Is B really B, H, or B?

In a previous post I talked about the circle of fifth and a few other basic stuff. Now it is time to make some noise in it. We are going to talk around the notes, B, b, and H. Note H? you say? And why is the one b lower case?

In some countries, the note a half step under C is called B, in others, H. I’m not going to go into historical details of why, one of the links could explain that. So I will not go into details about that. In Scandinavia we call the note B for H. So the Am scale would be A - H - C - D - E - F - G. But we also have a note we call B, and I will be using a lower case b not to confuse it since it is really a B♭.

Before we continue this, we need to descibe some symbols, or accidentals. The symbol is called a flat, it lowers your note a half step. The symbol means sharp, which rases the note a half step. The last symbol I’ll explain today is which means natural, which cancels a previous sharp of flat.

But as I mentioned, we do have a b in Scandinavia. So when english musicians say play a scale of A-B-C-D-E-F-G, they mean the Aeolian scale of Am, while a scandinavian is with the same verbal instruction is told to play A-b-C-D-E-F-G, the Phrygian scale of the key of F.

In Scandinavia we don’t say sharp or flat when we talk about sharpened or flattened keys, whe have a somewhat different nomeclature. Apart from the flattened H which we call b, all the other tones adds the suffixes es (flatened) or is (sharpened). Exceptions are Es (not Ees) and As (not Aes). A sharpened A is b, a flattened A is Ass. So the sharps are Cis, Dis, Fis, Gis, and Ais, the flats are Des, Es, Ges, As, and b.

The accidents we have also baptised b’s and crosses. When we say b for G, we mean Ges or G♭. Likewhise, when we say cross for G, we mean Gis or G♯.

Since I communicate in English, I will mostly use the English terms for notes, chords, and keys. So if b for B♭ and H for B confuses you, then I’ll restrict it to this article.

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