís book, on most excercises he wouldnít put in the key sig, instead just raising or lowering individual notes.

I guess it makes sense for certain things, for example, if a tune is in Ab and it has like Emaj7 or B7 chords in there, it makes sense to not assign a key signature on the staff and just deal with each individual chord/note on an as needed basis.
So with the way modern harmony works, no key sig is often less hassle.


Yes, in Jazz with shifting tonal centers, it's not at all uncommon to not attempt to notate a key sig. I've played more sophisticated pop stuff when that route would apply to as well.


Edited by Dave Ferris (03/08/18 11:52 AM)
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#2913732 - 03/08/18 11:34 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: kelp]
emenelton Offline
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Originally Posted By: kelp
But accidentals are used throughout the piece, which imply a different key. So, the staff shows key of C. But all my C's and F's are indicated sharp throughout.

I feel like there's a proper term for this (other than "confusing"). Ring a bell for anyone?



It does ring a bell. I think you're correct, I cant recall the term though.

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#2913738 - 03/08/18 11:49 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: emenelton]
ProfD Offline
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It is called a capo or common not to be confused with the rapper when the key signature is always C. laugh

Otherwise, I would be playing in D major if I saw two sharps too. cool
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#2913740 - 03/08/18 11:53 AM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: ProfD]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Just thinking of an old Michael Franks tune as an example- the lady wants to know. I put it up a Minor third from the original for my vocal range. On my chart I wrote no sharps or flats. It starts on F Maj7 (what I consider the iV chord) and goes to C Maj 7. But it has an Eb Maj 7 & Bb Maj7 in the verses and a cycle of 2/5s descending in whole steps for the chorus. If you tried to assign a key sig to all that you'd go nuts !
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#2913746 - 03/08/18 12:08 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: Dave Ferris]
CEB Offline
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I don't know when but I think somewhere I had an instructor teach that empty key signatures relying on just accidentals used to be the general practice. Longtime ago .... like before I was born ..... pre Baroque .... 15th, 16th century or so. Can't rembemer if it was my classical guitar professor or music history ......probably Theory I was usually only half awake in that class. My guitar teacher had me doing a bunch of old English stuff like John Dowland maybe it was that stuff.


Edited by CEB (03/08/18 12:27 PM)
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#2913755 - 03/08/18 12:24 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: CEB]
richforman Offline
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>> ..... but it is entirely conceivable (not common,
>> certainly) that a piece of music could be in the key of C, >> and yet have all the C's and F's sharped.


> It's not written correctly then. And of course in all my
> years and all the charts I've read, I've never come across
> something not logical or written right.... smirk cry
> facepalm

> You could have one sharp (F#) and still think of it as the
> key of C with a Lydian thing going on. But not C#.

Again I respectfully disagree, maybe in a strictly theoretical sense, but it seems to me that there are no rules like that, declaring that C# or F# notes can't be in a piece in C. As a composer couldn't I (in theory, no pun intended) write a song with a tonal center of C, and yet come up with a melody that has no C naturals in it, and a C# here and there? I say of course I could.

(Of course there are sometimes disagreeing opinions or ambiguity about what key a song is in fact in, and in that case you may sometimes conclude that I am "wrong," and my piece isn't really in C at all.....but again I don't think you could come to that conclusion based solely on C# showing up in the melody or elsewhere. I certainly remember incidents during childhood piano lessons where I'd complain about a piece that, say, that even though an accidental is part of the key signature, in fact that note is "naturalled" every time it appears, and ask my teacher why this was. Turns out that's perfectly legitimate - that the key signature at the top is not really meant as a helpful, convenient warning that every time you see that note on the staff in this piece, you'll sharp or flat it. (Although it often works out that way.) The key signature simply tells you what key you're in, and then within that framework (I argue, anyway), there are no hard rules or guarantees about what individual notes or exceptions to the key signature may or may not appear.

I could be wrong!


Edited by richforman (03/08/18 12:25 PM)
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#2913757 - 03/08/18 12:28 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: CEB]
zephonic Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
Just thinking of an old Michael Franks tune as an example- the lady wants to know. I put it up a Minor third from the original for my vocal range. On my chart I wrote no sharps or flats. It starts on F Maj7 (what I consider the iV chord) and goes to C Maj 7. But it has an Eb Maj 7 & Bb Maj7 in the verses and a cycle of 2/5s descending in whole steps for the chorus. If you tried to assign a key sig to all that you'd go nuts !


Exactly. With the Classical dogma firmly instilled in me by my parents, I used to change key sigs on the staff for just about everything, and "correctly" notate Cb/Fb/E#/B#. For Classical music that makes sense. For modern music not so much.

My parents would abhor my modern charts, but for most stuff it works better. At the end of the day, it's just really about communicating. If everybody gets confused by your "correct" notation, what's the point?
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#2913761 - 03/08/18 12:58 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: richforman]
MathOfInsects Offline
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Originally Posted By: richforman
As a composer couldn't I (in theory, no pun intended) write a song with a tonal center of C, and yet come up with a melody that has no C naturals in it, and a C# here and there? I say of course I could.


