Special musical keys

In musical notation is known as the key to the sign that placed on a specific line of the staff indicates the height at which the piece will be interpreted as well as the name of the notes to which it precedes. It should always appear at the beginning of each staff and before the first bar. Among the most commonly used keys are the sun key, the C key and the F key.


However, in addition to these three there are other keys, which are considered “special” or “substitute”, and which are tasked with pointing out specific events in the score. These special keys are: the octave transpose keys, the neutral key, and the tablature key. Below we will describe one of them:

Keys of transposition of octave: although we have the notion that the staff key tells us how hard the instrument will play it is not always so, because in some cases the instrument has been tuned one octave below or above the key that leads the partitu Pal This is known as octave transposition.

Historically, since the eighteenth century, the sun key has been used in second to indicate transpositions of instruments whose height is a more serious octave, such as the peak flute, the guitar or the tenor choral voice.  Within these keys are the following, which are pointed in the score with its modified shape, in order to avoid ambiguities:

Sun key with an “8” below: As its name implies, its notation is given by placing the sun key in second a “8” below, but without space between the key and the number. This modified key is used to indicate the tenor’s choral voice, because the fourth C-to-C key created specifically for this voice has fallen into disuse. It can also be indicated with two overlapping sun keys.

Sun key with an “8” above: its notation is done by adding an “8” just above and without any space between them. This special key indicates that the part must be interpreted one octave above what the staff points to. It is usually used for the soprano sweet flute as well as for other sharp woodwind instruments.

Sun key with a 15 below or above: this special key also represents a possibility in scores. Their notation would be done by placing a 15 below or above the sun key, with no gaps between them. This key would indicate that between what is written on the staff and what will actually be interpreted, there should be two octaves more severe or more acute in difference.

The F key, meanwhile, can also be annotated as an octave transpotion key, both above and below. In Music it is natural that the key of F with an 8 below serves for instruments such as contrafagot and double bass. While the f key with an 8 above is used for instruments such as the low-peak flute. It is also known as a “countertenor key” and can be used by a bass or baritone. However, this kind of key is very strange.

However, even though these types of keys have been created to point out transpositions and are used today, most sheet music editors do not take the work of adding them, as it is assumed that transposing instruments are aware of the difference of octaves. Similarly, in the current era it is also stylled to simply add a high 8th or 8th (to indicate treble) and 8vb or 8th bassa (for bass) in order to save key change or excessive use of extra lines.

Neutral key: also known as a percussion key, unlike the other keys it does not indicate either the height at which the piece or the name of the notes should be interpreted, but the lines and spaces of the staff serve to indicate percussion instruments of undetermined height. Its notation is done by placing two thick parallel vertical lines, located between the second and fourth lines of the staff, without implying any value for the height or notes.

Because its use isn´t standardized, a legend should almost always be added to it. Likewise, its staff is not always made up of five lines. However, it is used only for some instruments.

Tablature key: This is typically used for fret-wielding instruments, such as guitar or bass, for which music is not written on staves but in tablatures.

In this sense, this key also does not designate notes, unlike staves, the lines led with this key indicate in numbers the position of the fingers on each of the frets of the instrument for which it has been written. Its notation consists of the word TAB which is written in uppercase and vertically descending at the beginning of the tablature.

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Image source: wikipedia.org

Special musical keys
Source: curiosities  
August 22, 2019


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