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Beginner sharps & flats

1954pip

Member
Messages
124
hi i am working my way through a web site recomended to me but i have question about sharps & flats when they are writen, when they are writen at the front of a piece of music how can you tell which note they are for they don't seem to be writen on the line of note they equate to, it says they are writen in a squence but i just don't get it ,it may be i am just looking to far to see the wood for the trees,
is there like set position for them?
i don't know if ihave explained this very well.
all the best
pip

ps i bet your getting fed up withmy daft questions:w00t:
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
no to the ps - not daft and not fed up.

Each sharp/flat sign straddles a line or space in the stave - so for instance the G key signature has one sharp - F and this is the # sign on the top line of the stave in the treble clef. Because it's a key signature, it applies to ALL Fs, in the stave and the ledger lines. Key isgnautre for D has two sharps - F# and C#, in that order as you read the key signature on the stave from left to right. Same with the key of A, which has F#, C#, G# in that order in it's key sig.... Same goes for flats The key of F has one flat, Bb and the round part of the b symbol is neatly placed on the B line of the stave (centre...). Key of Bb has two flats - Bb and Eb, key of Eb has three - Bb, Eb,Ab I'll let you work the rest out... Sequences are easy to see on a decent circle of fifths - like the one here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_fifths (click on the circle picture to get a larger version)
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Pip
Just to add two things to Kev's excellent explanation.
The key signature is like the time signature: they are both placed at the beginning to tell you what time and key to play in throughout the piece. If either change during the piece a new one will be shown where they start from. You will usually find, certainly while you are playing easy pieces, that they finish on the key, or tonic, note. So if a piece is in G Major, with a key sig. of F#, it will normally end on a G, where it will sound as though it is at rest.

As well as the key signature, you may also find sharps (#), flats (b) and naturals (a little box with extensions top left and bottom right) in front of particular notes in the piece. These are called accidentals and just change the note they apply to each time it occurs in that bar only, or unless it is changed again by another accidental in that bar - eg If an A has a b in front of it, it is played flat each time in that bar unless when it occurs subsequently in that bar it has, say, a natural sign in front of it, when it goes back to being A natural.

YC
 

1954pip

Member
Messages
124
hi thanks for your replys i can see that know but in some places they say read from left to right but some are not in the right order according to the notes, thats what throw me,i could not see any kind of order in what was written, at first i could not workout what was happening.
pip
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
hi thanks for your replys i can see that know but in some places they say read from left to right but some are not in the right order according to the notes, thats what throw me,i could not see any kind of order in what was written, at first i could not workout what was happening.
pip

I think we all go through this. Eventually you learn to count the sharps/flats and play. Later you just glance and get on with it. Playing scales from notes helps a lot.
 

c9off

Senior Member
Messages
604
Not being keen to talk theory but here goes:

Keeping this simple, if there is one sharp indicated as a key signature, then it will apply to the F, two will be F & C, three F C & G, four F C G & D (this starts to get tricky with your fingers..) and so on. It is exactly the same for flats, I'll leave that to you to work out.

So you don't have to read a 'line'.... hope I got this correct??!!


hi thanks for your replys i can see that know but in some places they say read from left to right but some are not in the right order according to the notes, thats what throw me,i could not see any kind of order in what was written, at first i could not workout what was happening.
pip
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Flats and Sharps follow a clear order - one is the reverse of the other.

SHARPS: F# C# G# D# A# E# B# (Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle)

FLATS: Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb (Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father)

You will notice that certain Sharps and Flats are the same as other notes - Cb = B, Fb = E, E# = F, B# = C, and certain flats can be written as certain sharps, such as Gb = F# etc. The important thing is that they are written in such a way according to the scale that is the focus, so that there is only one note per letter in a scale. C Major is written CDEFGABC, not B#D Fb F G A Cb C, which would sound exactly the same but be confusing.

I'll stop at this point. The important thing is that Sharps and Flats DO follow a clear order at the beginn9ng of a piece of music, according to the orders given above, and in a universally accepted way.

Hope this is helpful
Kind regards
Tom
 

stefank

Member
Messages
366
Flats and Sharps follow a clear order - one is the reverse of the other.

SHARPS: F# C# G# D# A# E# B# (Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle)

FLATS: Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb (Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father)

I always liked "Freddy Can Get Drunk At Every Bar".
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
And its flat equivalent - " Bar Every At Drunk Get Can Freddy" - which needs a little getting used to :shocked::w00t:;}!

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

AndyB

Member
Messages
203
Memorizing Sharps and Flats

Anything that helps is fair game. I find more than one set of memory pegs is better for me. I have found many ways to think of sharps and flats going back to elementary school days. Some are silly but I still remember them 40 years later so maybe they will help somebody else:

One thing I do is think of the sharps in two groups: F G A B and C D E
When you add sharps, you add 1 to the left group and then you add the next to the right group and repeat.
The left and right groups are adjacent letters.

The order of adding sharps is also: Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle

I also think of the flats in two groups: B A G F and E D C
They are added in a left, then right pattern too.

