Instructables

Music notation question.?

If in a key where C is sharp,  a note is written a B sharp.  That note is a C.  Is it supposed to be played C or C sharp?

gmoon2 years ago
I assume the note is an "accidental"--for that measure, that B would played as C.

Accidentals override the signature for just that one measure. They can be cancelled earlier with a natural.

It's not cumulative--a B# (C) doesn't shift up another semitone, simply because C's are sharp in that key. It's not a C--it's a sharped B. And since you can't get a "C" in E major without an accidental (but you can get a C#) it would be just C.
rickharris2 years ago
There is no B sharp. The western tonal system runs between notes:

Tone
Tone
Semi Tone
Tone
Tone
Tone
Semi Tone

This is true for any key. There is no B sharp / C flat or E sharp / F flat.

Where an incidental sharp is shown on a B or E then it indicates that note should be raised a semitone to C or F.
Rick--of course there is a B#. If you take a B, and place a sharp after it, it's a B#. Or in a key such as G# Major, which has a B# in it.

That's how you write it in notation. It's the equivalent of C, but still called B#.

Wiki citation:
Under twelve-tone equal temperament, B sharp, for instance, sounds the same as, or is enharmonically equivalent to, C natural, and E sharp is enharmonically equivalent to F natural.
I was speaking physically, on the keyboard, rather than musically.

Your statement would be more correct if you say:

"If you take a B and raise it a semitone then it is the note C..." which is what the wiki extract says.
Unfortunately, that's not what the wiki quote says. It states that a B# has the same sound a C natural. It specifically does NOT say a B# is a C natural.

So from a composition and notation POV, B# is the more correct term. It's consistent with the rules of notation. Just the same as the semitone between F and G can be either F# or Gb (depending on the context), a B# or a Cb are are also perfectly consistent with the musical staff and notation.

In fact, you can't write in the keys of C# major or G# major without a B#.

Yes, as an incidental fact, they are the same note on an instrument. But only a beginning student would focus on that fact.
iproberry12 years ago
B sharp is C
Re-design (author)  iproberry12 years ago
What about in the key of E Major. All Cs are supposed to be sharp. So is this C supposed to be sharp?
i think...but i am not sure...i haven't done music class in a while!