Naming the Mysterious 12

Posted: September 18, 2015 in Music Theory
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Up = (#/Sharp). Down = (b/Flat).

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
C C# Db D D# Eb E F F# Gb G G# Ab A A# Bb B

There are a number of discussions possible here. My point is the rose is a rose experience from my own limited understanding. Music theory is not my strong point. I know players that are very specific in the reference of notes or the progression used when naming them. It does make it easier to communicate – – – – – – To set up this conversation let it be understood that any note can be raised or lowered in increments of half-steps. Take your Root note and play the next highest note and you have ‘sharped’ the note. If you play the next lowest note you have ‘flatted’ that note. Up = Sharp. Down = Flat.

Any note. Any instrument. Any Western scale. Similar to the reference in Tuning; if pitch is too high it is Sharp, and if it is too low it is Flat.

We agree on common ground for the Titles of the Twelve. Looking at the piano as my standard example we need to notice the color of the keys not as a place on a musical staff or its place in a scale but as a compact representation of DISTANCE. The chart above uses the shading to mimic the keyboard and is not compressed or compact like the real piano is but if you play notes to the right they get higher by half-notes. Color means nothing to this reference. We rarely call the C note a B#, and we rarely call the F note an E# but this is a similar relationship.

Above you see the black notes have alternate names assigned to them. One way to help easy translation is to keep with one designator in the project. Give the notes names that are one system and not the other. Various way to think of it – a rose;

C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, Bb, B, C is a rose:

C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C

is a rose;

C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, Gb, G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C

Along those lines I want to copy a recent comment from a great friend of mine and frequent commenter on this blog:

The math is easier if you name the root “zero.” 0 2 4 5 7 9 11 (the major scale). You can add 12 and get the same notes, just an octave higher. Subtract 12 and get the original keys. There are only 12 tones on a piano: 0, 1, 2, …, 11 After that, it just repeats.

The Mysterious Twelve is represented this way in the chart above. Starting with zero would change the Safe Seven representation to look like this:

C D E F G A B C

0 2 4 5 7 9 11 12

This is true and practical to use when considering the relationships of notes especially when working with musical scores where you are talking multiple octaves and keeping the relationships common. For many musicians, songs can be described as patterns. For example, if you are beginning a Jam and following previous examples in the key of C, you could say ‘lets start out with C for a few measures, then go to F and then go to G and repeat. Ready, set go!’. The Safe Seven shows us this relationship as a number starting with the Root equaling 1.

The Jam could also be started by saying ‘key of C, let’s play a 1,4,5 progression. Ready, set, Go!’. In this relationship, 1 = the Root or C, the 4th = F, and the 5th of the scale = G. The next jam session might be in the key of Bb, but we can still state this as 1,4,5 and the musicians that know the Safe Seven in each key will easily translate. You would be surprised how many popular songs follow the 1 – 4 – 5 and similar patterns! Starting with 1 as the Root, allows this pattern to more easily translate to the Root, 3rd, 5th – as this matches the common chord progression associations.

The point being there are a number of names for our ‘rose’, depending on the need or project at hand. If we call C “C”, “B#”, “0” or “1”, we are still describing the relationship between the 12 notes. As with the sharps and flats naming structure, once we start with a system, use the system through the entire project to avoid confusion!

Comments
  1. RaineFairy says:

    I am now in a severe mental state of confusion. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Oh No! I was hoping to make things clearer. Please let me know if you have questions or give me an example and I will be glad to ease your state of confusion LOL! I know, there is a lot of information and so many different ways we talk about music theory.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, yes and so important as I am trying to transition my son from a very ‘cover oriented’ learning system to theory and song writing. Perhaps I should have him read this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rubiredsaid says:

    Thanks for reading my post about me! Have a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rubiredsaid says:

    I am glad you read and liked my “Journey to Nowhere”!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. niasunset says:

    …. 🙂 I don’t understand anything, I just listen to music 🙂 But other parts it is not for me. But you really tried to explain very well, just (for me) it needs to have a good music knowledge/education etc. You play I can listen…. Thanks and Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      I think there is so much hype and confusion intentionally thrown out there. A friend of mine used to say he ‘plays the radio’, but now is a whizz at this. Thank you so much for listening!

      Like

  6. I play guitar and piano but never into music theory. I taught myself on it when the first time I saw Eric Clapton on TV and then come Steve Vai, although I am not really his fan. Later, I saw Joe Satriani and Malmsteen. I cannot be that good enough or profesional, but I play good enough in a band. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      We all have a roll to play. You are following giants in their field. I am happy to be a rhythm player. I create the environment to let you geniuses shine, and that is good for me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hehehe … I had once a chance to go to music school and I quit two months later. It is not my kind of thing even if I do really love music at that time. I guessed, the problem was, I am a lone-learner and I taught myself with one guitar lesson book I bought. I was in a band for seven years of my university time and we were the real rockers, I guess. Life was at ease and no worries at that time. It was full of fun. But now that I am older, I learned music theory bit by bit (or whatever I think is necessary out of curiousity).