With no IV chords either? And no 7 on the V to push back to a I? Not to mention, with no I to push back to, since all C's, bass notes included, are sharp, making the supposed "tonal center" actually a diminished version of the VI chord?

I am going to go ahead and say no. The tonic is the key the rest of the scale tones collectively suggest, and that the harmony responds to and pushes toward. In this case, they collectively suggest a tonic different from C (a chord and note that does not occur anywhere in the song).

If you can write a piece that suggests C, but where all C's (and F's) are sharp, including bass notes, it will be the most delighted my ears and brain have ever been, being wrong.

But I am going to boldly suggest that you cannot.
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#2913763 - 03/08/18 01:03 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: richforman]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Originally Posted By: richforman
Again I respectfully disagree, maybe in a strictly theoretical sense, but it seems to me that there are no rules like that, declaring that C# or F# notes can't be in a piece in C. As a composer couldn't I (in theory, no pun intended) write a song with a tonal center of C, and yet come up with a melody that has no C naturals in it, and a C# here and there? I say of course I could.


And I agree, you could play a C# melody note on say on a Bm7 to E7 passing chord in the key of C. Or just a modulation kind of thing for one bar.

I was speaking more about seeing a chord chart (modern music) in which all indicators pointed to an obvious key of D and it was notated as C - no sharps or flats. Which again, I've seen plenty of those.

Say a singer hands me a chart with no melody, just chords, where the first 8 looks something like this:

D(add 2)| G Maj7 | Bm | F#m | Em7 Em7/A | D Maj7 A/C# Bm Bm/A | G add2 | A add2 |.......

Even if there's no key sig, my brain instantly and automatically thinks 2 sharps. Could an Eb melody note be part of a passing chord in the bridge or a separate chord sequence in another part of the tune ? And everything in mind still be thought of as two sharps ? Of course. smile
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#2913766 - 03/08/18 01:15 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: Dave Ferris]
emenelton Offline
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just because it's written with no key signature doesn't mean it's in the key of 'C'
If all 'C's and 'F's are notated sharp but there is not a key signature, it's in 'D' but the arranger wrote it out with each accidental notated instead of a key sig.

Is there a term for that arrangement technique, to me, is the question.


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#2913777 - 03/08/18 03:22 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: zephonic]
Reezekeys Offline
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Originally Posted By: zephonic
Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
Just thinking of an old Michael Franks tune as an example- the lady wants to know. I put it up a Minor third from the original for my vocal range. On my chart I wrote no sharps or flats. It starts on F Maj7 (what I consider the iV chord) and goes to C Maj 7. But it has an Eb Maj 7 & Bb Maj7 in the verses and a cycle of 2/5s descending in whole steps for the chorus. If you tried to assign a key sig to all that you'd go nuts !


Exactly. With the Classical dogma firmly instilled in me by my parents, I used to change key sigs on the staff for just about everything, and "correctly" notate Cb/Fb/E#/B#. For Classical music that makes sense. For modern music not so much.

My parents would abhor my modern charts, but for most stuff it works better. At the end of the day, it's just really about communicating. If everybody gets confused by your "correct" notation, what's the point?

Nail meet head. Whatever conveys the composition in the easiest-to-manage way is best. What's "theoretically" correct is fine for a college music class, maybe not so good for a working musician showing up on a gig and having to breathe life into a bunch of dots on a page. IMHO of course.

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#2913803 - 03/08/18 06:16 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: emenelton]
Paul Harrison Offline
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Originally Posted By: emenelton
just because it's written with no key signature doesn't mean it's in the key of 'C'
If all 'C's and 'F's are notated sharp but there is not a key signature, it's in 'D' but the arranger wrote it out with each accidental notated instead of a key sig.

Is there a term for that arrangement technique, to me, is the question.


Using accidentals for each note instead of a key signature for the whole piece can be referred to as using a neutral key signature.

"Key signatures define the prevailing key of the music that follows, thus avoiding the use of accidentals for many notes. If no key signature appears, the key is assumed to be C major/A minor but can also signify a neutral key, employing individual accidentals as required for each note."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_musical_symbols#Key_signatures

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#2913812 - 03/08/18 07:38 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: Paul Harrison]
Tom Williams Offline
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Ex-horn major here. Some horn parts are written with no key signature and all accidentals, even when other instruments get clues about a piece's tonality.
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#2913819 - 03/08/18 08:05 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: Tom Williams]
moj Offline
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I usually call it "actual pitch" instead of a specific key signature. As mentioned, contemporary jazz compositions with heavy use of tonal pitches and modulations avoid keys signatures. I think it's easier to sight-read a chart this way.

Just completed a transcription of "My Shot" (Hamilton) from YouTube performed by Jaime Cordoba for a student. I've included all accidentals, even though it's in G minor. Less to think about if you see Bb's and Eb's in the notation.

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#2913823 - 03/08/18 09:09 PM Re: What's it called when the key signature is always C...? [Re: moj]
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Loc: California
Which reminds me...I was at a rehearsal last year, and the bass player--it's always the bass player--said, "This is in A, down a whole step" and didn't know if he meant, down a whole step from the original, or that they tune down a whole step, so I said, "So Concert A, or Concert G?" and he said....wait for it...

...I am not making this up...

..."No, it's just a bar show."
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