Lesson 26: More Accidentals! Double Sharps and Double Flats

Category: Lessons

Oh no… More accidentals? Yes, I’m afraid so. But this is it! After you learn about double sharps and double flats you will know every accidental that exists! That should give you a feeling of accomplishment.

Let’s review. Do you remember what an accidental is? They are symbols that are located WITHIN a piece of music that modify the pitch of a note. If you need to review how accidentals work, check back on Lesson 22: Key Signatures and Accidentals. So far we learned about 3 types of accidentals: SHARPS, FLATS, and NATURALS. Each of them has a different purpose.  A SHARP accidental is used within a piece of music to RAISE the pitch of the note by one semitone. A FLAT is used to LOWER the pitch of the note by one semitone. A NATURAL symbol can be used in front of a note to change it back to it’s NATURAL state.  You can click on the highlighted words to review the lessons.

OK, on to the new stuff. DOUBLE SHARPS! You don’t see them very often, but they do exist (kindof like Big Foot .. dun dun duuunnnnn).. A double sharp is an accidental that RAISES the pitch of a note by TWO semitones (or ONE whole tone). This differs from a regular sharp which only raises the note by ONE semitone. Take a look at the image below to see what a double sharp looks like. Kindof looks like an ‘X’, and it is placed in front of the note you wish to change.

A DOUBLE FLAT actually looks like 2 flat symbols. Way too logical. I bet you can guess what a double flat does… It LOWERS the pitch of a note by TWO semitones (or ONE whole tone).  Again, peek at the image below to see what a double flat looks like. Exciting stuff.

Now you know your accidentals. All of them. It almost makes me want to sing. Next time we’ll put them all together. FUN!

Here is a fun (or not so fun) fact: Sharps and flats are not always accidentals, while naturals, double sharps, and double flats are always used as accidentals.. Can you think of a scenario where sharps and flats would be used as something other than accidentals?

Posted on February 19th, 2010 by sharlene

1 Comment

  1. Georges Jean Says:

    As a musician in various instruments, this article is quite interesting for those who take music seriously. I had, consequently, read it with much interest. Even though I am able to play and compose music for sight reading, it’s always amazing to play by ear or improvise, as jazz musicians. However, I firmly believe in the academics of musical notations-especially for new adepts in the field.

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