C# concert scale question
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I teach my students all the concert scales. We’re up to C# concert, and I realize I’ve run into a theory question. How would the transposing (non C instruments) read the C# concert scale? For example, Bb instruments would think up one step, which gives them the D# scale. But as I understand it, the D# scale doesn’t really exist. Same thing with Eb instruments–they would think A# scale, which doesn’t exist; likewise, the F instruments would think G# scale, which doesn’t exist.
Now, you could say that instead of the D#, A# and G# scales, they could just think Eb, Bb, or Ab, respectively, but I would argue that then they’re not playing the C# concert scale–they’re really playing the Db concert scale.
So ultimately, I’m wondering if it’s possible for them to actually play the C# concert scale. Help!
Your premise that some of these scales don’t exist is the problem. Of course they exist, they just are not very convenient to think about – you end up with a couple double sharps that might a bit confusing for students at first.
D# major scale: D#, E#, Fx, G#, A#, B#, Cx, D#
Yeah, that’s the reason I said they “didn’t exist”–because of the double sharps. I’ve never practiced those scales, and don’t know anyone who has practiced the D#, A#, or G# scales–mainly because you learn them as Eb, Bb and Ab.
I’ve never seen them in scale books. Thus, they’re as good as non-existent… right?
I think the discussion we’re having here is exactly what you should be telling your students. The truth is that they are theoretical scales that exist, but aren’t used. As a professional musician, the only time I’ve ever played in C# instead of Db is when I’m accompanying a soloist who would rather see a C# than a Db. For practical purposes, musicians will “transpose” in their heads or even rewrite as necessary.
I love these kinds of theory conundrums!
I think having that kind of discussion would be great. That said, I have definitely seen arrangements where the transposing instruments were playing in an enharmonic key, and to the best of my knowledge, that is standard practice, to never give anyone give anyone a “nonexistent” key even though it may be technically/theoretically correct.
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