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Is there a difference between Ebm and D#m? - My reason for asking!

A question for music theory people. I think there is, but would appreciate someone explaining it to me.

Edit - I am a huge fan of Piano Motifs. I don't use any external gear to generate MIDI data and PM is by far the best tool for creating interesting and useful content. I can use it as-is, or edit it in the piano roll. I have noticed that the key choices often change when I am modifying parameters. This is not a problem for me since I don't ever expect to transcribe it on paper and give it to other musicians.

To my mind and ears, Eb and D# are the like same person, an old lifelong friend. James or Jim, same person. If I am in front looking back, it's Eb. If I'm in back and looking forward, it's D#.

I think the best person to answer this question would be @azul3D_Apps. Mr. Morales has taken music theory and has masterfully implemented it in the real world.

Let's have a round of applause for Fernando Morales and his outstanding work.

Stand up and take a bow, sir!

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Comments

  • They are enharmonic keys - they sound the same but have different spellings.

    Generally composers are going to call by whichever key is more common or by the context in which they arrived at that key.

    In this case : D sharp minor is particularly uncommon as a key because it’s got an E# in it —- which is enharmonically an F. So it’s annoying to read on the page.

  • If you’re talking about chords, and not keys, the key you’re in will tell you which is the correct spelling - if it’s a key with sharps, it’s d#m.

  • @benkamen said:
    They are enharmonic keys - they sound the same but have different spellings.

    Generally composers are going to call by whichever key is more common or by the context in which they arrived at that key.

    In this case : D sharp minor is particularly uncommon as a key because it’s got an E# in it —- which is enharmonically an F. So it’s annoying to read on the page.

    Enharmonic. That’s the word I was looking for. I agree that E# is just wrong. Thank you. Every good boy deserves fudge.

  • Fwiw, D# annd Eb are enharmonic (stand for the same pitch) in equal temperament but are different pitches in other tuning systems.

  • @espiegel123 said:
    Fwiw, D# annd Eb are enharmonic (stand for the same pitch) in equal temperament but are different pitches in other tuning systems.

    I grew up listening to the well tempered scale. I didn’t even know that there were others. I have been told I have perfect pitch. I don’t know if that’s true, but I can tell when a piano needs tuning. Mom got me a wrench when I was about 13, and never hired a tuner again.

  • It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between perfect pitch and extremely extremely good relative pitch. (If one could have one but not the other, the latter is probably the more useful).

    I knew a musician who had such good relative pitch and good pitch memory that other people said he had perfect pitch. He had a couple of siblings with perfect pitch.

    My pitch discrimination isn’t good enough to tell, but I am told that string and vocal ensembles of the top caliber don’t stick to equal temperament.

  • @benkamen said:
    They are enharmonic keys - they sound the same but have different spellings.

    Generally composers are going to call by whichever key is more common or by the context in which they arrived at that key.

    In this case : D sharp minor is particularly uncommon as a key because it’s got an E# in it —- which is enharmonically an F. So it’s annoying to read on the page.

    I’m not sure the last sentence is true as the key of D# minor has an F as the second degree, not an E#.

    An E# would most likely occur as an accidental in a measure to avoid flattening an F# and then subsequently sharpening it again if F# exists in the current key signature.

  • McDMcD
    edited June 9

    Consider where this minor chord note combination would occur in a scale:

    C# major step 2
    Db major step 2
    B major step 3 (# in key signature)
    Cb major step 3
    F# major step 6
    Gb major step 6

    There are also the relative minors for these 6 scales with the same key signatures.

    The ambiguity is an artifact of notation schemes.

  • edited June 9

    @michael_m said:

    @benkamen said:
    They are enharmonic keys - they sound the same but have different spellings.

    Generally composers are going to call by whichever key is more common or by the context in which they arrived at that key.

    In this case : D sharp minor is particularly uncommon as a key because it’s got an E# in it —- which is enharmonically an F. So it’s annoying to read on the page.

    I’m not sure the last sentence is true as the key of D# minor has an F as the second degree, not an E#.

    An E# would most likely occur as an accidental in a measure to avoid flattening an F# and then subsequently sharpening it again if F# exists in the current key signature.

    I think this is why I like using the MIDI editor in Cubasis. There are no keys, no accidentals. I could even do without the keyboard on the left side. I think I would be embarrassed to submit a “score” to real musicians. Maybe that’s why I’m hesitant to start using StaffPad. Perhaps @McD could weigh in.

  • J> @McD said:

    Consider where this minor chord note combination would occur in a scale:

    C# major step 2
    Db major step 2
    B major step 3 (# in key signature)
    Cb major step 3
    F# major step 6
    Gb major step 6

    There are also the relative minors for these 6 scales with the same key signatures.

    The ambiguity is an artifact of notation schemes.

    As noted up-thread, the ambiguity is not just notation schemes -- that is true for fixed-pitch instruments. The notes are enharmonic when you are using equal temperament. Sharps and flats are slightly different pitches when not using equal temperament (as the choir director used to mention when my son was in choir).