        I am old school! lol 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  7. tracihalpin says:

    I got some of it, but then my brain started to need a break😁 Good time for me to read this, bc I am on my way to my second guitar lesson today. Literally leaving right now!
    Thanks!

    Like

    • midimike says:

      How did your lessons go? Fun time for he brain!

      Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        It was really good. I told her to go slow and we reviewed and then practiced e f and g and switching back and forth and keeping it flowing. I was having a problem with the g note bc my pushing down was hurting, turns out she said I needed to play closer to the actual fret and then I didn’t have to press it so hard. I need to commit to practicing every day even for just 15 minutes. I’ve been doing it a few times a week. Thanks for asking. My brain is really being stimulated🎸

        Like

      • midimike says:

        Good to hear! It is easier too press just behind the the frets. This is where those calluses come in handy. Good advice….. Set up your space and time to practice every day. It does not have to be a long time to get great results. Quite welcome. So glad to hear you are doing so well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        Thanks for your tips and for thinking of me. Going on a hike today. It’s a thousand feet up to the view. Hopefully we can make it to the top.
        Have a great day 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        Very welcome. You stay very active and that is a great thing. Hiking and music…. my favorite things! Let me know how it goes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        It was a tough hike. It was very steep, and at one point my friend said she didn’t know if she could keep going. Then we met an angel on the trail. Coming up behind us was a petite Asian woman. She stopped and told us to believe we could do it. She said everyone has a tough time the first time on this hike. She said believe in your mind that you can do it, and nobody can take that away from you. She also said to trust God, and without God there is nothing. She told us not to look up and think about the hill or the rocks, but to just keep moving. Then she hugged us and put her hands in prayer position and bowed. We did the same, and we kept going. We finally made it to the top. The view was beautiful and we sat on the rocks and ate and talked and soaked up the sun. Going down was very hard, because it was so steep and rocky. We used sticks we found in the woods. We persevered and met the challenge; a metaphor for life!

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        That is another great lesion of life. Well a few lessons! We all have didn’t ways of learning. Some learn by listening, some by reading, some by watching and some by doing. Some don’t learn at all LOL. But the important thing is to picture in your mind YOU DOING IT! Not to many people start with nothing and make a million dollars in one day. Life is a step at a time. One foot after the next. And very soon you are on top! Only to have to come back down in this case, ha!

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        So true Mike. When I was a teacher it was my responsibility to know how my students’ learned. Then I would try to incorporate those methods into each lesson. So there was visual info for the visual learner, and doing stuff for the kinesthic learner, and listening to stories on tape for the audio learner. I learn by reading and doing. I can’t just do it, because I will forget how when I try to do it on my own. So there better be directions in the box when I have to put something together, and hopefully they are not in Chinese! With hiking I could use a map, but that is a skill that I struggle with, like many others. So in this case I just kept following the trail markers, and when there wasn’t one my friend and I walked one way a bit to see if there were any up ahead; that worked. Yes, it takes time and belief in yourself to do it. I just read that Mozart spent over 10 years before he wrote a composition that was admired. Then I said to my daugher, “It’s just like the Goo Goo Dolls; they spent 10 years driving in their little van until they made it. My daughter then apologized to Mozart because I compared the two..lol! But we just see the band on stage and think they just came out of the womb knowing how to play instruments and write music. Many people don’t know or even care about the time it takes for someone to reach their goals. John is worth 11 million dollars now, and as a teen he was living on his deceased parent’s ss checks and eating in the buffalo shelters. And that took many years to change. I digress, but the band put up pics of a log cabin studio where they are working on new music. Very excited!!! Each day they post some pics, which is cool because I get to see them actually “working.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        Ah hhhhhhh, you still ARE a teacher

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        True…. just in a different way. Over the years I have always given people life advice, and they all said I missed my calling. I heed the call, but the payment is more valuable than money.

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        If you run for president, let me know!

        Like

      • tracihalpin says:

        Sure thing😜

        Like

      • midimike says:

        Have to go, I have a recording session with a good friend…. Will be back to this later, and thank you again for great experiences. Later!

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        Have fun!

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        It went rather well. Even pros can have a hard time when the ‘tape’ is rolling. They play in front of audiences all the time and have no reservations. Attempts to perform and preserve PERFECT recordings are really intimidating! Takes a while to get in the groove without an audience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        That makes sense. Glad it went well. Running for president….that’s funny!

        Like

      • midimike says:

        ……….With my last name they talked me out of that idea early!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. RPHowse says:

    Interesting post. I’ve often wondered what the root of all the musical systems was and where they came from ( the microtones in Arabic music, the games of throat singing in the Arctic). We think of music as a “universal” language but , of course, it isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      You have a good point. Music has common components, but the flavor and styles are very local indeed. We are able to appreciate the differences even if we do not thoroughly understand them. Like hearing lyrics in a song with a different language …… You get the mood or feeling even though you cannot translate. It may be the closest thing we humans have to a common language. Thank you so much for your comment and thoughts.

      Like

  9. rebekalee says:

    Thanks for the theory lesson! A good way to explain the relationships of half steps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      You are very welcome, and thanks for the comment. I am glad you liked it. I hope to make things a little clearer. Sometimes the basics get in the way if they are misunderstood.

      Like

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