The order of adding flats spells out the word BEAD and GCF

The order of adding flats is also Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father

KEY BY KEY
==========================

KEY OF G: 1 sharp - F#
Memory aids:
You can sort of write a letter "G" with 1 pen stroke,
1 sharp = Father
1 sharp = F
Added sharp is 1/2 step below G, or F#
Fish bones are sharp and so F, the first letter of Fish is the first sharp. [Ok, I was 14 when I thought of that]

KEY OF D: 2 sharps - F# C#
Memory aids:
It takes 2 pen strokes to make a letter "D" i.e. 2 sharps.
2 sharps = Father Charles
3 sharps = F and C
Added sharp (relative to key of G) is 1/2 step below D, or C#
Added sharp is also a 5th above the previous sharp F#

KEY OF A: 3 sharps - F# C# G#
Memory aids:
It takes 3 pen strokes to make a letter "A" i.e. 3 sharps.
3 sharps = Father Charles Goes
3 sharps = F G and C
Added sharp is 1/2 step below A, or G#.
Added sharp is also a 5th above the previous sharp C#
Added sharp is also 1 step above the previous sharp F#

KEY OF E: 4 sharps - F# C# G# D#
Memory aids:
It takes 4 pen strokes to make a letter "E" i.e. 4 sharps.
4 sharps = Father Charles Goes Down
4 sharps = F G and C D
Added sharp is 1/2 step below E, or D#.
Added sharp is also a 5th above the previous sharp G#
Added sharp is also 1 step above the previous sharp C#

KEY OF B: 5 sharps - F# C# G# D# A#
Memory aids:
You "can" use 5 pen strokes to make a letter "B" i.e. 5 sharps.
5 sharps = Father Charles Goes Down And
5 sharps = F G A and C D
Added sharp is 1/2 step below B, or A#.
Added sharp is also a 5th above the previous sharp D#
Added sharp is also 1 step above the previous sharp G#
Think of the word "BE" and the only 2 naturals in the key of B are B and E.

KEY OF F#: 6 sharps - F# C# G# D# A# E#
Memory aids:
6 sharps = Father Charles Goes Down And Ends
6 sharps = F G A and C D E
Added sharp is 1/2 step below F#, or E#.
Added sharp is also a 5th above the previous sharp A#
Added sharp is also 1 step above the previous sharp D#
The only natural is B.
Enharmonic is Gb

KEY OF C#: 7 sharps - F# C# G# D# A# E# B#
Memory aids:
7 sharps = Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle
7 sharps = F G A B and C D E
Added sharp is 1/2 step below C#, or B#.
Added sharp is also a 5th above the previous sharp E#
Added sharp is also 1 step above the previous sharp A#
Everything is sharp - think C major and sharp every scale degree
Enharmonic to Db


KEY OF F: 1 flat - Bb
Memory aids:
1 flat = Battle
1 flat = Bb
B first letter of word "BEAD"
The first flat "B" looks like a flat symbol "b"

KEY OF Bb: 2 flats - Bb Eb
Memory aids:
2 flat = Battle Ends
1 flat = Bb Eb
BE first 2 letters of word "BEAD"
2 flats and 2 letters "BE"

KEY OF Ab: 3 flats - Bb Eb Ab
Memory aids:
3 flats = Battle Ends And
3 flats = groups of letters B A and E
3 flats = Added flat Ab is one letter before Bb
3 flats = "BEA" first 3 letters of word "BEAD" (and my moms name)
3 flats and 3 letters "BEA"


KEY OF Db: 4 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db
Memory aids:
4 flats = Battle Ends And Down
4 flats = groups of letters B A and E D
4 flats = All 4 letters in the word "BEAD"
4 flats = Added flat Db is one letter before Eb
4 flats = Added flat Db is 5th below Bb
4 flats and 4 letters "BEAD"

KEY OF Db: 5 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb
Memory aids:
5 flats = Battle Ends And Down Goes
5 flats = The word "BEAD" + "G"
5 flats = B A G and E D


KEY OF Cb: 6 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Fb
Memory aids:
6 flats = Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles
6 flats = groups of letters "B A G" and "E D C"
The word "BEAD" + "GC"
Enharmonic with B.

KEY OF Fb: 7 flats - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Fb Cb
Memory aids:
7 flats = Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father
7 flats = The word "BEAD" + "GCF"
7 flats = groups of letters "B A G F" and "E D C"
Think of C major with every degree flatted.
Enharmonic with E.


Good luck!
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
So, starting from the top.................... who is Father Charles, again.............:shocked: ?
And who is this Freddy Sharp? Are they related :shocked::w00t:;} ?
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Was the battle that Charles's father went down to end actually started by one of Freddy's drinking episodes in the pub..........?;}
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
No wonder people find this sharps and flats stuff so hard. Think I'll join Stefan in a couple of bars. You coming Tom?
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I love the anecdote that Bill Bailey relates about "...an Englishman, Irishman & Scotsman walk into a Bar...." jokes, and why a Welshman never features. "That's because he's already sitting by the bar when the others walk in......"!:w00t:;}

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 
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