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Sharps and Flats (Accidentals)

We can raise or lower the pitch of any note by one fret using accidentals:

sharps (#) or flats (b)

Sharps:
To raise the pitch of a note by one fret ( half step) we use the sharp symbol # .

Example 1: C (1st fret on the second string)

Once the sharp is in front of it , it becomes C# and is played on the second fret of the second (B) string.

Exercise:

Name the notes, and what fret they will be played on.

click here for the answers

Note:
Usually notes are two frets (one whole step) apart.
There are two exceptions to the rule:

E- F the distance is one fret
B- C the distance is one fret

So E sharp and F are identical. The same is true for B sharp and C. Since these notes sound the same but have different names, they are called ENHARMONIC.


2. Flats:
Flats are used to lower the pitch of a note by one fret. The symbol used is b .

Note:
Accidentals may appear anywhere within a piece of music. However, they will last only for one measure. In the example the sharp in front of the first C will also be applied to the second C of that measure. The Cs of the second measure will be played on the first fret again.

  3. Naturals:

If we do not want the sharp from the example above to be valid for the whole measure, we can put a natural sign in front of the second C sharp and it would become a regular C (C natural) again. The natural cancels any sharp or flat for one whole measure.

 

 

 

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