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Enharmony

The ability to write the same pitch in many ways is called enharmony. F# and Gb are enharmonic.

Accidentals

A letter is natural, sharp or flat.

The letter is natural unless otherwise indicated.

Ab (flat) is a semitone lower than A natural.

A# (sharp) is a semitone higher than A natural.

flat natural sharp
Flat Natural Sharp
Ab A A#

A word of caution. In text the accidental follows the letter, as in Ab and A#. On the stave the accidental precedes the note head.

image of accidentals and stave

Watch your step!

C# is Db. E# is not Fb.

Remember, C to D is a tone and E to F is a semitone.

While C# is Db, E# is F and Fb is E. Beginners and advanced students often trip-up on this fact.

              Gb G G#          
          Fb F F#   Ab A A#      
Cb C C#   Eb E E#         Bb B B#  
    Db D D#               Cb C C#
½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½

Draw the keyboard for the pattern.

  C#
Db

  D#
Eb

    F#
Gb

  G#
Ab

  A#
Bb

 

C
B#

D E
Fb
F
E#
G A B
Cb

Double flats and double sharps

Double flats and double sharps are accidentals for special occasions. A double flat is a semitone lower than flat. A double sharp is a semitone higher than sharp.

double flat flat natural sharp double sharp
double flat flat natural sharp double sharp

The complete set of accidentals and their enharmonic equivalents follows.

  Bx
C#
Db
  D#
Eb
Fbb
    Ex
F#
Gb
  G#
Ab
  A#
Bb
Cbb
 
B#
C
Dbb
Cx
D
Ebb
Dx
E
Fb
E#
F
Gbb
Fx
G
Abb
Gx
A
Bbb
Ax
B
Cb


Music Theory


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