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Quickie on triads

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  • Quickie on triads

    A# major - does this occur regularly in any sharp keys, or does it generally only turn up in the flats as Bb major? Or how about G# - will I only ever really see Ab?



    Er so going round the circle of fifths to practice spelling those 15 major triads, I realised that obviously a few enharmonic outsiders are left untouched... and so basically I'm asking: how much am I really missing?
    tl;dr

  • #2
    If there's an A# in the key signature, then any triad based on the A# will be A# and not Bb. You need go no further than JSB to find music in all the keys.
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    • #3
      I can think of very few instances in which writing A# major would be preferable to Bb, in terms of clarity. With A#, you end up with E# as the 5th (enharmonically equivalent to F), which is awkward to read and sometimes requires a second glance (for me anyway). It's just so much easier to read Bb.



      If you were writing in A# minor and had a passage that slipped into the parallel major, it would make sense. Or if you were writing out a chromatically ascending series of chords, like G - G# - A - A# - B. Those are about the only cases I can think of.



      So yeah, it will show up, but not often.



      With enharmonics, it comes down to whatever makes the most sense in the key you're writing in. You should, for example, write your iii chord in E major as G#min, rather than Abmin. I play with a lot of horn players, though, so the one exception would be if I were communicating with a tenor sax player, and he asked me 'what chord is that?', I'd probably say Abmin, because it's easier for him to translate to his instrument.



      Hope that's helpful...
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      • #4






        Quote Originally Posted by speechless
        View Post

        A# major - does this occur regularly in any sharp keys, or does it generally only turn up in the flats as Bb major? Or how about G# - will I only ever really see Ab?



        Er so going round the circle of fifths to practice spelling those 15 major triads, I realised that obviously a few enharmonic outsiders are left untouched... and so basically I'm asking: how much am I really missing?




        A# as a note appears in the keys of B, F# and C# major.



        The chord built on that note will be A#dim (in B) and A#m (in F# and C#).



        A# as a major triad appears in no major key, but does occur as V chord in the key of D# minor, from the D# harmonic minor scale. (It's 3rd is Cx, C double sharp.)

        That's a rare key (6 sharps), enharmonic with Eb minor (6 flats), which might be preferred because its V is Bb major, easier to think about .



        So, the major keys stop when every note has been either sharped or flatted once - hence 15 keys, C major plus 7 sharp keys and 7 flat keys. Double sharps or flats only occur as accidentals.

        Double sharps occur regularly, as a matter of course, in the keys of G# minor, D# minor and A# minor due to the raising of the 7th degree to form the leading tone; which is why those keys are where you'll find the major chords of D#, A# and E#, respectively. (The key of A# minor would be quite rare, as Bb minor (5 flats) would normally be preferred.)

        Double flats don't occur as a matter of course anywhere, though you may find them as passing chromaticisms in any flat key.
        ...

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        • #5
          Yes. its all based on the key signature and what is the simplest way of writting out the song.
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          • #6
            Very nice. Guess I ought to take it a step further - go for completeness and spell every triad, not just the tonic chord, for each key signature. Thanks all
            tl;dr

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