I was recently scrolling through my Facebook feed and I saw someone ask, “Are sharps and flats the same thing?” This question was inspired me to write this article as I feel like it’s a commonly asked question. So, what’s the difference between sharps and flats?
The difference between sharps and flats is actually quite simple: sharps are when you raise the note a half step and flats are when you lower the note a half step. We will dive deeper into this concept below, so continue reading!
Deciphering Sharps & Flats On A Piano
If we apply that a sharp is going up a half step, then we can determine you simply move to the right on the piano a half step. This means that if we an F#, you simply start on F and raise it a half step to the right.
Applying that a flat is going down a half step, we can determine that if you move to the left on the piano a half step. This means, if you have an E flat, you simply move to the left a half step to reach your destination.
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What Is A Half Step On Piano?
A half step means that you go move to the next note ( either a white note or a black note). If it’s a half step from E, then the note would land on a white note (F).
What Is A Half Step From C?
A half step up from C would be C# or D Flat. These are tonally the same note. A half step down from C would be B. The more time that you spend analyzing notes, the better you will get.
How To Raise And Lower A Half Step On The Piano
The white notes on a piano or keyboard are as followed: C D E F G A B C
If we look at the black keys next to the C we get C# and for D we get D#. It gets tricky here because if we raise E, it lands on a white note which is F. If we raise F a half step it lands on F#. G lands on G#, A lands on A# and B is tricky again landing on C. This is because when you move to the right a half step from B, you land on C.
Now, let’s try lowering from C. The White notes down from C are as followed: C B A G F E D C When we go down a half step from C, we land on B. If we go down a half step from B it’s Bflat, down a half step from A, it’s A Flat, down a half step from G it’s G Flat, down a half step from F is tricky as it’s an E. From D we go down a half step to D Flat.
Why Is Knowing Sharps And Flats Important?
It’s important for so many different reasons. If you’re a songwriter working with another songwriter, you will want to know the difference. For example, if the person tells you to play F# and you’re not certain which note, you can’t really be of any help.
Anytime someone says, “Hey, let’s go up a half step on that note.” You now know that you just have to go to the right if you’re playing the piano. It’s such a simple concept, but a lot of people don’t fully understand the concept.
If we look at the treble clef and we see a G#, we know we just go to the right a half step.
You might find an article I wrote on the chords in key a minor interesting.
How To Type The Sharp Symbol (#)
This is simple as you simply use the pound sign. On a Macbook it is as followed: Hold down the 3 and shift and it will come out as #. You will use this for any note.
How To Type The Flat Symbol (♭)
Typing the flat symbol on a computer is more difficult. You will need to use a shortcode to do this you can visit altcodes.net. Once you have this, it will be super simple as it will copy the code when you click it.
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Does Every Song Contain Sharps Or Flats?
Absolutely not. You can actually find a lot of songs that won’t contain any sharps or flats. The more you around music, the more you will notice certain things in songs that are common.
How To Create The Major V In Minor Keys
This is super easy. We will simply apply raising the 7’th scale degree up a half step. For example, the key of a minor. The Major V chord in a minor is E Major. To get to this chord, you simply raise the 7th scale degree. In a minor, you take g and go up you will land on g# by simply raising it up a half step. This chord is commonly used in classical music.
Is Music Theory And Knowing Sharps And Flats Useful?
Yes. I believe that having a simple grasp of basic terms is absolutely essential in creating songs. You don’t have to be an expert, but knowing the easy differences between sharps and flats can actually go a long way.
There’s nothing worse than sitting in on a songwriting session and feeling out of place. You can actually go into these knowing more than most songwriters if you just have a basic understanding. There is a talent of songwriting, yet there is also a use for knowing what you’re doing when you do certain things. If you don’t understand it, someone else will and that makes them more valuable at times.
I hope you found this quite helpful in determining sharps VS flats. If you found this helpful, please share it around and leave a comment. I will respond to any questions you may have!