What key is it between semi tones?

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I dont really understand what key a song would be if its sped up and it ends up between two semi tones. For example, what would be inbetween C and C#? Too confusing to put into words but someone smarter than me pls explain 🙂

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>I dont really understand what key a song would be if its sped up and it ends up between two semi tones. For example, what would be inbetween C and C#? Too confusing to put into words but someone smarter than me pls explain 🙂

It’s no black magic – half-way between C and C# lies a quartertone step. Intervals and scales in the majority of western music tradition don’t really use quartertone steps though, that’s why you won’t be able to play them with traditional “digital” instruments like pianos.

Each tone corresponds to a certain frequency. In western music we all kind of agreed that tone A is going to be 440 Hz and that we’re going to split the octave (octave = doubling of the frequency) into 12 distinct notes (C, C#, D, D#, …).

So for example, A = 440 Hz, A# = 466 Hz. B = 493 Hz, and so on… But that doesn’t mean the notes in between don’t exist. We just didn’t give them a name, and we generally don’t use them in music, that’s all.

You could shift every note in a song up by a quarter tone (or any similar small frequency) and still have the same song, yes. Western music doesn’t use quarter tones almost ever, so most instruments would need to be retuned to produce it (this could range from a few second slide adjustment for some instruments, to wrenching on hundreds of strings for an acoustic piano). It wouldn’t have a different letter name because (again) western music doesn’t have names for intervals that small; you would just wind up calling it C or C# depending on how you tuned the instruments, but with a different frequency than the normal C or C#.

in the Western world there’s an agreement that a particular A has a frequency of 440Hz (the A above Middle C on a piano). But it’s just an agreement.

Before we standardised on “Concert A = 440Hz” a composer or conductor in Vienna might have that A sounding higher of lower than a composer in London. In fact there was an arms race where composers were shifting their tuning higher and higher so that their music would sound more lively. We know this because we still have their tuning forks and can plot the shift over time.

So the note which is half way between C and C# is a quarter-tone out from *standard* tuning. You could call it a sharpened C, or a flattened C#. You could even call it an even more flattened D if you like. Or if you don’t want to call it sharpened or flattened, you could call it a non-standard C.

Just to add in to what others have said, these notes are in fact used in many styles of music rather frequently, it is just that the piano became the dominant instrument for teaching music and does not allow them to be played.

However one can hear blues guitarists bend strings not entirely up a full semitone. Many brass and woodwind instruments are also capable of this as well as the human voice.

Also worth noting is the music of Jacob Collier, who incorporates micro tonality (the notes between) in a much bigger way. Famously, he recorded the Christmas carol “in the bleak midwinter” and modulated from the key of E to the key of G half sharp.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mPZn4x3uOac
(At around 4:15 is the key change)