Woah, humanguy. I'm not pulling rank on you, honestly! I have nothing but complete respect for anyone who has managed to earn a living as a musician. I wish
I were that good.
My music background is completely amateur (I still play cello in amateur light opera/musical theatre every now and then), though I've done a lot
of formal music theory training.
As far as tuning goes, I think of it this way:
To most people, a "second" is 1/86400 of a mean solar day. Most people may not be able to remember the fraction, and most don't know what a "mean solar day" actually is
, but almost everyone knows that there is a standard-length day, and a second is an easy-to-find fraction of it.
To a physicist or an astronomer, this definition is inaccurate. To them, a second is "the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom".
The folk definition of a second is very, very close to the physicists' definition. It's so close that most people don't know about or care about the difference. But physicists demand more of their timekeeping standard than most people do, and hence need to take into account details which are unimportant to most people.
humanguy wrote:A "blue note," that's something I don't think I've ever heard any musician talk about. If we're in G flat they'll say, for example, "play an A" or "play an E," which are the minor third and flatted seventh of that key.
I'm surprised you've never heard of blue notes, though you might have instinctively played one and not realised what you were doing, or a singer might have done it with you and it just sounded right. On a fretted guitar, you usually play the minor or diminished note and bend the string to make it slightly sharper. If you've ever done this on a third, fifth or seventh of a scale, then you've played blue notes.
Quick rant: My inner music theorist just gawked at the suggestion that the minor third of G flat is A and the flattened seventh is E. Even in the well-tempered scale, this is wrong. The minor third is Bbb (i.e. B double flat) and the flattened seventh is Fb. If you were to write a harmonic minor scale on Gb as Gb Ab A B Db D E Gb (or something), it wouldn't be obvious to most instrumentalists that you really intended to write a scale. If you wrote it Gb Ab Bbb Cb Db Ebb Fb Gb, then the intention would be far more clear.
On behalf of the musicians of the world, please
take care in spelling your notes correctly!
humanguy wrote:Also, in G flat a C is a flatted fifth which is used very extensively in blues and jazz and could also be considered a "blue note."
Right, but it's still an approximation. A "blue" flattened fifth is actually somewhere between G and Gb.
humanguy wrote:"Harmonic seventh," that seems rather arcane, anyway I've never heard it called for or spoken of. I very much doubt you'd ever see it on a big band chart. To be perfectly honest I've never heard of it. I'll have to ask one of my big-brained theory-expert buddies.
It's probably not used in big band, no. I'm sure you've heard it, though. It's also known as the "barbershop seventh" for reasons that should probably be obvious.
After singing the classic ditty "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow", occasionally someone ends with a coda of "and many more". That last note is a harmonic seventh. If you try to play it on a piano, you'll see what I mean. Neither the major nor minor sevenths are quite
One more thing: The difference between just intervals and well-tempered intervals is sometimes important in symphonic orchestration, because some instruments throw around a lot of overtones which, if not careful, can cause audible clashes with other parts. Good orchestrators are aware of this. If there's a sufficiently long or important chord to be played, they will ensure that if, say, the timpani is playing the tonic in a particular octave, then the third of the chord shouldn't be played exactly three octaves higher because it could clash with an overtone.
Maybe we should move this to a new thread.