Chapter One

Page 2


The distance between two notes with the same letter name is an octave. The word octave comes from the word oct, meaing eight. Note that there are eight white keys in an octave. The following gif has arrows which denote the note A in two octaves.

Accidentals: Sharps and Flats

C is the only key with no sharps and flats. All other keys have one or more sharps or flats. Sharps and flats are added to allow a scale to sound normal. For example, the below scales are based on the note F. The first scale is intentionally incorrect, in that it is missing a flat. Click on the midi file and see if you can hear the note that sounds harsh.


The second scale should sound much more pleasant to your ear. The difference is that the B note is flat. In other words the B note has been lowered in pitch. On a piano B flat is played on the the black key preceding the B. B flat on the guitar can be found on the third fret of the third string. Remember, a flat is the next lower key note. The lower note may be a black or white key.

A sharp raises a pitch to the next higher pitch. On the piano you would play the next key to the right whether it is white or black.

A natural is used when a flat or sharp sign no longer applies to a line or space on the staff.

The following staffs show sharps, flats and naturals. Note that the key signature (designation of sharps and flats) is listed at the beginning of the scores. The sharps and flats pertain to all notes of the score, unless a natural sign appears next to a note, which causes that note and all notes of the same letter to be natural within that measure. But remember, accidentals within a measure only apply to notes in that measure. All measures without an accidental conform to the key signature at the beginning of the staff.