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FAQ: What are Sharps and Flats in music?


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Q: You keep referring to G sharp this and A flat that.  What does it mean?

A:  On the guitar, the jump between two notes like G and A is called a whole-tone. Well, where there's a whole there's usually a half.  The half notes between the whole tone keys are called semi-tones, or in more regular notation - sharps and flats.

In most cases, a sharp raises the pitch of a note one semitone while a flat lowers it a semitone.  That means that D sharp (D#) is the note between D and E.  And B flat (Bb) is the note between A and B.

Think of these notes as the notes in between the whole tones like G, C and A.  This is exactly the way the piano portrays them.  On the piano the black keys between the white ones represent the sharp and flat notes.
Piano
A
B Flat
(or Bb
)
D
D Sharp
or (D
#)
B
E
This is what it would look like on the guitar...
Guitar neck
F
F#
G
Ab
A
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