Pop Music Theory


5: Sharps & Flats

Lesson 5: Sharps & Flats

If you've learned the "white-key pitches" (the white keys on a piano; see Lesson 3: Pitch Names and Lesson 4: Letters Game), then now you're ready to learn the names of the black-key pitches. For this, we need sharps and flats.

In music, sharp means "raise the pitch" and flat means "lower the pitch". Here are the symbols for sharp and flat:
= sharp (raise the pitch)
= flat (lower the pitch)

We use "sharp" and "flat" to name the black pitches. For example, the black pitch just above C is called C sharp (C♯). But this black pitch is also just below D, so it can also be called D flat (D♭). Here it is on the keyboard:

C C♯ D♭ D

Now we can name all the black pitches:

C C♯ D♭ D D♯ E♭ E F F♯ G♭ G G♯ A♭ A A♯ B♭ B C

Notice that every black pitch has two names; it can be named with either sharp ♯ or flat ♭.

Study the keyboard above until you understand how to name all the pitches, white and black. Then, go on to Lesson 6: Half-Steps, the next step toward understanding scales, chords, and melodies.


1: Introduction
2: Pitch & Keyboard
3: Pitch Names
4: Letters Game
5: Sharps & Flats
6: Half-Steps
7: Whole-Steps
8: Steps Game
9: Scales
10: Major Scale 1-2-3
11: Major 1-2-3 Games
12: Major Scale 1-5
13: Major 1-5 Games
14: Chords: Major Triads
15: Major Triad Games
16: Minor Triads
17: Minor Triad Games
18: Major Scale 1-8
19: Major Scale Games
20: What Next
21: Keys
22: Pitch & Frequency

© 2017 Conrad Albrecht. All rights reserved.