the Music Alphabet & Accidentals

  • Note – A Pitch played on a Musical Instrument.  Music Notes have letter names.  
  • The letters used to name Music Notes are called the Music Alphabet
  • The Music Alphabet = A B C D E F G
  • The Black Keys on the Piano are called “Flatsb and or “Sharps# along with a Letter Name.
  • Music Alphabet with Flats (b) = A  Bb  B  C  Db  D  Eb  E  F  Gb  G  Ab  A (Octave).
  • Music Alphabet with Sharps (#) = A  A#  B  C  C#  D  D#  E  F  F#  G  G#  A (Octave).
  • Octave – Octave means “8 Tones” because the definition relates to a musical Scale.  In the C Major Scale, the notes are: C D E F G A B C the 8th note in that scale is the Octave of the first C note.  The Octave has double the frequency (Hz).
  • Looking at a Piano or Keyboard, the white key Notes are named from the letters A thru G.  The black key Notes have 2 different names (either the letter name and Sharp which symbol is # , or  Flat which symbol is b ).
  • # or b symbols are placed before the notes on the staff.
  • The guitar has no markings or colors for Sharps and Flats on the Fretboard, therefore Guitarists have to memorize where the notes are by what fret.
  • A Half-Step is one Fret in movement (one note ascending or descending).

Accidentals

  • Accidentals placed before a Note will change the Pitch of the Note by One Half-Step.  
  • Flats, Sharps and Naturals are Accidentals.
  • A Sharp placed before a Note will raise the Pitch higher by One Half-Step (one Fret up the Neck).
  • A Flat placed before a Note will lower the Pitch by One Half-Step (down one Fret).
  • Accidentals change the Note for the entire Measure unless cancelled out by a Natural sign.
  • Key Signature – Accidentals placed at the beginning of a piece of music after the Clef.

Notes ascending as half steps using Sharps #

  • A Natural Sign placed before a note returns the note to its Natural Pitch – the note is neither sharp or flat.  If you play a Bb (B flat) note in a measure and a B note follows that Bb note in the same measure, there has to be a Natural Sign before the B, because if there is not a Natural Sign before that B note it would be played as a Bb again.
  • An Octave is a repeated note in a scale.  Octave means “8 Tones”  in Latin, meaning that Octaves are 8 Scale Tones apart.  A Higher Octave Note Frequency is twice the Hz of the lower octave.  For Example, an A Note is 440 Hz, the Higher octave of that A note would be 880 Hz and the Lower octave of that note would be 220 Hz.  The scale starts over every octave: C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C etc..

Notes ascending as half steps using Flats b

Sharp and Flat Note Examples

Flat Example

Sharp Example

  • Flat Example – The E Note is played as two Quarter Notes, then E Flat is played as two Quarter Notes.  
  • The Accidental Flat is placed behind the 3rd Quarter Note in the Measure and makes the rest of the E notes in the measure Flat (Eb) (E Flat).
  • Sharp Example – The first note D is played as a Quarter Note, the last 3 Quarter Notes are played as D Sharp due to the Accidental Sharp placed before the 2nd Quarter Note in the measure. 
  • The Accidental Sharp is placed behind the 2nd Quarter Note in the Measure and makes the rest of the D notes in the measure Sharp (D#) (D Sharp).

Natural Sign Examples & Explanations

Natural Sign Sharps Example 1

Natural Sign Flats Example 2

Natural Sign Flats Example 3

  • Natural Sign Sharps Example 1 – The first # makes the first note F# as well as all other F notes in the measure unless the sharp # is cancelled out by a Natural Sign.  In Exampled 1: F# Sharp is played as a Quarter Note, then F# again is played as a Quarter Note, then the F Note is played as a Half-Note because the Natural sign is placed before it.
  • Natural Sign Sharps Example 2 – G Flat Note is played as a Quarter Note, G Flat is played as a Quarter Note Again, the G Note is then played as a Half-Note because a Natural sign is placed before it.
  • Natural Sign Sharps Example 3 – G Flat Note is played as a Quarter Note, Natural sign placed so the G note is played as a Quarter Note, G Flat Note is played as a Quarter Note, Natural sign placed so the G note is played as the last Quarter Note.