Monday, 28 February 2011

Difference between Sharps & Flats

Some people may be confused when it comes to sharps and flats and what the difference is between them because you could refer to certain notes in either way although with a different root note.This will be a long lesson but let's first understand what those words mean...

SHARP is when the note is raised a semitone or half-step (One fret on a guitar, or the key directly to the right on the piano which are the black keys).

FLAT is when the note is lowered a semitone or half-step. So it's the same as the sharp except in the opposite direction.

If we take the note C and Sharp it, we get C# (C Sharp). This note is the same pitch (so it sounds the same) as the note Db (D Flat). On the guitar fretboard, this is the 4th fret on the A string (between the notes C which is 3rd fret and D which would be the 5th fret). On the piano this would be the black key in between C and D.

"REMEMBER: B and E do not have Sharps, if you sharp B, you just get C. If you sharp E, you just get F. And vice versa with the flats. C does not have an effective flat, neither does F!"

Practically they are the same thing, the main difference comes when it comes to key signatures and something called the cycle or circle of fifths which I will detail in a later blog. In traditional music sheets, they have their lines and each line represents certain notes all the time. So in order to get those sharps and flats, the composer would indicate on the lines to say "This note is not actually C, its C Sharp!". Key Signatures are also defined by how many sharps or flats they have.  F is defined by 1 flat, G is defined by 1 sharp and you know which note because they are in a certain order but those are details for another lesson!

Another difference is when you are trying to keep scales diatonic and clean. It is "proper" to never repeat a letter when writing out your scale so take the C Major Scale. It is C, D, E, F, G, A, B. Notice that NO LETTERS REPEAT, THEY ARE ALL UNIQUE. Now write out the E Major Scale (If you use only Flats for those middle notes) it is:

E, Gb, Ab, A, B, Db, Eb.    ---- UH OH!!! PROBLEM!. A and E are repeating! The proper way (which again is layed out in the circle of fifths) is to actually use 4 Sharps.

E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D# ---YAY! See, Nice and Clean.

This is kinda nit picky stuff and could be seen as music "grammar". Like when you correct someone for using "me" instead of "I". Nevertheless, its good to learn the proper way.

An odd trend to notice is that certain notes tend to be viewed in certain ways. C# is commonly called C Sharp instead of D flat although both are valid. Counter to that, almost all people seem to always refer to D# as E flat, such as guitarists who tune their guitars half-step down to "E Flat", See how we came full circle there lol. In any case, learn the notes and keep on rockin guys. That's all for today! Huge lesson!

Sunday, 27 February 2011


I was thinking of making another blog theory post but screw it, this is more important atm.In case you didn't know, Trent Reznor, the guy behind odd band nine inch nails, won best soundtrack (or original score) in the Oscars for social network. Now I have nothing against Trent, and actually enjoy nine inch nails but the fact that he won an Oscar is still shocking. To put this into perspective...Famous Composer Hans Zimmer was also nominated, and Trent Reznor beat him.

If you don't know who Nine Inch Nails are, then I will link a video for you to hear the oddness. He is either a genius or a psychopath...maybe the truth lies somewhere in between...

Basic Music Theory

Hey everyone, decided to post some beginner music theory ideas...too many new guitarists are getting out there who have no clue in hell what they are doing.

There are 7 main notes from A - G (Yes the letters of the alphabet). They all have accidentals except for B and E (or F and C but that's too complicated.) and you could refer to that as SHARPS. The note above A is A# which is read A Sharp. It gets tricky because you can also refer to it starting from the note above but then it is called a FLAT. So the note below B is Ab (the small b stands for flat). To make it simple, here are the 12 notes.

A, A# (Bb) , B, C, C# (Db), D, D# (Eb), E, F, F# (Gb), G, G# (Ab)...Those are the notes including the sharps but in brackets I included what they might be referred to if you take it as a flat.

To find these notes on a guitar is simple. The guitar fretboard moves up one half step every fret. So Open E string is E, the first Fret is F, the second is F#...and so on until you hit the 12th fret and then they just repeat starting from E because that is called an Octave. Now go ahead and learn those notes!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

First Post and Short Music Trivia

Well this is my first post so I don't want to make it too large or boring, but here is a very basic but key thing to know when it comes to learning music (the piano to be specific).

The white keys on a piano are the C Major scale. Play a song using only these keys and it should sound at least half decent. DON'T hit those black keys (accidentals) though or else you will start getting dissonance which you won't know how to use at this point!