  • @benkamen, @espiegel123, @michael_m, @mcd. I’m somewhat relieved to know that I’m not the only one laying awake at night thinking about this stuff. I will charge up my Apple Pencil and start using StaffPad. FYI, I write everything in CM and pencil in all accidentals. Peace my brothers.

  • @michael_m said:

    I’m not sure the last sentence is true as the key of D# minor has an F as the second degree, not an E#.

    An E# would most likely occur as an accidental in a measure to avoid flattening an F# and then subsequently sharpening it again if F# exists in the current key signature.

    The way I was taught it - and teach it - is that within a scale you always use all the letter names in a scale. Which makes sense when you look at the key signature on the staff - one line or space for each note letter.

    If you notated D# minor’s second scale degree as F, then what’s the third scale degree? F# ? Gb? It’s not F#, because then there are two Fs on the staff. It’s not Gb, because then you’re mixing sharps and flats within the same key.

    Which leaves the correct spelling as D# E# F for the first three notes of the scale.

  • Ebm is electronic body music.
    D#m is dubstep hashtag music.
    Not to be confused with Dbm which is dubstep body music.

    I’ll get my coat.

  • @klownshed said:
    Ebm is electronic body music.
    D#m is dubstep hashtag music.
    Not to be confused with Dbm which is dubstep body music.

    I’ll get my coat.

    EBM… electronic body music! Groovy!

  • @Paulieworld said:

    @michael_m said:

    @benkamen said:
    They are enharmonic keys - they sound the same but have different spellings.

    Generally composers are going to call by whichever key is more common or by the context in which they arrived at that key.

    In this case : D sharp minor is particularly uncommon as a key because it’s got an E# in it —- which is enharmonically an F. So it’s annoying to read on the page.

    I’m not sure the last sentence is true as the key of D# minor has an F as the second degree, not an E#.

    An E# would most likely occur as an accidental in a measure to avoid flattening an F# and then subsequently sharpening it again if F# exists in the current key signature.

    I think this is why I like using the MIDI editor in Cubasis. There are no keys, no accidentals. I could even do without the keyboard on the left side. I think I would be embarrassed to submit a “score” to real musicians. Maybe that’s why I’m hesitant to start using StaffPad. Perhaps @McD could weigh in.

    I started college as a music major with terrible sight reading skills because I was essentially a drummer that didn’t have to read pitch. I struggled through many classes having to analyze chords and Harmony often in real-time being called on to do the next 2 bars out loud. To this day I’m pretty weak reading musical notation for pitch on any instrument but I learned to compensate by practicing slowly and essentially memorizing a piece.

    Once you get those analytical skills you have a way of thinking and hearing music that’s similar to the way a chess master can mentally view a game or a chess position. You build a mental model.

    I’m sure you have a mental model of the piano roll scheme that allows you to create faster and recognize some chord structures but maybe not. Do you get color hints for intended scales?

    There are variant notation systems for music but they have never caught on due to the mass of practitioners using the western scheme.

  • @McD I love chess. Me and my dear departed friend Gregg would play what we called “Kimikaze Chess”. Ten seconds per move. One one thousand, two one thousand, etc. The opening moves were always predictable, then it got fun. I had a thing I called the “six move setup”. I learned it from my friend Bob, who learned it from his dad, a German atomic scientist that worked at Argonne Labs. It worked for a short time.

    Mental model… when my wife married me she said I was a model… now I’m just mental.

    Hope you and yours are having a nice day. We’re having chicken pot pie tonight.

  • as mentioned above, a lot of these music things makes a lot more sense when you read music.

    if you have time, learn to read music as well as you can, it's worth it IMO.

    before i learnt to read music for Piano i would have to ear train (which is also important) and memorise pieces of music, now i can play it instantly (slowly at first) if i have the sheet music. that's speeds thing up... ALOT!

  • edited June 10

    @benkamen said:

    @michael_m said:

    I’m not sure the last sentence is true as the key of D# minor has an F as the second degree, not an E#.

    An E# would most likely occur as an accidental in a measure to avoid flattening an F# and then subsequently sharpening it again if F# exists in the current key signature.

    The way I was taught it - and teach it - is that within a scale you always use all the letter names in a scale. Which makes sense when you look at the key signature on the staff - one line or space for each note letter.

    If you notated D# minor’s second scale degree as F, then what’s the third scale degree? F# ? Gb? It’s not F#, because then there are two Fs on the staff. It’s not Gb, because then you’re mixing sharps and flats within the same key.

    Which leaves the correct spelling as D# E# F for the first three notes of the scale.

    You’re right, I hadn’t thought that through. I was going to say It’s a good case to call it Eb minor rather than D# minor, but when I stepped through it in my head I realized that would need a Cb…

    No wonder it’s not a common key signature.

  • @klownshed said:
    Ebm is electronic body music.
    D#m is dubstep hashtag music.
    Not to be confused with Dbm which is dubstep body music.

    I’ll get my coat.

    There must be a prize for winning the internet, surely?

