Sharps and flats in C major

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mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 262
I’m arranging an old Catalan folk song. It’s in C Major, but it also has a flat 5th in there.

My question is a general theory question. When you use an out-of-key note in C Major, is it sharp or flat? In my example, is it called Gb or F#? Or can you just pick whatever you fancy?
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  • vizviz Frets: 4620
    edited April 7
    You can choose, but they do have different nuances.

    If you’re specifically wanting to write in Lydian, replacing the perfect 4th with an augmented 4th (like The Simpsons - though that’s not strictly speaking Lydian) then you’re sharpening the 4th note to an F# (indeed you could write the whole piece with a G major key signature if you wanted)

    If you’re linking the perfect 5th to the perfect 4th with a chromatic, bluesy feel, particularly downwards, then it’s more likely to be a flat 5 - ie a Gb. 
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 262
    The song uses the it as a passing note to add tension, played twice after the G. That would make it a Gb then, right? 
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  • vizviz Frets: 4620
    Prob but let’s have a listen :)
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  • ArchtopDaveArchtopDave Frets: 398
    Given that the C Major Scale itself hasn't any sharps, or flats, then it probably doesn't matter which you choose provided you consistently use either a sharp, or a flat, and don't mix them. In general terms, you normally use a sharp to alter notes if the underlying scale is one with sharps in it, and flats where the scale contains flats.
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  • ArchtopDaveArchtopDave Frets: 398
    One thing I didn't mention above is  - are there any particular conventions in Catalan music to help you decide which accidental to use?
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  • mistercharliemistercharlie Frets: 262
    One thing I didn't mention above is  - are there any particular conventions in Catalan music to help you decide which accidental to use?
    That I don’t know — I’m not a native. But that’s a good point. I shall ask. 
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 3711
    The song uses the it as a passing note to add tension, played twice after the G. That would make it a Gb then, right? 
    That's probably what I'd do. If the preceding note was a G then I'd go with Gb. If the preceding note was F then I'd go with F#. No reason except that it helps show where you're headed from where you are now.
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8267
    @HAL9000 that seems quite reasonable, in the absence of any other conventions
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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