Grade 1:8 - Sharps, Flats and Naturals
Previous: Lesson 7 - Ledger Lines
Now that we have looked at the notes on the stave (lesson 4) and stave ledger lines (lesson 7), we can have a look at all the notes we use in grade 1. The chart below shows all the notes across both the bass and treble staves, as you can see, there are two notes with ledger lines, all the other notes fit within the stave.
These are all the natural notes needed for grade 1:
These are all the notes, but there is more to it, if you look at a piano, all these notes are the white keys, these are called naturals, so what are the black keys?
Well, these are sharps and flats. Simply, every natural note has a flat, which is one semitone lower (or one key to the left), this is the same as one fret on guitar. we will learn more about this in section 9. The flat is named the same as the note, so A becomes, A flat, E becomes E flat etc....
This is the flat symbol. It looks like a b, but it is not a b, make sure to draw it carefully so it doesn’t get mistaken for a b.
And the other way, one step to the right, A becomes A sharp, and this is the same for every note, even the white ones - for example, F becomes F#, B becomes B#
This is a sharp symbol. It’s like a hash tag, but its not quite.
You may notice, this means most keys actually have multiple different names, such as the Ab (marked by the orange arrow at the top of the diagram below) could also be G#, or C natural could be called B#, the right name to use depends on the situation. This is called enharmonic equivalents. We will start to look at this in lesson 10.
If the letter is by itself, with no sharp or flat symbol, it is assumed to be natural. However, sometimes it’s important to specify a note as natural, an example is when the note was previously sharp and now you need to change the note to natural.
This is the natural symbol, it's another b looking thing, like the flat symbol, but with an extra line.
To recap, every note can become flattened or sharpened, this is achieved by playing a semi-tone below (flat) above (sharp) the natural note.
The sharps and flats are an important part of music and make the scales and key signatures. We will start to look at these over the next lessons, see you there!
A Free Gift for you...
Download the Grade 1 Music Theory Workbook - An Introduction to Music Theory for free. The workbook is a written course which teaches you the entire content of Grade 1 music theory from start to finish, it is the full written version of our video course. It contains activities, with answers, to test your knowledge and give you chance to practice what you are learning.
There are 19 sections, covering every topic as well as reference sheets and materials which will come in handy as you study.
Click here to check it out.