The musical alphabet

21 May

Hi there,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far and hope you’ve found them useful – feel free to ask questions in the comment section

In today’s blog the musical alphabet will be explained and why sometimes it’s important that a Bb is called a Bb and not an A#

The musical alphabet is made up of the first 7 letters of our alphabet :


these are the only letters for chords or notes that you’ll come across

Now in-between these notes you have either sharps or flats:

A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A,

A, Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E, F, Gb, G, Ab, A

As you can see there are no sharps or flats in-between B and C and E and F

There are 5 sets of notes that sound the same but have different names:

1.A#, Bb,

2.C#, Db,

3.D#, Eb

4.F#, Gb

5.G#, Ab

These are called ‘Enharmonic notes’

Now depending on what ‘key’ you’re in depends on what enharmonic note to use

Let’s have a few examples:

Using your TTSTTTS rule for the major scale (T= Tone which is 2 notes i.e. B to C# or G to A, S=Semitone which is 1 note i.e. E to F or G to G#)

F major contains the notes:

F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E

The reason we call it Bb in this key and not A# is that you always have one of every letter in the musical alphabet for a major or minor scale.

So the F major key can easily remembered as just having one ‘flat’ note

Let’s look at B major:

B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#

It makes more sense to call the 7th note in the scale A# and not Bb as otherwise you’d not only have 2 types of B note in the scale, but also be mixing up flats (b) and sharp (#) notes in the same key

This is one of the reasons we have both sharps and flats in music as it keeps things organised

Many thanks for reading

You can find other music tips via my twitter feed @jsmusicschool



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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Music Theory


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