  • To digress… why is G#-B-D-F not a chord?
    My theory is hideous, my sight reading worse. It need not be an obstacle to having musical fun, but you do need to find a way in. Maybe a teacher’s. Maybe a book, Maybe your own compass and perseverance.

  • edited June 10

    @LinearLineman said:
    To digress… why is G#-B-D-F not a chord?

    G#dim7

  • edited June 10

    @LinearLineman said:
    To digress… why is G#-B-D-F not a chord?
    My theory is hideous, my sight reading worse. It need not be an obstacle to having musical fun, but you do need to find a way in. Maybe a teacher’s. Maybe a book, Maybe your own compass and perseverance.

    Why do you say it isn't a chord?

    That's G# diminished 7. The interval spelling of that chord is: r b3 b5 bb7 .[edited to correct typo of 7th degree]

  • @espiegel123 said:

    That's G# diminished 7. The interval spelling of that chord is: r b3 b5 b7

    bb7 actually
    An F# would be a 7th -> b7
    And a jazz label in that case would be G#m7-b5

    G#dim7 is played with the F as a bb7 but I’m sure many mix up this 7th issue.

    Diminished 7th and Augmented chords are symmetrical with any note working as a potential root… so powerful to create key changes.

  • Right bb7

  • @espiegel123 said:
    As noted up-thread, the ambiguity is not just notation schemes -- that is true for fixed-pitch instruments. The notes are enharmonic when you are using equal temperament. Sharps and flats are slightly different pitches when not using equal temperament (as the choir director used to mention when my son was in choir).

    That strikes me as quite a misdirecting description…? The goal surely is to achieve harmonic intervals for the notes sounding together - so the harmonic tuning would be dependent on those notes. Yet harmonic writing of a chord Ebm vs D#m is the same notes. Just tuning has a basis in a key, where a group of notes would be correctly notated only 1 way - and intervals in some modes will be way out iirc? (Thinking dynamic tuning possible with voice/violin vs say a keyboard)

  • Pretty exciting this thread!

    I thought almost everyone here was grown up with making music with Trackers (Protracker etc etc), but, here we have a bunch of real experts on music theory, I’m impressed!

  • @MadGav said:

    @espiegel123 said:
    As noted up-thread, the ambiguity is not just notation schemes -- that is true for fixed-pitch instruments. The notes are enharmonic when you are using equal temperament. Sharps and flats are slightly different pitches when not using equal temperament (as the choir director used to mention when my son was in choir).

    That strikes me as quite a misdirecting description…? The goal surely is to achieve harmonic intervals for the notes sounding together - so the harmonic tuning would be dependent on those notes. Yet harmonic writing of a chord Ebm vs D#m is the same notes. Just tuning has a basis in a key, where a group of notes would be correctly notated only 1 way - and intervals in some modes will be way out iirc? (Thinking dynamic tuning possible with voice/violin vs say a keyboard)

    It's all steps towards a kind of 'musical enlightenment'; first getting notes right, then tuning, then intonation (which is where all the tuning adjustments based on context come in). Keyboards generally stand outside such considerations as they're based on tuning compromises and don't accommodate intonation (with a few modern exceptions - Pure Piano has some impressive adaptive intonation which micro-tunes to stretch intervals for more sonorous chords in all keys).

  • @McD said:

    @espiegel123 said:

    That's G# diminished 7. The interval spelling of that chord is: r b3 b5 b7

    bb7 actually
    An F# would be a 7th -> b7
    And a jazz label in that case would be G#m7-b5

    G#dim7 is played with the F as a bb7 but I’m sure many mix up this 7th issue.

    Diminished 7th and Augmented chords are symmetrical with any note working as a potential root… so powerful to create key changes.

    A Real Book is great for working through all those variations because the chords are generally using jazz names which I find easier, but I think I still tend to get confused moving between different naming conventions.

  • @LinearLineman : any combination of notes can be a chord. We> @MadGav said:

    @espiegel123 said:
    As noted up-thread, the ambiguity is not just notation schemes -- that is true for fixed-pitch instruments. The notes are enharmonic when you are using equal temperament. Sharps and flats are slightly different pitches when not using equal temperament (as the choir director used to mention when my son was in choir).

    That strikes me as quite a misdirecting description…? The goal surely is to achieve harmonic intervals for the notes sounding together - so the harmonic tuning would be dependent on those notes. Yet harmonic writing of a chord Ebm vs D#m is the same notes. Just tuning has a basis in a key, where a group of notes would be correctly notated only 1 way - and intervals in some modes will be way out iirc? (Thinking dynamic tuning possible with voice/violin vs say a keyboard)

    I am not sure what you find misdirecting. Maybe I am misunderstanding what you are saying.

    It is my understanding that when not using equal temperament and not using fixed-pitch instruments, D# and Eb can be different pitches .

    Are you saying that D# and Eb always name the same interval regardless of intonation system on non fixed pitch instruments?

    You can probably find information about this in articles available on the web.

    I think we think of them as the same pitch because keyboard is so central to how we learn and think about music (at least in the west). For a lot of us, the keyboard (even if it isn’t our instrument) is the basis of how visualize pitch.

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