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The question in question :

https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/43576/why-arent-piano-keys-named-differently

Why do we not name different piano keys with different letters from A-Z? Why do we only use letters from A-G? Wouldn't keys with different letters be easier to memorize and less likely to confuse for the other?

If asked from the perspective of someone who knows very little about music - who perhaps doesn't know anything about scales and how they (usually) repeat each octave, and instead might assume that the key names are purely for disambiguation (and not realise that they are also chosen to show relationships between notes), this question clearly makes sense.

It was closed as a duplicate of Why Seven Principal Tones? (Which itself is not a great question - 'principal tones' aren't really a common term, and the top answer is "We don't know.")

The question that was closed as a duplicate of, and another comment by a mod, suggested some more answers as to why we have 7 notes in the scale. That information is clearly relevant and would form part of an answer, but can't in itself be a complete answer to the OP's question, because we don't know if the OP understands what a scale is, or how (or why) scales repeat over the octave - all of which he'd have to understand as well as the information presented in the suggested duplicates to clear up the question they actually asked.

So - should questions be closed as duplicates of more specific questions at a higher level?

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I don't think the meat of that sandwich (Why Seven Principal Tones?) should have been closed as a duplicate, so I re-opened it. Why we name notes A-G is different to how the major scale came to be — at least from an asker's perspective, since A-G consecutively forms a minor scale. (Personally, I also find the question and answers to be fine.)

As for https://music.stackexchange.com/q/43576/28, I am on the fence about whether it is a duplicate. Making a scale out of 7 notes is different from why we use only 7 names for them, but I am not clear on whether that's what OP is actually asking. The other mods can hopefully fill this in. If it's that he doesn't understand octaves and so on, he should really be asking about that rather than proposing an odd alternative to what he doesn't understand and then challenging us to defend against it.

That information is clearly relevant and would form part of an answer, but can't in itself be a complete answer to the OP's question, because we don't know if the OP understands what a scale is, or how (or why) scales repeat over the octave - all of which he'd have to understand as well as the information presented in the suggested duplicates to clear up the question they actually asked.

I strongly disagree with this. If OP doesn't understand something else, then they can learn or ask about it. It doesn't make an answer invalid to include information at a different level than the asker is ready for.

Of course, if the OP were specifically asking for the basics then that'd be a different story. So ultimately I think the answer to your title and closing question is "It depends on the specifics".

  • * It doesn't make an answer invalid to include information at a different level than the asker is ready for* - I absolutely agree - but I think I was trying to say something different : that ideally we would try to include all information - even very basic information - that makes an answer a full answer at a level the OP can understand. I felt that in this case, the suggested duplicate, while very relevant, didn't include all the information required to constitute an answer (hence the wording of this meta question) – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 17 '16 at 19:24
  • Anyway thanks for your thoughts - I do appreciate that it's hard to deal with beginner questions, as they often contain multiple misconceptions and may not be clearly worded. I just thought that in this case, the wording was clear enough that an answer could be given - and my answer would have gone a little beyond the one indicated as a duplicate. – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 17 '16 at 19:25
  • "If it's that he doesn't understand octaves and so on, he should really be asking about that " - sometimes when you don't have a high level of knowledge, you don't know exactly what the Jargon is for what you're asking about; requiring beginners to use those terms in the question is a bit like asking them to answer their own question. – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 17 '16 at 22:29
  • @topomorto you can always ask and answer a question yourself if you really want to answer that question. It's really kind of a stretch to say the question is about octave equivalence since the OP is asking about keys on the piano and doesn't equate them with musical notes in general. TBH even in taking any basic music class the octave equivalence is an implied and at best brushed over due to it being such a fundamental concept in music. – Dom Apr 17 '16 at 23:28
  • @Dom The very suggestion of using all notes A-Z on the piano implies an unawareness of octave equivalence - which is why (as I see it) a non-cursory explanation of octaves would have needed to be part of a decent answer. I very much doubt that the OP has taken (or paid any attention to) even a basic music class, but should that mean that we are not allowed to give him an answer at an appropriate level here? And if something's often brushed over in beginner classes, isn't that all the more reason to spell it out? – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 18 '16 at 0:00
  • I do realise that these questions that lie near the boundary can be quite hard to deal with. I just thought this one would be a reasonable question if coming from a beginner, and also that while the duplicate you suggested was very relevant, a beginner might not be able to make the mental leaps necessary to see that as a full answer. – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 18 '16 at 0:02
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    @topomorto You're definitely right that a really good answer (for a beginner) would include all of that detail, but I don't think an answer without it would automatically not constitute an answer. As for jargon -- I didn't mean that the OP should use the correct terminology, but that they should ask about the issue they encountered rather than levels abstracted from it after they've made a bunch of invalid assumptions. It's similar to wanting them to avoid XY problems. – Matthew Read Apr 18 '16 at 2:21

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